The Salt Lake City Council will take more time to deliberate proposed fee and scheduling changes to the city’s in-demand athletic fields. The decision to pause comes after a scheduled public hearing on the issue where about a dozen people spoke for and against some of the changes.
The fee for reserving athletic fields could more than double under the proposal from a rate of $15 per week to between $2 and $5 per hour per field depending on the organization. And the proposal also includes a “grandfather clause” that guarantees long-standing leagues a time and place to play until 2015 when the city completes construction of its new soccer complex.
Eric Povilus coaches girls soccer in Salt Lake City. He says his teams have to practice in Sandy and Draper because fields are often booked. Povilus is okay with the increased fees but not the grandfathered reservations.
“I would like my girls to practice in Salt Lake City instead of driving a half hour south," Povilus says. "Maybe one thing to look at with the Grandfather clause, because the fees are cheap, is maybe looking at giving priority to teams and citizens of the city to get first priority to the fields in the city.”
Kim Van Dyke is opposed to the fee change. She defended the current model saying unforeseen circumstances often require teams to make week-long reservations.
“And we all know the weather in the spring here," Van Dyke says. "Sometimes half our games are rained out and we have to schedule those when there is time. And if you don’t have those blocks of time pre-mapped that will prohibit us from doing that.”
Councilwoman Jill Remington Love proposed the council defer action to address a number of issues raised by the public. But she added action must be taken soon as lack of field space has reached a critical level.
"This isn't about money," Love says. "It’ about having clubs book what they need and not more than they need. And the fee structure drives that. Because when you book it out all day because you can and you can afford it, that means other teams don’t get to play.”
Love says she would be in favor of an amendment that would prioritize reservations for Salt Lake City teams. Members of the council say they’d like to make a decision by next week.