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El Toro Stadium Plan Is 'Win-Win' For Community

The school district should not be swayed by the 'loud voice of a small minority' that opposes the Lake Forest stadium project, writes Jeff Frum.

Jeff Frum sent Lake Forest Patch the following letter to the editor:

My name is Jeff Frum and my family resides at 19292 Leal Trail, Trabuco Canyon. I have 6 children – 5 sons and 1 daughter at El Toro, Serrano and Portola Hills. I am in year 7 of the 17 years my kids will participate in El Toro Football. My oldest son began playing football in 2006 and graduated in 2010 and my youngest adopted son will graduate El Toro in 2023. I am a former President of the ET Football Boosters and will likely be in leadership again when my 8th grader begins playing for the Chargers next year.

As you’re aware enrollment figures of the 4 district high schools show the two largest schools share a stadium and the two smallest schools enjoy unhindered access for their students. This presents obvious scheduling challenges for the 6,000 students at El Toro and Trabuco. Over the past 20 years, the total number of athletes at both schools that need field time grew by a whopping 134%!...to approximately 2,010 in 2011 from 860 in 1991. We have clearly outgrown the shared use contract for this district stadium.

The school board was correct in its assessment to address this growing problem. I commend you for initiating the improvement project for the stadium at El Toro. I also want to compliment you for taking the necessary time to thoroughly address all significant environmental impacts presented in the initial report. The School Board has listened well to both sides of this argument and I feel has generously offered mitigation measures that went beyond my expectations and reduce all significant environmental impacts to “less than significant” except for noise which  will only be an issue a few nights per year.

My encouragement to all of El Toro’s neighbors is to embrace these student athletes as they are the future of our community and will be great ambassadors for Lake Forest and beyond. Instead of complaining about the noise during 5-6 football games a year I suggest they come on out and make some noise with us and they will experience increased pride for this great community. I believe that anyone who is truly honest with themselves would agree that this is a win-win for everyone in this community.

Recently in Allen, Texas voters approved a multi-million dollar bond to build a state of the art football stadium at Allen High School, a public school in their community because over 64% of the voters felt a competitive stadium would increase their property values. I’m convinced the majority of residents in our community feel the same way about this improvement project at El Toro that not only will it improve our great high school but it will attract families who want to move into our community raising not only our property values but the pride for our great community. I strongly encourage you to not be swayed by the loud voice of a small minority.

I encourage the school board to vote to approve this project and you should be confident that the vast majority of residents and voters in this community will be appreciative of what you’ve done for our kids.  This stadium is about our future and investing in our children which will undoubtedly deliver a return far greater than its monetary investment.

