Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Team Without A Home: Neighbors’ complaints push team to play off campus

RT Staff Note: One of the most riduculous neighborhood complaints is taking place near my hometown in San Jose and hopefully will resolve itself soon. The fact that neighbors actually think that a baseball field is a blight on their neighborhood are just not American. Thankfully, it seems that there are some neighbors that have taken some action of their own and are stepping up to remedy this issue. Here's a story that ran yesterday. We will keep you updated on this story throughout the year.


The long anticipated construction of the San Jose City College baseball field that began in late 2007 was abruptly put to a halt in the summer.

Members of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Association (SONA) pushed for a stop because of their concern on the 90-foot-tall poles, intended to hold safety netting and the loudspeaker system that they worried would bring too much noise.

According to the SONA Web site and the Draft Subsequent Environmental Report (SDEIR), one of the major issues was the interruption to their “scenic vista,” the mountains toward Santa Cruz.

District board members made the final decision to ultimately turn the baseball field into a multipurpose playing field.

“We went through the SDEIR process,” said Michael Burke, SJCC President, “And that process indicated ... you really cant mitigate the visual impact of those poles. At that point the board decided we needed to take them down. That’s their neighborhood.”
SONA’s President Randi Kinman, who lives a block away from SJCC said she cringes whenever she looks out the window and that it is such a day-to-day intrusion.
However, some of Kinman’s neighbors don’t share the same sentiment.

“In reality, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t know why that lady is saying that,” said Veronica Solencio, 35, who lives on Richmond Av. “What View? It’s just the sky. It’s not like it’s blocking a monument.”

“I don’t have any problem with baseball ... because that’s good clean fun ... thats not noise to me,” said Roberta Emerson, a non-active member of the SONA and next door neighbor of Kinman.

Jeremy Brodeur, 21, SJCC graphic design major said, “I have been a resident of this area for 13 years ... It (baseball field) improves the area. This school is like the only good thing this neighborhood has.”

Brodeur is passionate about keeping the field, he created a Facebook page, added SJCC baseball players and updates the status of the field. He attended the board meeting when the field issues were being discussed. Brodeur also sent a letter to the California governor petitioning for help, but his letter was replied with another letter telling him it was a problem to be resolved at the district level. It was out of their jurisdiction.

The San Jose/Evergreen Community College District had already spent $2 million into the costs of the field. The money had been reserved and allocated through bonds approved in 1998 and 2004.

Bringing It Home
As the construction of the baseball field began so did the hopes of the SJCC baseball team, a positive sentiment that would hit home. After more than 10 years without having a home field, the team would finally have one starting it’s 2010 season.

“Logistically it just makes it more difficult for the team,” said Dough Robb, SJCC head baseball coach. “Every game that we had scheduled here we are not gonna re-play in San Jose or Santa Clara County. We’re gonna play at those other schools and we’ll play as visitors.”

Robb has been coaching at SJCC for 16 years. He was coach when SJCC had its own field located where the parking garage is now.

During the 2009 season, the team leased playing fields such as San Jose State’s Bethlem Field, San Jose Municipal Stadium and Santa Clara University’s Stephen Schott Stadium. This season it plans to do the same if the Golden Gate Conference schedule permits it to work with the facilities.

For the fall, the team will rent Wilcox High School’s field in Santa Clara, rather than practicing at the football field as it previously had said Robb.

As for the effect the absence of a home field has on the team, it is minimal.
“If it does, then I’m not doing my job, I’m not preparing our team and preparing our players,” Robb said.

Robb said that it is tough for the team but it makes them more responsible with their time, and that they are committing to something that they want to.

“To be honest with you, they are the best players in our area, we recruit here, and they all come in spite of the fact that we are not gonna have a field,” Robb said.

“I think it’s a bunch of b.s. not for the team but for ‘skip’ cuz he’s been coaching here for a while, and I think he deserves the field,” said Justin Lagman,19, 3rd base.

Players say it would be great to have a field but although they don’t, it does not affect their personal performance.

“The only thing is not knowing every field that you go to ... other than that baseball is baseball, gotta know the fundamentals,” Lagman said.

The only thing they would like to see is a bigger fan base.

“I think the fans we have out there are great but if we had students out there who didn’t have to travel it would be better,” said Lagman.

“It’s hard to engender fans when you’re not on campus,” Burke said “Thats the impact they have been suffering I think ... They don’t really have a fan base.”

SJCC is the only community college in California, out of 89, that does not have a home field on campus.

SJCC baseball team is ranked no. 3 in Northern California. With a record of 17-8 in conference and 35-17 overall.

This year they don’t plan to be any different.

Expectations of Coach Robb this year “ Fresno,” he said. “Final four.”

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