May 31, 2009

Letter to Parks Department asking for playfield improvements

Sent 5/29/09 to Superintendent Gallagher ( and Assistant Superintendent Christopher Williams ( 

Please send them your views and add them as comments to this post, or E-mail them to Andrew Taylor (


Dear Superintendent Gallagher,

I write to thank you and our City for taking the efforts (and no doubt making painful cuts elsewhere) to find the money to allow the replacement of the playfield surface at Miller to proceed. All the teams that play there will greatly enjoy the safe playing surface, the neighbors will enjoy the lack of dust and the more natural color, and we will all benefit from the savings in irrigation water.

I would like to suggest a few simple improvements that will make the renovated Miller playfield an even more pleasant environment for all. I have circulated these ideas to neighbors and sports teams via our neighborhood blog, and would refer you to the latest post there ( for a summary of the ideas, and links to more details of them.

In brief the ideas are as follows:

1) Free time on the field for pickup games ( we live in a neighborhood of active youths and adults, who would appreciate the possibility of pickup games on an ongoing basis. We appreciate that there is a great demand for field time, but believe that this is a workable idea. I note that time for pickup games has been advertised for many years at the Queen Anne Bowl, and that the schedule for the newly surfaced Loyal Heights playfield is available online ( We suggest that a modest fraction of the playing time be set aside for community use, and be advertised in the new kiosk at the site and on the Parks website.

2) Encourage teams to use off-street parking ( The 50 place lower parking lot at Miller (Parks property, but traditionally used by Meany school staff during the day) is very rarely used by playfield attendees. This creates some friction with the neighborhood [increasingly so as our neighborhood gets more dense] and can create great traffic jams during Summer Little League games. I suggest that our City provides better signage to the parking lot, and that teams be required to distribute maps to their players (I offer a prototype map).

3) Equip the outdoor bathrooms at Miller Community Center with automatic locks, to allow their use by players after evening games ( These outdoor bathrooms are rarely unlocked [I suspect Miller staff are too busy to unlock them] and are never available for players to use before their trips home after games: neighbors have reported on several occasions that players use the bushes near their homes for bathroom purposes.

I have seen such self-locking bathrooms in several parks around our State (Monroe, Tacoma, Manchester). The redevelopment of Madison Street has almost eliminated the drug dealing and vagrancy issues that used to plague our park, so I believe that they will cause no problems. I have had feedback from other park users (parents with small children) noting that the outside bathrooms are rarely open.

In summary, these proposed changes are simple and inexpensive and will help neighbors and players live in harmony around our resurfaced (and undoubtedly much busier) Miller Playfield. I note that some other neighborhoods have only accepted resurfaced playfields with great reluctance. We celebrate and enjoy our lovely, centrally located open space, and are eager to share it with others. These simple measures will help us all to get along even better, and continue to be a model of happy coexistence.

My neighbors and I would be happy to meet with you to explore these ideas further. Copied below is a letter from a ballfield advocate.

Looking forward to a new playfield,

Many thanks
Andrew Taylor
Miller Park Neighborhood Association
Vice-President, Miller Advisory Council





Hi Andrew – These three items are all worthy of consideration. I would think field users would readily support 2 and 3. The following are my personal opinions and do not reflect other boardmember positions.
#2: Parks can and should be working with the sports leagues at each playfield to encourage use of proper parking areas. A map with this info should be posted at each playfield. (Would be nice if each PF had a kiosk.)
#3: Players are all for keeping bathrooms open. This is usually either a neighborhood issue of not wanting undesirables hanging out or lack of money to maintain. We’d prefer not to have to pee in the bushes.
#1 is more controversial. We understand the desire for more pickup but the reality is that there is so much demand for field time that sports leagues already cannot get enough practice and game time. Sports leagues are made up of kids and adults from your neighborhood and that is how most participate in active recreation these days (for better or worse). Posting the field schedule on the web is an easy first step and there are no problems with that.
Not to downplay your issues but there are many other fields issues taking my time right now. I lend my support to your conversation with Tim Gallagher but just don’t have time to do it all. Good luck, BF


Bill Farmer/Friends of Athletic Fields

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Andrew--thank you for your help in bringing these three important parts of making the new improved ball field work for the community which houses it--all three parts are very much needed.

Not everyone in the area served by Miller Park participates in the sporting groups that will have scheduled time on the field--the community has supported these improvements for all--not just the sports groups with political pull.

It would be unfair if the pending improvements resulted in a lack of access to those of us that live in the surrounding area.

We live one block away and my daughter frequently uses the field to practice soccer and play with friends and family--it is a community park and there is wide spread support for the ball field to support the Miller Park community along side a larger geographic audience.

It really is important to leave some blocks of time free for use by community members who are not aligned with powerful sports organizations.

Again thanks for being the voice for those of us who are feeling a little squeezed out by the sports clubs.