Posted by Ian:
We call him Mr. Soccer because no one has done more to build any one sport in St. Thomas than Bob Luft. His passion for delivering the beautiful game to young players in the city and surrounding area has never faltered, despite bouts of apathy and unfulfilled commitments on the part of various editions of St. Thomas.
I will declare my bias right up front … I have coached for many years at the house league level and have enjoyed watching many of my players grow, not only as players, but now as young adults actively contributing to the fibre of St. Thomas.
Below are the responses to a new concern raised by the St. Thomas Soccer Club and put forth to all candidates in the Oct. 25 municipal vote. What is most disappointing is the trickle of input received to date.
Here is Bob’s request for comments:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am writing because I am concerned about the future of the Central Elgin Soccer Complex, which is located East of the Regional Health Centre and North of the Ontario Provincial Police Station.
The Ontario Realty Corporation is leasing the property to the Municipality of Central Elgin on a yearly basis. As far as I know the agreement can be cancelled on a one year’s notice. This leaves the house league operation of the St. Thomas Soccer Club in a vulnerable position, because at present there is no replacement location
1,400 boys and girls from the City of St. Thomas and the Munipalities of Central Elgin and Southwold are using the fields from early May to the middle of August from Monday to Thursday evenings.
I would like to know what your plans are for the future of soccer fields in the City of St. Thomas.
Here are the responses received so far by Bob:
1. Mayor Cliff Barwick:
Dear Bob,There is no location I know of within the City suitable for a soccer complex unless you have some suggested locations. Most available land is held by developers and I would think the cost of purchase would be exorbitant.The real answer to this question is a closer cooperation with Central Elgin and/or Southwold for a suitable location. All municipalities would have to contribute however most of the money would have to come from grants from the senior levels of government and public fundraising.If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
2. Joan Rymal:
Thank you very much for the information. I would be interested to know what the cost of the lease is.
As you know, there are many issues the new council will have to address.
Future planning for the City is needed and the issue of lack of soccer field space is one that would certainly be important in reviewing the needs of all groups.
You are certainly being proactive for your group.
3. Linda Stevenson:
Hello again…..it has been awhile.
Glad to see your leadership continuing for the youth of St. Thomas! As you remember I was a soccer coach for 6 years when my two boys played. I will continue to support
and find ways to extend my leadership to council to solve this long outstanding issue for indoor soccer. We could look at the possibility of partnership with the county and find a back-up plan
that talk about 3 to 5 year lease agreements for the short term. But there still needs to be investment in the long term for facilities that will meet the growing needs for 10 years into the future.
Soccer is the growing in popularity more than any other sport……and children are becoming less active every day ….. this is a investment for the future. please call if you want to talk more!
7 Erinlea Drive
St. Thomas, Ontario
4. Joe Fric:
We need to get together as a board and look after our young kids,this is very important to me i was involved with pushing for the new arena for girls hockey. As we all know kids are out of school and need to be occupied in the summer, soccer is a good cheep sport to play and the most highest registration of any sport. Joe Fric Thank You for your concerns i am with you
5. Wayne Northcott:
It is very clear there is a demand for facilities that serve those who wish to play soccer. As a candidate I will consider proposals that are shared by the adjacent municipalities that you mentioned. I suggest that your group start a dialog with each muinicipality and begin the process of planning for a new facility. Various government grants may be available once a suitable strategic action plan is in place. As a consultant, business and community actions plans are what I specialize in. If my memory serves, I believe the provision for more soceer pitches are included in the Parks and Recreation master plan. On a related note, I have often discussed the possibility of a semi-professional stadium type of facility for future league teams.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your concerns.