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Mailbag: Get these athletic fields built now

June 12, 2010

I was dismayed to read in the Burbank Leader that the new construction of the John Burroughs High School Memorial Stadium and athletic fields has been postponed once again ("Stadium still standing," June 2). This is the third time that this vitally important communitywide project has been delayed.

Three years ago, residents across the city were thrilled when a joint committee of the City Council and the Burbank Unified School District announced the refurbishment of Memorial Stadium, and new construction of the athletic fields at both Burbank and John Burroughs high schools.

Excitement toward this project grew to a point where a fundraising committee, headed up by hard-working former Mayor Michael Hastings, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist the effort. Longtime Burbank businesses such as the Cusumano Family, the Walt Disney Co., the Burbank Healthcare Foundation and literally hundreds of residents stepped up and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars toward this effort. It was an exciting time for the city of Burbank.


To learn now that this project, expected to start this month, has been delayed once again until the end of this year is embarrassing. Since athletic schedules have already been changed due to a planned construction start, the entire upcoming athletic season is in chaos, as well as requisite planning for the following year's athletic season.

This could mean that our student athletes would be required to play all of their games away from Memorial Stadium for the next two years. All of this is completely unacceptable.

It is apparent that what we have in Burbank is a prototypical Southern California school district bureaucracy dithering. I remember hearing an original figure of around $10 million to do this project. Suddenly, we are now hearing a figure of $12 million to complete this project.

Last year the city and the school district signed a 50-year joint-use agreement that allows city residents to use the athletic facilities. With a refurbished stadium and new athletic fields at Memorial Stadium, it's a win-win situation for all our student athletes and residents.

What is required to get this important project underway is leadership. I am asking our school board to get heavily involved in the process of starting and finishing this project. The days of dithering, and the lack of accountability, must come to an end. This project is being funded by the taxpayers.

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