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.”