For decades, Smith Field Park has hosted an untold number of baseball games and created countless memories for Coastside families. Now, in the wake of a proposed donation, the city of Half Moon Bay is preparing an expensive upgrade to the cherished facility.

In June 2021, a donor from the Half Moon Bay Little League offered to replace Smith Field Park’s unpaved access road and parking lot. The donation prompted the city to undergo some long-term planning and launch its Smith Field Park Facilities Master Plan, which serves as a roadmap to bolster the entire zone.

“We’re hopeful the donor continues to stay engaged in this process, but even if they don’t, it was the kick in the pants we needed to get this moving forward and prioritized,” Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said. “Now we’re moving forward with a plan the community can get behind.”

Last week, the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee approved recommending the Master Plan for City Council consideration. Melonie Reynolds, project manager and landscape architect with Gates and Associates, outlined the proposal, and the ballpark estimate calls for more than $16 million.

The concept involves removing Field 5 and replacing Field 3 with a multiuse turf field. The plan also calls for an expanded parking lot for a larger dog park east of the fields. There’s also a discussion of a new “sports court” area that could host multiple types of courts. Planners have designed a basketball and pickleball court and three sand volleyball courts. For this later development, city Public Works Director John Doughty said that will likely be the last piece of the puzzle, as there will need to be public outreach to determine which courts should be included.

The development would be split into five phases. The initial work would go toward repaving the main parking lot, followed by expanding the dog park and playground, then redesigning the baseball fields, then new sports courts. The last phase, the turf field, is likely the most expensive at $4.9 million. After paving the parking lot, the order could be rearranged, Doughty said. The later phases are likely years away. City staff noted the project will likely need grants and fundraising efforts, particularly from Half Moon Bay Little League.

A consequence of the plan is that the horseshoe pits will eventually have to be removed, but the city intends to establish pits elsewhere and work with Half Moon Bay Horseshoe Club, Doughty said. The club currently has an agreement with the city to play and maintain the pits at Smith Field. The staggered development allows the pits to remain until the last phase is done.

The revamped park would have trails near the dog park, more picnic areas, and the snack shack would be moved to the center of the three baseball fields.

Some residents and commissioners acknowledged that it was unfortunate the park will lose two of its baseball fields that are often full during tournaments. In 2019, one of the fields slated to be moved had all the infield replaced by dirt from Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. However, the consensus was that the increase in recreational activities for both kids and adults should make up for the lost fields.

“There is always going to be some pain with these things, but with the trade-offs, the baseball folks are looking at three new revised fields in this plan,” Parks Commissioner Paulette Eisen said. “Plus, families can come and younger kids can play on the playground. It makes it much more of a bigger community sports complex.” 

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

(26) comments

John Charles Ullom

Road by field at 3:15 PM. It is clearly not baseball season. One dad playing catch with one of his boys. A few folks at the dog park. Lots on the trails. No games. No teams.

I am not saying it never happens but I have never seen all the fields being utilized at the same time. I think we can do better.

I'd like to see them build BMX race track.

livindadream

Just went by Carter Park and not a single play happening right now. Odd. But yet $6.3 million will be spent there.

I was at high school from 10am-3:30pm. Plenty of open courts for pickle ball.

JCU, you are part of the disconnected community that does not know the schedules for Smith Field. This time of year Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the all stars teams are practicing along with the tournament baseball teams practice on opposite weekdays and weekends. Clearly you missed the Memorial Day weekend tournament that occupied every field Saturday-Monday. Junior Giants begins June 16 and goes for 10 weeks.

Let’s all get educated before making decisions and statements.

John Charles Ullom

Thanks for the education!

You are right, I do not know. That does not make me disconnected. I just don't know your schedule. Nor do I know that of Pickle Ball or any other sport. I am not a team player. I ride alone. Always have.

I have asked questions. I did ride past and take a look. You seem to be of the impression that YOUR schedule is the one that CONNECTED folks know about.

"Let’s all get educated before making decisions and statements."

I do appreciate your sharing what you know. It sounds like you know everything. You might want to consider that making statements that basically accuse anybody that disagrees with you of not being connected and of speaking from ignorance, will not sway the undecided. Little League Fundamentalists will of course lap that kind of rhetoric up.

Little League is not the center of my universe. Maybe yours but not mine. Your know it all attitude, disdain for those who don't share your informational priorities, and sincere belief that your cause is the only one that matters, are so indicative of civil discourse these days.

Do you really think your interests are the only interests that should be served by Smith Field? Are you really sure that there isn't an opportunity to make Smith Field a resource for others besides those you favor?

