By Jody Steinberg
and Joe Earle

The Cowart Family Ashford Dunwoody YMCA will renovate Cross Keys High School’s soccer fields and offer soccer programs at the facility in the fall, Y and community officials said.

“The Y is looking at this as a way to reach out to an underserved community,” said Julie Colon Koriakin, executive director of the Y branch. “We’re really excited to be more accessible.”

The Y will spend about $18,000 in the first year of the project to renovate the facility by installing new sod on the field and adding sprinklers, fences and benches, said Koriakin. The work will bring the field up to Y standards, she said. Additional improvements are anticipated in future years.

The DeKalb school board approved the agreement July 12. The first phase of the field restoration is scheduled to start this month in order to have the field ready for returning students. The Y will provide staff and security at the fields during all recreational practices and games.

Cross Keys High School will continue to use the field for its programs. The Y may use the facilities in the future for summer camp or similar programs, Koriakin said.

“The metropolitan YMCA has been looking for a better way to serve the population along the Buford Highway corridor for some time, and Cross Keys certainly could use the improvements,” Cross Keys Foundation president Kim Gocke said. “It really was the work of the YMCA and the leadership of the school that put flesh on the idea. I think it was a match made in heaven.”

“There should be Saturday-morning soccer and youth practices at Cross Keys this fall,” Gocke said. “People have no idea the long-term positive impact this will have, and it’s just the beginning of a long-term program with great opportunities for the community.”