For the last quarter century, Cal Camara has overseen the development of numerous park facilities. But Saturday's grand opening of soccer fields at Maple Park could hold the most meaning for the Hesperia Recreation and Park District administrator.


"This may be my last grand opening, at least for a while," Camara, who will retire on June 30, told the audience of local dignitaries, Chamber Ambassadors, young soccer players and their families.


Named after a beloved park board member and longtime volunteer, Richard Lupton Soccer Fields is a joint project of the district and the City of Hesperia. The facility, which will be a total of 40 acres when built out, is being developed by Cooley Construction.


"This is a joint project with the city, 50/50," Camara said. "This is the first phase."


Camara also remembered the contributions made by Lupton, a retired firefighter.


"We love facilitating youth sports. We named the park after one of our volunteers, Richard Lupton. He touched just about everything."


Lisa Harris, the daughter of Lupton, who died in 2009, spoke on behalf of her family.


"This is very exciting for us, very exciting for the community," Harris said. "This is an honor, and I want to thank everyone for doing this."


Although Maple Park's focus will be soccer, it will eventually have other amenities including a bike path designed for beginning riders that will wind its way around the perimeter of the entire park.


"I know you're going to spend a lot of time here," said park board member Rebekah Swanson. "There are stars here today, and there will be future stars coming through our field."


"This little acorn is going to grow into a mighty oak tree in our community," Mayor Pro Tem Russ Blewett told the crowd.


Administrative Operations Manager Lindsay Woods, who will take over when Camara retires, credited Camara for helping to bring such facilities to Hesperia.


"The park district has been very progressive in its thinking," Woods said. "There are two main reasons why it's such a great district. One is the great boards its had, and the other is Cal Camara."


According to Camara, the recession slowed the project when the developer of a nearby housing project decided to pull out. As a result, anticipated development fees couldn't be generated for the project. But ultimately the district decided to go ahead with the first phase.


"Everyone was excited about it. We had to do it. We're glad we did."


And Camara is very happy with the result.


"We did a lot of prep work on the grass," he said. "We expect to have a lot of good turf. When this is finished I'd love to come back when it's done."