April 25, 2009 in Opinion

Proposed ballfields ill-conceived, unsafe

Peter Ice Special to The Spokesman-Review
 
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As president of the Glenrose Community Association, I would like to clarify our community’s widespread opposition to the South Side Little League sports complex proposed in Glenrose. Residents here are not anti-children, anti-Morning Star Boys’ Ranch or anti-Little League. Many of us are parents and grandparents and over the years have supported the boys’ ranch (on whose property the complex would be built), not the least of which includes financial support.

It is our opinion that locating a tournament-class sports complex in the midst of a semirural community is ill-conceived by both the boys’ ranch and Little League. It will not be a community recreational facility to be freely used by Spokanites. Even the residents of the boys’ ranch will not be allowed to use this facility unless they are fee-paying participants in programs at the complex. This will be a six-day-per-week, year-round complex (envisioned for baseball, football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse), with most of the activities in the afternoon and evening (until 10 p.m. or later). It will be a locked, pay-to-play, private facility, primarily for the use of Little League. Furthermore, it will take a very active tournament schedule to justify and maintain a complex of this magnitude and cost.

The proposed location is both inappropriate and unsafe. There is no bus service and it is not close to schools or other facilities where children typically congregate. The country roads that would provide access to it are not safe for children to walk or bicycle the several miles to and from the complex. The first phase of the complex is planned to have parking for about 350 cars, suggesting only children with private transportation to and from the site will be able to use it, leaving less fortunate children out of luck. Large volumes of cars coming and going to games, especially tournaments, will present a major traffic hazard. Given the narrow seasonal country roads approaching what has already proved to be a deadly intersection, the sports complex will only make a bad situation much worse.

The current Morning Star administration is not making the best decision for its long-term self-sufficiency. Selling off property bit by bit to meet current financial needs will ultimately leave them without this invaluable asset. At best, this is a quick fix without much thought to the future of the ranch, and there are countless more enlightened solutions available. For example, ranch property is prime farmland, and with the ever-increasing demand for local food consumption one can easily envision a successful farm as a source of ongoing revenue, while providing a far greater asset to the broader community. This is just one among many viable options for Morning Star.

The ranch’s current course of action will continue to undermine the long-standing and widespread community support they have enjoyed. Glenrose residents would far prefer to be working to assist Morning Star in finding realistic solutions to their financial problems rather than fighting with them over the proposed complex. Unfortunately, what has become painfully evident is the Morning Star administration does not understand or value the significance of Glenrose as a community or the previous positive relationship we have enjoyed with them.

Folks living in Glenrose have made a lifestyle choice based upon their values and desired quality of life. Geographically, Glenrose is unique in Spokane County and is located in a bowl-shaped landscape, where sound easily carries throughout a several mile area. The quiet of the community surrounding the sports complex will be filled with the crack or ping of the bat and torn by noise and traffic generated by activities associated with the sports complex.

To the benefit of Glenrose and the surrounding communities, the Glenrose Community Association ( www.glenrosecommunity.org), officially formed in 1973, continues to actively participate in county and city planning policy decisions. We are not opposed to development in Glenrose but the development needs to be appropriate to the community. Overwhelmingly, the residents of Glenrose prefer appropriate residential development rather than a private, pay-to-play sports complex that duplicates a commercial facility. We are not opposed to children and sports – we understand the needs of both the boys’ ranch and Little League. We are passionate about our own community and what is best for it – and at the same time concerned about what are poor decisions being made Morning Star and by Little League.

Peter Ice is president of the Glenrose Community Association.


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