Lacrosse organizations around the Treasure Valley want more fields, and they're willing to pay for them.
People who live near the proposed fields are worried light, noise and traffic from the fields will upset their neighborhoods and drive down property values.
Between the two sides stand Boise Parks and Recreation commissioners. They'll decide, perhaps as early as Thursday, if the plan or some variation of it becomes a reality.
Commissioners aren't restricted to a simple yes or no vote on the plan, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said. They could alter any detail, including the height of light poles, hours of use and number of fields.
In the late 1990s, a master plan for the McDevitt complex called for a huge community center that included indoor soccer and football fields, as well as indoor baseball practice facilities.
But in the past few years, Boise has adopted a fundamental shift in strategy for meeting recreation demand. Instead of large, regional community centers, the city now favors smaller neighborhood assets. The proposal to put three lacrosse fields on 10 unused acres at the McDevitt complex is part of that shift, Holloway said.
OLD SPORT, NEW GROWTH
The issue around the lacrosse fields is one the commission is likely to see repeatedly in coming years.
The sport is the fastest growing in the nation and in Idaho. Soaring enthusiasm for North America's oldest sport has ramped up demand for the city's 48 fields that can be used for lacrosse, all but three of which are shared with soccer. By 2030, Holloway said, the city projects it will need 107 soccer and lacrosse fields.
"Field space is - that's prime real estate right there," said Justin Misseldine, president-elect of the Treasure Valley Youth Lacrosse League.
That's part of the reason the chance to put in three new fields at McDevitt is so attractive. Lacrosse organizations would raise money to cover the fields' and amenities' roughly $3 million cost, Holloway said. There would be little maintenance cost because at least two of the fields, possibly the third, would have artificial turf surfaces.
LIGHTS, NOISE AND PROPERTY VALUE
As attractive as the lacrosse clubs' offer is, however, it doesn't change the fact that people live near the complex, and some of them don't want to hear a public-address system and general sports-related rowdiness - or see sports lights - late into the night. They also worry about increased traffic and the hazards it brings. Parking is a concern, too, as some neighbors believe the additional 112 spaces proposed in the complex's new plan won't be enough.
Taken together, these effects "will decrease property values in surrounding neighborhoods," predicts a petition against the proposed lacrosse fields that several neighbors signed.
But if not McDevitt, then where?
"We've looked all around the city," Holloway said. "We don't have any room where we could put three lacrosse fields."
Sven Berg: 377-6275