Rep. Upthegrove Goes To Bat For Local Little League Ball Fields
Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D â€“ Des Moines) filed a bill this week that would allow the Port of Seattle to continue to lease land to the Highline-area Little League organization at a steeply discounted rate for use as Little League baseball fields.
The measure authorizes â€œairport operatorsâ€ to make airport property available for public recreation and other community uses at less than market value.
â€œI grew up playing Highline Little League baseball on these exact ball fields,â€ Upthegrove said. â€œToday, south county children continue this tradition only because of the extremely affordable lease rates the Port extends to the City of Burien.Â With local governments currently strapped for cash, a hike in the lease rates could put the future of these fields at risk.â€
The ball fields in question are located in the second runway â€œbuyout areaâ€ near SeaTac Airport, a neighborhood dotted with boarded-up residences. Federal law specifies how close a residence can be to an airport runway, and over the years the Port of Seattle has had to â€œbuy outâ€ home and business owners to keep them out of the prohibited zone. The recreational and athletic fields, however, continue to enjoy active use and are permitted within the zone.
â€œThe lease rate has recently been called into question by the State Auditor. My aim is to ensure that our state law is consistent with federal law, which actually permits these kinds of arrangements between airport operators and organizations like Little League,â€ Upthegrove added.
â€œLittle League sports provide affordable recreation for so many children while teaching the values of teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.Â We need to ensure that these Highline ball fields remain available for the community.â€
The bill number is House Bill 3007, and it’s scheduled for a public hearing in the House Local Government and Housing Committee on Monday, Feb. 1st at 1:30 p.m.