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FROM: ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER/CITY CLERK
DATE: NOVEMBER 7, 2006
SUBJECT: STATUS OF GIRLS’ SOFTBALL AT UPPER HESSE PARK
1) Receive a status report on the creation of two girls’ softball fields at Upper Hesse Park; and. 2) Provide staff with any further direction.
In June 2004, City Council directed staff to complete preliminary construction design drawings and cost estimates to construct two girls’ softball fields at Upper Hesse Park and Ryan Park and to study the impact the development of one or both of these sites would have on existing recreational uses. The results of that effort were presented to City Council on March 29, 2005. At the time, staff estimated that it would cost $486,200 to build two girls’ softball fields at Upper Hesse Park and $823,296 to build similar facilities at Ryan Park. Because developing two girls’ softball fields at each park site would result in significant adverse impacts to other existing sports leagues that currently use these two sites, staff recommended that two girls’ softball fields be provided at Upper Hesse Park and that Ryan Park be retained in its current configuration, thereby allowing some of the displaced sports leagues to be moved to this park and maintaining some balance between the competing demands for public sports facilities.
On March 29, 2005, Council adopted staff’s recommendation to allow two girls softball fields to be developed at Upper Hesse Park and directed staff to negotiate financing arrangements with the Palos Verdes Girls’ Softball League. The specific amount of funding the City would contribute to the project was not specified at the time, based on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Girls’ Softball League’s (PVPGSL) representation that if the City provided the site, the League could raise the majority of the funds needed for the project though private cash donations or in-kind services. To assist in funding new girls’ softball fields, the City applied for a $300,000 grant from the California State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities program in November 2004, which would provide a significant portion of the funds needed for the project.
In September 2005, the City received notification from the California Department of Parks and Recreation that the City’s grant application for girls’ softball had been denied. The State indicated that it had received 212 applications requesting almost $153 million in funding for the approximately $23 million available through the grant project.
Since March 2005, staff has remained in contact with the representative from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Girls’ Softball League (PVPGSL) regarding its efforts to raise private funds for the project. Below is the current status of private funding for the project:
1. Completion of the Construction Drawings
City staff provided PVPGSL with copies of the preliminary construction drawings both in hard copy and on computer disk. PVPGSL indicated to staff that they would coordinate and pay for the completion of the final construction drawings (originally estimated at $65,910) using DMc Engineering, the firm the City hired to prepare the preliminary drawings. PVPGSL is in the process of setting up a meeting with DMc Engineering and the Public Works Department to review the City’s required engineering parameters and other standards before DMc Engineering begins work on the project.
1. Construction of the Softball Fields at Upper Hesse Park
To date, PVPGSL has not launched a capital campaign to raise private funds to construct the fields at Upper Hesse Park, although the League board as discussed the need to undertake this activity. In addition to cash donations, at the time that PVPGSL was advocating a four field facility at Lower Hesse Park, it reported that Lowe Enterprises had made a verbal commitment them to grade the site for the new fields in conjunction with the grading activities taking place at the Terranea resort hotel property. The March 2005 cost estimate for demolition and grading the Upper Point Vicente site was $48,724), thereby making Lowe’s previous commitment a significant contribution to the project. However, with the delays in the construction schedule for the resort hotel project and, the change in the location from Lower Pointe Vicente to Upper Hesse Park, PVPGSL is in the process of reconfirming Lowe Enterprises’ commitment to assist with the project. PVPGSL will be prepared to provide Council with an oral update at this evening’s meeting.
It has been over a year and a half since Council authorized PVPGSL to proceed with raising private funds to develop two girls’ softball fields at Upper Hesse Park. While the League has committed to funding and has made some progress towards completing the project’s final construction drawings, to date it has not made any substantial progress in raising private funds for the construction of the new facility.
Any City funding for this project would come from the General fund reserve.
Regarding on-going operating costs, PVPGSL would be responsible for all maintenance of the infield areas through an agreement with the City and the City would maintain the outfield, irrigation system and fencing. Because the areas that would be maintained by the City are already developed active park areas, staff does not anticipate a significant increase in costs to maintain the same areas once the two fields have been built.
For the Council’s information, staff has updated and attached a chart that appears in the Draft Open Space Planning and Recreation and Parks Strategic Plan that was presented to City Council in June 2004. This chart identified the various youth athletic leagues currently in operation on the Peninsula, their enrollment and which facilities they use for practices and games in the community.
