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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 9:01 pm | Fair 54º


Lompoc Council Limits Thompson Park to Softball, Baseball League Rental Uses

City leaders support Parks and Rec Commission recommendation to prohibit soccer leagues from renting the facility after its renovation

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Parks and Recreation Commissioner Dave Baker, left, talked at Tuesday’s Lompoc City Council meeting about changing use policies at Thompson Park. Mario Guerrero, Jr., right, the city’s Recreation Division manager, said the changes could put pressure on other city parks. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Amid calls to protect the recently renovated Thompson Park sports field, the Lompoc City Council has decided to only allow softball and baseball leagues to rent the facility.

In making its 5-0 vote Tuesday night, the City Council backed the Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation to switch to an organized single-purpose permitted park and prohibit renting the facility to soccer leagues. 

The playground and other areas of Thompson Park still would be available to neighbors. The sports field also would be open for public use except when rented for baseball or softball leagues in the evenings.

“This change in the policy is not about restriction or eliminating any user groups. It’s just about protecting the investment that your community put together and stepped up to do to help,” said Dave Baker, a Parks and Recreation commissioner. 

The field at Thompson Park recently underwent a makeover involving a volunteer effort by league supporters to return the turf to a good playing condition..

“Number one, that’s what it’s all about is having a safe place to recreate,” Baker said, adding concerns might be different if the city could afford a strong parks maintenance program.

Baker said he supported limiting uses at Thompson Park after seeing the state of Johns-Manville Park fields used by multiple sports after a renovation.

Mario Guerrero Jr., the city's Recreation Division manager, said staff worried that eliminating soccer rentals from Thompson Park will put more pressure on the other parks and cause more maintenance needs at those facilities.

Sports fields, especially those with lights for night games, are at premium in Lompoc, Guerrero said. 

The switch to single-purpose sports field will mean a loss of $2,500 to $3,500 in annual rental fees from AYSO, he added. 

Without Thompson Park, soccer players will wind up at Ryon Park, Guerrero said. 

While representatives of softball leagues attended Tuesday's meeting, no one spoke on behalf of the youth soccer teams in the city. 

Noting that his children participate in soccer, Baker said he has offered to help league leaders with an effort to install lights at the River Bend Park fields.  

The council will review its decision to limit field use in a few months, to assess the effect on other sports programs and the impact on maintenance and revenue. 

In other business Tuesday, the City Council agreed to have staff explore creating a nonprofit organization to support city parks, recreation facilities and programs.

“This came about when we were getting complaints about the parks and what horrible shape they were in,” said Pat Brady, a parks and recreation commissioner.

The Lompoc organization might be modeled after the People for Leisure and Youth, the nonprofit arm of the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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