Bryce Harper Sightings — There have been a number of sightings of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in Clarendon in recent days. In addition to his Clarendon activities — two people claim to have seen him on separate days at smoothie shop South Block — Harper has been busy on the baseball field, setting an MLB record for runs in the month of April. [Twitter]
Gutshall Endorsed by GGW — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board in the upcoming Democratic caucus, calling him “thoughtful and insightful.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Northam, Perriello in Ballston — Democratic candidates for governor Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello were in Ballston last night for a progressive forum. Technical difficulties cut off part of Northam’s appearance from the forum’s livestream video. [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
By the time she was 9 years old, Isabel Graham had earned a black belt in mixed martial arts and, with a younger brother around, has always enjoyed being in charge.
So it seemed like a natural fit when she began umpiring in Arlington Little League earlier this season.
Out of an officiating roster of dozens of teenagers and a handful of adults, Graham is currently the only female ump in the league. (An older female umpire is out with an injury.)
But the 14-year-old Graham, an eighth-grader at St. Thomas More Cathedral School, said that her gender has never been an issue for anyone as she takes charge of games at the AAA and Majors levels for children up to the age of 12.
“At this age the players don’t actually know that it’s different, so they treat me like anyone else,” she said before a recent game at Fort Scott Park. “The only people who know it’s different are the parents, so the moms always give me a smile.”
Graham combines her umpiring with playing travel softball for Arlington Sage, and also plays basketball during the winter. She was introduced to umpiring by her friend and St. Thomas More classmate Nicolas Lopez-Riveira, now in his third season overseeing Little League games.
And she seems to have taken to the umpiring quickly. She said it is very similar to playing catcher on her softball team, as she is in charge and sees a lot of action behind home plate.
“It’s exciting, but I guess I’ve seen her in so many things where if she’s not in charge, she’s at least constantly aware of what’s going on,” said her father Michael Graham. “I’m not surprised that she enjoys it, mostly because of the interest in softball and baseball. I’m glad that she’s doing it.”
To become an umpire, Isabel Graham went through training on the rules of the game and how to handle situations on the field. League umpire-in-chief Steve Sundbeck said he has approximately 65 teenagers and seven adults, including himself, that umpire. The league has approximately 1,500 children as young as 4 that play baseball.
Sundbeck said he looks to use the training program to teach new umpires good sportsmanship and confidence, something that is helped by a league culture in Arlington that emphasizes earning respect and doing your best, regardless of age.
“It really is a matter of doing the best job you can in the first place, because they’ll know when you’re getting lazy and not getting in position,” Sundbeck said. “And you just know what to ignore and what to call out that you’re not putting up with. We try to teach them the rubric.”
And while Isabel Graham said she gets nervous before games start, once the batter settles into the box, it feels natural.
“They’re really just trying to have fun, and they often don’t understand what’s happening, they just want to get out there and play,” she said. “I don’t think there’s that much pressure. Mostly I’m just pressuring myself. I’ll always think I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll have to get over it.”
Isabel Graham will start at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria in the fall and said she hopes to continue umpiring and maybe move up to the 50/70 level, the highest in Arlington Little League.
“She’s always been a fairly focused, confident kid and loves all things baseball as well as being in charge,” said Michael Graham. “So being an umpire seems to be a really good fit for her personality and interest in sports. Whether she’s the only girl or the first girl to do anything has never really been of concern to her.”
The end of renovations at Tuckahoe Park will be marked Saturday with a ribbon-cutting to mark the completion of a two-year project. The ribbon-cutting is set for 11:15 a.m.
The park at 2400 N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church has had its bleachers and benches renovated, while the bullpens and batting cages for local baseball players have also had a facelift.
In addition, the grass and dirt in the park’s two diamond fields have been revamped and drainage improved, while a new electronic scoreboard has been added for use by the community and the nearby Bishop O’Connell High School. O’Connell contributed $18,000 towards purchasing the scoreboard.
ADA accessibility has also been added around the park, including from 26th Street N., the school and the existing park trail near N. Sycamore Street.
The park is already being used by Arlington Little League and other community groups. The County Board approved the $1 million renovation project in 2015.
The diamond athletic field at Gunston Park will be converted from natural grass to synthetic turf after the Arlington County Board approved a $370,000 plan Tuesday night.