Excerpt City Council Minutes of March 29, 2005
EXCERPT CITY COUNCIL MINUTES
Girls' Softball Fields (1201)
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru presented staff report and the recommendation to: 1) Approve the development of two girls' softball fields at Upper Hesse Park; 2) Decide to leave Ryan Park in its current configuration to accommodate some of the recreation uses displaced from Upper Hesse Park; and 3) Direct staff to negotiate financing arrangements with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Girls Softball League to construct the fields at Upper Hesse Park.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru responded that permanent fencing would only be placed on the baselines and that there was enough distance between the two fields to not require outfield fencing. She advised Council that staff and the City’s consultants had worked very closely with the representative from the Girls’ Softball League to make sure the field design met with their requirements for minimum dimensions and other specifications.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted his understanding that displacement of other recreational uses may occur due to two seasons being contemplated for girls’ softball: their regular softball season, February through May, and then the contemplated extra season in fall/winter; and noted his understanding that if the fall/winter girls’ softball season was removed, the displacement of other sporting programs may not occur.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru directed the Council’s attention to Circle Page No. 6 of the staff report, which discussed the displacement issues.
Councilman Gardiner questioned to what degree the schedule had been cross-referenced with the School District’s activities on the peninsula and whether there was a master plan that cross-referenced all these sporting activities.
City Manager Evans indicated that there was no master plan that cross referenced all the sporting activities taking place on the peninsula; but advised that staff had conducted a lot of research on these activities; and stated that the draft Open Space, Planning and Recreation & Parks Strategic plan contained a spreadsheet, which was part of the attachments to this report, that listed all the various sporting activities and where they are played/practiced throughout the peninsula.
Councilman Gardiner expressed his preference for every sporting entity to get together and coordinate the use of the existing peninsula facilities and to develop an optimal allocation of facilities among themselves. He noted his belief that the needs of some of the youth sports groups could be met in this manner.
Mayor Clark urged all sports groups on the peninsula to get together to address this issue in a peninsula-wide basis, commenting on his disappointment in the lack of coordination among the various entities on the peninsula; and stated that initially there was a positive response from the School Board, but that there had been no further reaction to the City’s attempt to schedule a joint School Board/RPV City Council meeting to discuss common issues.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz advised his colleagues that there was a peninsula-wide coordinating council for youth activities; he noted his past efforts with coaching the youth on the peninsula; commented on the limited number of sporting venues available in the community; commented that the City of Rancho Palos Verdes does not have any park or other land on which organized softball and baseball is played; and noted that Hesse Park is the only Rancho Palos Verdes field used by organized youth sports leagues.
Councilman Gardiner stated that he would like to see an inventory of the sporting venues, would like to know what the demand was for those facilities and to match that demand to the available capacity in the most effective way. He added that, if there was not enough capacity, then the competing uses needed to be prioritized; and stated that these activities and venues needed to be sorted out and allocated in a systematic manner.
Councilman Long noted his understanding that most of the existing recreational fields were built when there was little, if any, organized girls’ sports programs and that this needed to be taken into account; expressed his belief that RPV would not be able to persuade the other entities on the peninsula to act in a collaborative manner on this issue, but noted his hope that this situation was not an insurmountable barrier to proceeding. He pointed out that RPV did not have the land nor the money to develop the kind of additional facilities the girls’ softball league envisioned, which was four softball fields at one location with a lot of additional parking; and therefore, the City was looking at the possibly of an incremental solution.
Mayor Clark asked staff for an update on the communications with the School District Superintendent on this matter.
City Manager Evans indicated that he believed the School Board would be willing to meet with Council on this issue – pointing out that it had been proposed by RPV; and advised that the School Board was considering the possibility of putting some girls’ softball fields/youth sports fields on one of its school sites in Palos Verdes Estates. City Manager Evans noted his concurrence with Councilman Long that this matter can be studied for many more years, but that it wouldn’t get the City much more information than was currently available. He added that staff and the interested entities had been looking at this issue for 2-3 years and that he was not sure much more information could be obtained than what currently existed. He noted that a summary of all youth athletic leagues in the City was included on Circle Page 22 of the staff report for Item No. 5 (Parks, Recreation and Open Space Strategic Plan), which identified what fields each group used for practice, how many players they had, what their season were, etc.; and expressed his belief that the youth leagues and/or the high schools would have to provide the information Councilman Gardiner was seeking, if for no other reason than RPV had the fewest opportunities for youth sports than any other peninsula city.
Councilman Gardiner noted his hesitation in piecemealing this effort, expressing his belief that the City provided opportunities that were not provided by other peninsula cities.
