Let There Be Lights - Again
At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May, 15th, the council will have before them as part of the Consent Calendar the issue of approval of contracts for the lighting of The Farm Sports Complex. Under normal circumstances, unless a member of the public or a member of the council pulls an item from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion, the entire calendar is voted on as one item. This item, number 7 of 12, will be pulled because Councilwoman Katrina Foley has a conflict of interest - she lives near the Farm and cannot vote on the lighting issue. So, this subject will get it's own hearing and vote.
As anyone who has been following this subject for the past couple of years knows, lighting of The Farm has been a subject of considerable controversy. There is a faction in town, including at least one council member, who feels that lighting the remaining four fields violates a covenant given to the contiguous neighbors when the complex was approved that only fields 1 and 2 would be illuminated. The city official who purportedly gave that assurance was, according to those officials who have addressed this subject, not authorized to make such a promise.
Costa Mesa is in dire straits when it comes to adequate playing fields for the youth of our city. We, quite simply, don't have enough of them. Every city official and elected or appointed leader who has addressed this subject agrees - we don't have enough fields for our kids. This problem has recently been emphasized by the controversy about people kicking balls around smaller, neighborhood parks. Lighting all The Farm fields would provide near-term relief to this problem and take some of the pressure off our officials as they go about developing long-term solutions.
The vote Tuesday night is going to be interesting. I suspect there will many speakers from both sides of this issue. Last week Recreation Manager Jana Ransom took the unusual step to communicate with many stakeholders in this issue, suggesting strongly that they make their views known before the council Tuesday. As she pointed out, it won't be a question of funding - the dollars to provide the lights for all fields at The Farm have already been allocated.
I hope the members of the City Council will do the right thing and vote to light all the fields at The Farm. With Foley unable to vote on this issue, a split vote is possible. Should that occur the result will be no lights. That would not only be a shame, it would be catastrophic for the youth of this community and the hundreds of volunteers and parents who attempt to juggle schedules to provide important sports opportunities for the kids.
I encourage those of you interested in this subject to speak before the council on Tuesday. This item will most likely be considered early in the evening, between 6 and 7 p.m. If you cannot attend, please communicate with the council by email. The address to use is: CAgenda@ci.costa-mesa.ca.us.