Polk Parks and Recreation begins renovation of Searcy Field

Published 10:00 pm Monday, October 10, 2016

Searcy Field in Mill Spring

Searcy Field in Mill Spring

Polk County Parks and Recreation director Jerry Stensland first detailed his vision for the future of Searcy Field almost two years ago.

The dirt now being moved around the facility signals that Stensland’s plan is finally coming to fruition.

Workers have begun the initial phase of renovations at Searcy Field, located in Mill Spring, moving fencing from the middle of the field to the ends and grading the entire area. The effort will eventually result in baseball/softball fields on each end of the complex with a multipurpose playing field in the middle.

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“The goal is to get more use out of that facility,” Stensland said. “We want to utilize it for more sports and more recreational opportunities. This will allow us to offer that facility to multiple sports and teams for practices.”

While Stensland envisions multiple potential uses for the complex, one obvious beneficiary has already emerged.

Polk County Youth Football currently practices at Gibson Park in Columbus. That location has several drawbacks, most notably a lack of parking that often results in kids walking in the street adjoining the field to reach the closest lot. Gibson’s small dimensions, slightly more than half the size of a normal football field, also limit the amount of teams that can practice there at once.

Searcy Field’s new dimensions are expected to include the equivalent of a regulation-size football field as well as plenty of room for parking within the complex.

“Polk County Youth Football is very interested in shifting there as soon as it’s ready,” Stensland said. “Youth baseball, soccer or any other number of sports could use the field. If the Ultimate Frisbee club at the high school needed a place to practice, it’s there. We could even host some adult leagues.”

Richard and Vivian Searcy donated the land to Polk County Recreation in 1994, stipulating it must always be used for youth recreational opportunities. Stensland first approached Polk County Board of Commissioners in February 2015 with a proposal to overhaul the facility. Commissioners were finally able to approve funding to begin the project.

“I appreciate county commissioners putting some money into the budget to get things moving out there,” Stensland said. “Clary Hood (Spartanburg-based company currently working on Polk County’s new law enforcement complex) donated their services for grading. They’re not charging us anything for doing all the grading and clearing.

“The next step will be to get some grass seed down for the winter, then come back in the spring with some Bermuda grass and make it a nice sports field.”

As he works within the limits of his budget, Stensland hopes that the lights at Gibson Park can be moved to Searcy Field by next summer for use there. He also hopes to eventually add a building for storage and rest rooms, a playground, a walking track and some type of tie-in with the Mill Spring Agricultural Center, located just above the field.

“Opening up that space and making it more usable is the ultimate idea,” Stensland said.

– article submitted by PolkSports.com