Conditions at Las Piedras Park, soccer users brought to Council attention

October 26, 2001
Santa Paula City Council

The condition and use of Las Piedras Park was brought to the attention of the City Council at the Oct. 16 meeting when several citizens asked for assistance.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe condition and use of Las Piedras Park was brought to the attention of the City Council at the Oct. 16 meeting when several citizens asked for assistance.Area residents - armed with numerous photographs - described the broken glass, needles and trash at the park, including the children’s playground area. More trash cans are needed and control of the soccer teams who use the park, leaving litter that blows into neighbors’ yards. Traffic is also a concern, residents noted.Councilman Rick Cook said the impacts of park use by soccer teams has been an ongoing concern and Mayor Don Johnson asked that a staff report be prepared on the issue.Martin Hernandez, executive director of the Santa Paula Family Resource Center, said a grant has funded the Las Piedras Coalition, which is involving residents in improvement efforts he and Calla Dominguez head up. “We’re very proud of the residents, they’re very involved and willing,” to improve neighborhood conditions including stemming alcohol and drug use.Similar efforts were criticized when tried in the 1970s, said Cook, when “some members of the coalition started getting upset and said we [police] were picking on people. . .I’m for it,” if residents are informed of the goals and ramifications of such programs.Soccer players drink alcohol, litter the park, are loud and profane, said one park neighbor. “We would like to see if they could have more respect for thee families of the community. . .”Park grounds are neglected and cats use several areas as a bathroom.More stop signs are needed in the area and speed bumps; mounds of dirt attract children on bicycles who risk getting hurt, residents said.
Johnson asked if those assigned to clean the parks do so on a daily basis: “These photos are dated at 10:15 a.m. today and the park is pretty sad looking. . .”Public Works Director/City Engineer Norm Wilkinson said Monday is the day that employees must clean up after weekend park use; in addition, the department is temporarily short-handed. More trash cans will be brought to the park, he added.The council discussed more enforcement of the no alcohol rule at the park, and the traffic issues.Out-of-town soccer teams coming to Santa Paula to use the park facilities, “an old topic,” was questioned by Johnson.Community Services Director Brian Yanez said approved soccer teams are listed and “if 50 percent of the players are from Santa Paula,” field use is approved. “We don’t have anyone to monitor,“ teams who get the use of the fields on a first come basis, he added.Cook said user fees for soccer field use should be explored and Johnson suggested same for a park monitor.“Other cities have policies [for alcohol] and three warnings you’re out,” said Yanez.“Yes, but they pay also,” said Cook.

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