Ian Morrell September 26, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Jeff Good Letter! I agree that this project is good for our community AND our future!
Jessica Slifca September 26, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I agree with you, Jeff. The only complaints from neighboring residents I have heard is regarding the actual construction, not the games themselves. There were protests that the stadium should be constructed off-site and then brought into the campus. As a Mustang and Charger Alum, I think that each of those amazing school should have their own stadium. I would put up with the few short weeks of construction noise if I were a neighbor. Do it for the KIDS!
MFriedrich September 26, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Jeff, Thanks for your opinion. Under other circumstances, a new stadium would be a nice thing to have. My disagreement is with our priority setting here. Assuming the school district really has such discretionary funds for school structures, building some bleachers and concession stands for a football stadium cannot possibly be ranked higher than No. 102 on our to-do list - at best. For example, it is beyond belief that most of Lake Forest's school structures (elementary, middle, high school) still have dozens of antiquated modular buildings built in the 1980s with poor power services, poor connectivity, substandard insulation, substandard air conditioning and virtually no ventilation. The learning environment of all LF students needs to be addressed with far greater urgency than the football stadium issue. And that's before we address the issue of community traffic and student transportation. I don't understand why in 2012 we have hundreds of parents every morning driving their one or two kids to school, speeding, obstructing traffic, and clogging up roadways when we have a fleet of SVUSD school buses rusting away in the parking lot on Aliso. What a waste of capital. A football stadium is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. Is it too much to ask for the school district to please first address the decades long modular classroom disgrace? After that upgrade work is done, then yeah, let's all go nuts to build a nice ET football stadium with bleachers and concessions.
Ian Morrell September 26, 2012 at 04:59 PM
mfriedrick I understand your points. I think though that the timing is right for this project. SVUSD has spend approximately $248 Million making improvements to facilities (including those you mentioned) since Measure B passed. A full list of these can be found at: http://www.svusd.org/hp_images/4922/D86427-Measure%20B%20Newsletter_Sept%202012.pdf This project is being funded through Redevelopment money that must be spend in Lake Forest on Infrastructure. As far as bussing, all was eliminated due to State budget cuts, except transportation for special education students. An exception, I think, is when SVUSD asks parents to pay $75.00 per child for extracurricular activities (such as bussing from El Toro to Trabuco Hills and back). Do you know it takes 7 busses to tranport the students (players, pep squad, band, and equipment) for one Trabuco Hills game? I carpool with my kid every morning when I go to work...Why bus when I go that way everyday?
MFriedrich September 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Ian, Thanks for your response and the link. Good to finally see some progress made on this subject after 20 years.
Ron Melnyk September 27, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Mr. Frum while your letter is very well written, I have some comments. You use Allen, Texas as a comment on property values increasing. Let me point out if I may, high school football in Texas is like a religion (no offense intended) Texas football games routinely draw in the 10's of thousands of fans. Texans and their love for high school football is inmeasureable. You make menition of 5-6 football games a year. If they only use this facility only 5-6 time a year, that to me seems all the more reason not to build it from a business sense. To suggest that those of us who are oppossed join in the "fun" and make more noise by attending the game(s), I'm sorry Sir, with all due respect, doesn't make any sense at all. I for one don't have the need to be proud of my high school football team to be proud of my neighbourhood and where I live. Let's make the school better, by giving our kids a better education and buy them the tools all high school kids need to sucessfull adults.
Ron Melnyk September 28, 2012 at 05:02 AM
This is great. "I would put up with the few short weeks of construction noise if I were a neighbor." This really makes my laught, I am a neighbor and I would rather not put up with the few shorts weeks (which could drag into months). Let me add my compliants about the traffic, vandalism and money being poorly spent.
LaxMom September 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM
It is not just for football games. The lights are needed for games and practices for other sports as well. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the west coast. The sports industry is huge! If it were not for sports my husband would have never become a mechanical engineer making helmets, pads, gear, etc for athletes. Kids need to be encouraged if they have a passion for a sport. I would love my kids to play lax under the lights of ETHS where it is safe.
Ron Melnyk September 29, 2012 at 03:44 AM
While lacrosse may very well be the fastest growing sport on the west coast, do you seriously think that the attendance for a lacrosse game would even cover the electric bill, let alone the other costs associated with a event at the stadium. What other events could a staduim be used for ? Quick search of my mind tells me that soccer matches, field hockey (don't know how many schools have field hockey teams), I suppose track & field and maybe cricket. Let us not forget music events (concerts and such). Great, we'll get some young and up and coming musical group(S) to perform, then worry about some kids who are stoned out of their minds on drugs or alcohol driving on our streets at night. I'm not by any means saying that all concert goers partake of substances. It only takes a couple to hurt innocent people. I'm positive that there are uses that I haven't thought of. My point here is that the stadium has to support itself with revenues. Along with the other issues raised earlier i.e. vandalism, parking, traffic, noise,lighting, etc etc. This stadium should be built off-site, if built at all.
chargerlaxmom September 29, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Great letter Jeff. I support this project. Our kids and our community need and deserve this. Ron, you mention not wanting to deal with traffic, parking, noise, vandalism etc. Do you think it is fair that we send our kids to another neighborhood (THHS) and let them deal with not one, but two high school populations? (Which is more than 50% of the total SVUSD population). What "tools" are you thinking they need to buy instead to create successful adults? (Keeping in mind the restrictions on the funds.) Is it better our "stoned out of their minds" kids are driving around THHS after concerts (that I have never heard of)? Reading your comments it sounds a lot like a case of NIMBY and has nothing to do with what would benefit our kids and community as a whole. Am I wrong? Go Chargers!
Ron Melnyk September 29, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Yes, you are very wrong. There are a plethora of examples in previous letters with suggestions how better the money could be better spent. With just a little more reading you will find many suggestions. As per example, please be so kind as to read Mfriedrich's letter dated 26 September 2012 at 8:47 AM. Our neighbourhood surrounds ETHS. The population density around ETHS is not conducive to a on-site stadium. I would begrudely agree with the off-site stadium suggestion only as a compromise. The stadium needs to be cost effective and revenue positive. Quite simply it needs to pay for itself. The cost of building the facility is a very bitter pill to swallow and I begrudgingly would agree to the building with very strict cost containment clauses. I wholeheartedly agree that sports are extremely important in the development of young people's character and moral fiber, but, I suggest to you that preparing kids to be sucessful adults by affording them a quality education with good classrooms, quality teachers (stop the teacher layoffs) and lower the pupil to teacher ratio is of greater importance than a stadium. Go Chargers!!
LaxMom October 03, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Ron-your comments are offensive and don't make sense. My kids deserve equal opportunity and are just as deserving to play under lights as the kids that go to THHS, MVHS or LHHS. Kids that are involved in sports, band, etc. are much less likely to use drugs. Duh!
MFriedrich October 03, 2012 at 09:21 PM
LaxMom, You said: "My kids deserve equal opportunity and are just as deserving to play under lights as the kids that go to THHS, MVHS or LHHS." It doesn't have anything to do with "deserves". We don't improve facilities to "keep up with the Jones's", unless you are Jerry Jones. In theory, you're right. All kids "deserve an equal shot", but in real life limited resources serves as a check. We should spend the money on new facilities not because "my kid deserves" or "my kid is as good as x kids", but because a.) we can afford it, and b.) it's the right thing to do for the benefit of all students, not just athletes, cheerleaders and band members.
Sanna Skeffington October 03, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Ron Melnyk, I think we can all agree that money spent on quality teachers and lower the pupil to teacher ratio would be a wonderful thing, however, the funds for the field improvement can not be spend on instructional material or teacher salaries, so that is unrelated to this.
LaxMom October 04, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Mfriedrich- Ill argue that the ET student body deserves it and the money is there for the project. This is not about keeping up with The Jones's, this about giving the ET students the same opertunities and high school experience as other students in the district. This project will not build the nicest, biggest, well lit stadium in the district, but some improvements to the existing field will allow for great experiences for the student body and their families.
Ron Melnyk October 09, 2012 at 12:39 AM
To LaxMom, please show me which one of my comments don't make any sense, also any and all comments that are offensive to you. I'm very interested to "hear" what you have to say.My commemts were never intended to offend anyone. Just expressing another point of view. People have suggested that families that don't want a stadium should move. Well, let me make the same suggestion to the stadium lovers suggestion, being that they should move to school districts where there are high schools with football stadiums. Duh back at you !!!!

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