The YMCA stated last fall it would need “one or more” of the fields for expansion.For a history of the sordid saga of the backroom deal by city management and the unanimous vote without discussion by the city council to give away the Ecke Sports Park to make room for the YMCA's expansion plans, see here. It's still not clear, a year and a half later, which of the five council members were willing accomplices, and which were negligent dupes. Tellingly, no council members have explained their votes to the public or called for an investigation into the backroom deal.
Around the same time, it came to light that the Encinitas City Council previously approved a new clause that would let the YMCA cancel the field lease with 30 days’ notice. League officials then became concerned they could be displaced with little warning.
The YMCA owns the fields, while the city leases and maintains them.
Little League, however, will have to make sacrifices under the expansion plans. Its junior program, 13- and 14-year-olds, plays on Field No. 1, which is slated to become three indoor soccer arenas and a parking lot with up to 180 spaces.
With few other options, the junior program is likely to move to the new Encinitas Community Park. Wade emphasized that in order to play there, new maintenance equipment, batting cages, fencing and reconfigured dugouts are necessary.
Wade anticipates the league — a nonprofit with a limited budget — will have to pay for most of the costs.
“The big issue for us is equipment,” he said. “We have one set of equipment that we’re able to use, which will change. And operations behind the scenes won’t be so simple.”
Wade said while the junior program could play at the park, the entire league wouldn’t be able to move there without downsizing, largely because of the lack of nighttime lighting.
Encinitas Express (youth soccer league) President Rick Lochner said he’s glad the YMCA didn’t take more than one field. But, he added, the plan will still mean the league loses almost half its practice time at the sports park.
“It’s a significant negative impact,” Lochner said.