January 25, 2005
The Scottsdale Unified School District wants to continue playing ball with the City Council, youth groups and residents. To that end, the governing board will meet at 7 p.m. today to discuss proposed improvements for ballfields at the Cochise Youth Sports Complex.
The project is a cooperative effort with the district, council and Mc Cormick Ranch Little League, Arizona Youth Lacrosse and Arcadia Soccer. The plan is to construct two baseball fields and a parking lot on eight acres at the site near Cochise Elementary School, 84th Street and Mountain View Road.
The key issue is safety. Some residents expressed concerns that adding two fields will increase traffic and create hazards for children.
Resident Al Kitlica is expected to present a petition to the governing board signed by 300 residents opposing the changes.
"Our primary concern is the safety of children," Kitlica said. "Parks and Recreation said the changes aren’t significant. In the past, there was a swing set on this corner. Now, they want soccer and two Little League fields. That’s significant.
"We aren’t opposing the project. We are against the positioning of one field. We want to work with the board and city top find a solution."
Kitlica said the backstop on the field in question is 80 feet from the street, which he and other residents think is too close.
Vice mayor Bob Littlefield, who has met with concerned residents, visited the site and calls the project a winner.
"We desperately need more ballfields," Littlefield said. "Neighborhood opposition came along but I don’t believe they represent most of the neighborhood. They don’t want a backstop at 84th and Mountain View. I just don’t think it’s a problem."
The youth organizations have raised $75,000, which was matched by the city.
The district allowed use of the land and created the site grading plan. Funds were used to match a grant of $130,000 from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority.
"This is a case where parents are looking for reassurance that changes won’t create any hazard in their neighborhood," said Scottsdale district spokesman Tom Herrmann.
"We’re looking at things like fencing to keep foul balls from going into the neighborhood."
Options include netting on top of the backstop and aesthetic improvements, Herrmann said.