The Sports Center layouts for Phase 2/3 have been reduced to two similar plans – Gig Harbor Now
Community Government Health and Wellness Sports
The city of Gig Harbor, the consultant and the public are about to decide what future phases of the sports complex will look like.
They’ve narrowed down the field layout options to two broadly similar options. Those who attended an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Civic Center will help determine who moves forward as the preferred alternative.
Grass and lighting for maximum use
The city issued a $125,000 contract to BCRA Engineers last spring to conduct a feasibility study for phases two and three. The second phase redevelops the baseball fields on 9.1 acres that the city acquired in 2017 and is leasing to the Gig Harbor Little League. Phase III develops 7.1 acres of woodland south of the Tom Taylor Family YMCA. The new fields will be covered with artificial turf and illuminated to maximize multi-sport use.
Five options in different configurations for combined soccer, lacrosse, soccer and baseball use were presented during an open house at the Peninsula Light Fields Little League facility in August. The City Council narrowed it down to two based on stakeholder and public feedback during a study session in September, said Jennifer Harrow, parks director.
The second stage is the same in both options
Harrow said the second phase is the same in both alternatives after being approved by stakeholders. The current Little League facility consists of three grass and dirt baseball diamonds. The main ball field will be covered with grass but will remain as is, although a football training field will be available on the field. The other two diamonds will be moved to opposite ends of a full-size football/soccer/lacrosse field.
“It will allow more sports to use it with minimal rearrangement and still have a baseball-shaped field,” Harrow said. “The south field will be mostly baseball. We’ll keep it baseball-centric, but we’ll have another field for football, soccer and lacrosse.”
“Little League fields are underutilized right now,” said Michael Pirro, a former city councilman and local business owner who attended the open house. “This makes it usable across multiple sports, so you’re taking advantage of an underutilized asset.”
The city has built two “substandard” fields since 1947, which were demolished to build a civic center, Biro said.
“This project is catching up a little bit,” he said.
Baseball diamond big or not?
Phase Three will include two full-size football/soccer/lacrosse fields. The main difference is whether they will lie on the same level or at different heights. If it were on the same level, there would be room for a high school-sized baseball diamond covering both fields with a smaller diamond facing each other. Outdoor courts will overlap. If not, each field will host a smaller diamond.
Those who attended a town meeting with sports groups a few weeks ago tended to level the entire area.
“They seemed to agree that having a (larger) baseball field was a good thing, so they supported (Alternative) D because there is a shortage of full-sized fields in the community for high school kids,” Harrow said.
He goes down to the classroom
“The degree of separation between the two fields is really what it comes down to,” Biro said. “The single level provides more flexibility and allows more user groups to use the field, especially for baseball.”
The single-level option will also provide an additional 26 parking spaces in Phase Three – 77 instead of 51.
Cost can be a factor. Leveling the entire area would be more expensive, although “the difference in grade is not as big as we thought,” Harrow said. “There’s only a 3-foot difference in grade. We thought it would be more than that.”
Cost estimates should arrive in early November. The council will discuss it during a study session and then vote on the preferred alternative at a regular meeting after a public hearing.
The two variants feature the same number of fields by sport – five baseball/softball fields, three soccer fields, three soccer fields, three lacrosse fields and a small multi-sport practice field.
“As a father of young children, I am very excited about the project,” said Bradford Hashimoto, with his young son and daughter in tow. “We love sports. We support public realms. I think this is long overdue. We have friends who have kids who play sports and have to drive long hours to get to the fields, and we shouldn’t do that.”
Concerns about logging
There are still concerns about insufficient parking and the number of trees that will be cut down. Sisters Carmela and Rosemary Micheli said the sports complex is larger than what a city the size of Gig Harbor would require.
“They’re doing it for the stakeholders, and other interested parties are pushing it,” Rosemary said. “The city of Gig Harbor has enough fields. The whole city only has 12,000 people. The fields they say can handle 11,000. We don’t need this. This is our environment that will be ruined by cutting down all these trees.”
They claim that 800 trees will be removed after the city just passed an urban forest management plan to increase the tree canopy.
“The parking is going to be terrible,” Rosemary said. “People will get really upset when they have regional events. They’ll stop all over their place.”
Tom Novotny proposed converting the proposed Phase III football/soccer/lacrosse field near the baseball fields into parking lots for both Phases II and III.
“I think they have a parking shortage,” he said.
“I completely understand the concerns about trees and traffic,” said Andrew Cirillo, BCRA civil engineer. “Our mission is to come up with a design that balances all the desired desires.”
Thirty-one percent of the trees in phases two and three will be retained, Harrow said. The city preserves 52 acres of forest along nearby North Creek.
Funding for the second and third phases has not been determined.
Phase 1B update
The sports complex includes about 30 acres. The city divided the first phase into two parts. Phase 1B will start first, just north of the YMCA. The cost is $3.8 million. Includes pickleball and bocce ball courts, playground, event lawn, sheltered performance stage, two covered picnic areas, and parking.
Design and licensing have been completed. Financing is on hand. The city will likely invite construction bids in early 2024 and begin construction in the spring, Harrow said.
Phase 1A is progressing
Phase 1A consists of two floodlit, multi-sport fields that the YMCA is responsible for financing and developing under a lease agreement with the city.
At an open house in August, Jesse Palmer, chief financial development executive, said the permitting process was nearing completion. The Y is raising $7 million for the project. It has received $1.50 in donations and is in talks with the city about a $2 million council bond. Palmer said he hopes construction will begin next spring and be finished by the end of the year. It cannot be accessed for the update.