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County Board to Consider New W-L Softball Field

by ARLnow.com — June 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm 4,481 56 Comments

(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is expected to approve a use permit for a new softball field at Washington-Lee High School at one of its July meetings.

The Arlington School Board approved the $1 million softball field project at its Nov. 15, 2011 meeting. According to a project timeline published earlier this year, construction on the new field is expected to begin as soon as next month, and should wrap up by late winter or early spring 2013.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed that the new field is expected to be ready by the next softball season. The $1 million cost will be split between the school system and Arlington County, he said.

The new field will be built at the corner of Washington Boulevard and N. Quincy Street, on the Washington-Lee High School campus, next to the school’s football field. Currently, both the W-L softball and baseball team play on county-owned land at Quincy Park, across Washington Boulevard from the campus. Last summer parents of W-L softball players waged a campaign for better girls softball facilities, threatening to file a Title IX complaint if the school system did not upgrade the field, the bleachers and other amenities to the standards of the boys baseball field.

The new softball field will include a natural grass playing field, a 192-square-foot press box, 230 grandstand seats, dugouts, bullpens, a batting cage, a practice field, a scoreboard, and focused “dark sky” lighting.

“This proposed project [will] improve the existing combined softball and practice field at the Washington Lee High School which was part of the original design for the school,” according to a project overview document. “Growing APS and County needs and requirements have caused the need to consider improving this portion of the original school design.”

In a memo, school staff said the new field will benefit both the school and the community.

If a new field is built at W-L, the school will have a truly dedicated softball field similar to Wakefield and Yorktown, W-L will have increased options for sports activities on the new field for Physical Education and both APS and the County will have increased use on the Quincy field and add diamond sports as well as other PRCR programs to the W-L field. APS staff has met with County PRCR staff about shared community use and programming for the proposed WL field. The results of these discussions resulted in a 50:50 Schools/County shared use agreement for the W-L field that provides W-L priority use for softball play. In order for W-L itself to have the greatest use possible for this new field, it is expected that a new field would have a removable fence like the boys baseball field has so that the outfield can be utilized to its greatest extent after the softball season is over both for APS and County activities.

  • Ben

    What a waste of a perfectly good football practice field/space for pickup soccer/football games/ANYthing. $1 million for a softball field! Absurd – I need to move out of this county, what a waste of my tax dollars.

    • W-L Alumni

      I was a softball player in high school at W-L and indeed, the boys baseball field was always nicer than ours, and there was never enough space on the bleachers, nor did we have a press box. We used to practice batting by hitting balls against the fence (no batting cage), which of course then destroyed the fence. Lots of little things like that.

      A student sued Arlington County back in like 2003 for violations of Title IX – they made some paltry improvements, but it still didn’t quite get there. A million dollars is pretty little these IMHO.

      However there is one caveat… The boys spent some serious time taking care of the field – with privilege, comes responsibility – Arlington students in general are pulled in lots of directions and I hope the girls’ softball team takes the new field as seriously as possible.

      If you don’t want to spend money to support the principle of equality maybe you should move out of Arlington… We won’t miss you.

      • John Fontain

        The Arlington Way: Telling people to move if they don’t share you views.

        • JohnB

          When those views are equality of treatment regardless of gender, then yes.

        • Annie

          The Arlington Way. Telling people you’ll move when you don’t agree with a county proposal. But never really going.

    • Ben

      Although I have to admit I wasn’t really good at sports in the first place.

  • Boeing

    But will there be parking for 5000 cars/day?

    • Opie

      Someone’s feelings got hurt.

      • WeiQiang

        This is how it goes here, brah. Clown claims live on. It’s in the ArlNow Blue Book.

        • Opie

          You want your binky?

  • John

    The W-L parents sued to have it built. That’s the story I heard.

    • Keith

      Shame it had to come to that. But this is the right thing to do.

      • CW

        What makes me think there was pro bono work involved?

        • John

          Many of the parents are lawyers, and they knew what to do to get this built.

  • ArlingtonRes

    I’m all for the a new field in that space, but for that cost, i’m surprised it’s for a ‘natural grass’ field and not synthetic or artificial material to help with all the rainouts in this area

    • yards555

      Synthetic dirt? You can make the grass artificial if you want, but you can’t play in the mud.