Mayor Clark indicated that he was recently contacted by Erin La Monte, president of the Council of PTAs, who indicated that the PTA leadership was struggling with this same issue; and that Ms. La Monte also indicated they have taken it upon themselves to try and combine all of the needs and requirements across the peninsula and weigh those needs against the assets; and he encouraged anyone who had the power on the peninsula to bring all of the stakeholders together in order to comprehensively study this matter and solve the problem.
Councilman Long stated that any further attempts to meet with the School Board and/or the other cities unnecessarily delayed this effort – pointing out that there had yet to be a favorable response from other cities to this request; expressed his belief this was a deficiency the City needed to take a proactive position on; and pointed out that RPV had over 60 percent of the population on the peninsula and that RPV was providing far less than 60 percent of the active recreational facilities. He added that it was unfortunate the various entities on the peninsula were fragmented on some issues and reiterated his doubt that all parties would ever be able to meet to work out the perfect solution to this particular problem.
Mayor Clark noted his concurrence with Councilman Gardiner’s comments regarding the need to get all the stakeholders to meet and confer on this issue. With regard to Ryan Park, Mayor Clark asked staff for additional input on the drainage deficiencies on the site.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that during the recent winter storms, a lot of water flowed across this property; that staff had received some calls from adjacent residents suffering water damage to their properties; noted that the source of most of the runoff was the Los Verdes Golf Course; and stated that the current surface/drainage ditches in the park were too small to handle the volume of storm water and that a larger underground pipe was needed.
With regard to Mayor pro tem Wolowicz’ inquiry regarding the existing field on the east side of Ryan Park, Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru explained that it would be moved over and rotated to the west in order to minimize earth movement and correct an existing outfield deficiency. She added that the tot lot will be relocated and that the new fields will meet ADA requirements.
Mayor Clark thanked staff for a comprehensive report.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru thanked the Recreation and Parks Department and the Public Works Department for their assistance with the girls’ softball fields project.
Councilman Stern noted his concern with the steep slope close to the outfield area.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that the slope was 3:1 in steepness, adding that it originally designed at a 2:1 slope, but was reduced to minimize the visual impact of the fill as seen from the adjacent residential properties
Councilman Stern stated that he was concerned with this slope being close to the adjacent residential area; and asked how people would get to the southwest corner of the park, which was shaped like a panhandle, when a game was being played on the field.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru noted that there was a small area to get between the baseline fence and the golf course fence, but that it would be difficult to get to the southwest corner of the park when a game was being played – pointing out that the most logical way to get to that area was to walk across the outfield. According to her understanding, this remote area of the park was not heavily used.
Addressing Councilman Gardiner’s inquiry regarding the cost thus far to undertake this study, City Manager Evans estimated that between $30,000 and $40,000 had been spent.
Councilman Gardiner highlighted for the public the City’s ongoing work on this issue; and he questioned who would pay for the construction of the fields; and whether the City had negotiated with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Girls’ Softball League on the financing.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru responded that the girls’ softball league had represented that it would provide the funding or in-kind services to help offset the construction and maintenance costs of the fields.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz stated that there needed to be participation from the girls’ softball league to help the City with financing this effort.
Councilman Long indicated that his participation in this venture had been in reliance on the comments made by the league that it would be able to raise the money to help fund these fields.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru reminded Council that the City had applied for a $383,000 state grant to build two girls’ softball fields at the Upper Hesse Park site and stated that staff expected to hear whether the City was successful or not with that application in June 2005.
Councilman Gardiner cautioned Council to make it clear that the City would provide the land, help with funding, but that these facilities would not become the possession of the girls’ softball league, and that multiple uses would be permitted to use these facilities.
Todd Anderson, Rolling Hills Estates, representing the Palos Verdes Girls’ Softball League, expressed his belief that staff had done a good job designing regulation softball fields at the two park sites; pointed out that the effort to provide regulation sized fields for the girls started in 1999; and explained that the need for girls’ softball fields was unique. He stated that the league did not come before Council for its sole interests, but to also promote additional facilities for all organized youth recreational needs on the peninsula. He explained that sports leagues had grown dramatically in size from when the existing fields were built 30 to 40 years ago; and that more girls were participating than ever before, quickly approaching equal numbers to boys’ sports. He stated that the recreation leagues routinely and proactively coordinated field uses on the peninsula to accommodate the various needs. He added that installing lighting would extend the hours of play and allow for more availability of the facilities; stated that he accepted that Council was not amenable to putting four fields on one site in RPV; and mentioned that it was likely in the near term that some of the School District’s fields would be put out of commission due to potential construction. He noted the league’s efforts to bring this issue to all cities and the School District on the peninsula; noted that he was grateful to see the movement in RPV on this matter; and given the continued cooperation and coordination of the recreation leagues to take advantage of every available field on the peninsula, he urged Council to vote in favor of the plan, and noted that the league would gratefully accept any additional playing fields.
