City to Receive Sports Park Status Report at Tuesday Council Meeting

sports-complex-stock.jpgAt a special time, that will once again make it difficult for working folks with children in school to attend, the council and the Recreation and Parks Commission will have a joint meeting. That time will be Tuesday at 5:30, the meeting starting prior to the regular council meeting.

One item to be discussed is the status of the Davis Sports Park.  As we discussed earlier this summer, this item has a marked priority for the city, since the city has been looking for additional facilities of this kind for the last decade, at least.


On June 30 this summer, the city had a scoping meeting to discuss the project.  The Vanguard reported at that time that Property Management Coordinator Ann Brunette, from the City of Davis, said that the city has already commissioned Raney Consulting to do an equal-weight EIR of three properties.  The first is the landfill site owned by the City, north of Covell Village.  The second is the Shriner’s site north of Covell and east of Wildhorse.  And the third is Howatt, which is way out to the east of Mace.
A representative from Raney told the Vanguard that the EIR is underway and expected to be completed in three months, with a DEIR ready for public viewing and scrutiny.  One of the concerns about the landfill property is the potential for health impacts.  Ann Brunette told us that the potential of health impacts will be determined in the EIR.  She said there is precedent for the conversion of old landfills into sports facilities, citing Berkeley and a location in the Central Valley.

On January 29, 2008 the Davis City Council directed staff to solicit requests for proposals for preparation of an EIR for a 100+ acres public Sports Park, and rezoning of two existing parks from park to residential use. The Council further directed that the EIR analyze three potential Sports Park locations at equal weight. Partial funding for the project development maybe derived from the sale of the two rezoning sites which are currently in recreational use, with the remainder funded by the sports groups.

The staff report suggests that the project assumes  a non-profit youth sports organization would form, to oversee both construction and maintenance of the complex.  However that does not mean the city does not bear continued costs, and not just for the EIR.

The EIR will come at huge cost to the city.  According to the staff report, “The cost of EIR and development of corresponding conceptual plans is $338,255. The Mace Covell Gateway property owner contributed $46,822 towards preparation of the EIR as part of the $338,255. The cost of the EIR reflects that three equal-weight alternatives are being studied. With the exception of the $46,822 contribution from the Mace Covell Gateway property owner, the EIR and conceptual plans are paid for from the proceeds of the Mace Ranch Development Agreement Amendment. The city has expended $180,940 on consultant fees to date.”

And it gets worse, “Conceptually the financing strategy included exploring the sale of Civic Ball field and Davis Little League complex to help fund improvements.”  From earlier discussions, selling the Civil Fields is not an uncontroversial topic.

The report goes on to say, “Soccer and little league currently pay for the maintenance of their own facilities at Nugget Fields, DYSL soccer complex and Davis Little League fields. All youth sports groups have been setting aside money to fund construction for many years.”

Further, “The fiscal benefits of the project are reduced cost for city maintenance on some fields, and increased sales taxes during youth sporting tournaments. It is estimated that $125,000-200,000 is spent in Davis and the nearby jurisdictions during youth soccer tournament weekends.”


The city is proposing three alternative locations, each of them fraught with their own problems.

Howatt is already owned by the city, but it is in a rather remote location, and there are concerns about the children trying to get to the site without the use of vehicles and minivans.

However, the Mace Covell Gateway has its own problems in terms of ownership and land use issues.

Finally, the Old Landfill site appears to be favored by some of the sports people, but in July the Vanguard reported on previous EIRs that showed toxic chemicals residing in the ground soil.  And while the city has said that “the potential exists to apply for Brownfield money to help develop park uses at the site,” do you really want your children playing on a former toxic chemical site, just because it is cheap land and convenient location?

The bottom line is, all of these sites suffer from problems, but probably the cleanest location is Howatt.

There is also a concern about the city attempting to rezone existing sites, particularly the Civil Center ball field located between A and B just north of Russell.  The site is currently owned by the city of Davis and there has been talk about selling it and developing it.  That would probably trigger a fight with the neighborhood, however.

While the need for good facilities for youth and other participants in recreational activities remains an important consideration, this appears to be a tricky project to implement.

There are a few concerns that remain.  First, the location of the park is a considerable problem.  Neither of the three possible sites are without their drawbacks.  Second, the cost of the EIR is a concern during times of economic downturn.  Third, the possibility of taking current interior park land and converting it for residential use is a further complication. 