The nonprofit Arlington Sports Foundation offered a grant of $180,000 to convert the field, and the county sports commission’s Diamond Field Fund will pay the additional $190,000. The project is on top of a previously-approved $1.4 million maintenance and improvement plan at the park.
It is estimated the new field will add nearly 880 new possible playing hours per year, at a time when there is high demand for athletic fields in the county.
“Both the number of people playing sports in Arlington, and the hours our fields are in use continue to grow. We need creative solutions to meet the demand,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette. “Kudos to the Arlington Sports Foundation and the sports community for helping fund the conversion of Gunston’s field and expand its community use without increasing taxpayer support.”
Before the board’s unanimous approval of the project, there had been questions raised about the safety of the synthetic turf, which will be made from EPDM rubber. Local resident Kelly Alexis asked that a natural ingredient like coconut husks be used instead, and cited previous concerns about the health risks of playing on turf, especially that made up of crumb rubber.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol and others said the health of children is something Arlington takes “incredibly seriously,” and asserted that the health risks of EPDM are minimal.
Several members of the county’s sports community testified in favor of the conversion. Arlington Little League president Adam Balutis said the new turf means more games can be played and not be canceled or postponed due to the weather.
“Everybody would love to have natural, beautiful green fields that we could upkeep all year round and play and play and play, but it’s not possible in Arlington County because we don’t have enough space,” said Daniel Lopez, vice president of the board of the Arlington Soccer Association. “So the next best thing is we try to turf these fields so everybody can use them and everybody can enjoy them.”
Board members said that the funding model for the new turf field is something that could be repeated elsewhere, especially if community members are willing to help fundraise.
“We know in today’s tight funding times that the government is not going to be able to do it all and will rely increasingly on the generosity of the folks in our community,” said John Vihstadt.
“I think we’ve maybe got a new model,” said Board member Libby Garvey.
First Board Meeting With New Rule — Saturday will be the Arlington County Board’s first meeting with a new public participation rule. Whereas members of the public could previously request that any “consent agenda” item be pulled and discussed individually at the next Board meeting, the new rule requires at least one Board member to concur with the action. [InsideNova]
A Note on InsideNova Links — The desktop version of InsideNova’s website features popup ads and multiple autoplay videos with the audio on. It is not recommended for users in quiet environments or with older computers that may slow down or crash as a result of the videos and ads.
GW Gets Donation for Baseball Clubhouse — George Washington University has received an anonymous $2 million gift that will fund a new proposed clubhouse at Tucker Field in Arlington’s Barcroft Park. The clubhouse will feature “on-site locker facilities, indoor practice space with batting cages and pitching tunnels, meeting rooms and a sports medicine area.” [GW Sports]
Teen’s Hair Lit on Fire at Inauguration — A 17-year-old Arlington girl’s hair was lit on fire at an inauguration protest in D.C. It happened on Inauguration Day, near the National Archives, as the girl posed in front of protesters while wearing pro-Trump apparel. [Buzzfeed]
Clement, Roosevelt to Run for Office — Independent Audrey Clement has filed to run again for Arlington County Board this year. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Army veteran Adam Roosevelt, a Republican, is challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez (D). [InsideNova, InsideNova]
D.C. Area Snow Drought — Will we see any significant snowfall this winter? It’s looking increasingly bleak for snow lovers, with only a few flurries in the forecast during what should be our peak snow period. [Washington Post]
Beyer Won’t Participate in Inauguration — Don’t expect to see Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) at the inauguration of Donald Trump nor at any celebratory inaugural events. Beyer says he “will not be part of normalizing or legitimizing” president-elect Trump, whose “values and… actions are the antithesis of what I hold dear.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Cubs at the Pentagon City Ritz — The World Series-winning Chicago Cubs made the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton their home base before meeting President Obama at the White House on Monday. The hotel is a popular destination for visiting sports teams. [Twitter]
Crash on I-395 — All but one lane of traffic was blocked on northbound I-395 yesterday following an afternoon crash near Shirlington. A police officer helped to calm down a dog who was in one of the cars involved in the crash. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Group Will March in Inauguration — The Arlington-based Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) will march in Friday’s inaugural parade in D.C. The organization supports the families of fallen military service members. [WJLA]
Hot Start for Wakefield Girls — The Wakefield girls basketball team is off to an impressive 12-2 start this season. The team plays Falls Church tonight. [Washington Post]
Business Book Club at Library — Arlington Public Library has launched a Business Book Club “for adults interested in reading about business strategy, leadership and management.” The first meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28 at Central Library. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington County is moving forward with construction plans for Stratford Park.
