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Re: SG-W:/ Re: Great Counties have great parks



Well put, Michael.

On the (perhaps side-) issue of pesticied use on ball/soccer fields.
Didn't we have playing fields before we had pesticides?  Couldn't we and
our children have just as much fun playing on less than "perfect" turf?

Donna

--On Tue, Apr 18, 2000 11:07 AM +0400 Michael Sklar <tiger3@provide.net>
wrote:

> Friends:
> 
> The discussion of active recreation versus natural areas is a difficult
> one for me, since I value both highly.  I think this issue is one where
> people of good conscience can differ, and I hope we can accept our
> diversity of values and debate proper policy without being disagreeable
> towards one another.  E-mail is a cold, impersonal medium that often
> conveys a more negative tone than the writer intended, so we should all
> try to exercise due care in how we express our thoughts and how we
> interpret others' emails.
> 
> As for the substance of the discussion, I'd like to focus on what
> policies we should advocate rather than waste time debating whether
> soccer fields are or are not "beautiful."  It seems to me that we're
> arguing about a false choice: natural areas versus ball fields.  The
>  reality is that we need both.  We need natural areas to safeguard the
> health of the ecosystems on which human societies and economies, and all
> life, depend.  We also need to set aside space for active recreation, for
> the physical and psychological health of our children and ourselves.
> 
> 
> The irony is that we can have both!  The real choice is not between ball
> fields and forests.  The choice is between neighborhood recreational
> areas (parks or neighborhood schools) and natural area preservation on
> the one hand, and suburban sprawl (low density/large-lot subdivisions,
> big box retailers, huge parking lots,
> automobile-dependent/pedestrian-hostile transportation systems, overly
> large setback requirements for buildings and homes, etc.) on the other.
> If we use land more efficiently for housing, offices, factories, and
> shopping areas, then there's more land left for all needs.  If we build
> higher-density housing developments (like Burns Park or the Old West
> Side) and commercial centers (like Main Street), then we can better
> afford to build neighborhood schools that provide active recreation on
> their campus -- and still end up using less land than a typical "modern"
> suburban development.
> 
> Personally, I'd rather share 200 acres of common space (parks and ball
> fields) with 100 other people than have each of us own a couple of acres
> but have no common spaces.  That's the real choice, in my view, given the
> planet's limited land area.  In the end, wouldn't we be better off if we
> lived in more vibrant neighborhoods with nearby schools and parks, while
> preserving more acreage as natural areas and farmland?  
> 
> 
>> Excuse me for butting in, but as the father of a nine-year-old who
>> sleeps,
> 
>> eats and dreams soccer and is happiest when she is chasing a
>> black-and-white
> 
>> ball down a field on a bright, brisk, sunny Saturday morning, I have to
>> respond to Ms. Armentrout's input.  She is of course absolutely correct
>> that
> 
>> soccer fields do little in terms of global warming or biological
>> diversity
> 
>> and are actually detrimental to the extent that pesticides are used.  I
>> respectfully disagree with her that they are visually less pleasing than
>> open space, however.  I find nothing lovelier than watching a group of
>> children laughing and running and playing together outside, enjoying
>> fresh
> 
>> air and the outdoors, as opposed to typing alone on computer keyboards
>> and
> 
>> staring at monitors in their bedrooms and basements.  My daughter's love
>> of
> 
>> the outdoors is expanded by playing soccer, not diminished.  And my
>> understanding is that this sport is immensely popular and the number of
>> enthusiasts in fact grows by leaps and bounds each year - it is
>> certainly no
> 
>> longer a "small segment" of the population that enjoys it.  There are
>> purists and there are realists.  Let's go after the realtors and strip
>> mall
> 
>> developers and leave the playgrounds and soccer fields alone for now.
>> 
>> Pat Diehl
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Vivienne Armentrout <varmentrout000@ameritech.net>
>> To: Anne Heise <aheise@orchard.wccnet.org>
>> Cc: Barry Lonik <BLonik13@aol.com>; Leah Gunn <gunnl@co.washtenaw.mi.us>;
>> Janis Bobrin <bobrinj@co.washtenaw.mi.us>; Laura Rubin <lrubin@hrwc.org>;
>> Mike Garfield <michaelg@ecocenter.org>; smartgrowth-washtenaw
>> <smartgrowth-washtenaw@great-lakes.net>
>> Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 10:39 AM
>> Subject: SG-W:/ Re: Great Counties have great parks
>> 
>> 
>>> The problem I have with this is that it is all about soccer fields.  I
>>> am in favor of multiuse parks, but in my opinion we need to concentrate
>>> on preservation of natural areas, which are used primarily for passive
>>> recreation (though what is passive about hiking and enjoying wildlife, I
> 
