Dublin soccer parents met their goal last week when Dublin City Council tabled part of a proposed amendment to an agreement with the Dublin Soccer League.
Several parents attended the Feb. 11 meeting to express concerns related to amendments up for a vote by city council members.
Matt Earman, director of recreation services, told council the proposed amendments to the city's agreement with the nonprofit Dublin soccer provider would put the focus on recreational play rather than competitive play.
"It would focus toward recreation," Earman said. "They will be stronger to deliver services."
The Dublin City Schools district is planning to add a middle-tier soccer league to its community education program, which would be a level above DSL play.
"This soccer program will focus on a higher level of league play (above the DSL recreation program), with limited travel to local communities, and at a lower cost than the elite club programs," the staff memo to council stated.
"We want to keep this affordable and we want to keep kids here to play good tournaments," said Mary Ann Grimes, Dublin City Schools' community education coordinator.
The proposed amendment to the DSL agreement, which would go into effect in the fall if approved, also includes more stringent background checks on adults involved in the league.
Because of the popularity of soccer in Dublin, Earman said, changes often spark controversy.
Several parents spoke against the amendment, citing concerns about field space and the loss of other soccer groups already established in the city. Groups such as Dublin United and Ohio Premier already offer higher levels of soccer for more serious players, they said.
"This will be a duplication of services," parent Carrie Stearns said. "This will compete with Dublin Soccer League."
"This could take away a program that's very valuable to the community," Laurie Mullins agreed. "For my family, it's been perfect."
"This is a redundant service," Joe Proctor said of the planned addition by the district's community education program.
Several residents in attendance asked council members to pass the more stringent background checks part of the amendment, but table the rest for further discussion.
Councilman Richard Gerber said there may be more need for discussion and he wanted to hear the opinions of DSL board members.
Two DSL board members were present at the meeting; the DSL board must also vote to approve the amendment.
"It sounds like this might be a good program, but I think we should bring people in to talk about this," he said.
Councilwoman Cathy Boring disagreed. "Why aren't we letting them have more choices? This isn't taking away," she said. "I don't know if more discusssion is going to get anywhere."
"I hear a lot of fear of change," Vice Mayor Amy Salay agreed.
Boring called for a vote on the amendment that failed by a 2-3 vote.
Boring and Salay voted to approve the amendment while Gerber, Michael Keenan and Mayor Tim Lecklider voted against it.
Council members John Reiner and Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher were absent from the meeting.
Another vote was called to pass the background part of the amendment and it passed unanimously. The remainder of the amendment was tabled for more discussion.