Residents demand more access to city-owned sports fields

Many users of the Milpitas Sports Center are perplexed to find that the public fields they’ve commonly used for years have often been off limits in recent months.

Locked gates meant to keep unauthorized users and potential vandals off the fields were effectively locked into place after a $3.4 million installation of synthetic turf for football and soccer was completed last summer.

Residents’ accessibility to those fields at 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd., the subject of some debate since the fields re-opened in August, is expected to be reviewed by the Milpitas City Council next month.

During the City Council’s March 31 meeting, some residents said the artificial turf fields should be available to everyone all day while others supported the city’s practice of opening them via reservation only.

City staff noted the project was largely funded not on the taxpayers’ dime but from fees paid to the city by housing builders to upgrade and improve city-owned facilities such as the sports center.

Still, Mayor Rich Tran and councilmen Anthony Phan, Garry Barbadillo and Bob Nunez all expressed an interest in allowing wider public access to the fields, especially during the park’s open hours of operation. Tran said he was saddened about the current limited access because while he was growing up, Milpitas youth could always go to the sports center to play and exercise.

“It’s the heart of the city and it serves the lowest income areas of the city including Rose and Randall and Dempsey Road,” Tran said. “And these folks are disenfranchised and it hurts my heart that this field has been there for decades for the people who need them most, and it was funded by new high-density development, and it essentially put a fence around us and the people who have been living around the fields for generations.”

Tran and the other council …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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