Parks district's field use plan gets user OK

A divisive fight over field use and park access may come to an amicable end this month.

After a youth soccer coach was banned from the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District properties for failing to follow parks staff direction, and the coach’s subsequent pardon by the parks commissioners, a field use plan has been agreed upon by the parties involved.

“All the user groups agreed that that met their requirements,” Commissioner Matt Simms said.

Leaders from the school district, youth football, youth soccer, little league and ultimate met with parks staff and parks commissioners for three hours March 27. They went over when their groups use the fields, which fields are needed and staff reasoning for closing them at certain times. Simms said they went over the field use plan line by line, page by page. As a result, the parks district now has an annual schedule outlining when and how many fields will be available. The general guideline is to keep at least one field open for each sport all year, except for baseball, which will have one field open from March to November.

In the course of the meeting, it was discovered that two periods every year present a significant problem for the district and parks users: early March and most of October. Simms said those times see heavy use coupled with weather conditions that leave the fields at risk of excessive wear or turf disease.

“We have both users and fields that are highly subject to damage,” Simms said.

To tackle the issue, the groups will meet with parks staff in late February and late September to discuss upcoming use and field restrictions.

“We’re going to over-communicate,” Simms said.

The district kept in a clause that it will do its utmost to keep at least one field open, but reserved the right to close them all if conditions could lead to injury.

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