For those who have a child playing in organized sports in San Carlos and for those who utilize our parks on a daily basis, the following information will seem almost surreal. At last night’s ASAC (Athletic Site Advisory Committee) the Parks and Recreation Department announced their recommendations for budget cuts which will be brought before the San Carlos City Council. When I first heard the proposed cuts, I asked to be told again because I was confident that I did not hear it correctly. The following is a list of all proposed cuts effective July 1, 2010:
Parks which will be closed and fenced off:
(3) San Carlos Avenue Neighborhood Park
(4) Cedar Street Park
(5) Hillcrest Park
(6) Laureola Building
As far as organized sports go, losing Crestview for soccer and Arguello for little league and soccer will severely impact those programs. Both were chosen because they are typically one sport fields. Nonetheless, these fields carry the burden for their particular sports. AYSO, CYSA and Little League had field shortage issues before this recommendation. I spoke with a few of the presidents of these leagues this morning and “incomprehensible” seems to be the right word to describe their reaction. Having been involved in field scheduling for soccer for many years in San Carlos I can tell you that the loss of these fields would severely damage the quality of these programs. Additionally, for those who like to walk the parks and informally use the fields for daily activities, they will no longer be able to do so since the fields will have a fence constructed around them.
Other Proposed Cuts
Closing the above mentioned parks and fields is still not enough to meet the new budget restrictions. Add the following as well:
(1) Youth Center to be closed for 10 months out of the year. The other two months it will be open ONLY FOR REVENUE GENERATING ACTIVITIES. The Youth Center offers many benefits for the kids of San Carlos, including keeping many occupied with constructive activities. This will be a tremendous loss.
(2) All off season sports will be done away with. For instance, spring soccer and fall baseball and softball will not receive any field time whatsoever. The derivative effect of this is that the city will not gain those user fees, which will then force them to pass along that loss to in-season user groups.
(3) An already sparse Parks and Rec Department will eliminate 3 employees, which will result in less support for those parks which will remain open.
The budget shortfall, the defeat of Measure U and the general malaise of the local economy has put the Parks and Recreation Department in a very difficult situation. These cuts will not only impact user groups such as AYSO, CYSA, Little League and Girls Softball, they will impact the entire community. Our San Carlos Parks play a very important role in what this city is all about. San Carlos prides itself on having a wonderful, small town community. Many of the ingredients which go into forming a community such as the one we have in San Carlos is formed at our parks. If these cuts are indeed accepted by the city council, it will be a very sad day for San Carlos.
It really is going to be a sad day for all San Carlos Residents when the effects of these budget cuts take effect in July. This is a look into the cuts of just one city department. You can be assured that most other departments are going to be making similar recommendations on cuts to the City Council.
As our city service’s, roadways, parks, schools, buildings erode over time as will our real estate values. Will this start a slow decline in the desirability of living in San Carlos. Will our current status of a destination city for families looking for a great place to raise their kids erode as well? If something is not done about this, the extra few hundred dollars a year we all would have spent on increased taxes could pale in comparison to the potential decline in our property values.
I hope all of this is not the case, but it is quite a risk to take.