For those of you who thought you had heard the final word on the City Council-endorsed synthetic field at Highlands Park, there may still be some life in this seemingly endless and controversial issue. The installation of a synthetic turf field in San Carlos has been present since 2001. After countless community meetings, Park and Recreation Commission meetings, City Council meetings, coalitions, petitions, mediations, and a lawsuit, the synthetic turf issue may have one final day in front of City Council.
With the San Carlos Parks and Recreation Department ready to recommend park closures as a way to lessen the impact of a massive budget shortfall, some have used the timing of this recommendation as an opportunity to call into question the sense of investing 1.5-2M dollars into the synthetic playing surface if we cannot keep other parks in San Carlos open at the same time. The primary source of the funds used to pay for the field are coming from Measure G. Measure G is a city-wide parcel tax of $6 a year and has been in effect for the past couple of years. It’s a bit tricky, but essentially the way Measure G was written, the funds collected from Measure G can only be used for park improvements. While the language is tightly written into Measure G, it would seem reasonable that the Measure could be construed to allow for usage where a park was threatened to be closed. This is the general argument that will be used by many when writing to City Council over the next few weeks.
Supporters of Measure U will argue that if the synthetic field was to be suddenly taken off the table, it would be years, if ever, that it would come back into play. Further, they will argue that San Carlos cannot solve its field hours shortage without having the synthetic field. My feeling is that they would also argue that closing the other parks is not practical and that there needs to be cuts in other areas prior to the extreme step of actually closing certain San Carlos parks such as Arguello and Crestview.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more controversial issue in San Carlos over the last ten years. It appears that the controversy may heat up for one more showdown before City Council.
Great job on your blog.
I read with horror your posting on massive park closures scheduled this year. Ironically, the city is set to vote soon on installing synthetic turf at Highlands field. With the current shortage of field space for sports, and the desire by neighbors to keep parks open, accessible by all residents and natural, it makes no sense to spend approximately 2 million dollars on one synthetic field at Highlands, while closing Crestview and Arguello, plus the Youth center 10 months of the year.
The city’s priority should be to increase accessibility to all our parks, not shut them down in favor of one synthetic field that will be scheduled out to the highest bidders and closed to all others. The outrageousness of its extreme high cost is only topped by the short-sightedness of spending that kind of money on a field that’s only expected to last 8 years. With no budget for replacement cost, Highlands will become an ugly, overpriced eyesore…one that grass seed and a little water won’t repair. It’s time that our city got its priorities straight.
I welcome your participation in helping our City Council see the folly of this expensive investment in a short-term solution that robs all other park and recreation needs.