I want to share my concern with Lehi City’s growing baseball and soccer field problem. I have lived in Lehi my entire life. Growing up, Vets ball park had 4 fields and it supported the 10,000 residents Lehi had in the ‘80s. Today we have grown to over 60,000 and in that time we have added only one more field at Vets with lights and three fields at the Lehi Sports Park with no lights. Lehi has welcomed the growth but has neglected the youth recreation programs. They happily collect the recreation fees and building impact fees, which Lehi is one of the highest in the county, yet we have no money for fields.
This year Lehi will have close to 100 youth baseball and softball teams. Lehi City operates the largest youth program in the area yet asks its recreation directors to do it with 5 lighted fields. While Lehi has the most participants, it offers fewer fields than Pleasant Grove, Orem, Payson, Spanish Fork and even Salem. Because of this, coaches have to get creative when they practice. In spring and summer the fields are extremely busy. You will find one team in the infield and several others sharing the outfield grass. Coaches will show up an hour early just to lay claim to a practice field.
In 2011 Lehi City also shut down a very successful men’s adult softball league because there was nowhere to play. Now Lehi citizens are going to American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Orem to play. As a city we are very proud of our growth and of the new buildings that now call Lehi home. The problem is Lehi City has fallen asleep on providing baseball and soccer fields for its increased population. Not only does our city have a growing population, it happens to border two of the fastest growing cities in the state as neighbors. Lehi allows the youth of those cities to play in Lehi because they currently have no fields built. I am all for being a good neighbor but not at the sacrifice of Lehi kids. I feel like Lehi should close registration to outside residents until it can properly take care of its own. In recent months Lehi announced that Forrest Mellor Park will be built in South West Lehi near the Sports Park. That is great news! The bad news is they are now saying they do not have the money to build it and it will more than likely go to vote for a bond. IF it is built it would be about two years away. We need to do better for our kids!