>>> have never understood).  Natural areas - uh, are natural, that is, they
>>> preserve our biological inheritance.  They are also good for clean
>>> water, clean air, and reducing global warming.  Even to drive by they
>>> enhance the visual impression of countryside.
>>> 
>>> Soccer fields require turf and no trees.  Turf by its nature requires
>>> application of fertilizers and pesticides (I've seen descriptions of
>>> "green" golfcourses but not "green" soccerfields) and therefore will
>>> lead to eutrophication of water supplies.  Although I guess they are
>>> "open space", they are not particularly lovely and can mostly be enjoyed
> 
>>> only by the small segment of the population who wants to play soccer or
>>> some other games.  They do nothing to preserve biological diversity.
>>> 
>>> In my opinion, the drive for recreational land is a direct threat to
>>> real preservation of open space.  Any vehicle to purchase open space
>>> (e.g., a millage) needs to be protected from it.
>>> 
>>> Vivienne Armentrout
>>> 
>>> Anne Heise wrote:
>>> > 
>>> > Metro suburbs run out of places for kids to play
>>> > Officials seek money, share fields to fill recreation needs
>>> > 
>>> > By Edward L. Cardenas,, Kevin Lynch and Joel Kurth / The Detroit News
>>> > 
>>> > GROSSE POINTE WOODS -- On many Saturdays, Richard Carron finds himself
> 
>>> > watching the clock as often as the kids and soccer game he is
>>> > coaching.
> 
>>> > 
>>> > Time is of the essence for coaches like Carron and players on the
>> crowded
>>> > fields ofthe five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods.
>>> > 
>>> > "On game days, teams get on and get off so the next team can get on,"
>>> > Carron said. "It becomes hard to get rain dates games played because
>>> > the fields are hard to find."
>>> > 
>>> > Many Metro Detroit communities are struggling to find enough time and
>> park
>>> > space to satisfy growing recreational needs. The problem is
>>> > particularly
> 
>>> > severe in older, fully developed suburbs where land is scarce. This
>>> > recreation dilemma is forcing many to reevaluate the recreational
>>> > needs
> 
>> of
>>> > their residents.
>>> > 
>>> > "We have stretched our facilities beyond maximum,"
>>> > said John Bruce, executive director of the Neighborhood Club, which
>>> > provides sports and recreation programming to the nearly 60,000
>> residents
>>> > in the five Gross Pointes and Harper Woods.
>>> > 
>>> > "We have such a great community we want to take it
>>> > up a notch," said Sharon Cahill of Grosse Pointe Park, who attended a
>>> > recent community forum sponsored by the Neighborhood Club to get input
> 
>> on
>>> > a recreation master plan for the six eastern Wayne County suburbs. She
> 
>> has
>>> > five children involved in a variety of sports.
>>> > 
>>> > "I'm really excited (about the plan). This is what the Grosse Pointes
>> are
>>> > all about, "Cahill said.
>>> > 
>>> > Practice and playing time is at a premium for the 8,000 children and
>>> > adults who play on 700 teams in a variety of sports in the
>>> > communities,
> 
>>> > Bruce said. These baseball, soccer and basketball teams use a mix of
>>> > athletic fields owned by the municipalities and the Grosse Pointe
>>> > Public
> 
>>> > School System.
>>> > 
>>> > Carron, who has three teams in the two Grosse Pointe soccer
>> associations,
>>> > said the crunch forces him to be creative in carving out practice and
>> game
>>> > times on the precious few playing fields in the area. He has used
>> patches
>>> > of grass, less than regulation field size, with homemade pipe goals to
> 
>>> > prepare his teams for games.
>>> > 
>>> > "It has become more difficult to get quality fields or a quantity of
>>> > fields for practices," said Carron of Grosse Pointe Wood.
>>> > 
>>> > Orion Twp. seeks space
>>> > 
>>> > Swelling populations also have some Oakland County communities
>> scrambling
>>> > to meet increasing demands for recreation.
>>> > 
>>> > "It puts us in a bit of a bind, to be honest," said Rock Blanchard,
>> Orion
>>> > Township's director of parks and recreation.
>>> > 
>>> > "They want the same services, but none of the bad stuff. They don't
>>> > want
> 
>>> > the dark alley they left to avoid, but they still need the
>>> > playgrounds,
> 
>>> > basketball courts and ice-hockey rinks they are accustomed to."
>>> > 
>>> > Orion Township's population has risen 48 percent since 1990 to 31,000
>>> > people, but tax revenues haven't kept pace with the growth and
>>> > expectations of residents. Township officials will meet next week to
>>> > consider a tax increase to raise $7 million for park improvements and
>> land
>>> > purchases. About $2 million of the proposed increase would go to buy
>> land.
>>> > 
>>> > Blanchard couldn't say how much undeveloped land remains in the
>>> > 20,000-acre township. But he did say developers are snatching up
>>> > tracts
> 
>>> > before the township can react.
>>> > 
>>> > "We're having to play catch-up. We should have bought land a long time
> 
>>> > ago, but we missed out."
>>> > 
>>> >                         Racing for recreation
>>> > 
>>> > Plymouth Assistant City Manager Paul Sincock looks at neighboring
