Afrim’s Sports Park took further steps toward becoming a reality after the Planning Board received an updated study on the site’s parking and pedestrian walkway situations.
Brian Sipperly, of L. Sipplerly & Associates, PLLC, presented the board with an update on the new Afrim’s Sports complex at the board’s Tuesday, June 9, meeting. The new traffic study addressed several concerns board members voiced about the amount of parking on site and the flow of pedestrian movement.
The multi-use sports park would sit on a 28.6-acre parcel of land at 969 Watervliet Shaker Road, adjacent to Memory Gardens Memorial Park and close to Shaker Heritage Society. It includes plans for an 86,400 square-foot air-supported dome hosting indoor sports fields; four outdoor artificial turf fields; and a two-story multi-purpose building attached to the dome.
Planning Board members gave Afrim Nezaj’s project concept acceptance at a March 10 meeting earlier this year. The approval came after the project was denied Zoning Board approval nearly two years ago. The town then passed a resolution allowing for special use permits May 2014, which zoning approved for Nezaj in October.
If approved, this will be Nezaj’s third soccer facility in the area. The others include Afrim’s Sports on Albany Shaker Road in Latham and an inflatable soccer dome on Wemple Road in Bethlehem.
Sipperly’s presentation largely addressed board member and town concerns regarding traffic within the site, specifically concerns surrounding the amount of parking for events. Sipperly said project engineers looked at previous studies done about parking situations at facilities with soccer use.
“Saturday peak parking average is 58 .8 spaces per field, so it normalizes sporting events, normalizes games,” said Sipperly of the study. The busiest scenario called for 74 parking spaces, and with a potential five fields active, that totaled 370 spaces required.
Currently, Nezaj’s project calls for 388 parking spaces. More could possibly be added once the site is fully studied and final engineering plans are drawn up, according to Sipperly, but those spaces would be for busy events.
If a large amount of additional parking space is required, Sipperly said that plans could be worked out with nearby businesses that only operate Monday through Friday to provide more spaces and a shuttle service.
“From a traffic engineering standpoint, it works very well,” said Town Designated Engineer Chuck Voss. “They’re being very efficient with the site.” He agreed that the “in excess of 5,600 spaces” within a quarter mile of the site could provide extra parking with lease agreements if needed.
In terms of pedestrian safety, Nezaj agreed to have raised crosswalks and reflective paint to ensure people could get to and from cars safely. Crosswalks would also be added on Sand Creek Road.
Between the fields, Sipperly said that site engineers are considering raising the stone dust paths. Already, site plans include walkways to go from one field to the other for parents who have children in multiple games, or to easily get to restrooms. Fencing will be put up to alleviate the fear of a stray soccer ball.
Board members, though, suggested having multiple paths from the parking lot to the facilities, as one walkway would not be enough with the amount of people that would be going to and from the fields and parking lots.
Planning and Economic Development Department Director Joe LaCivita agreed. “You were moving a lot of people into one location, where now you’re trying to move a lot of people into multiple locations.”
Sipperly’s presentation also touched on Nezaj’s plan to work with the Shaker Heritage Society. A stone wall that was previously part of a Shaker structure currently sits on the Albany Shaker Road property.
“We’re trying to persevere the stone wall and we’re trying to work with the Shaker Heritage on sign and plaque-age,” said Sipperly. “We’re really trying not to come through and ruin anything.”
Nezaj has previously said he has been working with Shaker Heritage on the project since the beginning. According to the proposal, Nezaj and representatives held a meeting with Shaker Heritage and the state parks department to discuss putting up signage and panels discussing the Shaker influence specific to the property.