Parents of Arlington youth soccer players and residents who live near Williamsburg Middle School have created dueling petitions — for and against a proposal to install lighting and new soccer fields at the school.
The field and lighting proposal was floated as an optional part of the Arlington Public Schools plan to build a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The design of the school was approved in February and construction is expected to begin next year.
The proposal involves the construction of two synthetic turf fields next to the school, with lighting installed for the field farthest from the surrounding neighborhood. Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says the school system currently doesn’t have the money necessary for the synthetic fields and lighting — about $2 million — so supporters are hoping to convince Arlington County to pay for the project.
A group of neighbors, however, has created a Change.org petition calling for the County Board to nix the field lighting component.
“We, as registered voters in Arlington County, strongly oppose the installation of sport field lighting on any of the soccer fields on the Williamsburg Middle/Elementary school property,” the petition says. “The neighborhood surrounding Williamsburg will be heavily impacted by evening traffic, light intrusion, noise and parking impacts.”
So far, the neighbors’ petition has attracted 125 online signatures.
The Arlington Soccer Association, meanwhile, has created its own Change.org petition, which has gathered 1,085 signatures so far. The association says the fields, and the lighting, will help meet growing demand for youth soccer in Arlington.
“We, the undersigned, support placing a lighted synthetic rectangular athletic field on the grounds of Williamsburg Middle School,” the petition says. “The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation estimates that a lighted synthetic field can sustain five times the overall use of an unlighted grass field.”
“We are sensitive to the concerns of the local community,” the petition continues. “We believe that a lighted field at WMS should be limited to youth sports programming and have a curfew of 9:30 p.m.”
The fight is similar to the acrimonious battle over lighting proposed for the Bishop O’Connell High School baseball and football fields. After nearly 75 speakers weighed in on the O’Connell lighting proposal at a County Board meeting in 2011, the Board rejected the plan,
Before any possible County Board consideration, the Arlington Soccer Association is hoping to convince neighbors that a lighted field will not result in the light pollution, noise and traffic that many fear. The group wrote the following letter (after the jump) as a response to concerns expressed on the email listserv of a local civic association.
State Legislators Hold Public Hearing — Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly listened to nearly 50 speakers make the case for various legislative and funding priorities at a public hearing Friday night. Among the issues discussed were gun laws, mental health and disability funding, and Medicaid. [Twitter, Sun Gazette]
Rent Rises in Arlington — The average rent in Arlington in the third quarter of 2012 was $2,500.06, a 2.5 percent increase from a year prior. The average rent for single-family homes had the steepest increase — 4.4 percent — compared to apartments and townhouses. [Sun Gazette]
D.C. United Coach Regrets Living in N. Va. — Ben Olsen, the 35-year-old coach of the D.C. United soccer team, says he regrets living in Fairfax and Arlington before moving to his current home in the District. Olsen said in an interview that he was “kicking myself for wasting all those years living in Northern Virginia.” [DCist]
Va. ABC Stores Report Record Profits — Virginia ABC stores reported a record profit of $132.1 million in the last fiscal year. “There is something to say that people continue to drink in good times and in bad, but generally speaking as the economy improves, people have more disposable income to spend,” a Virginia ABC executive said. [CBS DC]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Silver Line Could Shift Economic Development — As Metro’s Silver Line nears completion, there’s speculation it could prompt an economic development competition between Arlington and Fairfax County. Fairfax officials are already crediting the new line with bringing in at least one new business — Intelsat, an international satellite system provider. Gerald Gordon, the head of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said the transformation of Tysons Corner will put it on a level playing field with the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as far as attracting businesses. [Sun Gazette]
Polar Bear Sports Registration — United Social Sports is expanding its typical offerings of “bar sports” — such as cornhole, shuffleboard and skeeball — to include Polar Bear soccer leagues this winter. The leagues are for die hard players who wish to continue playing outdoors throughout the winter on a soccer field at Long Bridge Park. Registration is available online for the league, which offers weekly games on Sundays or Tuesdays. Games start the week of January 13. [United Social Sports]
McDonnell Offers Budget Amendments — Governor Bob McDonnell appeared before Virginia’s General Assembly on Monday to pitch a series of both cuts and spending increases for the state’s two-year, $85 billion budget. The increases would ease the burden on cities and counties that have been dealing with substantial funding cuts in recent years, by about $45 million. McDonnell is still cautious due to Virginia’s potential to take a hit if Congress can’t come to an agreement to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff. [Associated Press]
Elementary students at two local schools are getting their kicks in a soccer program for “at risk” kids, thanks to a partnership between the Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) and the Real Madrid Foundation.
The Real Madrid Social Sport Academy provides after school soccer for more than 150 Arlington Public Schools students. It kicked off last month, and currently runs at Carlin Springs Elementary School and Hoffman-Boston Elementary School.
“Most of these kids are in need of some positive mentoring,” said Bob Bigney with the Arlington Soccer Association. “They would not otherwise get the opportunity to play soccer.”
The participating schools helped ASA identify second through fifth graders who might benefit from such a program, and the students had to get permission from their parents. All of the participants get their own Real Madrid uniforms and meet after school twice each week for practice. The program not only focuses on participation in the sport, but also stresses academic performance.
