Posted by Len Gilbert on March 20, 2011
You’ve heard the argument for and against Blair Park. You’ve seen the mailers, seen the lawn signs. But lost in the shuffle is Coaches Field. This field is the only 60 & 70 foot baseball diamond in Piedmont. Thanks to the efforts of the Piedmont Baseball Softball Foundation (PBSF) and the Piedmont Recreation department, the field is now one of the best in it’s class. It’s nicer than fields in Orinda and Moraga and a jewel for baseball and softball in Piedmont.
This abomination has been suggested.
But the controversy around Blair Park has led some ill-informed and short-sited individuals to suggest paving over the beautiful baseball field with a plastic soccer field. Somehow this is considered “the lesser of two evils.” I strongly disagree and hope that you do too. The baseball and softball programs should not be sacrificed in the name of 24/7/365 soccer. The field at Coaches was clearly designed as a baseball/softball field, with soccer as a secondary use. There are already U10 soccer games and practices there. To sacrifice baseball and softball for soccer is not appropriate. This is the only baseball field that can accomodate our 10-13 year olds. The city only has two baseball fields: Hampton and Coaches. Hampton is used by the 7-10 year olds and Coaches by the next group. Our older Pony players (13-14yr olds) use the Witter Baseball field for games, which is a school district property, but they also practice at Coaches. Coaches field is also used for adult and youth softball. To lose this wonderful field to a plastic grass soccer field would be a shame to Piedmont and a disservice to the youth baseball and softball programs.
Whatever your feelings about Blair Park, I ask that you sign the PBSF petition for lighting at Coaches Field, then write to the city council asking them to retain the natural baseball field surface of grass and dirt.
- Please sign the online petition
- Show up at the Piedmont City Council Meeting, 7:30 pm on March 21st, to support both lights at Coaches and no paving over the baseball field.
- Send an email to the Piedmont City Council to let them know that lighting coaches is a well-needed project and an appropriate use of a city park and that covering the baseball diamond with plastic is not acceptable.
Posted in Parks, Recreation, Youth Sports | Tagged: Blair Park, Coaches Field, piedmont baseball, piedmont softball | Leave a Comment »
Posted by movenden on March 20, 2011
Dear Boards of the Piedmont Soccer Club and Piedmont Baseball and Softball Foundation,
As a parent with kids in both soccer and baseball/softball, I am very disappointed in your decision to use your membership lists to promote the proposed Blair Park project. Calling members’ attention to the playfield space issue and to the public process that is going on around this project would be a legitimate use of those lists, but encouraging people to support one particular project is not. Families are very busy and don’t have a lot of time to read through EIR documents, watch lengthy commission meetings, etc. So when they get a communication from a trusted source such as their children’s sports leagues, they are inclined to assume it is an apolitical, neutral message that just states the facts, and many will adopt the view you propose. I know that your one-sided use of your lists has eroded many families’ trust in you.
I started out “on the fence” about the proposed Blair project. Even though in my heart of hearts I would prefer leaving Blair Park as open space, I support finding solutions to our playfield shortage, and I see the benefits of an in-town solution. I am willing, to some extent, to give up on open space in order to meet playfield needs. But as I read the drafts of the EIR and listened to the different hearings, I became progressively disillusioned with both the process and the project. When I commented at the hearings on the first draft EIR, I focused only on the synthetic turf infill issue (which I am happy was resolved in favor of an organic, safer material). At that time, I did have concern that alternatives to the proposed field (both in-town and elsewhere) needed to be studied, but I assumed that would be part of the EIR process. So I was pretty shocked when the next draft came back, and the only evidence cited in the sparse discussion of field space alternatives was a consultant’s discussions with our own Recreation Department Director. I had assumed that thorough, independent research would be undertaken. I also was amazed that child pedestrian safety issues were hardly covered either (and I still don’t think those have been sufficiently addressed …)
I also have strong concerns about long-term liability issues for the City and several other issues. All of these are outlined in the attached letter to the City Council that I have signed on to. As that letter states, I believe that we can and should take the time to look into expanding Coaches into a U-12 field and building two small practice fields at Blair. This would not require cutting deeply into the hillside at Blair, putting up such large retaining walls, and looming out over Moraga . Plus many of the trees and more of the open space could be preserved. I think this would be a much more rational, cost-effective, and less risky use of the available space. It should have been explored from the beginning, but, since it wasn’t and since there are so many problems with the currently proposed Blair project, we need to take the time now to look into it.
I completely understand that volunteers with the sports clubs have devoted many, many hours to searching for playfield space, and that this is a very difficult problem. I am very appreciative of all the efforts of so many in our community to make it possible for our children to play team sports. But I do think we have collectively gone astray by letting ourselves get involved in a one-sided process that only looked at only one project. It’s not too late to get back on a better course. I hope PSC and PBSF will take a leadership role in pushing for a compromise project that will be better for our community.
Posted in Parks, Recreation, Youth Sports | Tagged: Blair Park | Leave a Comment »