Jan 12 2012

Opinion: Youth Soccer Use of Blair Park is Needed

A Resident Explains Benefits of Local Field

It is sad and disappointing to see Friends Of Moraga Canyon sue the City of Piedmont about Blair Park.  Let me explain some of the benefits and reasons to Piedmont and Oakland residents why they should not sue, and why so many in both cities are in support of building Blair Park:

  • If FOMC successfully sues to stop Blair Park, it will deny both Piedmont and Oakland kids the ability to play soccer and other sports as there are no other local fields available.
  • There are more than 200 Oakland kids playing on Piedmont Youth Soccer Club teams, in addition to Oakland kids who play on other Piedmont sports teams, such as baseball/softball and lacrosse.
  • 300 players a week can practice soccer at Blair Park instead of in Alameda, including kids from Oakland.
  • Since the fields in Alameda will NOT be available to PSC after 2012, having Blair Park field will fill that void.  Without Blair Park, Piedmont sports clubs will have to turn players away,
  • Many Montclair, Rockridge and Oakland soccer teams will benefit from playing games locally at Blair Park, instead of having to drive to Alameda to do so.
  • No other city will provide Piedmont youth sports clubs with field space as their own clubs are in dire need as well.
  • Studies show that there will be a 1-2% increase in traffic on Moraga Avenue during the hours that sports groups use Blair Park; not enough to impact traffic, and an even smaller fraction of the time on an annual basis.  Of the traffic going to Blair Park, the vast majority will remain in Piedmont, not impacting traffic at the Harbord/Moraga intersection in Oakland or elsewhere.
  • The benefits to our environment and sports families of building Blair Park are huge.  No longer needing to travel to Alameda will mean, on an annual basis for soccer alone, more than 100,000 miles NOT driven and more than 100,000 lbs of carbon NOT emitted into our community.  In addition, hundreds of hours of driving time will NOT be spent by players and their families during rush hour traffic, greatly reduced the risk of being involved in car accidents, as well as the considerable monetary savings to our Piedmont and Oakland families.
  • There will be a net increase of 39 trees at Blair Park, with 74 existing oak trees remaining while removing many beetle-infested trees (at no cost to the City).  The new trees will actually reduce CO2 emissions, while the existing trees do not as they are fully grown.  There will also be a dog park, a grassy glade area to play and many other nice amenities for the entire community to enjoy throughout the entire year.
  • Building Blair Park is privately funded and the maintenance will be paid for by the user groups.
  • The traffic mitigating measures in the Blair Park plan will make travelling on Moraga road much safer and not cost the City anything, another win-win.

I hope FOMC would see the greater good of accepting the City Council’s decision.  Furthermore, the majority of letters and speakers to the council about Blair Park were in favor, the environmental and community benefits of building Blair Park are much greater than keeping it unused and inaccessible as it is today.  Most of the recent changes, such as a roundabout, moving the entrances to the park and lowering the retaining wall were due to feedback from FOMC.  After 5 years of review and analysis, it was time for the city to decide to move forward with this project.  Just because one may not like the outcome of a city’s decision, should not mean that one must sue.

Mark Landheer
President, Piedmont Youth Soccer Club

Editors Note:  The opinion expressed is that of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of PCA.

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