HERMISTON — Members of the Hispanic community at a well-attended Hispanic Advisory Committee meeting in Hermiston expressed concern recently over the availability of soccer fields.

More than 50 people filled city council chambers May 22, many voicing frustration about the accessibility of the Butte Park soccer fields for the Latino American Soccer League after LASL league play had been moved to Rocky Heights Elementary.

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter made a presentation, translated by Erica Franz, that detailed turf damage to the goal mouths at Butte Park. The damage had prompted the move from Butte Park to Rocky Heights as a “temporary” solution, according to parks committee member Eric Reise.

LASL members raised concerns that Rocky Heights did not give players enough fields, restrooms, shade or parking.

“It just appeared that you were more concerned about the grass than with the sport,” an audience member said through a translator.

Fetter responded that he cared about soccer and the improvement of youth and soccer league fields.

The Hermiston Parks and Recreation Committee will address an “action plan” for capital improvements for Butte Park fields at a meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 14.

In a memo to City Manager Ed Brookshier after the meeting, Fetter said a soccer stakeholder’s group will be formed to evaluate alternatives “to support the soccer needs of the greater Hermiston area.”

Jose Garcia, a local business owner and soccer coach, said after the meeting the “dialogue box” for the Latino community has been opened.

“I think it’s going to be a lot easier for the Latino community to come in and talk about frustration, concerns,” Garcia said. “We’ve got to hit on these issues. This is a serious concern that we have.”

Hermiston High School Athletic Director Mike Kay addressed the committee on behalf of the school district.

“We try to keep them (school facilities) as open as possible but with them being open, we just ask for some simple concessions, like pick up your garbage, don’t park on the lawn and things like that,” Kay said. “The school district doesn’t have an issue — we’re more than happy to accommodate any of our community members that want to use this for their community activities.”

Councilman George Anderson said the issue should be brought before the city council at the next meeting, June 11.

“If there are funds that need to be expended to assist the soccer fields and the playing of soccer and your enjoyment of soccer, we simply have to find those funds,” Anderson said.

He assured members of the Hispanic community they were valued.

“You folks are far more important than the quality of the turf out there,” he said.


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