Dozens of residents and members of the local youth and adult sports community came out in full force at the Nov. 19 Cerritos City Council meeting to speak out against the recent increases in Parks and Recreation fees during a lengthy public comments section. However, despite public turnout, the item will not be placed on a meeting agenda until Dec. 13.
The root of the protest derives from the Nov. 5 city council vote to increase fees at the Cerritos Olympic Swim and Fitness Center and local athletic fields due to the high cost of maintenance. Most fees would see a $5 per hour increase. According to Recreation Services Superintendent Sherre Titus, it costs the city $25,000 a year to maintain one field at the Cerritos Sports Complex, with $12,3000 in total for field use revenue.
According to Vice President of the Frontier Youth Baseball League, Gene Luevano and President of Cerritos Girls Softball, Lori Williams, they were not notified on the vote being made.
"The increase kind of caught us by surprise," Luevano said. "Once we read about it a few days after, it definitely got our attention."
Luevano added that one of the things he and the parents of the athletes don't like is that that youth groups will be charged exactly the same fees as adults.
Luevano said he's already registered 170 players for the upcoming 2013 Spring baseball season.
"I was shocked to find out that the meeting was held without us," Williams said. "It will impact us hugely--not so much at the moment, but it'll have an impact for parents."
On the other hand, Cerritos Aquatic Club Head Coach Mark Johnson said he knew the rates were going to go up.
"They've (rates) been very reasonable, and they're still (reasonable) compared to other situations," Johnson said.
Emily Morton, a 12-year-old student a Carmenita Middle School, has been playing softball since the age of 7, playing on all-star teams and in state tournaments. Morton offered her comments at the podium as well.
"It takes many hours of practice on the fields each week to become a better player," Morton said. "What was the intention of building parks in Cerritos? Was it to charge children fees to play sports or was it for children to have fun, build good character and become great citizens of Cerritos?"
With he and his children being involved in local sports programs, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Barrows said he understands the importance of having sports programs but pointed out that the city needs to take into consideration the financial hardships brought upon by the abolishment of redevelopment funds.
"It's a very important thing, I think, to keep this available to all the kids and keep it open," Barrows said. "But we need to have all the facts out in front of us before we make a decision."
Mayor Jim Edwards said the city staff will work on informing the different sports groups of Cerritos on the different fee rates in different cities as well as certain aspects of the increases that may have been miscommunicated.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Dec. 13.