You seem to know everything about this subject and thus are in the unique position to pontificate. Go for it. Tell us why your game is the only game that should be played at Smith Field.

alterego

Not the center of my universe. My kid plays baseball at Smith, basketball at Cunha, swims at Mavs, and plays football. He also does Jr Lifeguards at the beach, rides his bike at the pump tracks at Quarry park and on the coastal trail, plays tennis and still goes to school. He takes his dogs on walks every day and earns money teaching cooking classes to other kids.

Yes, baseball is important to us. So are other things.

Losing one field to something no one can agree on (pickle ball, soccer, basketball, volleyball? What is the plan?) but losing two to this non plan is bizarre

HMB OG

“I am not a team player. I ride alone. Always have.“

JCU-It is very clear you are not a team player by all your posts here, and on other articles as well.

Not sure how long you’ve lived in HMB, but the City has been discussing paving, water lines, etc for smith field since they acquired the property in 2011. And what’s gotten done? Nothing!! Typical City of HMB project….This project is unlikely to happen without Little Leagues support. Little League is the largest stakeholder in Smith Field and has been for more than 50 Years! Those fields were built by volunteers, and have been maintained by volunteers, that believe in team work. To remove infrastructure that’s already in place would be a waste, why not add the courts somewhere else at smith? Like the dog park. There are miles of trails on the coast that dogs can be walked, beaches where they can go, yet let’s take away from our youth and give to dogs?

Nobody is saying “only baseball” should be played at smith, but that is the only place to play organized baseball in HMB. If all the fields were turf, you could have multi-use fields and it would benefit many youth sports organizations.

BMX track? Great idea, the coastal kids would love it, just not at smith field. For those of you that didn’t grow up here, we used to make our own BMX tracks, and ride all over the coastal hills and nobody complained. Unfortunately for our kids, those days are over…

alterego

Practices start at 4-5pm during regular season but the teams were out at 8am this morning.

I went by the dog park yesterday and there were zero dogs there but all fields were in use for the kids.

I’m guessing you don’t have kids. They have built pump tracks all over the Coastside. You can see one right behind Smith 5- an area they want to demolish.

alterego

Because the kids are in school!

John Charles Ullom

I am curious as to the current utilization rate. Is there a time when ALL the fields are in play at the same time?

I ride by there often and have never seen all of the fields being used at the same time but that is just an observation.

Also wondering if it is not true that there aren't as many youths these days. And the sports preferences of local youths seem to be shifting.

And what the heck is wrong with Pickle Ball?!! Lots of people love Pickle Ball. While not a Pickle Baller myself, I have seen the passion Pickler Ballers bring to the court. I would not dis Pickle Ballers.

alterego

Yes, all the fields are in use at the same time every Saturday during baseball season. And weekday nights for practices from 5-7.

Pickle Ball is great but it’s not a sport that any 8yo that I know wants to play.

John Charles Ullom

If they are only all used during certain times of the year, does it not seem that the resource is being wasted? Is the city only supposed to support recreation fro 8 year old baseball players?

Is it baseball season now? If I ride over there today, will all the fields be in play?

Me? I love baseball. Would give a lot to play in a game again. But lots of people around here don't care much for baseball.

I think the angst is more about the adults than the children. The comments here seem selfish. As if the sport you choose for your kids is all that matters. Comments about the sports preference of eight year olds are indicative of such. Most eight year olds have no problem having fun with any game involving a ball.

Sports don't build character. Sports reveal character. Especially when adults are involved in the games children play. This thread is an example.

Jvreeburg

There is a fall season of baseball as well as adult softball. The little league is open to children from Pescadero to Montara ages 4 (Tball) to Juniors (13/14 yrs) as well as a Challenger league for children the same ages with special needs.

None of the adults here responding are “selfish”. They are in fact the complete opposite and have given a lot of time and dedication throughout generations (50 years) to making a fun, learning environment to develop the youth into successful young adults.

livindadream

No offense, but this is the disconnected view from most HMB residents either with adult children or no children. It has been noted that many on the City Council have never even been to Smith Field. The mayor actually threw out the first pitch of the season this year. FIRST TIME EVER.

Once HMBLL season starts, every field is used heavily. First little league baseball, than little league all stars, as well as HMB tournament baseball teams. And do not forget about the SF Giants sponsored junior giants organization which lets all kids play baseball at no cost. Ask the little league scheduler how hard it already is to schedule weekday practices for all the teams with 5 fields available. It would be impossible for all teams to practice with only 3 fields to play on.

Sports shifting? To what? Organized baseball is going strong at smith field.

All these plans that worry about where dogs can play and where adults can play pickle ball. Pickle ball?

Why can’t pickle ball be played at the high school courts? Or the Cunha middle school courts? All existing infrastructure. That would mean the adults would have to share though…

Jvreeburg

@livingadream completely agree! There is Carter Park which is centrally located to restaurants which is ideal for that demographic. I really think for fundraising, little league should focus on hosting tournaments. Smith is a perfect place for that and could be so successful.

