For the Love of the Game
I am going to try to recap the issue of the availability of our soccer fields in Foster City.
First, let me say that probably more than any other sport, that soccer players and supporters are the most passionate. They live and breathe for the game they love.
A few months ago I received a letter from a resident who was not happy about the decision made by the Parks and Recreation Committee and the City Council to change our policy from needing a permit to use our field from 25 players to 10 players or more.
The issue was a group of “drop in” players numbering 40 or so who get together at lunchtime to kick the ball around and not consider themselves organized and felt this new policy didn’t apply to them.
They didn’t think they were able to get liability insurance (a non-negotiable item) because they weren’t an organized group. They wanted the permit to be free if they worked or lived in Foster City.
I agreed this was a unique dilemma and set up a meeting with Kevin Miller, Director of Parks and Recreation. We agreed to research an alternative and find a field twice a week at lunchtime to accommodate their needs. It would be a different field each month and that schedule would be on our website and other media outlets posted on a regular basis.
This of course would be on a first come, first served basis. If that field is already full then there would be no other soccer field available to them in Foster City that particular day.
With that in mind I kept trying to encourage them to bring a clipboard to their next informal get-together and sign people up. I forwarded the information regarding insurance (about $34 per 6 month period) that was easily attainable. I asked them to turn that information in to the Recreation Department and be assured of a field on two requested days a week. Obviously the benefit being they would be assured of space each day they had that permit scheduled, barring rain closure.
Let me just say that this is how we do it in Foster City. Our fields are pristine because we “think ahead” when planning the use of them and have a budget for our maintenance workers that care for our fields like they do their own backyards. Our maintenance crews care how our fields look and how they are maintained.
That is the driving force behind the policies we make in our City. A drive through our City proves my point. If there is another city that has policies more to their liking then quite possibly that city would be a better choice for playing pick- up games of soccer.
I truly feel we have addressed the issues and staff is working on alternatives as I promised. In meeting again with this resident he was visibly happy with what looked like a reasonable alternative. That happiness lasted about three hours when he appeared in front of the Council as angry as he was a month ago while stating the youth of our community do more damage to the fields than adults.
Our permit ordinance is intended for the maintenance, management, scheduling and safety of Foster City parks and play fields for Foster City residents. Sea Cloud Park was designed for the youth of the community and they will continue to receive priority use. I was perplexed by the presentation of this information in relationship to our Park Permit Ordinance.
Again I am confident that staff will bring forward a recommendation for drop-in play that addresses the needs of individuals who are looking for soccer play. It will be offered at different parks throughout the year on a first come first served basis with priority given to Foster City residents.
This recommendation will be introduced by our Director of Parks and Recreation Kevin Miller at the April 2nd Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. With the addition of this alternative, soccer players can pursue 3 alternatives for play in Foster City: Take out a permit, play in a city sponsored or youth sponsored league or play at a designated drop in site at approved times and locations.
As with many new ordinances, particularly those that impact Parks and Recreation activity, this ordinance will be reviewed with the Parks and Recreation Committee in January of 2009 with a follow up to City Council in February of 2009.
As the City faces the challenge of increased demand for our parks and athletic playing fields it is imperative that good field maintenance practices are in place. Our community is recognized for its outstanding parks system and this ordinance will allow us to continue with that important tradition of field excellence.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2008
For the Love of the Game
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