Above: The soccer field in Observatory Hill has settled. (Photo by Kelsey Shea).

As another soccer season begins, plans for a new field in Observatory Hill are “moving along nicely” according to City of Pittsburgh Director of Operations Duane Ashley.

The once bumpy terrain on Mairdale Avenue behind Perry High School has been evened out with new soil that after seven months is settling to create the base for the field. City officials expect the field to be completed by this spring. 

The project began in 20003 with plans to build a soccer field and recreation center at Riverview Park in the Northside.

After an official ground breaking ceremony in October 2010, the project faced complications due to its location over a site formerly used to deposit industrial waste.

Upturning existing dirt would have resulted in the release of toxic waste, so workers truck clean fill onto the site in order to create a safe environment.

Now that the fresh soil has had several months to compact and settle, the site is near ready for further work.

The completed soccer field will be synthetic in order to allow play in all types of weather.

It has yet to be determined if the field will or will not have lights.

“That feature has been left up in the air,” said Ashley. “We haven’t made a commitment for or against installing lights.”

The second phase of construction will be a recreation center that will sit adjacent to the field.

Ashley said in the coming month and a half, the city will begin working with the community on design concepts for the community center.

A 2003 study, conducted by Pashek & Associates reported that Pittsburgh has a deficit of 32 soccer fields and a surplus of 11 football fields. The report also cites data that shows in the decade between 1991 and 2001, soccer participation increased nationally by 39 percent.