Tomorrow is the day many of us have been hoping for: A chance for SSC
and the City of Stillwater to help determine its future for years to
come. As anyone who has been involved with SSC over the years can
attest, the facility we currently have is sadly inadequate both in
basic amenities (restroom, concessions, etc.) and in quality.
Our current location is on par with communities the size of Verdigris,
Coweta, Newcastle, Skiatook, and Pryor. We rank at the bottom of this
list for the simple reason that we lack even the most basic of
requirements: restrooms and adequate parking.
Yesterday evening we completed the U10 season, requiring the two
finalists to play the dreaded "if necessary" game. The game wasn't
decided until the last round of shots from the mark. It was one of
the better games to be seen at any level because of the effort and
desire both teams put forth. The only negatives to yesterday's championship game was that one of the teams had to lose, and we had to
complete the game in near dark because we ran out of daylight. In
addition, prior to the start of overtime, one player needed a restroom
break and ran the almost quarter mile to the restroom and back. The
kids were tired enough after giving their all in regulation, but this
young man had to put in an additional half mile. It would have been
nice to be able to provide to these teams the "luxury" of completing
the game with lights and to allow the players and their families to
deal with their most basic of needs comfortably.
So far, this is the best we can offer both to our players as well as
those who travel in from larger facilities. Tomorrow, we can help make a difference for future SSC participants,
but we need to get out and vote. We need to make sure that our
families, our friends, and our neighbors understand this isn't about
us - it is about those who are coming after us.
The proposed new facility will satisfy the needs of SSC well into the
future and will allow SSC to host tournaments, including state
tournaments such as the Governor's Cup for rec teams and the President's
Cup and State Cup for competitive teams.
So how does that directly affect SSC? It will bring teams into
Stillwater to utilize the SSC operated soccer facility and allow SSC
to bring in funds through concessions which would go to the operation
of SSC. Currently, all the field maintenance (with the exception of
City water lines and in ground irrigation systems) is conducted by SSC
volunteers. Funding for the cost of maintaining the fields comes
totally from registration and usage fees.
How can a new complex directly affect SSC? Approximately two years
ago, Mayor Bartley (before he was mayor) contacted SSC board members
to discuss a vision he had for Stillwater and for building a sports
complex so our youth would have a quality place to participate in
Through additional conversations between SSC board members and Mayor
Bartley and staff, a concept for a soccer complex was put together. Ultimately,
the facility would consist of 16 full sized fields (80yds x 120 yds)
with plenty of parking to support a large state tournament, concession
areas with real restrooms and meeting rooms for board meetings,
referee classes, and coaches clinics. The room could also be used for
indoor team instruction when coaches need the support of a white board
or even a projector and screen. At least 6 of the fields would have
lighting for practices after we lose daylight savings time, for week
night game options, and...for those championship games when the two
teams playing for the championship refuse to allow time limitations
settle the difference.
Additionally, 8 fields would have artificial turf, making the only
reason to cancel games be for the players and their families safety
(lightning) and not because we had a quarter-inch of rain the night
before. It would also allow every team plenty of practice space and
do away with doubling up in already crowded areas.
This is what SSC could ultimately have at its disposal if we get
enough people out to vote tomorrow to carry Proposition 1.
The facility would be built and developed over time in phases and as
funding becomes available, so what was just described is a start and
allows SSC to become eligible to receive grants for providing these
types of "extras". But organizations interested in awarding grants
for the development of soccer fields require a working relationship
and a commitment from the City to be realistically in the running for
those grants. Lacking that obvious partnership leaves SSC on the
outside looking in when grants are awarded to other soccer clubs.
As things stand now, in addition to the funding issues, we're limited
in what can be done at Babcock, due to several factors, which include
space, the location being situated in a floodway/floodzone, and the
fact that the park was originally built with federal funds which
limits how the park may be used. I haven't been told straight out,
but in discussions with City officials, I get a strong feeling that a
sports facility isn't one of the original allowed uses for Babcock.
So what about all the negatives that have been brought up by the opposition?
They all have some merit and all have some degree of truth to them,
but not one presented the entire truth.
Is there a landfill near the location of the proposed complex? Yes.