  • Tre_Vick

    But will there be lights that shine in the residents windows?

    • WeiQiang

      only the vibrant light

    • Bryce Harper

      That’s a clown question, bro

    • NovaDad

      It looks like the design uses lights that respect the neighborhood with very little light spillage….

  • BreakPause02

    What a waste of perfectly good open space.

    Quincy Park should be returned to public use if this gets built.

    • forester

      I believe that Quincy is, already available for public use. My understanding is that the WL team does not use that field anymore

  • John Fontain

    As long as this costs a ridiculously high amount of money I’m all for it. And I’ll really support it if we can spend money we don’t have by taking on more debt!

  • Allie

    W-L is fancy enough as it is (and I live right by the track and get to take advantage of it all the time, looove it) — but shouldn’t tax payer dollars be used to support and revamp some other schools in Arlington County first?

  • yards555

    Funny how this works, I was just thinking about the W-L Softball issue last night and how it always angered me the comparisons they drew to the W-L baseball field (which is one of the worst in the district).

    I’m happy the softball team got their field. They have been using an oversized beer league field for too long. Hopefully there will be enough support within the school to justify a million dollar field for a team that when I was there didn’t have very much interest. Perhaps a better and closer field will inspire more interest as well.

    Personally, I’m excited for the dimensions of this bad boy. At least 10 foul balls per game will go into Washington Blvd during rush hour, and the setting sun against the football field’s bleachers will create ridiculous shadows across the infield that will sure to make the game very “entertaining.”

    Two bullpens is probably excessive, the baseball team only has one and it has not really been an issue. Also, what the hell is a “practice field?”

    • JohnB2

      On fouls: the diagram has a netting system noted on the Wash Blvd side.

      • yards555

        Doesn’t look like it extends behind the dugout and backstop. A place where a good deal of the foul balls will go. The baseball field has really old/tall trees on the quincy side of the field that stops these type of pop ups (usually).

        • JohnB2

          It goes all the way to the corner where arc I intersects line J. It’s the curved segmented black line denoted by M, which the letter itself is past the bullpen and outside of the existing chain link fence.

          • yards555

            Precisely. It covers long foul balls that might be hit past first base, but anything popped up behind the dugout or press box, at least in this diagram, would not protected.

  • taylorktink

    Who did the rendering of the field at night in the article?

    • John

      Some kid out of design school. Probably used Maxwell Render.

  • chris

    I hope W-L gets the same objections that O’Connell ran into when they wanted to upgrade their fields.

    • John

      Yeah but they weren’t proposing to use the excellent Musco “Dark Sky” focused lighting system.

      • WeiQiang

        Isn’t Arlington County ONE a “Dark Sky” drone?

        • nom de guerre

          No. Arlington County ONE is a Boeing Business Jet that the Board extracted from Boeing in return for density concessions related to the new Boeing regional headquarters. It is for the exclusive use of the Board members and the citizens are only allowed to look at it, but they will be allowed to clean the custom interior and fuselage as a volunteer. Contrary to popular belief, Zimmie has been approved to use it on his trip to France to learn more about le streetcar, bicycle lanes and French bollard design.

    • HenryBennetXIII

      22201 isn’t as needy as 22205.

  • Rick

    Would look a lot nicer if the backstop was facing the intersection. All it takes is one over-developed, left handed batter to ruin someones day sitting in their car on Quincy St…

    • yards555

      Then the sun would be in the hitters eyes during the evenings.

  • Arlingtonian

    The embarrassment of riches.

  • Andy

    It’s interesting that there’s a slight angle (maybe a few degrees) between the football field and the softball field/Quincy street. One or the other is not exactly N/S. Maybe one uses magnetic north and the other true north.

  • Jim Webster

    Now 42 years after moving to Arlington, I continue baffled by the nattering nabobs of negativism and naivete on this blog. It is incomprehensible to carp about the progressive improvements made by the responsive county government and its world class school system — all the while maintaining the lowest tax rates in the region and superior bond ratings.
    A quality softball field for W-L women is an appropriate investment, even if it were not required by Title IX (and common sense fairness). Next I hope to see major improvements in the baseball field, which is deteriorating.
    The naysayers might stop and think how the quality of life might be in a jurisdiction that refused to invest in its children and its future. Be careful: you may get what you ask for.
    .

