Jun 9 2012

OPINION: Rebuttal to Piedmont Soccer Club Past President

Piedmont youth soccer players don’t have to lose practice time – 

The following letter was published as a Viewpoint in the Piedmont Post (6/6/12) in response to a letter published on 5/30/12 by Mark Landheer, past president of the Piedmont Youth Soccer Club (PYSC).

Speaking for myself and not for the Friends of Moraga Canyon (FOMC), I offer the following rebuttal in response to Mark Landheer’s letter of May 30, “The Legacy of FOMC.”

1. The number of kids in PYSC will not necessarily be restricted without the large field at Blair Park. Alameda Point with two fields provided only half the required 3-hour practice time per week for the 330 that play competitive soccer. Existing fields in Piedmont provided the other half.  Piedmont Recreation Facilities Organization’s (PRFO)Steve Schiller said (9/28/11) that one new large field at Blair Park would replace the two large fields at Alameda Point by doubling up; that is, two teams would practice simultaneously on one field. That being the case, doubling up on the existing fields in Piedmont would equally well resolve the lack of field space for the 330 youths displaced at Alameda Point, at least temporarily. There would be no need to turn away any youngster. Moreover, I have visited several alternate soccer fields outside of Piedmont. The field at Laney College in particular was unquestionably available. So, in fact, there are other possibilities for the 330 youths. Roughly 20 percent of these players live outside of Piedmont.

2. Blair Park clearly has the potential to be enjoyed not only by dog walkers but also by many other residents of all ages for passive recreation as a complement to Coaches Field and as an attractive gateway to the City. The East Bay Regional Park District has allocated $507,325 of Measure WW bond funds to Piedmont precisely for the purpose of improving this and other city parks. Cost to the City is not a problem.

3. In the November 9, 2011 Piedmont Post, Lance Hanf, then treasurer of the PYSC, calculated air pollution from the round trips needed for soccer practice at Alameda Point. However, Lance miscalculated the number of trips, assumed an excessive driving distance, and omitted the net difference between round trips to Alameda Point and Blair Park. As a result, his numbers for reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, etc., were greatly exaggerated. Be that as it may, the PYSC at any time could have rented a bus to make just three round trips per night during the 11-week practice season instead of the 60 per night by auto, which would have radically reduced the negative impacts associated with travel to fields outside of the city.

4. On safety, Moraga Avenue will continue to be unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists as long as there are no sidewalks and no bicycle lanes (which PRFO deleted), and as long as the Piedmont Police Department does not enforce the 25-mph speed limit. The Piedmont Public Works Department is vigilant, and we can all be confident that the Monterey pines at Blair Park will not crash on Moraga Avenue.

On another of Landheer’s points, City policy has long been to provide park maintenance. It was the City Council, not the FOMC, that required PRFO to pay for all maintenance costs had Blair been built. Even so, unknown to many, ELS, the Blair Park project architect, defined a “project area” within the site that evidently limited PRFO responsibility to a portion of the park and not the entire 5.6 acres.

Three years ago, I told the City Council that Blair Park was unsuited for the large field proposed and suggested instead an improved “drive-to” public park with various amenities. My comments fell on deaf ears. Not much has changed from my point of view, but the opportunity still exists to complement Coaches Field with an attractive neighborhood park, accessible to the entire community, across the street at Blair Park.

William Blackwell, Piedmont Resident

The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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