Rep. Upthegrove's Baseball Field Bill A Hit, Makes It To Home Base
Back in January we first reported that Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D – Des Moines) had introduced a bill to save Highline-area Little League baseball fields, and on Monday (March 22), the bill became law.
Governor Chris Gregoire wielded her pen like a bat and signed her John Hancock to the legislation, which authorizes Port of Seattle airport operators to make airport property available for public recreation and other community use at less than market value.
Upthegrove, himself a former Little Leaguer, grew up playing baseball in the shadow of Sea-Tac Airport.
â€œThe Port of Seattle has been leasing these ball fields to the Little League organization and itâ€™s been a win/win situation,â€ Upthegrove said. â€œThe community gets affordable athletic fields, and the Port is able to provide these fields in an otherwise restricted-use area.Â Federal law permits these arrangements, but state law hasnâ€™t been as clear.â€
The ball fields are located within the airportâ€™s â€œrunway protection zoneâ€ (or RPZ), a place of limited residential and commercial activity due to federal regulations. Athletic fields are permitted within the zone, but many homes and businesses are not. Last year, the State Auditor questioned the lease rate the Port has been charging the Little League organization, so Upthegrove moved to introduce a bill aligning state law with federal law.
“We would like to thank Rep. Upthegrove for his diligent work on this issue,” said Mark Reis, Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director. “Working with our neighbors, we’ve all come together to make sure that Little League play can continue on these fields.”
For Upthegrove, saving the ball fields was about continuing a tradition and making sure kids have a place to learn about good sportsmanship.
â€œSports played a huge role in my life as I was growing up,â€ Upthegrove said. â€œI learned a lot of important life skills by participating in community sports teams, and that is something we need to continue to foster and encourage in our youth.â€
The bill is House Bill 3007.