Oak Harbor men plan new soccer arena

Dream is on the drawing board for local soccer fans.

“As he pushed his way through the dense underbrush of a five-acre patch of land north of Oak Harbor Thursday, Marvin Moreno could still see a vision. In a few months, Moreno and his partner Michael Camano, both of Oak Harbor, hope to open a new indoor soccer facility on the site – a place where local soccer teams can play year-round and where kids and adults can learn the skills to compete beyond Whidbey Island.I’ve always had soccer in my life. This has been a dream, Moreno said as he enthusiastically laid out a set of blueprints of his proposed facility. The community needs something like this.Moreno and Camano’s plan is to construct a 24,000 square-foot building with a soccer field, offices, showers, equipment storage and meeting rooms inside. Outside they want to have a 14,400 square-foot practice field and parking lot. The site is just off Oak Harbor Road about 1/4 mile south of Ault Field Road. It is outside of the Oak Harbor city limits but within the city’s future growth boundaries. The proposal will go before the Island County Hearing Examiner Aug. 14 for comment prior to a final approval decision.Even with the addition of new city fields along Fort Nugent Road and fields near Goldie Road on the drawing board, Moreno still thinks his facility will fill a void. As a former professional player in Costa Rica and a current soccer coach, Moreno said local players need a place where they can train to higher levels than they can now. He said he has only been able to coach some local kids up to a point before they have to leave the island in search of better facilities.Until we put up a facility like this we won’t be able to compete, said Moreno. It will be a place not only to train kids but to train coaches and train parents. And to bring other sports associations in to do the same.Moreno has coached in Oak Harbor for about four years. He also conducts soccer clinics in Seattle. He has been working on his soccer field of dreams for several years. He said similar indoor fields in Mount Vernon and Everett are quite popular, and some local teams already travel to those cities to play. The proposed indoor field will be covered in FieldTurf, which is the same material used at Husky Stadium. There will be no grandstands or other audience seating, and the facility has parking for only about 22 cars. Moreno said similar facilities don’t seem to attract crowds of onlookers. Teams tend to just come, play and leave.The facility will make money by charging teams to use the field. The going rate is about $500 to $550 per team for a six to eight-week season, said Moreno. He said he’s already had teams express interest.Comments by area residents or interested parties are welcome on or before the Aug. 14 hearing. Because the proposed facility is in a potential growth area of Oak Harbor, city planners and citizens can also comment about the plan. The county has already issued a mitigated determination of non-significance with regard to environmental concerns at the site. A portion of the five-acre parcel contains an identified wetland.The property is zoned as Oak Harbor-Industrial. Plans call for the facility to be set back from Oak Harbor Road by about 85 feet, with at least 15 percent of existing trees left as a buffer. Counting the building, parking area and sidewalks, about one acre of impervious surface will be created.Moreno said he’s been encouraged by the community comments he’s heard so far. If the hearing goes well, he and Camano hope to break ground by mid-month. In three to four months it could be up and running.Whenever we bring it up, people say they want it, Moreno said. It started out being one of those if-you-build-it-they-will-come ideas, but people are people are already coming before we’re ready.”