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They want to boot field fees
Soccer groups fight for free Manteca park use
A Manteca Youth Soccer Association game at Woodward Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca-based youth soccer teams are now the only community recreational programs not paying for the use of city-maintained fields in municipal parks.
And at least one of those two groups — the Manteca Futbol Club — is arguing that it already indirectly pays for field use through motel room tax the city collects during tournaments they host at Woodward Park with as many as 120 teams including a number that book rooms at Manteca hotels. They cited Convention & Visitors Bureau statistics that the April tournament alone is responsible for $5,000 in room tax that goes to the city.
They also argued that some parents of team members are upset because they believe that park and landscape maintenance fees they pay for their neighborhood park’s maintenance covers expenses at Woodward Park. It doesn’t. Woodward Park as a community park relies 100 percent on the general fund for upkeep.
The issue of paying for the use of park fields that are reserved for practices and games was discussed at Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting.
Manteca actually has a $10 per hour fee but it has been waived for years for Manteca Youth Soccer, Manteca Futbol Club, Manteca Youth Softball Association and Little League. The MYSA and Little League have agreed to start paying a $5 an hour fee beginning in 2016. There are also 10 Manteca-based sports organizations and/or teams as well as 10 non-local organizations that pay the full $10 per hour charge for field use.
Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fant said an upswing in use plus a reduction in maintenance staff has made it a challenge to maintain fields. Budget cutbacks have also impacted the department’s ledger as well as its manpower going from 51 workers in 2008 to 32 today despite a number of additional new parks added to their workload.
The Manteca Youth Soccer Association and the MFC would like to continue to avoid paying the fees.
But according to Councilman Richard Silverman, fees aren’t the only issue the two organizations are facing when it comes to Woodward Park.
Silverman — who lives near the 52 acre park — had a list of concerns voiced by neighbors regarding major tournaments that the two soccer groups conduct each year:
utournament officials telling Woodward Park residents they can’t walk their dogs in the park even if they are on leash as required by city law when soccer games are underway.
utrash that gets thrown or blown into front yards and tossed over fences.
ucars that park in driveways, block driveways, park on corners blocking handicapped ramps, blocking RV access, and parked in front of fire hydrants.
uspectators that have little regard for private property and who have gone as far as to having picnic lunches in the front yards of homes across from Woodward Park.
“It’s getting bad out there,” Silverman said.
League officials indicated they have harnessed volunteers to address some of the problems and have hired private security guards.
Councilwoman Debbie Moorhead said she wouldn’t vote for a fee higher than $5 an hour for the soccer groups calling the $20 per hour Ripon charges “crazy money.”
The negotiations between city staff and the two soccer groups had stalled because they said they couldn’t produce 2016 schedules that the city asked for in a bid to determine a fair fee.
Both council members Mike Morowit and Vince Hernandez suggested the negotiations be based on 2015 schedules.
As for the group’s request for the council to intercede, Mayor Steve DeBrum noted negotiations of fees belonged at the staff level although whatever fee is proposed could still come before the council for final approval.