Councilman Stern stated that he wanted to maximize the use at all facilities as much as possible, but stated that the allocation needed to be equitable across the board for all sports, especially when considering the issue of displacement.
With regard to Hesse Park, Mr. Anderson acknowledged that when multiple groups were using the same facility, there would be some displacement – noting that if a soccer game was going on, neither softball field could be used; and stated that the sports leagues would cooperate with all interested parties to maximize game and practice time at the facilities for all youth sports teams.
Councilman Gardiner asked for additional input on the funds needed to operate and maintain the fields.
Mr. Anderson advised Council that the funds generated by the snack shack sales supported the operating and maintenance expenses; explained that generally the manual labor was free; advised that various sport leagues used the snack shacks to generate funds; explained that the recreation leagues voluntarily maintained just about every playing field on this peninsula; and that these fields were maintained throughout the year and that this had been done for at least the past 30 years. He added that the recreation leagues had tremendous capability to generate funding for capital improvements to make this venture happen, but noted that the land was the most difficult component to obtain.
Mayor Clark noted his support for the staff recommendation; stated that he was intrigued with the leagues’ optimism for fund-raising; and noted that if the state grant moneys were obtained, a good deal of the financing would be covered. He asked for Mr. Anderson’s thoughts on the possibility of providing 2 to 3 fields at Eastview Park for a limited 3- to 5-year period of time before the Sanitation District was expected to use the site as a construction staging area for a new sewage outfall facility.
Mr. Anderson stated that the league would gladly use fields at Eastview Park for whatever time was allotted; expressed his belief that it would be more cost effective to design fields for football, soccer or volleyball, rather than softball – noting that it would cost a lot of money to reinstall softball facilities if they were displaced during construction of the new sewer outfall; but he reiterated that any additional fields would be welcomed given the desperate need for sports venues. He added that the sports leagues would be happy to work with staff on these matters.
Art Connor, Rancho Palos Verdes, asked that the City get a definite answer as to the league’s funding of this project, how much it would provide and from where the funds would be obtained.
Barbara Sattler, Rancho Palos Verdes, thanked staff and Council for their efforts in this endeavor.
Jim Moore, Rancho Palos Verdes, representing the Pacific View Homeowners Association, stated that the association was strongly against the extra ball field being proposed for Upper Hesse Park, but noted that because it was likely that an extra ball field would be placed at Hesse Park, he offered the following suggestions that would help alleviate the neighboring residents’ concerns about the increased parking demand, traffic and trash: 1) suggested expanding the parking lot north of the existing community building, believing that this could add 20 to 40 more onsite parking spaces; 2) suggested the City establish operating rules/regulations for the snack shack; 3) that strong regulations be put in place to keep the park free of trash; and 4) that proper drainage of the park be installed so storm water runoff did not go down the hill. He expressed his belief $486,000 was excessive for this project on this small area. Mr. Moore stated that Lower Hesse Park could use some minimal improvements, especially with regards to drainage and trails.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru advised Council that drainage improvements were incorporated into the plan for Upper Hesse Park; and noted that staff would explore the possibility of providing additional parking onsite.
Wendy Klashman, Rancho Palos Verdes, co-president of the PV Girls’ Softball League, on behalf of the league, she thanked Council and staff for their efforts and for allowing them to be involved in the planning process. Ms. Klashman stated there was support for the staff recommendation; advised that the league made a big effort in being good neighbors; and that they were accustomed to cleaning up after all games, being very sensitive to leaving the areas cleaner than before they arrived. She stated that it had been a struggle that season to find enough practice fields due to the growing league membership, and she urged support of staff’s recommendation.
Dave Kadota, Rancho Palos Verdes, noted his support for staff recommendation.
George Uraguchi, Rancho Palos Verdes urged support of staff’s recommendation, adding that this would help enhance the talents of those players who aspire to obtain sports scholarships for college; commented on the sports organization’s funding of improvements at various venues; and he urged dialogue between the league and the homeowners association to make this a successful effort.
