Joy of the People soccer seeks 10-year lease at parks building

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Joy of the People, the nonprofit youth soccer program based at South St. Anthony Park Recreation Center, is hoping to develop its field space through a U.S. Soccer Foundation grant, but the group needs a ten-year lease from the city of St. Paul in order to qualify for the grant.

The JOTP project includes a (A) synthetic-turf soccer field, (B) pedestrian walk and fitness trail, (C) patio, (D) street court, (E) clay court, (F) sand court and (G) grass field. The existing recreation center (H), basketball court (I) and playground (J) are part of the site plan.

JOTP was awarded a U.S. Soccer Foundation grant earlier this year that paid for facility design and planning services. With those plans now in place, Ted Kroeten, founder and director of   JOTP, wants to apply for a $200,000 grant to implement the plans. The grant cycle ends Oct. 31.

The St. Anthony Park Community Council will host a public meeting about the soccer program’s plans at its regular monthly board meeting Thursday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at the recreation center, located at 890 Cromwell Ave.

The site plan includes the building of a new field that can be divided into a variety of play spaces, outdoor futsal courts, a sand court, grass fields, a clay field, a running and walking path with exercise stations, and a plaza area. This would bring JOTP closer to its vision “of having a multi-surface, soccer-training and free-play facility,” said Kroeten

“We are trying to create inviting spaces for kids to play, but our focus—because we know it—is soccer.”

The U.S. Soccer grant that Kroeten plans to apply for is very competitive, he said. But JOTP is the kind of program the foundation likes to sponsor: it’s urban, diverse and caters to children. The foundation needs a written agreement that the space can be used for 10 years in order for JOTP to be considered, Kroeten said. The group has met with St. Paul City Council member Russ Stark to discuss legal issues surrounding the project. Now, the community needs to chime in, he said.

JOTP moved in to the recreation center after leasing it from the city in 2009. In this arrangement, JOTP is responsible for day-to-day operations and pays for utilities and building maintenance. The city pays for outdoor maintenance.

District 12 Community Council continues to rent office space there and the building’s community room is available for neighborhood use.

Joy of the People (Alegria do povo) is the Brazilian expression for soccer, according to JOTP’s website. A former director of coaching and player development for the St. Paul Blackhawks Soccer Club, Kroeten started the JOTP program with the intention of shifting focus from competition to skills development and love of the game, according to the website.