City to study funding school sports field upgrades
City leaders are set to explore ways to partner with the school district to upgrade its high school athletic fields. A plan on how to move forward could come in May.
City Councilman Frank Matarrese asked his dais-mates to consider directing city staff to explore the idea, saying the upgrades are badly needed. Matarrese said he’d like to see artificial turf laid down so the fields can get more use. He said the city has engaged in other partnerships in order to maximize limited cash, and he said the city could work out joint use agreements or other deals with the district in order to move forward on the plan.
Recreation and Parks Director Dale Lillard said the city has joint use agreements with the district for use of city fields, but that the city doesn’t currently use school fields. He said resurfacing projects could cost about $1 million.
Councilwoman Marie Gilmore said she thought the idea is worth exploring, but said she was concerned the city wouldn’t get any use out of the school’s fields. And she questioned how much staff time would be taken up studying the idea.
But Mayor Beverly Johnson pointed out that the district’s students are Alameda residents, so the city would benefit by investing in the fields, which Johnson and Matarrese said are unsafe.
“Thompson (Field) is dangerous when it rains. It’s like playing on asphalt,” Matarrese said.
And Johnson said she thought the city should work with the school district to help its high schools have facilities that are as nice as the ones other nearby school districts enjoy.
“We don’t have huge school campuses or nice parks. We need to make the most of that by making the best of the assets we do have, in a cooperative way,” Johnson said.
Another side benefit of the proposal: Written agreements. Apparently some of the agreements the city and the school district have for the district to use city fields didn’t event make it onto a cocktail napkin (sounds like they’ve got one for use of the pools).
“Since this city is so old, a lot of this was on a handshake,” Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said. “We’re doing cleanup.”