Extract from El Dorado Hills Telegraph 26 November 2003


Letter to the Editor: Bass Lake Park: Field of impossible dreams?

Recently a letter was published from the Foothills Girls Softball League (FGSL) President, who made the statement "that if Bass Lake Action Committee (BLAC) gets its way you can expect the current shortage of places for kids to participate in organized sports to be further limited."

The committee is and has never been against the park. This group and all of the homeowners on the general area are against night time league activities, lights, noise and the nuisance problems that follow, i.e., road racing in/out of park, revelers' excessive drinking, graffiti, vandalism, etc.

As most of the people from the various leagues will travel FROM their neighborhoods to ours to play games, we will endure the problems and problem makers, long after the league players go home.

This is what the committee is concerned about.

There is no argument that explosive growth has led to overcrowding of few fields in the county, and that there have not been enough facilities to keep up with the demand.

Have the leagues looked at the fact, that IF the park gets built out fully, (this could take 5 to 10 years depending upon funding availablity), that there will only be a net increase of two ball fields, and two soccer fields.

The Phase One plan, (for which there is not enough money to fund) only asks for one ball field and one soccer field and these could be another one and half years from completion.

These added facilities surely cannot solve the shortage problem that FGSL makes reference to.

Additionally the use of these fields by adult leagues that "pay" for use of the fields will no doubt take away valuable play time otherwise available to children.

What can make a difference is utilizing currently available facilities that are either under-utilized or not utilized at all within the county.

These facilities are at middle schools, elementary schools, and even at the county fairgrounds.

As these facilities already exist, why not invest some funds to improve these venues which would cost much less that building new?

The existing facilities, which vary in quantity between 6 and 10 fields available, would definitely be a large immediate solution to the need of the leagues, and could be done for a significantly less cost impact than new construction.

This would probably mean the county and schools would need to work out agreements for utilization and maintenance, but these are the same schools that the league children attend, and the same county that these children live in. What a wonderful concept.

Also consider the county budget anticipates a reduction in park maintenance budget of approximately 65 percent in the coming fiscal year. So with 65 percent less money to maintain existing facilities, where do the funds come from to add another park? What does the quality of playing fields look like in the future with these cuts?

Another idea would be for the parents, leagues, and others to invest in property and improvements to create a pay-for-play sports area that would allow for scheduled practices and games, could support umpires, lights, concession stands, etc., and would not be dependent upon county funds or cutbacks to decide the children's fate.

Venues such as Big League Dreams, and Sportsplex USA, have been and are successful examples of how private funds can satisfy the needs of the general public, and schedule many sports activities, keeping thousands of people playing year-round.

A few other facts that need to be considered for Bass Lake Park: The large quantity of asbestos located on site of the fields. Is the county looking for another Oak Ridge High School? Is this what parents want their children to play on? What about the quality of the road and access for children that do not have a ride to the park?

Surely the existing road is unsafe for vehicle traffic, and certainly dangerous for pedestrian use. The county, because of budget concerns, has already stated they will not do any improvements within the park that will trigger the need for the county to spend money on road repairs.

The leagues need to understand the issues regarding the park and explain to the children that there are obstacles of health and safety that are of serious concern and that budget issues will probably prevent much from getting built in short order if at all, and the concerns for the park's effects on adjacent properties and homeowners.

The committee has always supported a reasonable approach to a park and recognizes that children are important, and the impact that the community can have to that goal is tremendous. BLAC agrees that an outlet such as sports can help reduce, as FGSL states, the "participation in chat rooms, alcohol consumption, drugs, etc.," but whether the park is built as planned, or scaled down, or allowed to be developed into homes, the leadership, guidance, and proper tutelage of children must be the responsibility of their families, regardless of sports.

If not, then these children could become the very mischief-makers which BLAC is concerned would "hang out" in the park.

- Dave Glazier, Bass Lake Action Committee.


Extracted/transcribed by Bass Lake Action Committee