Arlington, VA

(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.

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