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Pleasanton Council approves location for new cricket field at Ken Mercer Sports

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Pleasanton cricketers and fans will soon be able to compete and practice on the new field to be built at Ken Mercer Sports Park after city council decided on a location last week.

The council on September 6 unanimously approved the city officials’ proposal to adopt the second of three options for the logistics of the location and size of the cricket ground. It will be an oval cricket field with a radius of 195 feet parallel to the pitch and a radius of 180 feet perpendicular to the pitch.

According to city staff, the overall design of the currently approved Option 2 is based on information from discussions with local sports organizations, communities and city planners in San Ramon and Dublin, which have their own cricket grounds. increase.

Deputy Mayor Valerie Arkin said, “I think we’ve come up with a very viable and good option for our community.” I am very happy about that.”

The field allows for both youth and adult play and safely hosts cricket matches while simultaneously using football fields 4 and 5 on the west side. However, the cricket field overlaps soccer field 6, so that soccer field is inaccessible while cricket is using the field.

Michele Crose, the city’s assistant director of library and recreation, said the city council needed to make use of the softball complex to accommodate other sports groups that use the space where cricket fields would normally be built. Told.

She added that the Parks and Recreation Commission wants staff to find ways to continue to offer adult softball programs while sharing the adult softball complex.

“Plans were made to provide equal space for the league while still offering a limited softball adult softball program,” Klose said. It remains available for both softball and sharing with youth sports organizations…we just need to reconfigure how adult softball leagues operate.”

Another challenge that staff must address in approved locations is the complete removal of the hardball B field, including fencing, backstops and bleachers.

The cricket pitch location also requires grading and drainage changes. As the surrounding area is closer to the boardwalk, staff will test plays at this location to determine if other safety features such as nets are needed.

“I understand it’s on two promenades, but we already have backstop fields for different sports for hardball.” , obviously trusting us to work to make this field accessible to all.”

Matt Gruber, the city’s landscape architect, said the next step in actually building the field is to work with a landscape architect firm to develop a design for the field before construction begins. I was.

He said the design process could take six to 12 months, and construction could take another three to four months.

The idea of ​​bringing a cricket ground to Pleasanton began in 2014 when a Master Plan for Parks and Recreation highlighted the need to work with youth programs and identify the need for more programs.

Mayor Carla Brown also said when the city council was reviewing the city’s priorities two years ago, there was a line of children saying they wanted a pitch to learn how to play cricket. I got

Then, on 28 April 2021, the City Council unanimously voted in favor of having a cricket ground in Pleasanton.

City officials then evaluated various candidate sites, including other parks such as Muirwood Community Park. The park was originally slated to be submitted to the city council, but was ignored after the council asked officials to consider Ken Mercer Sports Park instead in April of this year.

Other locations such as Vernal Community Park and Staples Ranch Neighborhood Park were considered, but the high cost of construction put aside the future construction of a more permanent cricket ground.

Of choosing options with Ken Mercer rather than building an entirely new field elsewhere, Balch said, “We talked. It’s raw land and maybe just this reconfiguration. “So we’re talking millions more than this.”

“We look forward to more permanent options in the future, either at Staples or Bernal, when funding permits, but for the time being, we believe this will meet the needs of many cricketers in our community,” said Arkin. said. .

That sentiment was also expressed by various residents who submitted community responses to the city. Most of them didn’t consider Ken Mercer and asked to consider Bernal. There were several reasons for this, including the safety aspect of the cricket ball.

“It’s definitely a good idea to work with consultants when you’re developing a plan,” Crose said. We will be discussing with our consultants other safety factors that we may not know or be aware of.”

Others favored the first option of placing the cricket field over the 9 vs 9 football fields 4 and 5. That option was the most popular among survey respondents, but Crose explained that sports organizations disagreed with its location. It is used for youth games and is not available elsewhere in the city because it is the only he hindrance to a 9-on-9 soccer field.

However, some of the respondents had other issues with the cricket field that were quite different from safety and travel in other sports groups.

“I just wanted to state something that bothered me when I read the survey results. There was a comment in the survey that was a thread ‘Why do we need a cricket ground? That’s all,” Balch said. “We at Pleasanton must be willing to align our community amenities to provide for everyone in our community. We at Pleasanton uphold the values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion. Have to.”

The comments were included in a City Council staff report on April 12, summarizing what other council members and residents felt as a general objection to Pleasanton’s wide variety of sports. Thing.

“There has been some resistance from local residents based on feedback from previous surveys,” said Sandeep Kolte, a resident who belongs to a group of about 50 young and old cricketers, in a public comment. .

“Cricket is played as an after-school program in some elementary schools. In the past, it was part of physical education in junior high schools, but due to the lack of facilities in the city, young children are playing It’s been hard to train and enjoy the game at home, sometimes you have to go to other cities just to play and train,” Corte said.

Alderman Kathy Nalm also commented on the survey responses, saying she had seen one that read “please get out of the city” and “cricket grounds are not the best option”.

“We want our children to be away from computer screens to play and exercise, but here we are offering something to a segment of the population. I’m just disappointed .

But Brown said he also wanted to take note of the positive response the council had received, saying that after years of hard work defending the field of cricket, the sport is proud to be coming to Pleasanton. I emphasized what I was thinking.

The city has already set aside $500,000 to build the cricket field in 2014, which will cover the design and construction costs.

Narum said he had previously spoken to a contractor who said it would cost about $400,000 to remove the existing infield, adjust irrigation and remove the backstop, city officials said. However, due to the additional improvements included in the approved option and the market change since the staff last spoke with consultants, the project may cost more than originally planned.