by Mitch Lehman
The City of San Marino last Thursday afternoon took the wraps off the first new field of play for the community’s young people in – well maybe you can fill in the blank – years. Recent attempts to answer that question have been futile.
Dubbed Centennial Field, the youth soccer and recreation field was made possible at least in part through a $22,000 grant from the Rotary Club of San Marino and their Rotary Charities branch, much of which is funded by the San Marino Auto Classic.
Rotarians relocated their meeting from its usual digs at San Marino Community Church to a comfortable, breezy multi-purpose room at Stoneman before sauntering out to the new field for ceremonial hijinks.
Rotarian Doug Larner opened the proceedings with an appropriate benediction, declaring that “all of us in Rotary have made a commitment to make this world a better place to live. From the eradication of polio so that children can live and grow to the restoration of this playing field where our children and grandchildren can make friends, learn teamwork, respect and healthy competition. These things, that we learned as children, have enabled us to grow and prosper and become leaders within the community.”
Larner also said “opening day was always a great event, but will be greater because of the new field.”
Maurice Saldebar, San Marino’s representative to the American Youth Soccer League – AYSO – was also in attendance. The field was created, in part, to increase San Marino’s facility contribution to the popular league.
The project actually began at the City Council level, emanating from a ‘Making San Marino Better’ inclusion on a meeting agenda last year. In its original report, city staff estimated the project to cost more than $750,000.
San Marino resident Harold Young, president of a local landscaping firm, saw a story in The Tribune about the high cost and started asking questions. When he was done getting answers, the project had been reduced to $47,000 – under budget – and included the field, irrigation, fencing as well as re-striping and sealing the parking lot behind Stoneman School and new basketball and tetherball courts.
“This would not have happened without Harold Young,” said Dennis Kneier, who wore two hats at last Thursday’s dedication – as city councilman and treasurer of Rotary Charities. In essence, he could have handed Rotary’s $22,000 check for the field to…himself…but instead passed it to Mayor Dick Ward.
Young contacted The Tribune and was in turn referred to the city. After some reconsideration, plans for the project were finalized and eventually implemented by employees of San Marino’s Public Works Dept., many of whom were in attendance including Supervisor Chuck Ritchie.
“They did a great job,” said Kneier.
Recreation Commission Chair Stephanie Perry and Rotary President Isaac Hung held a ceremonial passing of a soccer ball, representing the transfer of the field to the young people of the community.
“The Recreation Commission is very excited about the programming that we will be able to implement on Centennial Field,” said Perry. “We particularly thank the city and Councilman Dennis Kneier, who championed the project, as well as the Rotary Club of San Marino, who provided necessary funding.”
“This is a nice, green pasture to satisfy the athletic appetites of our children,” said Rotary President Isaac Hung. “Rotary is more than pleased to participate in a worthwhile project such as this.”
Hung also pointed out that Rotary’s share of the funding for Centennial Field “came straight through the San Marino Motor Classic. Without that fundraiser, our ability to support projects such as this would be limited.”
The San Marino Motor Classic will be held on Sunday, June 9 in Lacy Park beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Advance tickets are available online for $25. Tickets the day of the event are $30.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sanmarinomotorclassic.com.
The 2012 show raised $172,500 that has benefitted charities.
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