Public Meeting: Sunday, Oct. 20; 7:30 p.m. at Rome Corners Intermediate School Commons.
There has been a lot of discussion in Oregon regarding the Village Board budget meeting that was held Monday, Oct. 7, specifically regarding the future of Jaycee Park. This is a good thing. The Jaycee Park West Renovation project is a big investment by the Village and will have a huge impact on the community going forward. It is important that we are all on the same page so the project can be a success and that any negative consequences can be mitigated or eliminated, if possible.
If you have not already done so, please read the information (pdf) we sent out to club members last week for background, and watch the video of the Oct. 7 Village Board meeting.
The discussion between Village Board members/Village staff and Oregon Soccer Club representatives starts at 3:08:30 and lasts for about half an hour. It is worth watching. Two other residents also spoke about soccer, and other sports organizations delivered statements. Please take the time to watch those.
Also, there was television news coverage of the situation:
Following the Board meeting, Village President Jeanne Carpenter sent responses to the emails she received from OSC members and concerned parties leading up to the meeting, as well as addressing some community members’ concerns/comments via Facebook. We have included a couple of those correspondences at the end of this message in case you haven’t seen them.
Between the Village Board meeting and the President’s public correspondences, some really good, important information is available. Unfortunately, there are also some points that Oregon Soccer Club feels are inaccurate and we would like to take this time to address some of them:
President Carpenter suggested people attend Village meetings “to be informed.” To confirm, OSC representatives attend these meetings, in addition to meetings with other local sports organizations and individual meetings with various members of Village government. We do believe we are informed. Attending these meetings does not mean your questions will be answered or concerns addressed. We don’t want to assume or infer what the Village’s official positions are. This far into the process, the answers should be straightforward and they should be made public.
On 9/13/18, OSC submitted a letter to the Park Board and Village Board. This letter stated our concerns about the proposed Jaycee Park Renovation plan. We then attended both Park Board and Village Board meetings in October 2018 to answer any questions those groups had. Our goal was to express our concerns, hopefully starting a dialogue with the Village and other sports organizations to create a viable solution for all parties. Oregon Youth Softball wrote a similar letter expressing concerns during this same time. As a result of that letter, the planned diamonds were modified by removing the infield grass and pitching mounds to provide for use by both baseball and softball. In contrast, as a result of our letter, OSC was removed from the proposed plan without notification – the minutes from those two meetings do not show any comments by either side indicating that soccer would be removed from the plan.
On 4/19/19, four members of the OSC Board met with Village Administrator Mike Gracz. During the meeting, we tried to make it clear that there was a misunderstanding in the way Village Staff and Board members interpreted our letter and the intention with which it was sent. We then asked if we could revert to the “old” plan, which had four playing fields instead of two. Mike indicated that was a good possibility. While we still didn’t think it was a good plan, as it spends a lot of money to not add additional playing fields to the Village, it at least would have left the potential for the same opportunity that Jaycee Park currently provides. At the next meeting with other sports organizations on 4/25/19 when this topic was brought up, we were told that the approved plan was the plan and that it could no longer be changed. In contrast, on 8/7/19, the Park Board voted to change that very plan, amending the number of Pickleball courts and changing the fundraising responsibility for that group. The Park Board minutes note this was because of a “misunderstanding between Village Staff and the Pickleball group.”
On 5/17/19, OSC President Eric Anderson emailed President Carpenter requesting a meeting about the Jaycee Park Renovation project and fields in general. A follow-up email was sent on 5/21/19. We received no response from President Carpenter on either occasion. We sent these requests to all seven Village Board trustees; she was the only one who did not reply.
The notion that OSC wants the Village to provide us soccer-only fields is false. Every year, each sports organization submits usage requests to the Park Board. Oregon School District and Village fields are allocated to specific groups based on need in the most efficient way possible. Clubs make requests, not demands. Because soccer has the most participants and plays in both the fall and spring, a lot of space is required. Jaycee Park is the largest facility in the Village and the fields are among the best of those of which we are granted access, so consequently we play a vast majority of our games there. Additionally, having a centralized location with several fields is the least disruptive set-up for the community, allows the soccer club to have a “home base” for the annual Oregon Soccer Fall Fury tournament and allows us to help contribute to the mowing and maintenance of the fields we use.
Within a recent Facebook discussion on the topic of soccer and the Jaycee Park Renovation project, President Carpenter stated that OSC is “not willing to share fields.” We categorically deny this statement. We consistently cooperate with our fellow organizations on several topics, including flexibility of usage of assigned fields. All of these groups, OSC included, should do whatever they can to help children be allowed to play whichever sports they would like.
