Community Government Sports

Sports complex study features several multi-sport fields

Posted on August 9th, 2023 By:

Most of the 60-plus people who attended an open house Tuesday evening about the Gig Harbor Sports Complex’s later stages are pushing for more playing fields. They had to be delighted to see lighted, turfed sports venues galore in plans displayed at Peninsula Light Fields by city staff and consultants.

The city issued a $125,000 contract to BCRA Engineers last spring to conduct a Phase 2 and 3 feasibility study. Phase 2 is redeveloping baseball fields on 9.1 acres the city acquired in 2017 and is leasing to Gig Harbor Little League. Phase 3 is developing 7.1 acres of forest south of the Tom Taylor Family YMCA.

Five alternatives

The consultants drew up five alternatives with various configurations for shared soccer, lacrosse, football and baseball use. The study is expected to be completed and adopted in early December, said BCRA civil engineer Andrew Cirillo. The city will advance two of the scenarios for full cost estimates, said Parks Manager Jennifer Haro.

Rob Brentin supports turfing and sharing the three dirt-and-grass ballfields, including one that bears his name for his efforts in establishing and supporting Little League.

Open house for sports complex at Peninsula Light Fields

More than 60 people attended the open house at Peninsula Light Fields.

“When we’re gone, it just sits here and is not feasible for anybody else to use,” he said.

Lacrosse coaches Kurt and Trulie Helgerson would like to be able to use the facility.

“For us, it’s definitely a good thing, and for any team sport in the community,” Kurt said of the plans. “There are not enough fields.”

Soccer players proliferate

The Tyee Cup soccer tournament, sponsored by Harbor Soccer Club, will bring more than 160 youth soccer teams to the area this weekend. They’ll play at nine fields scattered across the Gig Harbor area and seven in Tacoma. Many will stay, play and spend across the bridge because there aren’t enough fields here, said past soccer club president and current board member David Kinley.

“There’s a lot of opposition to these other two (Phase 3) fields,” he said of those who would prefer to keep the woods for trails and wildlife. “If those two fields don’t go, we’re really in trouble.”

The soccer club has registered 1,262 people for recreational play this fall. Another 500 play year-round, Kinley said.

City Senior Engineer Dean Zavack explains plans for Phase 2 and 3.

City Senior Engineer Dean Zavack explains plans for Phase 2 and 3.

The city concedes that even if all six lighted and turfed fields proposed through Phase 3 are built, there would still be a need for more. It says it will begin conversations regarding potential opportunities for Peninsula School District to support parking and convert existing school fields to lighted, turf fields, and will support PenMet Parks in its turf field projects.

Don’t forget softball

Gina Brais worries the field changes will shortchange girls softball. One of the three Little League fields is now devoted to softball. Girls already age out at 13 years old because there’s not enough time to squeeze in the older ones.

“Soccer rules in this community, and we’re going to get stomped all over,” she said. Peninsula High School’s fastpitch softball team won the 2023 Class 3A state championship. “We cannot share a field with soccer or lacrosse. Baseball players need baseball fields. I love soccer. It’s my favorite sport, but don’t take away America’s sport.”

A faction would like to keep more forest at the expense of a couple fields. Parks Manager Haro, who was manning the comment boxes and answering questions Tuesday, said the city’s self-imposed 25% tree retention and would exceed that at 31% on Phases 2 and 3. She added that the city also purchased 24.5 acres nearby along Donkey/North Creek in which it will create trails and is negotiating for 11 more acres.

Parks Manager Jennifer Haro handles the comment boxes and answers questions.

Parks Manager Jennifer Haro handles the comment boxes and answers questions.

The sports complex comprises about 30 total acres. The city split Phase 1 into two parts. Phase 1B is going first, just north of the YMCA. The cost is $3.8 million. It includes pickleball and bocce ball courts, a playground, event lawn, sheltered performance stage, two covered picnic areas and parking.

Final design is going to the city for review. A construction contract is expected in late fall, according to Senior Engineer Dean Zavack.

Phase 1A update

Phase 1A comprises two lighted, turfed multi-sport fields for which the YMCA is responsible for financing and developing under a lease agreement with the city. Permitting is nearing completion, said Jesse Palmer, senior executive-financial development. The Y is raising $7 million for the project. It has received $1.5 in donations and is in talks with the city about a $2 million councilmanic bond, Palmer said.

“The city is helping us get to the finish line quicker,” Palmer said. “Hopefully we can start construction in the spring of 2024. Construction will take 8 to 9 months. I think we could wrap up by December 2024.”