Parents of soccer players in College Station are upset over the possibility of Veterans Park becoming the new park-and-ride shuttle destination during A&M football home games, an option floated after Post Oak Mall officials said their parking lot no longer could be used.

While soccer players were able to use Veterans Park during seven Saturdays last fall, they could be limited to as few as five Saturdays this fall. Depending on how three non-conference home football games are scheduled, however, the available number of Saturdays could rise to eight, according to J.D. Wood, tourism manager for College Station Parks and Recreation Department.

The City Council, which would have final say on any agreement that's developed, is not expected to discuss it until its April 23 meeting and likely won't vote until May, according to city officials.

But a letter sent to city officials and council members Tuesday from the nine board members of the Brazos Valley Youth Soccer Association prompted dozens of emails being sent to administrators and the council, each asking them to reject the agreement.

"While the city has proposed moving the (BVYSA) games to weeknights, this is a major change in programming that will create many challenges, including family scheduling issues, increased volunteer demands, referee availability, and practice space availability," the letter reads.

"Although we understand the economic boom that Aggie games bring to our community, the bond issues approved by the citizens of College Station were for parks, not parking lots."

Bill Hart, president of the soccer association, said he was "optimistic" that a resolution would be reached and meetings with the city were ongoing. He said he sent the letter out to ensure that parents knew about the proposed agreement.

John Melvin, whose children play soccer with the College Station Soccer Club, said no games on Saturdays means extra weekday games, which conflicts with other activities his children are involved in. For the games to be moved because of A&M is inconvenient for families, he said.

"Veterans Park is there for us to use as a park," he said. "It's not there for A&M to park cars."

David Schmitz, director of Parks and Recreation for College Station, said he was shocked by the letter, given the nine meetings city staffers have had with BVYSA board members since late January about the park-and-ride possibly moving to Veterans Park. During two of those meetings, Schmitz and other staffers sat down with all or nearly all board members to discuss the scheduling. Schmitz said he thought all parties came to an agreement, which included expanding the season by multiple weeks.

"It's a compromise. We didn't get everything we would have liked and they didn't get everything they would have liked," Schmitz said. "Apparently, we've got more work to do and we're willing to get back to the drawing board."

In a response letter to the BVYSA, City Manager Kelly Templin said because park-and-ride reduces traffic on game day by thousands of cars, the issue was one of public safety. Too, additional College Station fields and facilities are available that can accommodate soccer games and practices, he said.

"If there's no adequate parking, several hundred cars will park in neighborhoods," Templin said. Streets lined with cars, especially where parking is illegal, creates visibility issues and could block the way for emergency vehicles.

Councilman John Nichols, who helped organize the College Station Soccer Club in the 1970s, said he heard from 40 to 50 residents the day after the BVYSA letter was sent to council members.

"This has not come to council. We have taken no stand on it," he said. "I think there are good intentions on both sides and we can find some moderate accommodation to deal with the basic needs of both demands here."

Councilman James Benham said he had reached out to Post Oak Mall management to ask it to consider picking up the park-and-ride again. Post Oak Mall had signed contracts to host the event since 2004, and was compensated $2,000 per game for the last several years, said Peter Lange, executive director for A&M transportation services.

Last December, Lange said, he received an email from Post Oak Mall manager Paul Loy indicating fans coming to games took up more than half of their 4,500-spot parking lot and were causing tension with department stores.

"We felt we weren't serving people we really needed to and that was the folks who were shopping here," Loy said Wednesday. "If we had the ability to quarantine off areas of the parking lot that were lesser used, we could work with the shuttle service. It's not that easy."

Of the alternatives A&M Transportation Services has looked into, Veterans Park's 1,600 parking spaces have proven to be the best option in terms of space, location and ability for the shuttle to move without getting caught in traffic, Lange said.

"When you start looking around town, there are not that many places with that many parking spaces," Lange said, noting he had spoken to one church who said the arrangement would be inconvenient for them.

"We're still kind of looking," he said.

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(15) comments

hotdog

Here we go again as I have stated several times. Citizens should come first in parks not business development or city promotion. The parks department should have a mission to support the quality of life of the citizens.

hotdog

Looks like Park Director is willing to compromise the citizens he serves, maybe time for him to move on to city development or maybe a job at the big school.

Doris Wellborn

Let the kids play and practice at other parks on gameday. What the heck? Don't these soccer moms realize that sales tax and hotel motel tax pays for a lot of things in CS? That their overall quality of life is better and cheaper because of events at the university? Why do they live in a college town anyway? Live in Bryan or Navasota. Oh! That's right! Have your cake and eat my cake!

kaybird77

There are very limited places to play soccer in the B-CS area, that is why Veterans' Park was built. Soccer is a growing sport. Yes, Aggie football is important to our community financially, but there needs to be mutual give and take, not just bulldozing. Remember when Aggie football cut out Scout day?