“To go out to these schools and see these kids with their uniforms on, working with the coaches, it’s really rewarding,” said Bigney. “Some of the kids come from pretty tough home life situations. It’s giving them this opportunity to play soccer, to get some of the lessons that soccer teaches kids, like teamwork and cooperation. We’re very happy with the way that it’s going.”
Next Wednesday (October 31), some special guests from Madrid will be in town to meet the kids involved in the program at Carlin Springs Elementary. Among them is former Real Madrid star Emilio Butragueño.
Arlington is the first place in the United States to be a part of this Real Madrid Foundation program. Plans are in the works to start the academies at schools in other cities across the country, such as Boston and Houston.
ASA would like to expand the program in the spring to involve more local elementary schools, and hopefully add middle and high schools. However, the deal with Real Madrid only provides a certain amount of monetary assistance, so more funding is necessary for expansion. ASA is currently looking for additional sources of funding — such as sponsorship — to grow the program. Individuals or businesses interested in becoming a sponsor for the program can contact Bob Bigney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Volunteers are needed for a variety of opportunities throughout Arlington, such as citizenship teachers and youth soccer coaches. More information about the opportunities listed below, in addition to a list of others, can be found online.
- The Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) seeks people who would like to volunteer as soccer coaches and assistant coaches for the fall season. Volunteers must enjoy working with kids ages 6-16. Soccer experience is helpful but not required. Coaches will be given training, and all necessary equipment is provided by ASA. Coaches must be available for games, typically on Saturdays, and for one or two practices per week on weeknights. Applicants can contact Justin Wilt at 703-527-0157.
- The Community Outreach Program is looking for volunteers to be citizenship class teachers. There’s no need to be a certified teacher, the instructors come from all different backgrounds and professions. Volunteers must just be able to go through an orientation class and use materials they are given to teach immigrants the information necessary to pass the U.S. citizenship exam. There’s particular need for an instructor on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road). There are also some positions open for weekday classes from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Clarendon Education Center (2801 Clarendon Blvd). Although it’s preferred that volunteers commit to at least three months, those who can’t make the full commitment are welcome to apply for substitute positions. Anyone interested in applying can contact Aaron McCready at 703-228-1397.
- The Department of Parks and Recreation needs volunteers to help children with disabilities learn to swim. Trained staff members will lead the classes and volunteers will be in the pool to offer assistance and encouragement to participants. Experience working with individuals with disabilities is a plus, but not required. Volunteers should be comfortable in the water and able to swim, and should be able to attend four sessions throughout the year (one for each season). The sessions will take place at the pool adjacent to Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Shaeron King at 703-228-4731.
Parents and spectators will be encouraged to only silently support their kid’s team, and coaches will be asked to only provide ”positive and encouraging feedback and allow players the time to work through issues on the field.”
“The reason for Silent Soccer is to let the kids enjoy the game of soccer and make decisions on their own,” the ASA said in a blog post. “While the practice does remove positive cheering of the kids accomplishments from the field, the goal is to make parents aware that the kids can play without their coaching, yelling, and other disruptive influences during play. At any age. So we remove all voices coming from off the field for this one day.”
Players are encouraged to speak to each other on the field as normal, but those on the bench are asked to remain quiet.
“Effective immediately, parking at Long Bridge Park will be free on weekends and free after 5 p.m. on weekdays,” Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said this afternoon, in an email.
The Arlington Soccer Association told the Arlington County Board last weekend that parents were “grumbling” about having to pay for parking while their kids played soccer on weekends, according to the Sun Gazette. Soccer referees were also reportedly threatening to stop working at the park due to having to continuously feed the parking meter during the day.
Under the new policy, weekday parking will still be metered, to prevent commuters from taking up spaces in the lot. Overnight parking will still be prohibited, Kalish said.
Snowy Evening Commute Expected — Forecasters warn that light-to-moderate snowfall may make for a slick evening commute tonight. Still, above-freezing temperatures will mean that we in Arlington will likely see less than an inch of accumulation. [Capital Weather Gang]
County Saves Money Through Bond Issue — Arlington County has taken advantage of very low interest rates, along with its triple-AAA bond rating, to issue $106 million of refunding bonds. The move will save the county more than $9 million over the life of the bonds, officials say. [Arlington County]
Spring Soccer Registration Open — Registration is now open for youth soccer players in Arlington. Arlington Soccer Association’s spring registration started on Jan. 25 and will close on March 13. A late registration fee will be assessed after March 13. [Arlington Soccer Association]
Moran Criticized for TV Appearance — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is facing criticism from Republicans for comments he made on MSNBC last week. Moran said that Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who is black, “is not representative of the African American community.” Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin called that remark and others by Moran during the course of the MSNBC interview “racist.” [Human Events, Breitbart.tv]
An Arlington boy’s long-distance goal has him in the running for the U.S. Youth Soccer ‘Goal of the Year.’
