PIEDMONT -- The recreation commission grappled once again with use restrictions for Beach playfield, a popular draw for families as well as pickup adult soccer games.
Ideas have been tossed around in three public meetings about permits, field barriers and designated time slots for the adult pickup players who play fast, aggressive games, many times at the expense of families who want to use the field for casual recreational use. Players generally gather there on Sundays.
The commission finally decided at its Nov. 15 meeting to recommend a plan whereby the field will be divided into two areas. One field will be restricted to casual use only with priority for youth and family use. The other field may be used for competitive games within field lines with a maximum of 12 participants. Pylons will be used to mark the field's boundaries.
Weekend monitors will continue to patrol the fields on the weekends to ensure compliance by the adult pickup soccer players.
Neighbors have complained for years that families are getting squeezed out or intimidated by the rough adult play, citing hazards to children from flying soccer balls. Commission chair Dick Hunt said attempts to meet with the pickup soccer players to discuss the matter have produced minimal results.
Resident Rick Schiller told the commission, "These problems have gone on for a long time. It has never been enforced over the years. That bothers me. There are large 'rogue' groups of 15 to 18 players," which is more than allowed by the ordinance. Schiller suggested police drive-bys to keep an eye out for any problems.
Numerous speakers have come forth at these public meetings to plead for some reasonable solution that will preserve family use, while honoring the spirit of the park that is available to anyone.
"This is a thorny, messy issue," Hunt said. "We are grasping broadly to resolve this."
Recreation Director Mark Delventhal said the goal is to achieve safety and discourage unlimited rough games.
"We want to enable people to take the park back with a strong monitor program," Delventhal said.
The commission's recommendations will go to the City Council for final approval.