Last night, I chaired what should have been the last meeting of Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee (FPCAC). But instead of voting on whether to recommend the development of a field or fields in the park’s southeast section, the city council asked us to wait – probably a year – until an update of the city’s Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation is completed.

A year.

And if the FPCAC should decide in a year that a field or fields is a good idea, it will be at least three years before a soccer ball hits the turf at Fairview Park.

Key people on both sides of the Fairview Park fields debate acknowledge that kids in our youth sports programs do not have enough places to practice and play. The difference is whether Fairview Park is the place to help relieve the shortage.

At a school board meeting in January, Trustee Vicki Snell suggested that the school district develop a report stating where and when youth sports organizations are using school fields. This is a very good idea – a key piece of information that would not take long to create and which would tell everyone the utilization status of school fields.

Unfortunately, the school district administration has not acted on her suggestion.

We do not need to, and should not have to wait a year to resolve the fields issue. The school district should generate this report immediately and use it to start working directly with youth sports organizations to develop a mutually satisfactory schedule and maintenance agreement.

Sadly, this is not likely to happen. There seems to be only one non-trustee in Costa Mesa who is pushing the school board for the field study and he is not likely to be persuasive enough. Even Snell appears to have given up.

At last night’s meeting, I asked the attendees to ask the school board to develop the fields report. My guess is that not a single person on either side of the fields debate will make the effort.

Part of the reason they’ll take a pass is because for some field opponents, the debate is more about trying to tweak the collective noses of the city’s majority leadership than it is about trying to find more field time for kids. Over the twenty agonizing months the FPCAC has been meeting, I have witnessed countless attendees use their public speaking time, not to offer constructive comments, but to offer an opinion on one or more members of the council majority.

Both sides have forgotten why they’re debating. The issue is about people, but not people on the city council. These people centered in this debate don’t have driver licenses and don’t vote, and so for many residents, they apparently don’t matter much.

The Korean War will have been fought in less time that it will have taken the FPCAC to determine whether to recommend fields at Fairview Park. In the meantime, the real losers are the kids in our city who just want to play.

Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, you should be demanding the fields report from the school board. All of the trustee contact information can be found by clicking here. And/or you can speak at school board meetings which are held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is Tuesday, April 14.

Steve Smith

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