For high school student Michaela Melena, being able to play softball hits home.
“It changed me as a person. My family has been very involved in the sport ever since I was a little kid.
“When Michaela learned about the city’s plan to turn one area baseball field and one area softball field into soccer facilities, she decided to organize a protest.
More than 50 people came to the protest holding signs while chanting outside the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department.
Crews at the Minami Park are already in the process of removing the softball diamond there.
Crews are also planning to take out a diamond at Simas Park.
Michaela’s father, James Melena has been coaching softball and baseball teams for more than 30 years.
He’s concerned players are already practicing in a cramped area.
He’s afraid the plan could make it worse.
“My concern is the city has destroyed two softball fields and one baseball field. They’re putting lights up for soccer and taking away the practice field from us.
KCOY 12 reached out to the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department.
The department responded,
“I want to thank KCOY 12 for taking the time to ask us for a statement on the softball field issue. The city has been blessed to have great youth sports programs. The challenge has been to meet the demands of these sports programs with the limited number of sports fields in our city park system. This creates a scheduling issue; at most city parks, on any afternoon, you will find several teams practicing various sports on the same limited space. The City Council has made it a priority to find new sports field space in the city. While there are plans in the workshop new facilities, it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars, land, and most of all, time to develop additional open space. In the meantime, the department has been tasked with coming up with alternative plans to accommodate field use by multiple sports.
Our goal is to provide the community with access to as many sports fields as possible, given our limited resources. We feel that we have developed a plan to provide practice space for softball, and other field sports that will meet the majority of the community’s needs. It’s not a perfect plan; however the city, and the recreation and parks department remain committed to providing quality and safe sports facilities for our youth. We look forward to working with our sports organizations in addressing the lack of field space across the city.”
Michaela said she, along with dozens of others plan to express their concerns during Tuesday’s city council meeting.