Wellfield: The bigger picture
It looks like a decision on location of the proposed Challenger Baseball fields in Venice will have to wait awhile longer.
Venice City Council on Tuesday authorized a future workshop on the purpose and use of Wellfield Park, effectively delaying any decision on the ballfields’ location in the near term.
City leaders want to explore planned uses for the area.
The Pinebrook Park nature trail area was conceived as part of the larger Wellfield Park, now a sports complex — but it’s not listed in any city and county interlocal agreement like other parks. The agreements delineate which governmental entity is responsible for maintenance.
Residents pointed out both city and county documents, nonetheless, refer to Pinebook Park. Even the city’s website acknowledges Pinebrook Park exists, they said, so if there’s to be a change in use it first needs to go to referendum under city code.
Challenger supporters are in favor of a location in the Pinebrook nature trail section of Wellfield.
Nature trail lovers and adjacent homeowners want the area left untouched.
When council came up with an alternative location within the Wellfield, it found Pop Warner football might be shortchanged.
Council also learned on Tuesday of terrible ballfield conditions for Miss Venice Fast Pitch.
Mayor John Holic asked if the city was doing the organization a disservice by allowing those ballfield conditions to deteriorate while improving those of others.
Challenger also didn’t like the alternative location, saying it wasn’t big enough.
The fact is, Holic pointed out, the city’s long-term strategic plan, called Envision Venice 2030, calls for the area to be used for future city needs. And no one’s addressed that point. Not even staff.
Plans call for city infrastructure to be moved further away from the Seaboard area so it can be developed as part of a larger mixed-use city center, but that didn’t happen, thanks to the Great Recession.
“Where have we gotten any feedback from the public works department, utilities or the fire department, as to what their future plans are — other than having it in the Envision Venice 2030 plan?” asked Holic. “Have we done the legwork to make a decision on that? I think not.
“The original (Pinebrook site) Plan A was an easy choice. Moving it to Plan B was premature. We never went to one single department and said, ‘What do you think? Are we taking something away that you are using?’”
Making a decision on the Challenger ballfield location also affects the city’s federal priorities, Holic said.
“For two years in a row you’ve asked me to (lobby Congress) for $40 million to relocate the reverse-osmosis plant from its current location to the Wellfield Park area,” Holic said. “If we are not going to do that, we need to go back and change the (Envision Venice) wording.”
“(Council Member Jim) Bennett did a great study on city-owned property. We have only one piece of property these can go on — Wellfield/Pinebrook area.”
“If we don’t stop this now, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road. It’s going to be one thing after another.”
No date has been set for the workshop.