>>> > Canton
> 
>>> > Township and Northville. Both of those western Wayne communities have
>>> > plenty of land for recreation. Then he looks at his own, older city
>> which
>>> > lacks those land resources and the exploding tax base of its growing
>>> > neighbors.
>>> > 
>>> > Sincock and other Plymouth officials just want to keep up in the race
>> for
>>> > recreation.
>>> > 
>>> > "Certainly, Canton Township and even Northville have been very
>> aggressive
>>> > about getting a hold of land for public parks," Sincock said. "We've
>>> > got
> 
>>> > to be a little more creative when it comes to recreation."
>>> > 
>>> > Aside from numerous neighborhood parks too small to be used for
>> organized
>>> > sports, Plymouth owns no recreational land. Rather, it forms
>> partnerships
>>> > with schools, businesses and other local governments to use sports
>> fields
>>> > for city leagues in baseball, basketball, football and soccer.
>>> > 
>>> > Ford Motor Co. and Unysis allow those leagues to play soccer on their
>>> > corporate lawns. Plymouth pays for the extra insurance the companies
>> must
>>> > carry and Wayne County sets aside time for Plymouth sports teams in
>> Hines
>>> > Park. Almost every school in Plymouth lends the city the use of its
>> sports
>>> > fields.
>>> > 
>>> > Bruce said the Neighborhood Club in the Grosse Pointes, which
>>> > contracted
> 
>>> > with McKenna Associates to create a master plan for recreation for the
> 
>>> > next 10 to 15 years, may look into a similar situation.
>>> > 
>>> > "We are not going to be able to provide major recreation facilities
>>> > improvement without some type of collaborative structure," Bruce said.
> 
>>> > 
>>> > Auburn Hills sets pace
>>> > 
>>> > In contrast, Auburn Hills has splurged, carving out green spaces to
>>> > accommodate residential and business growth from the Palace of Auburn
>>> > Hills and DaimlerChrysler office complexes.
>>> > 
>>> > The city has spent more than $17 million in the past 10 years buying
>>> > Fieldstone Gulf Club of Auburn Hills; the E. Dale Fisk Hawk Woods
>>> > Nature
> 
>>> > Center that offers trails and cabins; and building paths along the
>> Clinton
>>> > River.
>>> > 
>>> > It is involved in a $500,000 plan to build a yet-unnamed park on 25
>> acres
>>> > on Squirrel near M-59. That park would be connected with pathways to
>>> > nearby Riverside Park.
>>> > 
>>> > But only about 1,000 available acres of land remain in Auburn Hills,
>>> > and
> 
>>> > residents are clamoring for soccer fields and other amenities,
>> recreation
>>> > director Brian Marzolf said.
>>> > 
>>> > "When people are looking to move in, they ask about our parks,"
>>> > Marzolf
> 
>>> > said. "It's a big factor in moving. Corporations are trying to sell
>> parks
>>> > to employees, too. It's a go-go life, and people want places to slow
>> down
>>> > a bit and relax."
>>> > 
>>> > Macomb Twp. creates parks
>>> > 
>>> > Another fast-growing Metro Detroit community, Macomb Township, also is
> 
>>> > trying to appease its residents' hunger for parks, ball diamonds and
>>> > soccer fields.
>>> > 
>>> > Four years ago, Macomb Township voters passed a 1-mill recreation
>> millage
>>> > to create a parks and recreation department. Three large parks are
>>> > being
> 
>>> > developed and year-round programming provided for all ages.
>>> > 
>>> > "It is very rare in our profession to start a program from scratch,"
>> said
>>> > Marty Pipenbrok, Macomb Township parks and recreation director. "We
>>> > are
> 
>>> > taking a very family oriented attitude, so everyone can take part in
>>> > the
> 
>>> > programs and share in the experience."
>>> > 
>>> > The township is building its first fully developed park on a 17-acre
>>> > parcel near 21 Mile and Romeo Plank. It is expected to open to the
>> public
>>> > by next summer. Two other parks will be developed on 400 acres near 25
> 
>>> > Mile and Broughton, where the new township hall will be built later
>>> > this
> 
>>> > year.
>>> > 
>>> > Canton Township in western Wayne County, like Macomb Township, has
>> plenty
>>> > of land for sports fields. What is stopping the list of recent
>> recreation
>>> > projects in Canton from growing even longer is the rising cost of real
> 
>>> > estate.
>>> > 
>>> > "We may have the land out here, but it comes at a steep price these
>> days,"
>>> > said Mike Gouin, Canton's parks and recreation manager. But even when
>>> > it
> 
>>> > means higher taxes, Gouin points out, residents want their sports
>> fields.
>>> > Voters approved a bond issue to pay for the $4.7-million purchase of a
> 
>>> > 12-diamond softball park in 1998. Gouin now has his eye on 80 acres of
> 
>>> > land next to 40 acres the township already owns for yet another park.
>>> > 
>>> > "I think the demand has always been there," Gouin said. "Fortunately
>>> > in
> 
>>> > the last 10 years, we have developed the financial resources to
>>> > respond
> 
>> to
>>> > residents who want recreation close to home."
>>> 
>>> 
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> 
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> 
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