Representatives from local adult soccer leagues asked the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Committee on Thursday to move soccer games from fields at Rocky Heights Elementary back to Butte Park.

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter previously had moved league play to Rocky Heights to minimize impact to Butte fields. After hearing from several people who opposed using the alternate fields, Fetter announced Butte fields will be available for men’s and women’s league games starting June 24.

“The intention was never to throw anybody off the (Butte Park) field,” Committee chair Eric Reise said. “I think the intention was to get the best quality fields available for every player.”

Some of the major issues with fields at Rocky Heights included fewer parking spots than Butte fields and a poor restroom facility, according to soccer league representatives.

Pedro Ortiz, a men's league representative, was among those unsatisfied with fields at Rocky Heights.

“Those (fields) are good for practice but not for games,” Ortiz said.

Letty Garcia said she and others didn't want to wait for a long-term solution to play on Butte fields.

“We want to play now,” she said. “We don't want to wait another year.”

Some in the crowd offered to bring portable goals to Butte Park if nothing was done to allow play.  A need for more soccer fields for leagues to use was also a consensus among meeting attendees.  

One new soccer field could cost up to $500,000, Fetter said. He proposed other solutions, such as a new grid system that could be installed in the goal mouths to reduce wear on fields.

City Councilman George Anderson urged those in attendance to have patience while a new stakeholder group works to find solutions.

“The purpose of the stakeholder's group is to get short-term and long-term solutions,” Fetter said, “And long-term solutions are more fields, absolutely.”

The stakeholders’ group consists of a representative from American Youth Soccer Organization, both men’s and women’s soccer leagues, Hermiston High Athletic Director Mike Kay and City Councilor Jackie Myers. The first of four proposed meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m.  June 28.

Two site-review meetings will be held July 12 and 26 and final recommendations are scheduled for August 2.

“Now we have an opportunity … to get all the people together that love soccer, that have a passion for soccer, to work together to make the facilities and the game even better,” Reise said.

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