Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Massive Park Closings Proposed for San Carlos

The San Carlos Parks and Recreation Department has announced it will propose closing and fencing off multiple parks this year and the San Carlos Youth Center 10 months of the year. Proposed closures, announced at the Athletic Site Advisory Committee on January 12, include Crestview and Arguello Parks. (see www.SanCarlosBlog.com/archives/856)
"AYSO, CYSA and Little League had field shortage issues before this recommendation," posted Bob Bredel, a local realtor and former Parks and Recreation Commissioner, on his SanCarlosBlog. "I spoke with a few of the presidents of these leagues this morning and "incomprehensible" seems to be the right word to describe their reaction. Having been involved in field scheduling for soccer for many years in San Carlos, I can tell you that the loss of these fields would severely damage the quality of these programs. Additionally, for those who like to walk the parks and informally usethe fields for daily actiities, they will no longer be able to do so since the fields will have a fence constructed around them."

The recommendation for field and facility closures comes as San Carlos faces mounting budget deficits that threaten its operational funding for both fire and police.
"What will happen when they fence those fields off?" questioned Andrew Neff, a resident who lives near Crestview Park. "Will they let the grass die? Won't it be more far costlier to repair those fields? My kids play there every day. I really don't want to live next to a fenced-off, dying park."
Last November, the city failed to pass Measure U, which was expected to raise $2 million through increased sales taxes to suport the city budget. But the City does have approximately $1.5 million raised by the Measure G parcel tax over the past nine years, which is currently earmarked for the creation of a synthetic turf field project at Highlands Park.
"At a time when we should be trying to use our precious resourcs to keep our parks open, the City's approach to our limited sports field capacity is shutting down two heavily used fields in favor of packing more kids onto one plastic field," said Greg Harris, a longtime resident. "City mangers would have you believe that their hands are tied, but if you put it to a vote, San Carlos residents rwant a vote to change Measure G to allow for park maintenance and thus keep two important parks open."
The City will consider bids for the synthetic turf projet at its February 8th meeting. Recent bids posted on the city's web site show that installing synthetic turf on one field at Highlands Park will cost over $2,057,051. (see www.cityofsancarlos.org/publicworks/current_projects/bid_results__pw_projects.asp). The City has also raised the user fees of all youth sports participants (whether they will use Highlands Park or not) by an average of $35 per player per sport in order to pay for the replacement costs of synthetic turf, which is budgeted to be replaced every 8 years.
"At a time when crime, and especially violent crime, is rising in San Carlos, it makes no sense to invest over $2 million of San Carlos' precious resources in a plastic field while we are considering laying off police and fire personnel," Harris said.