The city of Lacey has agreed to take over scheduling of the school district-owned Bucknell Field, assuring that the popular sports park will remain open for community use.
North Thurston Public Schools once considered selling the park because of the staff time it took to manage it.
Now, School Board President Laurie Davies said, the partnership will ensure that the playing fields stay open.
“It was what we wanted,” she said. “We like providing those services and those facilities to the community. We’ve always had a good, strong working relationship with the city of Lacey.”
The nearly 16-acre venue at 425 Marvin Road SE also is known as Dream Team Park and Nisqually Ball Park. The park’s five fields are used by hundreds of youth and adult softball and baseball teams from across the region, as well as several South Sound soccer, rugby and football teams.
“The school district asked us if we would add the field ... to our scheduling,” said Lori Flemm, director of the Lacey Parks and Recreation Department.
The city of Lacey already schedules all of the district’s sports fields except for South Sound Stadium at North Thurston High School, Flemm said. It also schedules public use of the district’s swimming pools, she said.
In January 2013, the school district considered putting the park up for sale. District officials described it as “surplus property” and were poised to enter a brokerage agreement to list the property for $750,000.
Back then, Superintendent Raj Manhas said the district was spending too much staff time managing the park, which was supposed to be handled by a separate enterprise, the nonprofit Dream Team Delivers.
“We are here to do everything we can for the community, but not at the cost of kids,” he told School Board members.
But School Board members shelved that proposal, saying they would rather reach out to the city and other groups so that the community could continue using the facility.
On July 28, the School Board approved a lease termination agreement for the nonprofit Dream Team Delivers to manage the park through the rest of the summer. The agreement allows Dream Team to operate two events this month, last weekend’s Nisqually Kennel Club Dog Show, and the Quinault Tribe Softball Tournament this Friday through Sunday.
Dream Team’s license will expire on Aug. 23, according to the agreement. Officials from Dream Team, as well as North Thurston School Board members, did not return phone calls last week seeking comment.
North Thurston Public Schools spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve said the district will continue to maintain the field, and plans to make some improvements that address safety and bring the park on par with the district’s other fields.
“Most teams have been informed of the shift” in management,” she said.
Flemm said any current users who have been scheduled through the end of the year will still get to use the fields.
Rates will change. The city charges an hourly rate for field use, but the park’s earlier management had rates that varied by users and length of games, Flemm said.
“The biggest change people are going to see is there won’t be a parking fee when they come in,” she added.
Flemm said it should be a fairly smooth transition for all of the park’s users.
“I don’t think they’re going to notice much change,” Flemm said. “And the best thing is that the fields will remain (open) for community use.”