About 40 Belgrade residents turned out last week to give Belgrade School District officials a piece of their minds about a proposed youth sports complex to be built on the city’s north side.
Nobody wielded pitchforks or torches, but residents along Al Drive and Spooner Road made it clear they want the school district to mitigate the possible negative effects of the 57-acre sports park on neighboring property owners.
The school district responded with a pledge to work together to develop a park that will be a “win-win” for everybody.
“Let’s find ways to work together. There are ways to make it work,” said Rick Phillips, activities director and assistant principal at Belgrade High School.
Engineers working for the school district unveiled a plan for the property that calls for work to begin this fall on two soccer fields and a softball field. But while there is some urgency in getting the dirt work done for those three fields as soon as possible, the district agreed to modify an existing design to incorporate some items on a wish list submitted by adjacent property owners.
Neighbors talked of traffic, parking, noise, views and other issues, but most said they don’t want the idea abandoned — just mitigated.
“It was a huge relief to come in here and hear that (the plan) isn’t final,” said Candy Mills, an Al Drive property owner whose back yard abuts the land in question.
Mills and others along Al Drive asked the district to install a buffer of some sort between the ball fields and their properties. Some homeowners said they bought their property on the premise that the ground behind them was state land that would never be developed.
“We paid more for lots on that side of the street,” one homeowner said.
A number of ideas were tossed around, including fences, hedges and other types of buffers to keep the privacy neighbors now enjoy. The district’s engineers, Morrison Maierle Inc., will rework existing drawings to try to accommodate the requests.
A pair of Spooner Road residents talked about existing problems with traffic speeding on the street and people parking along the road during sporting contests at the ball fields behind the intermediate school.
“Spooner’s nuts right now, and all of a sudden you’re going to dump another 200 cars on it?” one resident said. Another suggested that access to the new ball fields come off Dry Creek Road, not Spooner.
The district will hold another meeting when the new drawings are finished, Phillips said.