Bluhorseshuluvsanacottsteel

Doris W, I'm sure you are an intelligent caring person who respects others and cares deeply for the entire B/CS community. Please keep in mind that most other parks are in use already on Saturdays. It's been rumored that CS is a family oriented community as much as it is a college town. I've also heard gossip that soccer moms, dads, grandparents and other supporters also pay taxes and spend money in both Bryan and College Station. I am curious whether the city council considered the TAMU owned facility (with parking) directly behind Veterans Park (I believe its called the University Services Building) where they do an annual hazardous waste drop off. I admit I do not know the space comparison, but just a thought. Doris, I do not eat your cake...I drink your milkshake!

Liffie

Well I did a little looking on google maps and checked the parking lots of Veterans Park as well as one of the Churches someone else suggested and the place they do the hazardous waste thing every year. Veterans park has roughly 650 parking spots, First Baptist church has around 675 and the Hazardous Waste location maybe could accommodate 200 all of those are rough estimates of course. So I dont know how many cars were usually parked at the Mall on gamedays taking advantage of the park and ride, but there are not a ton of possible locations when your looking to locate 600+ cars. Using Veterans park isn't ideal but there are not a lot of options and locating on multiple spots around town for a park and ride wouldn't really work just due to having to get back and forth to so many locations. The problem is you are trying to have parking for close to 100,000 people fans staff etc even at 4 to a car which is best case you need 25,000 parking spots. The only real solution would not be cheap at all but would involve converting ALL the parking near Kyle Field including all the lots surrounding Reed Arena and the baseball fields into multi story parking garages, but you then still have the problem if trying to get 25,000+ cars into and out of such a small area with only a 4 lane road to do so maybe 2 4 lane roads if you take over George Bush Drive as well. Just based on Kyle Fields location makes any option hard to pull off unless you want 3 or 4 hours of bumper to bumper traffic every game day. Of course none of that accounts for the foot traffic with people walking to and from the stadium.

Aggiedreams

Why don't they try one of the Massive church parking lots. Like Bryan First Baptist behind Lowes or Central Baptist Church. Heck they could see about using both if they don't have enough space at one. Just an idea. It may cost a few bucks per car but that is much better than taking away from kids and others that use the community parks. I Love Aggie Football just as much as any other Aggie but we don't all get to go to the games.

jc2wagner

Parking in Veterans Park is one of the worst ideas. The parents of the children playing there should be assured that their kids are safe. There is plenty of parking around besides using Veterans Park. Go back to the drawing board people!

kaybird77

Why can't shuttles run from the public school lots? This would keep Veteran's Park "open for business" during Get to the Grid days. It is difficult enough to make soccer games, and if it happens to be a rainy Fall, the kids end up on the losing end of the stick. Let's make it easier for kids to stay out of trouble and on task.

Bluhorseshuluvsanacottsteel

I have kids that play soccer at Veterans. I also grew up in B/CS and chose to live in this wonderful community knowing full well what game days are like. I am also an Aggie and a fan so I propose this...For every conference game the Aggies win this year, I am willing to reschedule a Saturday soccer game at Veterans to some other venue or time. ( If they aren't winning....then parking may be a moot point later on). The gauntlet has been thrown down!

agnerd

Even if they do move it to Veterans Park, it will only be there for a year. As soon as the stores in the mall see their sales plummet on game days when compared to last year, they will be BEGGING for the park and ride to return.

My Observation

Have them all park in councilman James Benhams neighborhood, Pebble Creek.

TexasEagle2

When is the CS city council finally going to stand up to A&M and say NO...this could be the time...not everybody cares about football on a Saturday afternoon or Evening. Not everyone's lives needs to be interrupted so a game can be played at concussion field. Does the soccer association have a contract with the city? Time for everyone in CS to realize that football may be king, but lots of people have lives beyond a game at the local U. Aren't we all inconvenienced enough by A&M inviting all these folks to campus? Let A&M solve the problem by building more surface lots or garages....

Brazos County Citizen

Guess no one cared to think about 20 to 30 thousand more fans needing to park when the stadium expansion was approved.

How about using the Riverside campus for satellite football parting? You're proud of that campus, right A&M? There's plenty of room for thousands of cars there.

Not convenient for those coming from Houston like the mall or Veteran's Park?

cleanmar

This Is all because we allow the city council to treat the city as their own private property

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