Salinas >> A proposal to add sports fields at Toro Park is pitting youth sports backers against runners of all ages in a face-off over the Monterey County park's future.
Backed by Salinas Girls Fastpitch Softball Inc. and its president Warren Wayland, the proposal being vetted by county parks officials calls for three softball fields along with a combination soccer-football field and ancillary structures in a small portion of the 4,756-acre park.
Wayland, a Salinas political power broker, said the sports fields would offer game and practice space for hundreds of Toro-area youth softball, soccer and football players who asked him to find them more fields.
But leaders of the area's running community, including Mike Dove, the director of training and youth programs at the Big Sur International Marathon, and Olympic marathon runner Blake Russell, have blasted the plans as an inappropriate attempt by private interests to seize control over a much-loved public park used for decades by area cross-country programs.
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