Viewpoint: Have County Supervisors broken their promise to area youth?
Recently, The San Mateo County Supervisors voted to delay their promise to area youth. Their decision to suddenly remove the promised baseball and youth sports fields at Flood Park from being constructed this year is a tragedy to area youth, youth sports organizations, and the parents and coaches that mentor this segment of our community. Many area youth have waited for nearly eight years for these sport fields. This delay of three or four or more years means most of this generation of youth will have aged out of youth sports before the County delivers on the promised sport fields.
For at least 14 years, the once beautiful baseball field has been left in disrepair, unmaintained and unusable. The Revitalize Flood Project was to remedy that by restoring the baseball field and adding multi-use fields that could support soccer, lacrosse, and other open field play.
In 2019, the Supervisors were presented the Flood Park project and in November 2020 Supervisors certified and approved the project’s environmental impact report and landscape plan which identified that the youth sports fields would be the first to be implemented in the first phase of a three-phase construction project.
On July 26th, 2022, County Supervisors approved a revised landscape plan that, at the public’s request, re-located all sports fields to the north-eastern side of the park, the sports field side, thus saving the famous Heritage Grove and many other trees (see FloodPark.org). The plan to have youth sports fields constructed in phase one remained unchanged. Funding for the first phase was allocated and was shaping up to finally get construction going this year.
In December, the worst happened: Supervisors unanimously voted to delay youth sports fields at the park by removing baseball field restoration and new sports fields from phase one that will be constructed this year.
Wait, how could that happen? Why did the Supervisors make this decision without allowing the Parks Department’s presentation of the final plan? Why did they suppress public discussion and input? Did they even realize that their decision would break their promise and have such a negative impact on area youth?
The community youth and associated organizations, that have been major supporters of the project, were never notified of this major change to the plan.
To allow this ill-thought-out and damaging action to stand is a major setback for area youth sports organizations, coaches, and area youth. It comes at a time when the extreme weather has already negatively impacted youth sports, as many practice and play locations are not accessible due to saturated and damaged fields.
All of this can and should be corrected now. Construction is not set to begin until the summer. Plans for the baseball and sport field are already well along and could be finalized for phase one. By restoring these critical sports fields back into phase one, youth could be playing on them next season.
Phase one is funded and will start this summer. However, future phases are not funded, with no guarantee that they will be funded. County management and Parks both have publicly stated that a down turn in the economy and impact of inflation could significantly impact the next several years of County projects, budgets, and funding. Add to this the unexpected costs of extreme weather damage this year and forecasts for continued extreme weather events and we have a bleak financial picture. Why, with these looming financial forecasts, put our area youth at risk of indefinite delay?
Knowing the history of how projects progress in the county it is easy to see that further delays for youth sports are likely to occur. So what might at best be a three-year delay is more likely to be a four or six or more year delay? Why put our youth at such risk?
The community and Parks put a lot of effort into the Reimagine Flood Park project plan. Area youth were told and expected baseball and sports fields in phase one. All Supervisor meetings that discussed this at public Board of Supervisor meetings had resulted in these fields being part of Phase one. That was never modified; at least, not until this backroom decision that Supervisors made last December.
Let’s fix this: Don’t allow this broken promise to stand. Let’s deliver the restoration of the baseball field and the new multi-use fields in phase 1 now. There is time. It is the right thing to do. We all need to raise our voice and ask County Supervisors and Parks management to listen and keep their word.
Email: County Board of Supervisors (all): BoardFeedBack@smcgov.org.
Information and Public Discussion of Flood Park, including youth sports;
County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting Nov. 2020: 3 Phase Plan;
Video of BOS Nov. 2020 Flood Park Agenda Item;
BOS meeting July 2022: Parks Presentation to BOS;
Video of BOS July 2022 Flood Park Agenda Item;
BOS meeting Dec. 2022 – Only presentation material supplied;
BOS meeting Dec. 2022 – Resolution.
Author Ron Snow is a volunteer with floodpark.org and long-time resident in the University Park neighborhood of unincorporated Menlo Park.