In the giant landscape that is Davis’ Community Park, there’s a little strip of city property bordering the west edge of the bike path that goes over Covell Boulevard.
In the larger scheme of things, this plot has been a bug-a-boo in the development of Davis High softball facilities — and last spring, in essence, put a halt to any further improvements at the Blue Devils’ baseball facility.
While Community Park is a labyrinth of city and school property, it’s that northern upcurve of the bike path that created a no-girls land of property-use controversy — a discussion that now has Title IX implications.
The DHS softball field and warm-up area are part on school property and part on city. Because of that, Davis schools have never received the OK from the city to improve “their” facility beyond dropping off storage containers, putting up a batting cage and frequently giving the field a pedicure.
Davis softball advocates would love to see a permanent fence for the outfield and bleacher improvements, among other things. Right now, when Davis plays, up goes a temporary fence. When the game is over, down comes the fence. And there are other inconveniences.
But the dialogue about what to do with the sliver of city green has gone on through five Blue Devil softball coaches and five mayors.
Still, no solution …
And because the girls can’t provide facilities close to what the boys have (the baseball stadium is entirely on school-district grounds), word got to guys coach Dan Ariola that his volunteers have to back off improvements (which have included dugouts, storage, an announcers booth, improved stands, a scoreboard and batting cages).
However, if I read Trustee Sheila Allen and City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson correctly, this public-use puzzle will soon be solved.
Meetings between Swanson and Mayor Joe Korvoza with Allen and fellow school board member Gina Delaiden (called 2-by-2s) have borne fruit.
“(We) have talked about it on a number of occasions,” Allen told me. “Here’s where we left it: the Council said it would make no proposals … or take any actions until there is a formal request from the school district.”
Swanson said it was “unfortunate” that softball has been impacted — and now baseball: “At the end of the day, it’s important that the fundraisers, the softball and baseball (people) can move forward and do what they need to do.”
Allen says the situation will be discussed at board level come Feb. 21 and could result in a formal request.
If that’s the case, the timing is perfect, because the City Council and school trustees are meeting in joint session March 14. At least part of that agenda is to assess what is where at Community Park. Maybe chart a course for a new layout?
Swanson recognizes there are so many different — often joint — uses by both jurisdictions’ programs that there eventually needs to be an overall look at how Community Park uses have changed over the years.
In the future, there probably will be a Veterans Memorial Center retooling. In addition, the Yolo County Library has land, North Davis Elementary School is parked along 14th Street, Rainbow City is starting to creak and the Davis Art Center figures in the mix.
Besides the tennis complex, the high school’s soccer and baseball fields and the demands that youth soccer puts on the turf, Community Park is one happening place. Oh, don’t forget there is now a consultant’s report in on a new (rehabbed) pool smack in the middle of all of this.
In putting up a permanent outfield fence for the Devil softballers, there has been concern that it removes a field from AYSO come league and tournament time.
Swanson says while that may be true, she believes there is enough Community Park to go around without pushing, shoving and tempers flaring.
“I don’t want (the public) to think that March 14 meeting is baseball vs. soccer vs. softball,” Swanson explains. “(March 14) is an opportunity to have an open dialogue — suggestions would be great — but I worry there has been … this misunderstanding that there hasn’t been a desire there to work together and find a solution.”
Swanson says it’s not about pitting one group against another.
Allen and Swanson concur that schools and the city work well together and that the parcel quandary could be solved short-term with an easement. Long term, there’s a lot yet to shake out.
“There’s so much open field there,” Swanson adds. “It would be a tragedy, looking at the minutia and losing track of the big picture.”
First step: that long-awaited request from Davis schools.
While I Have You Here: Allen said DHS softball participants met Thursday on that hallowed ground to talk about the upcoming season and what could be done to the facility.
Also Thursday, the Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho) softball team was practicing there before opening its season at Menlo this weekend. The NNU men, meanwhile, were at the prep baseball stadium, preparing for Holy Names (Oakland) on Friday. The Blue Devil connection? Ex-DHS baseball outfielder Ty Windall played for the Crusaders.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.