Friday, November 16 , 2018, 6:14 am | Fair 47º

 
 
 
 

Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission Hears Pleas for Sports Complex

'We keep on burying our teens, aunt of teen homicide victim tells panel, which took a step toward planning for the project

Brenda Garcia speaks about her nephew, homicide victim Oscar Joaquin, and the need for more sports fields in the Santa Maria Valley. She brought the youth’s jersey, trophy, sports gear and a photo to the Recreation and Parks Commission meeting. Click to view larger
Brenda Garcia speaks about her nephew, homicide victim Oscar Joaquin, and the need for more sports fields in the Santa Maria Valley. She brought the youth’s jersey, trophy, sports gear and a photo to the Recreation and Parks Commission meeting. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After hearing impassioned pleas about the need for more sports fields, the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission on Tuesday night took the first, albeit small, step toward tackling the request.

Commissioners appointed a committee to work with staff to review the comments from Tuesday and return in October with a plan for moving forward, which Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said may involve a community-based committee to make the project reality.

“We’re all going to have to commit for the long haul,” Commission Chairwoman Yleana Velasco told the crowd filling council chambers. “It’s not going to happen in a year or two. Unfortunately, we all would like it to happen sooner. … We’re going to continue to need your support, your ideas and your input.”

The community support for the project could help get it done, Commissioner Kirk Spry said. “If you keep that enthusiasm going and spread that enthusiasm out in the community it will happen. It will just be a matter of time and money,” she said. 

Commissioner Laura Henderson, thanked coaches, players, parents and league representatives for bringing their ideas and passion for the project.

“I think we share your desires,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a single person that you can find that doesn’t want this for our community.”

Ideas have already been suggested with one option looking at the site once planned for the Orcutt aquatic center. 

“It’s going to take the entire community, possibly outside this community, to see something like this take place, but I think it’s time to move forward,” Spry said.

Spry and Commissioner Henry Grennan were named to the sports complex committee.

Posada agreed the sports complex a much-needed project.

“But I want to make sure everybody understands, no matter who’s doing the project it’s going to take time and it’s going to take money,” Posada said. “It shouldn’t be a reason for us not to do it, but just so that everybody understands that’s the criteria.”

Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada talks to the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission on Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada talks to the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Commission on Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Most soccer games in the Santa Maria Valley use stormwater retention basins for the fields, a good dual-use that allows the city to provide space typically not filled with water.

“The existing parks we have are well-utilized, beyond well-utilized,” Posada said.

Compounding the shortage is the fact local school campuses are locked up, making fields unavailable for practice, Posada said. However, talks are underway to find a way to make the fields available, he added. 

A plan to use part of the old landfill on East Main Street for a sport complex turned out to be financially impossible due to new regulations, he told the commission. 

The push for a sports complex arose from meetings of the One Community Action Coalition which saw local leaders and residents unite to battle a spike in violence.

In addition to pleas for more soccer fields, other speakers shared about a shortage of baseball fields and a place to play rugby.

Carrying a trophy and other gear belonging to her late nephew Oscar Joaquin, Brenda Garcia urged the city to move toward on creating a multipurpose sports complex. 

“We keep on burying our teens,” she said. “Enough is enough.”

The facility should include more than just soccer, she said, suggesting a boxing ring, too. 

“Let’s train and raise more Olympians like Carlos Balderas and Josh Prenot and let’s not raise gang members or fill our jails with our teenagers or bury them any longer. “

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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