I was at the dump a couple of times as an OSU student in the early to
mid 70s. I'm not sure of the exact location, but I know it was
located near the north end of the main airport runway. What the
opponents don't tell you is that it was remediated as part of the most
recent runway extension. Being employed as an environmental
consultant for almost 20 years now, I can assure you that if anything
toxic or harmful were in place, federal and state regulatory agencies
would not allow this type of facility. Long term monitoring with
regular reporting and analysis of the results would be required for
any substance that was suspected of being present in the old landfill.
Many sites are remediated by actually removing the source and all
affected soil. Samples are collected of what's left behind, and if
levels are still above acceptable levels, more soil is removed until
samples reflect that contaminant levels are below acceptable levels.
Other methods of remediating landfills are to place a clay and/or
synthetic cap on the landfill, encapsulating any hazardous substance
that might have been present. And just because it may have had a
hazardous substance in it doesn't mean it's a toxic landfill. Motor
oil is a hazardous substance, but placing oil rags in your trashcan,
and ultimately into a landfill, doesn't make the landfill a toxic
waste site. Had toxic substances been identified, there would be even
more stringent actions conducted for the protection of human health including deed restrictions severely limiting the use of the property. These decisions are made by the state and federal regulatory agencies (EPA, ODEQ, OWRB, etc.), not City governments.
Are the proposals vague? I guess it depends on your definition of
vague, and your knowledge of the actual intent. Since none of the
opposition leaders were included in any of the "Our Stillwater" meetings and discussions, I would say they are only making assumptions
based on their limited knowledge. Just enough doubt to confuse the
Proposition 1 states exactly how much money would be allocated to the
sports complex, how much to the amphitheater, and how much to the
boardwalk. The fine details aren't included because we don't really
know for sure, down to the penny, how much is going to be raised by
the proposed property tax increase. We also don't know exactly how
much each task involved in the construction of the complex would cost.
We could do that, but for City staff to do that would be a huge waste
of time and money if the proposal is defeated and would be used as a
negative for the next attempt for similar projects.
How much of an increase are we talking about? The total millage rate
that has been proposed (including the increase) is roughly $100
annually per $100,000 of assessed property value. That averages out
to approximately $8.33 a month. For those of us that own our own
homes, we're already paying a portion of that with the current millage
rate, so the increase would be somewhere in the vicinity of $5-$6 per
month per $100,000 of assessed property value on the average. A
quarter pounder combo will cost you more than that. Does that mean
that those who rent get off the hook? If you were a landlord and your
property tax for a rental property went up, wouldn't you pass that
along to the people renting your property? I would.
Is it going to be expensive? Yes it's going to be expensive. But it
won't get cheaper if we wait. It's not like the newest electronic
gadget. Labor won't get cheaper. Building supplies won't get
cheaper. If you're going to spend this much money, it makes sense to
do it right so more money isn't spent than would have originally by
making expensive modifications to something that has already been built. Do it when the opportunity and the wherewithal is there.
The need will continue to increase as well. It's already there. One
thing I try to get across to my referees, if you don't take care of a
problem during one of your games, then you leave the problem for
someone else to deal with in a later game. The current lack of an
adequate facility isn't our doing. It's not the current City
administration's doing either. But why should we push the responsibility we should have for our local youth and the betterment
of our City off onto someone else? If we aren't willing to take care
of it, why should anyone else?
At the forum conducted Tuesday evening, the main argument I heard by
the opposition was, "we think there's a better way." Not once did I hear an alternative plan or idea. In fact, at one point it was stated by one of the panelists for the opposition that she didn't even know why we needed soccer fields. For those who question the need for soccer fields, consider this an open invitation to visit Babcock Park during our fall, spring, or summer soccer seasons and experience the parking congestion and lack of restroom facilities being tolerated by families who have chosen to
participate in this great sport.
If I do nothing to my house to improve it or keep it in repair, should
I expect to get the same value when I decide to sell it as if I took
good care of it and made improvements? It's the same logic for
Stillwater. Why would anyone on the outside (potential corporations
which could supply good jobs) want to invest in a place where the
locals don't even want to take care of and invest in themselves.
It's late, I know. I wish I could have put all these thoughts
together a few weeks ago, but we still have a little time to do what
we can. If you feel this a good investment not only for your kids,
but also for the City of Stillwater, then make sure you vote tomorrow.
Talk with your family members, and your friends and neighbors. If
they don't care one way or the other, then ask them to vote YES! We
have the opportunity to do something tremendously positive for SSC and
for Stillwater for many years down the road.