With city coffers expected to get a $2 million boost in revenue thanks to many new developments around town, youth sports advocates are lobbying for those funds to go toward the city’s aging athletic fields.
American Youth Soccer Organization representatives told officials recently that so-called park-in-lieu fees would be ideally spent on improving field availability, an issue that has some groups seeking recreation space outside the city.
Park-in-lieu fees come from developers who, rather than constructing a park or open space within their project, pledge a certain amount of money to the city. The city expects anywhere between $1.5 million and $2 million in such fees over the next couple years, City Manager Ralph Jaeck said.
Millbrae has already devoted some of these funds, which have come in from several new projects under construction along El Camino Real and Millbrae BART, toward revamping Central Park.
Still, there is more left to do in the realm of recreation, AYSO officials said.
John Ford, Millbrae AYSO treasurer, acknowledged that there is a severe shortage of fields throughout cities on the Peninsula.
Anything the city can do to improve existing spaces — soccer, baseball and softball teams all converge on the Taylor Middle School and Mills High School fields — or add year-round synthetic turf at a field would be welcome. The city has a joint-usage agreement with the Millbrae School District, which owns the Taylor field, Jaeck said.
“We’re absolutely strapped for field space,” Ford said. “There just isn’t any available for the amount of people we have playing sports in the city.”
Ford estimates that in the spring, there are some 150 players ages 4 through 18 participating in Millbrae AYSO.
That figure balloons to 600 in the fall and does not include baseball, softball and other adult leagues that might also be competing for space, he said. Millbrae Mayor Marc Hershman, in his recent State of the City address, said one of his top priorities for the park-in-lieu fees was a top-notch refurbishment of the field at Taylor.
“This is the most heavily used athletic field in our city,” he said. “It is near the end of its useful life and it needs attention, similar to last year’s wonderful overhaul of Central Park.”
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