    • Anyway

      I still would like to know how it costs $1 million to add a dirt infield, a backstop, dugouts and some netting. That seems absurd. How can we see exactly where this money is going towards the creation of this field? I’m not saying it’s not warranted to build the field, but $1 million??

    • Having fun yet?

      Word, JW. $1 million is a lotta cake, but it’s not $250m or $50m, and won’t cost a couple million in upkeep each year. Plus, that old field really was terrible. Dogs have better fields in our parks.

    • John Fontain

      It must have taken you a good half hour to come up with all those fancy words. Wow.

      “all the while maintaining the lowest tax rates in the region”

      Do you really think anyone around here is that stupid to fall for the old “ignore the actual taxes, just look at the rate” ploy? Come on. If you want to have any credibility, don’t spew such naivate.

  • nom de guerre

    “‘The $1 million cost will be split between the school system and Arlington County, he said.” This means that the County (since they contribute every penny to the school system) will be footing the entire cost. By the County, I mean the taxpayers-no splitting here.

    • John Fontain

      Yep, and writing this into the description of the project is completely insulting to the intelligence of Arlingtonians.

  • JnA

    This is the way the County Board and School Board address the problem of too few classrooms at W-L.

  • QuincyParkResident

    I can say, without a doubt, that no one is more familiar with the fields at Quincy Park than me. I have practically lived there each summer for the past 5 years. The grass in the W-L baseball field is impeccable in the summer and fall. Any claims about “deterioration” are ridiculous. The bleachers are in great condition and the fence is flawless.

    One million dollars for an entirely new softball field is a typical idiotic government knee-jerk reaction to the Title IX coverage. There are already three diamonds at Quincy, there is no need to waste the county’s limited remaining green space on a fourth diamond right across the street. The field that is currently used by the social leagues (the one in the southeast corner of the park) needs to be drastically improved and dedicated to the W-L softball team. The social leagues can either use Diamond 1 (http://goo.gl/maps/d2yS), share their time equally between the W-L diamonds, or make do with the green space outside of War Memorial Stadium. America is losing interest in the sport (http://www.google.com/trends/?q=baseball) so why is our county pouring needless dollars into a fourth (yes fourth) field within a 1/2 mile radius?

    • forester

      You’re mixing your sports here. Yes the baseball field is in great condition but the softball field is not. Also the softball field is designed for slow pitch. The high school sport is fast pitch ..a completely different game

      • Yards555

        Right. Also, anyone who says the baseball field is in “excellent shape” clearly knows nothing about fields or baseball.

    • CherryDale

      The W-L parents need to go back to fighting whalers and not using blogs to scare the county into wasting the little remaining greenspace. Yes fix the existing field, no don’t just build more fields.

      • zzz

        I’m not a W-L parent, but I do want to point out that you have NO understanding of the issue, none, period, nada…

    • zzz

      You researched some, very good, but you are not quite grasping all of the issue. The softball field at Quincy is not a regulation girls fast-pitch field.

      Applying that, cut the football field to 67-yds, track to 270-yds, pool to 23-yds, baseball field to 1st/2nd and eliminate left field…. Use those spaces to add trailers for W-L classes to correct the woeful under-planning of the new HS with trailer space. (Why even as a staunch D, will never vote for a former school board member for county board…) Or, build a HS regulation field on county park property (Quincy) and make the co-ed/rec teams play on that (was not going to happen, either).

  • SarcasticJane

    1 Million Dollars for a softball field? This after the superintendent just sent out a letter explaining there was no money for a 2% COLA for the teachers? Teacher salaries have been frozen for several years now and the county gave them a whopping 1.68% COLA this year. Teachers are teaching in overcrowded schools with overcrowded class rooms and lowered supply budgets yet we have the funds for a 1 million dollar softball field? What are they going to put the bases on, gold dust? Why spend 1 million dollars on a softball field that is just going to get covered up with “relocate-able” classrooms because they did not build W&L big enough in the first place!

  • Zelora

    Should put the Artisphere there instead. Centrally located; more convenient in general; parking.

  • zzz

    Really machts nicht to me at this point, but most/all commentators here have absolutely NO understanding of situation, sport, or any history. Please research and know that you have command of an issue before you comment, or at least be aware that you look ignorant when you do comment without any understanding. Peace out.

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