Illegal parking poses a safety concern at new soccer complex

VALLEY CENTER, Kansas – Parking near the McKay Family Soccer Complex in Valley Center has some drivers frustrated.

In recent weeks, almost a dozen motorists have ended up with a parking ticket costing about $105 for parking in no parking zones. While the city says they understand the frustration of getting a ticket, they say there’s plenty of parking a few blocks away.

“Half a mile is a long way to walk especially if you’ve got other younger kids with you,” voiced Nicole Yates, a concerned parent. “You understand the risk when you’re parking there, but I imagine I still wouldn’t be too happy about it.”

The issue began when AYSO started playing on the new fields three weeks ago.

“They have a whole bunch of soccer games in a short period of time which causes the parking issue,” said Mark Hephner, the Valley Center Police Chief.

After the first week of play, the city decided to restrict parking on Emporia. The reason for the decision being that multiple cars parked on both sides of the street limits access for first responders driving through to aid those who need it.

“It’s vitally important. I don’t think anybody realized until you see the car actually there and on both sides, to see how tight it is,” explained Steve Geddes, the Valley Center Rec Director.

On a Saturday earlier in the month the police department cited nine people for illegal parking. While the recreation department says there can be enough parking on site.

“The 81 stall lot we have on the facility is not being utilized to its full extent. There are several spans of time where’s there’s anywhere for 20 to 40 empty stalls in there where people are not finding them,” Geddes said.

Officials realize the frustrations, and says they’re hoping to find a better solution for the spring season.

“They’re going to expand the time in between games a little bit, approximately 15 minutes, to hopefully get that first group out and that second group in, which should take care of it,” explained Geddes.

The Valley Center Rec Commission, the city and AYSO officials met Monday night to talk about the parking issue. They say the option to build more parking lots just isn’t possible within the complex. They recommend that parents pay attention to where you can and cannot park.

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