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Presidio Playing Fields. From Jim Ketcham, President-SFLL

I just received this important message from Jim Ketcham, the President of San Francisco Little League. It is important for soccer as well. Please pass this on and consider attending.

Coach Gianni


This is a very important request and I ask you to read through it completely.

Your help is needed on September 21st (Thursday) to help the Presidio Trust understand how important it is that they retain and develop playing fields in the Presidio. This is an open discussion on the future of the Presidio in terms of recreational uses and it is extremely important that those of us who care about making good programs available to the kids of the city show up to be counted and heard. Here are the basics:

1. The meeting is at the Golden Gate Club and begins at 7pm. There will be a short presentation by Presidio staff about potential recreational uses inside the Presidio and then a comment period. All in the community are welcome and you are free to come as you are and to bring kids if that is easier.

2. I have heard from a number of individuals very close to the PresidioTrust that this is an extremely important meeting. Here is why:

a. The major debate inside the Presidio is whether or not to return the Presidio to its natural undeveloped state. That, of course, means no recreational facilities. The current position of the Trust is to maintain the status quo (3 recreational areas). That precludes the development of additional facilities. And there is frequent mention of backsliding from even that minimalist position.

b. The Trust staff is in contact constantly with local environmental advocates who have the time and the intensity of interest to be constantly present and constantly in communication with Trust staff advocating their position that as any areas of the Presidio as possible be restored to a natural state---this would not just preclude the development of new recreational fields, it would eliminate existing ones.

c. The staff, understandably, but regretably, has come to believe that this is how the community feels since their daily interaction with the community is only with these environmental lobbyists and advocates.

d. This meeting provides a unique opportunity to let the Trust staff and the Trust Board know that there is a large and also intensely interested majority of the community that wants the Presidio to not just focus on environmental restoration projects but also wants it to focus on retaining and expanding recreational uses inside the Presidio.

3. Here are the recreational opportunities that the Trust needs to understand are vitally needed and desired by the community at large:

a. The retention of Fort Scott, Paul Goode and Morton Street fields---currently the only three fields available for use in the entire Presidio. Currently the Trust is on record as planning to eliminate Morton to uncover a currently underground stream. Fort Scott is also heavily rumored to be subject to loss due to real estate development initiatives.

b. The expansion of Fort Scott and Paul Goode fields. These areas have adjacent land that could be turned into additional playing fields.

c. The renovation of Pop Hicks Field so it is usable. This is the oldest Little League field west of the Mississippi. It has been left in a state of disrepair now for decades after being the home of the military's Little League teams way back in the 1950's. Four years ago, SFLL appealed to the Trust to grant us interim use of this field. Over 100 of our families wrote letters to the Trust in support of that proposal. That episode is still cited by Trust staff of the most compelling evidence that the community wants recreational uses in the Presidio. But the Trust has sat on this for 4 full years without any action of any kind!

d. The development of playing fields at Crissy Field. There are those inside the Trust that believe that it is possible to retain this very large an amazingly beautiful area for open use and also carve out a small portion for perhaps three full playing fields. What a wonderful idea that is.

4. Here is what we need to do:

a. Get as large a turnout as possible to this meeting next Thursday night. We want to show the Trust how much they have misunderstood what the community really wants.

b. We want to make sure we behave in a respectful and orderly manner. For example, this means that we need to be quiet when those with opposing views are speaking.

c. But when we get the chance to speak, we want to make sure they Trust understand how important it is to us. We all have jobs and families and very little time to spend in their offices during the week when they are at work. Youth sports leagues don't have paid staff that can invest time in lobbying efforts. So they need to understand that the support for recreational uses is out there by or presence and our words.

d. Please talk to your friends and make this a real community event. This is not just about SFLL. It is about middle school and high school sports, about youth soccer and lacrosse, about opportunities for girls to play sports (since our own Rec and Park Department is still so biased in its policies there)

e. You are of course welcome to speak your mind in whatever fashion you choose. But most of us are not against the Presidio retaining its wonderful naturally beautifully areas. We just believe that there is plenty of room for both environmental goals and recreational goals to be met. That would include a very significant expansion of recreational uses from what is currently available. We also want the Trust to understand that action is needed. This is one of the slowest moving organizations I have ever encountered. Trust Board members join, serve and leave the Board (3-4 years) and no recreational decisions are made.This is not acceptable.

This sort of input is common in small towns where the town council is known personally to residents. Those communities solve for youth sports issues with very little complication. In San Francisco it is much more complicated and difficult. This is the chance for us to act like a small community would by making sure our interests are heard.

Please put this on your calendar. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday night.

Jim Ketcham President-SFLL

If you have questions, please contact the Presidio Trust Special Events Office at (415) 561-5444.
Posted on 02 Oct 2006 by coachgianni
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