The Riverside County Board of Supervisors signed off Tuesday on a report that found a proposed 6.7-acre sports park in Mecca is generally compatible with the surroundings and can be constructed without significant environmental damage, moving the project forward.

In a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Jeff Hewitt absent, the board accepted the findings of a preliminary study of the Mecca Regional Sports Project and the tentative plans for resolving anticipated issues arising from construction.

The study, which is a forerunner to the broader impact report required under the California Environmental Quality Act, was conducted over the summer.

The Economic Development Agency recommended, and the board authorized, adoption of a mitigated negative declaration, making the project viable.

“The Mecca Regional Sports Park will provide a community gathering space and will transform a vacant area into an active, lively and green place,” according to an EDA statement posted to the board’s policy agenda. “The park will provide organized sports leagues a local space to compete. In addition to sports fields for baseball and soccer, the planned open green space, picnic area and outdoor exercise facility will provide residents an amenity for families, seniors and community groups for a variety of activities.”

The park would be located south of Avenue 66 and east of Hammond Road, just a couple miles north of the Salton Sea.

The county would rely on a state grant to pay for most of the development.

Officials uncovered some risks of encroaching on cultural resources important to the Torres-Martinez Reservation, according to the report, which notes the need for an archaeologist to coordinate with a “tribal monitor” to ensure any work at the site does not disturb or harm artifacts

The study further pointed to the need for containment of construction noise and to protect native vegetation wherever possible.

The park would abut the Mecca Boys & Girls Club and would serve a community of over 7,000 residents. according to the report.

Additional public hearings on the project will be held after the environmental review process is complete and the board gets closer to selecting a contractor.

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