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Santa Monica High Parents 'Astonished' by City's Latest Sports Field Proposal

 
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By Jorge Casuso

June 22, 2017 -- A City report that outlines six options for a sports field at Santa Monica's Civic Center was met with "astonished" opposition from Samohi parents who have lobbied for a permanent field for more than 12 years.

The plan explores not only the permanent and temporary fields at the center of the City Council's previous discussions, but a plan to install a temporary field at Memorial Park and another to resurrect the Civic Auditorium ("City Proposes Six Options for Santa Monica Civic Center Sports Field," June 22, 2017).

City officials -- who acknowledge a field at Memorial Park some ten blocks from the high school "would not meet the desires of the Samohi community" -- may have underestimated the Samohi parents' vehement opposition to their latest proposal.

"We continue to be astonished at the contortions City staff and Council will go to to avoid fulfilling the promise of a field at the Civic Center," Ann Hoover, co-Chair of the SAMOHI PTSA Civic Center Task Force, wrote in an email to the Lookout.

"The 'economic analysis,' which the City paid for (not the District), is irrelevant -- this is not a commercial project, it's public land, a field and much-needed replacement parking for the heart of our City," Hoover wrote. "It is not something that needs to 'pencil out.'"

Hoover rejected the idea of installing a field at Memorial Park that can be used for sports, such as soccer and lacrosse.

"(T)hat is of zero benefit to SAMOHI students and Downtown field/park users, and would really upset the baseball/softball communities, which have been expecting only diamonds at Memorial Park."

For Samohi parents, the City's report seems a far cry from their original call for a permanent field on the Civic Center lot.

The City's analysis, Hoover said, "fails, among many other things, to quantify and factor in future benefits such as the priceless, incalculable value that fields and open space offer to everyone.

"SAMOHI kids, Downtown residents, and field users City-wide have asked for this field in overwhelming numbers for over 12 years. It's time for the Council to keep its promise, to install the permanent field at the Civic Center and not a temporary one.

"Ultimately, it's a matter of political will and prioritization, not economics," Hoover said.

Hoover noted that the Council has chosen to spend large sums on other projects, including the proposed $76 million City Services building and $45 million for Tongva Park.

"The school district is standing by to contribute over half the cost of this project -- $50 million! -- and believes the field and parking will be of great value to SAMOHI now and over the long run," she wrote in her email.

"Surely Council will not reject this incredible opportunity to have assistance fulfilling its long-standing promise."

 


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