Jvreeburg

“The later phases are likely years away. City staff noted the project will likely need grants and fundraising efforts, particularly from Half Moon Bay Little League.“

Anyone who has served on the Board of HMB Little League knows how much work goes into running the league and trying to fundraise while keeping registration costs down. To ask volunteers or little league board members to help with additional fundraising as two fields are taken away from the children is delusional. For years the parent volunteers have worked countless (and a lot of the times thankless) hours coaching, maintaining the fields themselves with their own equipment, raising funds for uniforms and league gear, running the snack bar, securing donations (like the infield dirt from the SF Giants) without any help from the City. Volunteers have been to many city council meetings just trying to get the City to replace the bleachers since they were so neglected they became a safety issue. When Covid hit, the City then locked the league out of the park so that in fact all of that hard work performed by the volunteers, all of the time and donations from the SF Giants, money that had been raised from the 50th anniversary dinner was completely wasted. For the City to now swoop in and take more from the league and the children is so negligent.

Kevin J

This is just a really bad idea. Haven’t the kids had it bad enough over the last few years? Pickleball! Not exactly a young man’s game.

alterego

Also not sure where the journalist came up with expanding playground and picnic area. There is no playground, and please point me to a picnic table because I would love to (never) have lunch next to a dog park.

livindadream

The City Council is scheduled to review the Smith Field Park Master Facilities Plan on July 19. Support Smith Field for the kids and attend the meeting. The only voices speaking and being heard is the community not involved with Little League. The future kids need a voice.

SAVE SMITH!

John Charles Ullom

"The only voices speaking and being heard is the community not involved with Little League."

And that is what it is all about. Them against Us.

livindadream

Way off. The kids need a voice just as you have your platform.

John Charles Ullom

I sincerely doubt the kids care as much as you do.

Adults are one of the uglier aspects of youth sports.

HMB2022

This plan is a catastrophe. I am shocked that the City is supportive of removing sports fields that are utilized fully by children and families on the Coast. Little League has offered my children an opportunity to socialize, exercise, build new skills and have something to look forward to throughout the pandemic. To see fields that support the Little League program, that has been on the Coast investing in Smith Field for over half a century, reallocated for other uses is heartbreaking and is indicative of a City that does not prioritize families. I hope the community looks closely at this plan and evaluates the trade offs happening and the detrimental effects it will cause to the recreational baseball program that hundreds of our local families count on.

thinkbeforeyouspeak

Taking fields away from kids and giving them to dogs. Seems about right for HMB. What an embarrassment - those fields are constantly in use, not just during tournaments. And little league is supposed to fundraiser to pay for something you’re taking away from the kids?? So disappointing that it seems like special interest groups are forcing their way into getting what they want to the detriment of our local kids. Pickleball??? Who will reimburse Little League for all the money we’ve paid in registration fees to maintain and redo fields if the city can decide to just take them away from our children??

thinkbeforeyouspeak

This is absurd. HMBLL has maintained those fields and they are always full and the city is going to take them away and ask little league to fundraise to pay for a dog park? Taking space away from our national pastime?? My kids had to practice at odd times because of a lack of field space and now the city wants to take away even more? This is ridiculous and seems like it was done in the dark. Was little league even asked about this? The city should be ashamed. Only in HMB are dogs and the homeless valued more than kids. Where are they going to get $16mm as we’re heading into a recession?? What a joke.

alterego

So we’re going to take a bad dog park that the city can’t manage and people don’t like, expand that, and take away baseball fields from our kids. Oh yea, and extra parking.

livindadream

Let me understand this: A private party from Half Moon Bay Little League is offering to privately fund the paving of the parking lot area but the City has decided to take away 2 baseball fields from the league who's infield is maintained and was improved by Little League and not the City of HMB. Does this make any sense?

Take away park space from kids, give it to the dogs(literally), and improve Carter Park downtown for adult use??? nothing makes sense.

SAVE SMITH #5!

sahollis@gmail.com

The HMB dog park is the worst dog park in San Mateo County. The park is a dumping ground for bark chips that are hard on the dog's feet. Although some residents use the park, many dog owners, including myself, are unable to use the dog park due to conditions and the aggressive dogs that frequent the park. Please get input for the dog park from dog owners.. Look to other cities like Redwood City, San Mateo, and Belmont. They have provided a clean and beautiful place for both the dogs and their owners. Although we have beaches and coastal trails, it is essential to have a large, clean and open space where dogs can safely run, and not for just a few locals but for both new and old residents that have both small and large dogs. Susan Hollis, HMB

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