On 8/21/19, we met with Village Trustee Randy Glysch, Mike Gracz and Jeff Rau (Public Works Director) to discuss potential fields at Village of Oregon Parks that are not currently used as athletic fields. There are approximately 343,000 square feet (slightly less than 8 acres) spread out over eight parks within the Village that we were asked to examine to see if there is potential for fields at these locations. It is accurate that we had yet to examine these locations as of Oct. 7. As a reminder, in the time since that meeting, we have had most of our fall season and organized and hosted the 135-team Oregon Soccer Fall Fury tournament, in addition to our coaching and Board responsibilities for the club, on top of having jobs and families. Please note that of the youth sports organizations involved in these discussions, soccer is the only one currently in season. The process of examining these potential fields is now nearly completed and we will provide feedback to the Village. These parks are mostly located in residential neighborhoods, which gives us reason for concern as we have been previously removed from at least two fields in neighborhood parks due to resident complaints.
For the record, OSC feels the best solution to the Village’s long-term park issues involves creating more space for everyone. Ideally, a larger facility where soccer/lacrosse and baseball/softball are in the same spot so taxpayers are not asked to pay twice for parking lots, shelters, playground, storm water facilities, etc. Such a facility would give the clubs the ability to raise more money from tournaments, which in turn could be used to help offset some of the construction costs of the facility. Jaycee Park could then be available to rugby and Pickleball, providing room for future growth for these fast-growing sports, in addition to other types for recreational activity for Village residents.
Alternatively, now that the Village has committed to buying back the land on Alpine Parkway, perhaps that could be turned into a baseball/softball complex. The taxpayer dollars allocated to the Jaycee Park Renovation project could be re-purposed to give those sports additional space that could help address their impending growth. Soccer, lacrosse, rugby and Pickleball then could share Jaycee Park and the new Highlands of Netherwood Park. Such a project likely would take a little more time, but we believe all sports would benefit more in this scenario than under the current plan and no sports would be harmed.
Even if the current Jaycee Park Renovation plan is the only plan that is willing to be considered by the Village Board, why can’t there be a definitive plan in place to minimize disruption before construction?
We feel it is paramount that everyone understands exactly what is going on and how we got here so we can move forward to create solutions that will benefit all residents in the Village. We will be holding a public meeting on Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Rome Corners Intermediate School Commons, starting at 7:30 p.m. Anyone who is interested in this topic is welcome to attend, especially Village Board and Park Board members and representatives from other sports organizations.
Feel free to email the Oregon SC Board with any questions that you may have.
Thank you for reading,
Oregon Soccer Club Board
Village President Jeanne Carpenter’s reply to several club members via email and Facebook
"Thank you for taking the time to contact me and thank you for your passion on this subject. I'm glad you reached out to an elected official, so that I may have the opportunity to give you a fully rounded viewpoint. I'd encourage you to attend our village board and park board meetings, so that you may arm yourself with facts.
Please know the new proposed plan for Jaycee Park West has two full size professionally engineered and constructed playing fields which meet or exceed the dimensions for a full size soccer field. These will be “shared” fields. The current Jaycee Park west has one full size soccer field and several smaller fields for younger children. These smaller fields are currently situated into the outfields of ball diamonds and in other smaller areas of the park. The proposed Jaycee Park West could easily fit these smaller fields in outfields of the ball diamonds as well as open space on the north side.
I'm sure you've seen one of the original Jaycee Park West concept plans, which showed four full size playing fields which accommodated four full size soccer fields. We were proceeding with this plan, until the soccer club sent a letter to the Village and appeared in person before a committee meeting, saying they did not support this plan and withdrew their support from the project. My memory of the reasoning for this was twofold: a) the soccer club told us they needed “more” fields, not just quality fields and b) as the club leadership very expressly shared last night at the Village Board/Park Board meeting, the soccer club is not interested in sharing facilities. They would like fields dedicated to soccer with “guaranteed” use and priority use. That's not how publicly-owned facilities work. For example, other sports clubs in the Village work with each other to share fields in the Village and outside of the Village.
In exciting news, the Village Board and Park Board endorsed a plan last evening to spend $1.3 million in 2020 to fully develop Highlands of Netherwood Park which will include one full size playing field which accommodates a full size soccer field or multiple smaller fields. This is an expenditure which will directly benefit the soccer club and is being done well before Jaycee Park West will even break ground. This park will have 77 parking stalls, a restroom/shelter facility, walking trails, and a tot lot for young kids.
In addition, the Village Board allocated $244,000 in funds in the 2020 budget to purchase property at Keller-Alpine Park. As a board, we are committed to master planning in 2020 this park and working with soccer to develop this property as a complex which could have up to six full size soccer fields at full buildout.
During the past 18 months, Village Board Members and our Public Works staff have looked at all of our Village Parks and identified numerous underutilized parks in the Village with open spaces that could accommodate full size and smaller soccer fields (temporary or “permanent”). We presented this list to Soccer representatives several months ago and the club leadership told us last night that nothing has been done by Soccer to evaluate these options. That is very disappointing.
The Village Board has been and will continue to be completely open with the planning for parks which will benefit all residents of the Village."