Rep. Upthegrove Goes To Bat For Local Little League Ball Fields

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Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D – 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 “airport operators” to make airport property available for public recreation and other community uses at less than market value.

“I grew up playing Highline Little League baseball on these exact ball fields,” Upthegrove said. “Today, south county children continue this tradition only because of the extremely affordable lease rates the Port extends to the City of Burien. With local governments currently strapped for cash, a hike in the lease rates could put the future of these fields at risk.”

Photo of Rep. Dave Upthegrove, circa 1980, playing Little League baseball on a south King County ball field.

The ball fields in question are located in the second runway “buyout area” 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 “buy out” 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.

“The 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,” Upthegrove added.

Rep. Dave Upthegrove, circa 2009.

“Little League sports provide affordable recreation for so many children while teaching the values of teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.  We need to ensure that these Highline ball fields remain available for the community.”

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.

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7 Responses to “Rep. Upthegrove Goes To Bat For Local Little League Ball Fields”
  1. tripC says:

    With all of the B.S. that the city of Burien (or any city for the matter) has to put up with being neighbors with the of Port of Seattle, this bill is a sight for sore eyes. I can only imagine that the Port, or State would love to put the Port property out there and try to get market, or better rates. They might then cram something awful, and unwanted down the throats of the community. The “lets take their land, tear down their houses, disrupt their lives, and build something they do not want” attitude is disgusting. I can only imagine what awaits us when the Port decides it needs a fourth runway in ten years or so.
    I fully support Little League, and feel strongly they are an institution that should be aided to thrive in our area. Leasing the land to the city for a reasonable rate that benefits the community is not only logical, but the right thing to do. For a lot of these kids, activities like Little League change their lives and shape them into the future leaders this community needs- like Dave Upthegrove. Good job Dave.

    • chill says:

      Where do you get all the attitude, tripC? The Port’s been making the fields available to the little league at below-market rates for years. As the article clearly says: “The amount the city pays the Port for use of these fields has recently been called into question by the State Auditor.” It would be the State Auditor you should direct your tirade toward. Or just take the tinfoil hat off altogether.

      • tripC says:

        C’mon Chill, everyone knows that the whole ‘tin foil hat’ idea was disproved by MIT years ago. It is thought the idea was propaganda instituted by the government, and I would be careful if you still use one. We don’t want to be helping them now do we? If interested, we have a new design that is foolproof. I can send you the specs if you like.

  2. Cyndi Upthegrove says:

    I’m remembering that was one earnest and cute Little Leaguer!
    Where on earth did you resurrect that photo?

  3. Ed Dacy says:

    Hopely dave will be successful with his bill. The use of the buy out land for the Little league fields and the BMX track are VERY good use of that land

  4. Chris says:

    Which ball fields are we talking about? The article isn’t real clear as to where they are. Is it the PacWest Little League fields off of Des Moines Memorial Drive and 16th Ave So.? Those are directly under the flight path, and just north of the runway.

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