Trio of local athletic fields get green light for various upgrades
by DAVE SCHWAB
Jul 03, 2014 | 7721 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David “Boomer” Wells, a Major League Baseball All-Star, former pitching phenom for the New York Yankees and San Diego Padress, Point Loma High School alum and now head baseball coach for PLHS, listens during a groundbreaking ceremony at Dana Field (now David Wells Field) on June 30. 					  Photo by Dave Schwab
David “Boomer” Wells, a Major League Baseball All-Star, former pitching phenom for the New York Yankees and San Diego Padress, Point Loma High School alum and now head baseball coach for PLHS, listens during a groundbreaking ceremony at Dana Field (now David Wells Field) on June 30. Photo by Dave Schwab
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It’s full-speed ahead for plans to upgrade three Point Loma sports fields — Dana (now David Wells Field), Point Loma High and Correia Middle School — as groundbreaking was held June 30 on a $1.4 million upgrade of Dana to replace natural grass with synthetic turf.

“This field will be a lasting tribute to everybody from our school district to our community to our city,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer during the groundbreaking, noting it was an example of “teamwork coming together to make this happen.”

Major League Baseball All-Star player and Padres pitching legend David Wells, for whom the field is named, is a Point Loma High alum.

“Obecian/Point Lomans like myself had rock fields” to play on in their youth, adding that upgrades will make it a more “even playing field,”

Wells added he’s “just a coach and baseball guy” lauding the mayor and City Councilmembers Lorie Zapf, Ed Harris and others for “their commitment and support” in working to “make things happen.”

“What you put in is what you get out of it,” Wells said.

Supported through Proposition Z funding, the Dana/Wells Field improvements include reconstruction of the bullpen and installation of a new center-field fence with access gates and wind-screens, utility upgrades and field logos.

“Refurbishment of Dana/Wells Field will “make it a safer place,” said John Murphy, Point Loma High athletic director, who added center-field fences are being brought in, as well as being black-screened to make it “easier to see the baseball.”

“We’re hoping to have it (renovation) completed before school resumes

Sept. 2,” Murphy said.

Dana’s new artificial field is to include a painted track and field workout area to be used for youth PE education to focus on strength and agility training, as well as facilitating youth baseball.

Wells, a former New York Yankee, Toronto Blue Jay and San Diego Padre pitching star, and newly named baseball head coach for his alma mater at PLHS, was taken up by the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) on his offer to improve Dana Middle School’s baseball field, which Point Loma High varsity and junior varsity teams also use.

But to do that required the city and school district to sever an agreement between them, under which the 7.3-acre field had been jointly operated since 1994. The field was turned over to exclusive SDUSD operation by the City Council earlier this year.

The city had been reluctant to let joint use of Dana Field go because the “Peninsula community is currently deficient in population-based parks by 78 acres,” said Jim Winter of the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

Renovation at Dana/Wells Field is part of improvements proposed for a trio of fields used for athletics throughout Point Loma. Upgrades elsewhere include a controversial proposal to add lighting at Point Loma High School, as well as plans to construct a new, $10 million, lighted four-field sports complex at Correia Middle School.

Correia sports enhancement is meant to address the growing need in the area for field space for both boys’ and girls’ sports.

“The Correia Sports Complex is meant to be the pinnacle for sports in Point Loma, with the focal point being youth and the high school,” said Murphy, who noted that a large increase in girls’ sports, everything from field hockey and lacrosse to softball in recent years has necessitated designating more play and practice field space areawide.

A proposal contained in PLHS’s long-range site master plan now being revised would provide the previously unlit PLHS with stadium lights to consist of four 90-foot-high towers allowing for maximum lighting of the field and minimal spillover into nearby properties, said school officials.

The PLHS master plan athletic stadium upgrades will consist of bleacher renovation, installation of a press box and a new sound system, as well as stadium lighting.

But plans for the PLHS stadium lighting has drawn the ire of some neighbors, who fear the stadium complex project at Point Loma High may be a prelude to commercial use of athletic fields to generate revenue for SDUSD.

Fears about commercialism being the underpinning for improvements to Point Loma’s three sports fields is completely unfounded, said SDUSD trustee Scott Barnett, who represents beach-area schools.

“That is an absolute false and disturbing rumor meant to frighten people about commercial use,” said Barnett, who noted a full-blown environmental impact report is under way on proposed PLHS stadium lighting and addresses traffic and noise. “The neighborhood will not be impacted as much as some people think.”

Pointing out PLHS is one of only three high schools districtwide whose stadium fields do not have lights (Mission Bay High has lights under construction), Barnett added the new Correia Sports Complex “will take the pressure off use of PLHS for sports tournaments and actually reduce the usage of high-impact events like big soccer tournaments currently going on at PLHS.”

Murphy said upgrades under way at Dana/Wells Field do not include lighting. He said the new Correia Sports Complex, which could be completed as soon as summer 2015 if all goes well, does include lighting.

“But the lighting is not expected to be controversial because there’s a big buffer around that school,with big, wide streets,” said Murphy.
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