The Gig Harbor sports community made a showing at Monday’s City Council meeting in support of the new sports complex concept provided by the city’s parks department.
“Not taking this master plan to completion would be a tragedy,” John Montgomery, chair of Peninsula Youth Football, told the council. “Just having one field resurfaced is impacting all of our teams. We need fields."
City Council will meet during a work session on June 18 to discuss the public comments and will return with a master plan in a future council meeting.
At a previous council meeting, the department presented four options for the sports complex. Those were met with hesitation from the council over lack of parking and streets running through the complex. On Monday, parks officials returned with two options, with the biggest difference between them being the number of lighted, synthetic turf fields.
In both options, the northern section of the complex would hold two, side-by-side synthetic turf fields, and there would be multiple entrances to parking areas. No roads would go through the park.
There also would be a natural grass area with two bocce ball courts, and there would be picnic shelters with a nearby bathroom and concession stand. Going south an additional parking would parallel the YMCA’s parking lot. In both options, the southeast portion of the complex would include two lighted, turf fields that would be mainly used for Little League but could be used by other sports, such as lacrosse. There also would be a stormwater pond, additional parking and natural walking trails.
In Option 1, the southwest portion of the park would include a wooded area with natural walking paths. In Option 2, the complex would include two more lighted turf fields which could be used for multiple sports.
Council members commented on the parking offered in both options, with a few concerns about the lack of connection between the parking. Park officials said they were being considerate of residents living in the McCormick Creek neighborhood southeast of the complex. They said McCormick Creek residents have sent multiple complaints to the city about youth sports parents “taking” their parking, in reference to an establish parking lot near the site of the sports complex. The parking lot was built by the neighborhood's developer as a deal with the local youth sports clubs, staff said.
Councilman Ken Malich said he is concerned McCormick residents will have more complaints. Councilman Michael Perrow was also concerned about parking.
"At first glance, it's not an ideal parking lot area,” Perrow said. “Looking at field A4, there could there be parking along the side. Whether it’s for storage or those who frequent the site."
Mayor Kit Kuhn said he was in support of additional parking and trying to find ways to connect the proposed parking sites. He also noted it would cost “millions of dollars” to create roads through the park, which is what led to the design of multiple entrances and parking lots.
Michelle Matheson, who represented Harbor Soccer Club, said the club supports Option 2.
“Both of my boys … play for Harbor Premier Soccer teams. Both asked me to come tonight to represent their teams,” Matheson said. “The teams' excitement is overwhelming. Many of these kids may never see completion of the fields before they graduate. But the heart and passion for the teams and the potential unity these fields will bring excites them. Please vote for Option 2.”
Jim Peschek, a Fox Island resident and a local real estate developer, said he had some comments that could help the council make their decision on the master plan.
“Having all these parking lots that dead end are a nightmare for parents,” Peschek said. “You should have all these parking lots connected. In regards to the McCormick Creek community ... getting people off of Harbor Hill Drive and getting them coming from different directions makes more sense for traffic. I think the connection on McCormick Creek Drive should go all the way through that parking lot.”
Other comments included the lack of space for “minority” sports such as tennis and volleyball.
Overall, everyone who commented asked the council to support Option 2, with many saying having more fields for local kids was more important than preserving local trees.
“I’ll beat the dead horse: we need as many lit turf fields as possible,” Justin Skogen, a local coach, said. “I've hugged trees, but I’ve hugged way more kids. The amount of trees we can save is important, but the kids are more important."
Kuhn said he hoped a master plan could be created sooner than later.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Kuhn said, referring to both of the options.