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A protest concerning the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department’s plan to convert one area baseball field and one area softball field to soccer facilities is planned to take place Monday.

The protest is slated for 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in front of the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department building.

Santa Maria High School student Michaela Melena told the Times she has been the main protest organizer but, “My family is very active in the baseball and softball community here, and they’ve helped a lot,” Melena said..

Melena plays for the Santa Maria High School softball team. She said she is currently playing for the Breeze Fastpitch club team.

The fields affected should the conversions go through are at the Minami Center and at Simas Park. According to Melena, one affected field is at Minami and one is at Simas.

Melena said she has been working on the protest for about three weeks and that her biggest concern is that, should the conversions go through, what Melena said is an already cramped situation for area softball and baseball players would become worse.

“The schools’ fields are already closed to the public,” Melena said.

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“Now the city is taking away our fields, so it’s getting difficult to schedule a practice since all the kids get out of school at the same time.”

Melena said, “Once it gets dark, we can’t practice anymore. This has already happened (at the facilities) at Minami and Rodenberger..”

Recently, “My high school division team had to practice with a 12U team,” said Melena. “We were lucky. The teams were my dad’s and my uncle’s. We were willing to share (the facility) or one team would have had to cancel practice.”

It was unclear at press time how many area public baseball and softball fields would remain should the conversion plan go through.

The flyer urges all area baseball and softball players to attend the protest.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.