Larry Vandenbus, Rolling Hills Estates, soccer coach and representative of AYSO, noted his support of the proposal; and expressed appreciation of Council and staff for their efforts in finding a solution for girls’ softball. He noted his concerns with displacing AYSO activities at Hesse Park, advising that AYSO did not use the field in spring, that it only used the field in fall; and noted his desire to cooperate with all sporting leagues.
Anne Marie Risquez, professional softball instructor, noted her pleasure with the progression of the efforts to provide new girls’ softball fields in the community; and stated it was time for the girls to have their own fields, adding that more teams were being formed each year.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Councilman Gardiner, to approve the staff recommendation; with direction to staff to work with the Palos Verdes Girls’ Softball League to develop a plan for project cost sharing; and to work with the Girls’ Softball League and AYSO to minimize scheduling conflicts on the new fields between the two sports leagues during the fall/winter season
Mayor Clark requested a friendly amendment to the motion to direct staff to continue to explore with the County Sanitation District the possibility of providing additional sports fields at Eastview Park for use in the next 3- to 5-years.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz accepted the friendly amendment to his motion.
Councilman Gardiner asked that the friendly amendment be treated as a separate motion.
Councilman Stern agreed with Councilman Gardiner, stating that because Eastview Park was not specifically related to this agenda item, it should be dealt with separately.
Councilman Long requested a friendly amendment to Mayor Pro Tem Wolowicz’s motion to direct staff to study the possibility of adding additional onsite parking spaces at Hesse Park, as suggested by Mr. Moore, and that staff obtain public input on the appropriate rules for snack shack operations.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz accepted Councilman Long’s friendly amendments.
Mayor Clark agreed to have the issue of exploring the provision of additional fields at Eastview Park considered as a separate motion.
Mayor Clark clarified the motion on the floor as follows: to adopt staff’s recommendation; and to direct staff to negotiate financing arrangements with the Palos Verdes Girls’ Softball League; explore the possibility of providing additional parking at Upper Hesse Park; obtain public input on appropriate rules for the operation of the snack shack; and work with the sports leagues to minimize the scheduling conflicts during the soccer season in order to limit displacement.
Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved, seconded by Mayor Clark, to explore the placement of 2 to 3 youth sports fields at Eastview Park; and to address cost sharing of this project with various youth sports leagues. Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
Mayor Clark recessed the meeting at 9:12 P.M. and reconvened the meeting at 9:25 P.M.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted his concern that the left outfield on the existing ball field at Ryan Park sloped down, creating a less than optimal design; and asked what the estimated cost would be to level the area to provide better play and improved safety.
Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Petru stated a rough estimate would be $25,000 to $27,000 to correct the deficiency in the left outfield at Ryan Park. The estimated cost breakdown was $10,000 for re-grading, $6,000 for replacement of sod, $5,000 for reorienting the irrigation and possibly $6,000 for outfield fencing. She noted that the cost could possibly be reduced if the construction was coordinated with the construction of the two new fields at Hesse Park.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz noted that the City had the opportunity at a rather nominal cost to obtain an additional field while the City was exploring other options and would at least improve an existing field for drop in use. He questioned if staff needed the Council to take a particular action in order for staff to further pursue this issue and whether the work needed at Ryan Park could be coordinated with the construction of the new softball fields at Hesse Park, thereby improving an additional field for perhaps under $20,000.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz moved to direct staff to study the existing conditions at the Ryan Park and to come back to Council at a future meeting with recommendations for possible improvements to the existing field, most notably the left outfield, but also any other minor repairs that may be deemed necessary.
Councilman Stern noted that the Open Space Planning and Recreation and Parks Strategic Plan included a study of the various parks and made recommendations for various improvements.
Director Rosenfeld noted the Strategic Plan did not include any particular recommendations regarding the ball field at Ryan Park.
Councilman Stern seconded the motion.
Councilman Gardiner questioned if the field at Ryan Park would be improved as a softball field or if it would be available for other sports activities.
Mayor pro tem Wolowicz amended his motion to include multipurpose sports.
Councilman Stern accepted the amendment to the motion.
Without objection, Mayor Clark so ordered.
Mayor Clark advised Council that there were two fairly weighty items following Agenda Item No. 4 and reiterated his intent to adjourn the meeting no later than 11:30 P.M., noting his expectation that the next item would be the last one considered for the evening.
Councilman Long noted his support to adjourning the meeting no later than 11:30 P.M.
With regard to Agenda Item No. 6, Update of the Conceptual Trails Plan, Councilman Gardiner requested that staff provide a simplified map indicating specifics such as labeling, indicating the ownership and the location of the individual trails.