Northwest NEWS

October 25, 1999

Local News

Parks Dept. sets user guidelines for Sorenson fields

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Parks & Recreation Director Lane Youngblood and assistant Cindy Shelton have presented ideas for Sorenson playfields use policies to the Woodinville City Council. The proposals were the result of studies by Youngblood and her staff in conjunction with the Parks Commission.

   The studies determined the needs and identities of current users of Sorenson fields and the fields' maintenance and management needs for the next year, the first under the city's ownership. City staff conducted lengthy interviews with users, said Shelton, before submitting results to the Commission for approval.

   The Commission and Parks staff agreed that a priority-use criteria should determine who uses the field when, and the level of fees each group will pay. They also agreed to a slight (10-15 percent) reduction in youth league play, to allow time for City events and programs for teens, seniors, adults, and diabled people. Youth organizations will get 70 percent of field use, with 20 percent for adult sports, and 10 percent for senior sports activities. The Parks & Recreation Dept. reserves the right to suspend field use due to weather that would cause excessive damage to fields.

   The primary criteria for priority use of the fields favored City of Woodinville programs and events, youth leagues with rosters comprising at least 80 percent Woodinville residents, and independent youth groups with 100 percent of the participants residing within the 98072 zip code boundaries. The City Council agreed that all leagues are responsible for documenting residency for all participants, and that any violating leagues would pay extra fees the following year.

   A list of other criteria for priority use, fees, and insurance requirements will be available at City Hall after the City Council gives final approval of the proposals. All league organizers should contact Parks & Rec for the reservation times to sign up for "block times."

   The fields are available for public use from Mar. 1 to mid-November, when they are shut down to preserve the exceptionally high quality of turf on the fields. The superior drainage system allows the minimal 25 percent "rest time" for the fields, said Sherwood. Little League baseball has priority use from Mar. 1 to June 1, and the Northshore Youth Soccer Association has priority use from Sep. 1 to mid-November. To reduce injury liability, Field #5, in the middle of the others, will be eliminated.

   Councilmembers Scott Hageman and Randy Ransom expressed concern that current liability does not allow drop-in use for citizens who want to "come down and throw the football around with my kids," as Ransom said. Sherwood said their staff would explore that with the City legal staff.

   Hageman said that teams from outside Woodinville provide valuable competition for local teams, but questioned their being allowed to schedule practice time on Sorenson fields, since they pay no taxes used for maintenance. "Outside" teams should be charged higher fees, he said.

   Councilmember Bob Miller recommended not adding lights to the fields, because of negative impact to local residents.