It now appears that risk has become a reality. Encinitas Advocate:
Susan Hight, executive director of the YMCA, said in an email that the organization is developing a site master plan to serve members better, including expanding its footprint and renovating existing buildings. The plan could affect one or more of the fields.So the YMCA clearly wanted to terminate the lease early. Just over a year after being given the right to terminate, they already have development plans. But why would the city give away eight or more years of use of the fields with no good alternative for the Little League?
"The YMCA anticipates finalizing their master plan site prior to July 2015, in advance of next year's scheduling session (for leagues)," Hight said. She also said the YMCA would provide open communications with families who are part of the sports leagues.
Parks and Rec Director Lisa Rudloff is sticking to the highly dubious city line:
Rudloff said the 30-day clause provides flexibility if either party wants to end the lease. As an example, Rudloff said: "If the city, through the parks master planning process, identified space to develop, the city would have flexibility to get out of the lease."The city needing flexibility to get out of the lease stretches credulity. The rent is $25 for the entire term, and maintenance and utility costs are only $129,000 per year, a tiny fraction of the Parks and Rec budget and a bargain for four lighted fields for which the city has no alternative for the Little Leagues.
So what the heck happened? We can see three possibilities:
1) Rudloff's story is true. Vina and Rudloff wanted the option to save a small amount of money, and either didn't know or didn't care that they were taking much-needed playing fields away from Little Leaguers.
2) Rudloff and Vina gave away the fields to benefit the YMCA or related development interests, for some unknown reason. The fact that they negotiated this change and slipped it through the Council without public discussion lends credence to this possibility.
3) Some or all of the council members supported the YMCA development plans for some unknown reason, and Vina and Rudloff were just carrying out the council's wishes. Unlikely as this may seem, it is bolstered by the fact that the council has neither fired Rudloff nor opened a public inquiry into this debacle that hurt thousands of Encinitas children's sports opportunities and made the council look foolish. By not holding anyone accountable for the contract change, the council is admitting tacit approval.
What's your theory?
All four sitting council members who gave away the Little League fields have their terms ending in 2016, and at least three are expected to run for re-election. Joe Mosca and Al Lerchbacker may want to call the Little League folks.