HUNTINGTON BEACH : Youth Sports Groups Look for Home Field
When the Ocean View Little League received word last year that it would have to find a new place to play its games, it was the last straw for Tom Duchene and Jim Ruziecki.
Because the former Rancho View School site was scheduled to be developed, the league would have to move for the sixth time in its 30-year history.
Duchene and Ruziecki, who help coordinate the league, decided that it needed a permanent home. And so in the last year, they organized a coalition of 12 youth groups facing the same problem and came up with a plan.
The coalition is proposing a 17-acre, lighted youth sports complex in an undeveloped area of Huntington Central Park. The plan, which city staff officials have begun studying, would include six baseball diamonds and four soccer-football fields west of Golden West Street and Talbert Avenue.
It would also end the roaming from place to place as former school sites are sold for development.
“We have just gotten a little fed up with youth sports always winding up on the short end of things,” said Duchene, the lead spokesman for the coalition.
Under the plan, the groups would lease the property from the city and split the operational costs.
The proposal has the backing of Councilman Don MacAllister, and other council members agree such a facility is needed. But proponents of the $2-million complex face several major hurdles, including how to pay for the facility.
Another worry is whether the targeted land can be developed into a series of sports fields.
During the past decade, the area has twice been considered for similar sports facilities. Since then, City Council members have designated the region as a passive park, although “that could change,” said Jim Engle, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent.
Also, if the park is used for the complex, it may be ineligible for certain state and federal park funds, Engle said.
Regardless, Duchene said he believes that the city has “some responsibility” to provide a youth sports facility.
“We’re running out of places we can go to,” he said. “The city has to address what they’re going to do with all these kids running around.”