The Puyallup Parks and Recreation Department will host a drop-in open house next week to gather feedback regarding programs, services and parks in District 1.
The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 25 at the Community Resource building on South Meridian. Two other drop-in forums will follow for District 2 and 3.
Sarah Harris, the administrator of the parks and recreation department, made a presentation in front of the city council last week on what is needed as the department works to finalize its six-year comprehensive plan. The plan expires next March.
Harris said city council member John Palmer, wanted to know what potential user groups could use sports fields within the city, how it could be funded moving forward, and the potential economic impact tournaments would bring.
Harris told the council July 9 that the greatest need is additional soccer fields in order to accommodate the growing interest in the sport.
“Soccer groups will be a very loud voice as we move forward with our open space plan discussions,” she said.
Palmer said city soccer fields are in bad condition, and the city should consider a cluster of six to 10 fields for tournaments.
Harris said there is $1.1 million available in the lodging tax fund, revenue derived from a hotel-motel tax and earmarked specifically for growing tourism in the area and attracting people to stay, shop and recreate in Puyallup.
“I’m excited about the tournament-style concept,” Palmer said. “I think the LTAC money is prime for that. Let’s go proceed with the process and hear what people have to say.”
During pre-annexation planning for land to the west and east of the Shaw Road Bridge, there was discussion about purchasing the property for future use as a sports complex.
But a council majority, including Deputy Mayor John Knutsen and Mayor Rick Hansen, was concerned about using LTAC funding for a complex that could potentially lose money.
“I’m all for having plentiful parks, but not for over-burdening our citizens with sports programs,” Hansen said. “There are costs with those fields. These are not all money-making programs.”
Hansen and Knutsen said it’s not the job of the city to compete with private leagues that provide the same service and often do it better.
“I don’t think six new soccer fields are needed when we need a new public safety building and better infrastructure,” Hansen said.
The mayor added he would be open to adding additional fields if their specified use benefited Puyallup residents and proved to be revenue neutral.
“We’re not in the recreation business,” Hansen said.
Palmer tempered that by saying a sports complex wouldn’t have to be the biggest and the best.
“The Shaw Road property is spectacular land,” he said.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached by email at email@example.com.