Angry and concerned parents posted pictures of the dusty conditions that existed at Pecos Park Friday night when the Ahwatukee and Scottsdale rugby clubs were playing. City officials are promising to water down the fields to control the dust.
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Parents of boys in the Ahwatukee Rugby Club are up in arms over conditions at the ballfields at Pecos Park.

They turned to Facebook over the weekend to vent over the dusty conditions at the field, wondering why the city Parks and Recreation Department isn’t tamping down the rain-deprived fields.

“The City of Phoenix needs some dust control at Pecos Park or free inhalers and breathing treatments for the players,” Jill Scharosch Ostendorp wrote, noting her son had to do two breathing treatments in one night and that he “is still in bad shape.”

Angela Keefe Andersen added, “We are down there four nights a week for practices and games and it’s so bad. I hate my kids playing in that. I was wondering tonight when I was there: Is the grass ever green there? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.”

One mother said her kids play football and lacrosse year-round at Pecos and that “it’s awful” all the time. “I hate it,” she said.

Robyn Diamond added, “I was there last night watching my kid, spent the entire night coughing and sneezing after. Hoping I don’t get valley fever. Ridiculous.”

She’s not alone, as Andersen said her son came home from practice “with a terrible sore throat and now he’s all sick and sneezing.  I too worry about that valley fever.”

Others said they can’t help envying parents whose kids play in Scottsdale or Maricopa because “they have beautiful green fields.”

Ostendorp said she’s perplexed that the city doesn’t overseed its ballfields, noting, “My husband said he would be fined at work for unsafe conditions if his construction sites were ever close to this.”

Parks department spokesman Greg Bach said, “This is an issue staff works through seasonally when grass is dormant and fields are being heavily used.”

He said Pecos Park staff told him they are aware of the dust and “have been watering the fields in recent weeks.”

“They will continue to monitor and address the situation. These fields are heavily used six days a week this time of year,” Bach added.

The angry parents said they understand that the lack of rain has made conditions even worse, but they noted that school districts keep their fields irrigated year-round to keep down the dust.

“I would love to know if there is something we could do. It is so bad. Kids breathing that in numerous nights a week cannot be good,” remarked Holly Hewitt Ophardt.

Tara Bryant Appelt added, “I agree, hard to watch the game when you can’t see or breathe.”

And Bill Brandenburger said, “No offense to pickleball players. The city can afford to build a bunch of new courts......can’t afford water on for 20 minutes a day for dust control and keep kids from breathing problems. No excuses Phoenix!!”

“I have three kids that play lacrosse there,” he added. “It’s been a sore spot for lacrosse parents for a couple years.”

Construction of the pickleball courts may be further aggravating the dusty conditions, although Amy Jamieson wondered why “the person who is running the park isn’t giving consideration to many other sports while they are doing the build either. “

Ostendorp said she hopes to organize parents and pressure parks officials to correct conditions.

She may have attracted an influential ally.

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio saw the string of angry comments and posted on Monday, Jan. 5:

“I’ve spoken with the team at Pecos and they are going to water the fields today. They should have just completed the first round of watering, and they will do a full cycle again tonight. Tomorrow, park maintenance will be re-evaluating the fields to see how effective the watering today was and adjust their regular irrigation schedule based on their findings.”

Still, parents are not happy that parks employees didn’t do that earlier.

“My son had a soccer game last night and could barely breath the whole time,” Abbie Clark Woolstenhulme wrote on Saturday. “Battling it still today!”

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