Lights latest upgrade in Searcy Field renovation

Light standards have been put in place around Searcy Field in Mill Spring

Jerry Stensland has long envisioned Searcy Field becoming a hub of activity in Mill Spring, bringing to life the goal that Richard and Vivian Searcy had when they donated the land to Polk County for youth recreation.

Stensland’s four-year push to upgrade Searcy Field is about to take a huge leap forward.

Four light standards now tower above the field, the latest in a series of upgrades. Stensland, director of Polk County Parks and Recreation, said workers are currently finishing up power installation on the poles and he hopes to see that project completed in two weeks.

And then the fun can begin.

“Adding this field will give us a lot of new options, including moving youth football practices here,” Stensland said. “The field will also be a great option for soccer teams or other sports that require a full-size field with good turf grass.”

Offering a practice home for Polk County Youth Football has been one of the drivers of the Searcy Field project. PCYF teams have practiced for years at Gibson Park in Columbus, a location of limited size where parking is also occasionally an issue. Searcy Park’s field offers plenty of space for PCYF teams to practice.

PCYF, in fact, may help contribute to the next project at the field.

“The next thing we need at Searcy is a storage building and bathrooms,” Stensland said. “We plan to work closely with the youth football group as they have expressed interest in helping get that project done.”

Having a large field with lights could make Searcy available for other uses, such as youth soccer, youth baseball or even adult recreational leagues. Moving PCYF to Searcy will also create options for Gibson Park.

Stensland began talking about overhauling Searcy Field in early 2015, and grading work began at the field in late 2016. To see a field ready for use, with lights ringing the exterior, brings a smile to Stensland’s face.

“It’s exciting to finally see this part of the project complete,” he said. “A lot went in to making it happen, including some sizeable donations. The grass is healthy and the lights are in so we can now open it up for use.

“Also this gives us an opportunity to repurpose the field at Gibson Park. We are soon to launch a community survey and that will be a good opportunity for people to tell us what they’d like to see.”