Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Objection to PSC & PBSF Support for Blair Park

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.

Margaret Ovenden
Fairview, Piedmont

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