Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties Executive Director Denise Barton, front, left, and Pima Vice Mayor Sherrill Teeter finish cutting the ribbon for the re-dedication of Carsen Gary Brown Field on Saturday. Also pictured are, back, from left, Graham County Chamber of Commerce Board President Corina Pino-Reyes, Graham County District 2 Supervisor John Howard, and United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties Board Member Eric Bejarano.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – The first block of a master-planned recreation complex has been laid as the town of Pima celebrated its newly improved and expanded soccer fields with a re-dedication as Carsen Gary Brown Field on Saturday.
Carsen Brown tragically died in a UTV crash during a fishing excursion to the Gila River in July 2018. He was an avid soccer player who rose through the ranks of the Pima Soccer League and even served as a referee. His mother, Christie Brown, also served as president of the league for a number of years. He was just 15 years old when he died.
On Saturday, a number of people were on hand to see Pima Vice-Mayor Sherrill Teeter and United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties Executive Director Denise Benton cut the ribbon signifying the re-dedication of the fields. The Brown family was also on hand at the soccer fields near 1200 South and 800 West and took part in the ribbon cutting as well.
“First of all, I would like to thank all the parents,” Teeter said. “If it wasn’t for the people of this town and our community, none of this would be possible.
It was a $200,000 grant from the United Way that paid for the expansion and upgrades, including moving to a sprinkler system to water the grass instead of being flood-irrigated. Benton said the project dinged every bell the group had.
“Our organization has three focus areas when we do grant funding,” Benton said. “One is education; one is health, and one is economic stability or economic development. The grant we funded to the town of Pima is unique in that it really hits on all of those areas.”
Pima Town Manager Vernon Batty said the additional fields will cut down on the length of games and that after reseeding the fields should be in good shape due to its new sprinkler system.
“The big difference between this and the old field is the size,” Batty said. “We can have five or six games going on at once which is huge for the community.”
Batty said the town is applying for a grant of up to $2 million to continue to develop the land into a recreation complex. The town has 80 acres gifted to it from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) back in 1965 with the only caveat being that it be used for parks and recreation.
“We would like to have a big playground with a big cover – a nice big shade for the summer; basketball courts; pickleball courts that can be converted to tennis courts; sand volleyball; new concession stand, bathrooms, lighting, sidewalks, good drainage; really the sky’s the limit. We have 80 acres here in total and about a quarter of it is being used now. We have so much potential for this land.”
Other dignitaries at the event included Graham County District 2 Supervisor John Howard and Graham County Chamber of Commerce Board President Corina Pino-Reyes.
“Since I’ve been in office, I’ve really stayed close with the town of Pima and watched (its) growth,” Howard said. “It’s been phenomenal . . . This facility is going to offer so much to this community – economically, educationally, all of that will come into play.”
Pino-Reyes also saw the potential in the new complex.
“Pima’s booming,” Pino-Reyes said. “You have a wonderful community and you guys are adding to it every single day. So, the start of this sports complex for your guy’s community is a huge deal . . . I’m really excited about the leadership you have right now on the town council and the leadership you have with your town manager. Without them, this would not have been possible.”
After the ribbon cutting, players hit the fields for a full Saturday morning of soccer.