Park district hopes to open fields this fall

With the soccer season under way, the Vashon Park District hopes to open its new fields north of town for light use later this fall.

Susan McCabe, the agency’s interim executive director, said it may not be possible but the agency is hopeful that the fields will be ready soon.

“They’re delicate. ... We’re doing our best to get the fields in shape for play this fall but can make no promises at this point,” she said.

David Hackett, a commissioner, however, sounded a more optimistic note. “I think they might be ready in a week or two,” he said last week.

The date for the fields’ opening has been a moving target. Initially, the sports complex was slated to be completed by last summer — then, last year, the project manager said the fields could be ready for play this summer.

Access to the fields is important to the Island’s soccer community, which  currently does not have enough soccer space. The situation will be harder than usual this year because of the Vashon High School project, which has led to the closing of the “tweener field” between the football stadium and the main classroom building.

“It’s difficult. We end up putting more feet on fewer fields and that tends to beat them up pretty bad,” said Scott Rice, a board member for the Vashon Island Soccer Club.

Meanwhile, questions have been raised about how it is that the park district failed to realize it needed a water right before it began irrigating its fields this summer. The state is now working with the park district to bring it into compliance with state law.

Vashon School District Super-intendent Michael Soltman sent an email to then-Executive Director Wendy Braicks in February 2010 telling her he believed a water right was in order. The school district owns the five-acre property; the park district, which is responsible for the project’s development, is leasing the land.

“Based upon the regulations attached, I’m very sure that you cannot use the well for irrigation without a water right,” he said in the email. Braicks, he said, did not respond.

Dave Wilke, the school district’s maintenance director, said he also broached the issue. “I recall multiple conversations about it,” he said.

Braicks, who left the job nearly a year ago, said Monday she had been  tracking the issue but didn’t believe a water right was necessary then because the well hadn’t gone into use yet. It began pumping water this summer.

“It was a project in process,” she said. “It didn’t seem like everything had to be done at the moment.”

The district, she added, was sometimes behind but always managed to correct its missteps. “We always tried to do the right thing,” she said.


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