The public as a whole (and not just the sports league) needs to weigh in.  Unfortunately, the scheduled time of the meeting makes it a problem for working folks, and those with children, to attend and to participate.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

6 thoughts on “City to Receive Sports Park Status Report at Tuesday Council Meeting”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “There are a few concerns that remain. First, the location of the park is a considerable problem. Neither of the three possible sites are without their drawbacks. Second, the cost of the EIR is a concern during times of economic downturn. Third, the possibility of taking interior park land and converting it for residential use is a further complication.

    The public as a whole and not just the sports league needs to weigh in. Unfortunately the time of this meeting makes it a problem for working folks and those with children to attend and participate.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Business as usual at the CC…

  2. Dr. Wu

    Will the sports complex increase people coming from out of town? If not I don’t see how there are any fiscal benefits from increased sales–you are just moving money around. And the net sales tax to the City is quite small.

    I am concerned that the fix is already in and the CC will approve.

    However I am also sure a new sports complex will be quite popular with many in Davis. (I am a parent but happy with what we have.)

  3. Spruce

    Thanks Vanguard for filling everyone in on the astonishing costs that the city is throwing at this sports complex concept at a time when the city is struggling to figure out how to survive financially.

    To have spent over $180,000 already (just to start with) to study whether we should use a toxic waste dump to locate a sports complex goes beyond astonishment. I have no doubt that there would be parents who would boycott the former landfill site for their children to play on due to the danger to their childrens health. The city can expect a lawsuit from the parents of the first child who comes down with a serious illness (such as cancer) who played on the toxic former landfill. This site option should have been eliminated already. No one would ever trust that any brownfield “clean up” could ever be effective enough to have children rolling around on the grass and soils that have been contaminated for years with the toxic substances dumped in unlined pits used there.

    The Mace-Covell site would cost a fortune to purchase or we would have to trade for a large housing development to get to it. Then we would be stuck with and all the impacts (such as traffic) and costs that would come with both the housing and the huge sports complex.

    The only logical site is the Howet site, or the 100 acres out by the Municipal Golf Course and with the understanding that a sports complex should ONLY be considered if the sports groups take full responsibility for all of the costs. This way, in either of these two locations, if this “experiment” fails at least it would not screw up our city planning or neighborhoods. Will Davis ever have common sense planning?

  4. Jim Frame

    [quote]Civic Center ball field…is currently owned by the city of Davis and there has been talk about selling it and developing it. That would probably trigger a fight with the neighborhood however.[/quote]

    It may be a small thing, but in all the Sports Park documents I’ve seen to date, Civic Center Park is identified as “Civic Center Ball Field.” This designation is inconsistent with the General Plan, which identifies the facility as “Civic Center Park” (General Plan Section V, page 231) and “Civic Center Fields,” a Special Use Park (General Plan Section V, Chapter 9, page 227 and 230). In my opinion, the city is trying to downplay the value of Civic Center as a park.

    Civic Center Park is mostly used for informal active recreation and open space. The developed portion of the park (the baseball infield, dugouts and paved access areas) comprises only about 20% of the park area. The rest is open greenspace used formally for soccer practice and dog training, and informally for active play requiring a large open area (frisbee golf, kite flying, touch football, etc.). The trees lining the north and east sides of the greenspace enhance its value as neighborhood open space.

    Except for College Park – a very small space with practical access only for residents of the College Park subdivision due to restrictive parking and poor pedestrian connectivity – Civic Center Park is the only public open space and active recreation area between Russell Boulevard and Community Park for neighborhoods from Oak Avenue to the railroad. Although Central Park is geographically close to these neighborhoods, it is heavily used, and is separated from the Civic Center Park neighborhood by a substantial barrier: Russell Boulevard, a major arterial and a designated truck and transit route. This access issue, in addition to the persistent presence of homeless and/or transient individuals in Central Park, renders the latter unsuitable for unsupervised play by children.

    Parks that lie within densely-developed areas should be treasured rather than eyed for development. While I support the creation of the Sports Park – I believe the city long ago outgrew its active sports fields – once the Sports Park is built I would like to see Civic Center Park improved *as a park* to better serve its neighborhood. Once reliance upon its athletic fields is reduced by the availability of the Sports Park fields, I suggest that Civic Center Park be updated to provide a more inviting space for walking, playing and sitting. The presence of a more attractive public park will further benefit the neighborhood as it currently exists, and will provide a valuable amenity to the proposed DJUSD parcel redevelopment at 5th and B Streets.

    Disclosure: I’m a resident of the Civic Center Park neighborhood, and the treasurer of the Civic Center Park Neighborhood Association. Much of what I wrote above was copied from a message I recently sent to the City Council on my own behalf, and not as a formal representative of the CCPNA.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for