Mateo Leach’s remarkable, game-winning goal for the Under-12 Boys Arlington Eagles was caught on video by his dad. The goal, which broke a 1-1 tie with five minutes left in the game, was eventually chosen by U.S. Youth Soccer as one of the top ten goals of 2011, and is now nominated for the honor of Goal of the Year.
Through Feb. 10, members of the public can vote for Leach’s goal. He’s got tough competition, though, including amazing goals by boys and girls from Frederick, Md. to Anaheim, Calif. to Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Soccer Field to Close for Summer – The synthetic turf field at Virginia Highlands Park, used extensively for soccer games, is expected to be closed for much of the spring and summer so that the turf can be replaced. [Sun Gazette]
Church to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (4250 N. Glebe Road) will be holding a concert next weekend to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Man Killed by Dump Truck — Prince George’s County Police are investigating the death of an Arlington County man who was hit by a dump truck in Capitol Heights on Wednesday evening. [Gazette.net]
WaPo Endorses Garvey — The Washington Post has endorsed Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey in the Democratic County Board caucuses being held tonight and Saturday. The Post said Garvey and Melissa Bondi “stand out” in the five-way race, but lauded Garvey as “cool, competent and a quick study” while expressing reservations about Bondi’s tax troubles. [Washington Post]
Bondi Statement on Accusations — County Board candidate Melissa Bondi has responded to new allegations against her. The accusations, largely spread by anonymous blog commenters, insinuate that Bondi illegally voted twice in recent elections — once in Virginia and once in Ohio, where she used to live. Bondi says the basis of the accusations — Ohio voting records referencing someone with her exact full name and middle initial — is a result of the fact that her mother is also named Melissa M. Bondi. [Bondi for County Board]
D.C. United Practices at Long Bridge Park — D.C. United held its first outdoor practice of training camp yesterday on the synthetic turf soccer fields at Long Bridge Park. The team practiced at the new county park, near Crystal City, due to poor turf conditions at RFK Stadium. [Washington Post]
Moran Statement on Pipeline Decision — Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reacting to the Obama administration’s decision to reject the a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. Moran said, in a statement: “I applaud President Obama’s decision to deny the application for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Our collective national interests, whether economic, environmental, or national security, would be better served by reducing our addiction to fossil fuels… Building a pipeline to tap one of the dirtiest sources of fuel and the few temporary jobs it might create are not in our nation’s best long term interests.” [Office of Rep. Jim Moran]
Donna Gets Job in Arizona — Disgraced local chef Roberto Donna is trying to turn over a new leaf in Arizona. The 50-year-old has taken a job as a chef at an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office, which is trying to collect more than $150,000 in back restaurant taxes from Donna, has asked the Commonwealth’s Attorney to look into whether the new gig would pay enough to allow Donna to increase his court-ordered payments on the debt. [Washington Post]
Board Lifts Ban on A-Frame Signs — Following through on a New Years promise from Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, the Board voted on Saturday to allow businesses in the county to use temporary sidewalk signs, also known as A-frame signs. The Board also approved the use of branded sidewalk cafe umbrellas. [Arlington County]
New Soccer Fields Discussed — The County Board is pondering where future soccer fields should be built in Arlington. New fields are necessary, the Board has been told, due to expected growth of youth soccer programs. The 6,000 player strong Arlington Soccer Association is expected to add another 1,000 players in coming years as Arlington experiences growth in its youth population. [Sun Gazette]
WaPo Readers Complain About ‘Hippie High’ Nickname — A pair of Washington Post readers wrote letters to the editor to complain about an article that once again dubbed the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program “Hippie High.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Expecting Another Tough Year in Richmond — Arlington’s legislative delegation is anticipating another difficult year in Richmond. They say the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly has repeatedly passed legislation that goes against the county’s interests, despite the fact that Arlington is a significant source of state tax dollars. [Washington Times]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
Construction Planned for New Penrose Square Park — Construction is set to begin on a new public park in front of the Penrose Square apartment building on Columbia Pike. Included in the park will be a 50-ton granite sculpture of a “concave elliptical parabola.” [Pike Wire]
Free Pizza Offer — For some reason, Papa John’s and the Washington Post are giving away thousands of free pizzas over the next three days. Papa John’s has three Arlington locations. [The Capitol Deal]
A-SPAN Launches ‘Street Soccer’ Team — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network has set up a soccer team for its homeless clients. The team was created as part of the Street Soccer USA program. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
This video of a 13-year-old soccer player making an incredible bicycle kick goal at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center soccer field is making the rounds on the internet today.
The player who made the “Rooneyesque” kick is said to be a 13-year-old from the Arlington Civitan club’s U13/14B Bengals squad.
Two years ago a 16-year-old Yorktown High School student made a similar bicycle kick goal that earned him “Goal of the Year” honors from the US Youth Soccer organization.
H/t to Mark Blacknell
DC United goalie Bill Hamid is expected to stop by and greet fans at the event, which is being organized by the Arlington Athletic and Social League. There will be gift bags for the first 50 fans who arrive, plus raffles for DC United opening day tickets (the game will be held on March 19 at RFK Stadium) and other memorabilia.
In addition to the soccer festivities inside, organizers plan to set up pick-up games of cornhole outside on the patio.