The current park has picnic tables, a youth baseball/softball field (which has also been used by adult team sports), two lighted tennis courts, a rectangular field and a lighted basketball court.
The new park, which is in the final design stages and is expected to go out to bid in the first quarter of 2017, will include upgraded fields, courts, landscaping and site furnishings.
Among the planned changes: the new diamond field will be fenced in, with dugouts, batting cages and bleachers added.
While the fence around a soon-to-be-upgraded diamond field in Bluemont Park prompted a neighborhood outcry this fall, since largely resolved by removing portions of the fence, thus far there has been little public protest about the Stratford Park fence.
Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the field’s primary purpose will be to host organized baseball and softball activities, though other uses will be allowed when the field is not otherwise being used.
“The approved plan does include fence around the diamond field, as the field will primarily be used for diamond sports (permit takes priority),” she told ARLnow.com, via email. “The fence entrances will always be open to allow people access to the area when the field is not in use.”
The parks department sent an email to residents who live near the park last month, updating them on the project’s progress. An excerpt of that email, detailing some of the changes, is below.
Construction of the park upgrades is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017 and wrap up within the first three months of 2018. The overall design, management and construction budget is $1.7 million.
In early 2015, the County worked with the community to develop a concept plan for the site. The concept plan is a tool to inform the County, APS and the community on how new school access routes and other changes to the school site within the park boundary could impact the plan for park improvements. DPR worked closely with APS in order to coordinate pedestrian accessibility from the park to the school. In addition, a restroom facility will be provided at the school for park users. DPR may make some minor changes to the concept as final costs for the improvements are determined in order to ensure the project remains within budget.
The approved project scope includes replacing and bringing existing features to current standards and adding new amenities to the park. Below is a breakdown of each one.
Existing to be Replaced:
- Tennis Courts
- Basketball Court
- Court Lighting
- Diamond Field
- Players Benches
- Fencing (split rail)
- Stairs and Walkways
- Trash Receptacles
- Trees and Shrubs
New to the Park:
- Drinking Fountain
- Pedestrian Lighting
- Batting Cages
- Outfield Fence
- Retaining Walls
- 50/70 Intermediate (50/70) Diamond Field Layout with Irrigation
- Additional Trash Receptacles and Seating
- Picnic Area
- Storm Water Management Facility
- Additional Landscaping
Remove a portion of the fence.
The plan calls for 162 linear feet of fence to be removed along the first and third baselines. The fence will remain elsewhere around the baseball diamond, though its height in the outfield will be reduced from 8 to 4 feet.
The compromise “maintains a level of open access to field” while still bringing the field “up to current standards,” the presentation says.
The presentation notes that the community is “divided between need for upgraded ballfields and need for preserving open and multi-use spaces,” with passionate advocates on both sides.
Baseball supporters say the fence is necessary for safety and for maintaining the integrity of the game, as other park users have a tendency to wander into the middle of youth baseball games. Open space supporters say it’s important for other park users to have a chance to use the field when baseball — a seasonal team sport — is not being played.
The new plan will be presented to a number of county commissions before the County Manager discusses it with the County Board on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
The following Letter to the Editor was written by Sandra Spear, who lives near Bluemont Park and objects to the installation of a fence as part of the planned renovation of a baseball field in the park. Spear is responding to a Letter to the Editor in support of the fence, written on behalf of Arlington’s baseball community and published by ARLnow.com last week.
I am one of the many users of Bluemont Park who object to the County fencing off a quarter of its expansive open field for exclusive use by baseball players. This letter responds to John Foti’s October 20 letter to the editor at ARLnow in support of the fence, which both misunderstands the community’s opposition to the fence and makes our case for us.
The issue before the community is one of open space versus baseball field perfection. Fenced-off baseball fields are the “industry standard” for Little League baseball, but that “industry standard” was established in areas of the country where land costs thousands of dollars an acre, not millions an acre as it does in Arlington. Arlington must come up with its own baseball field standard that achieves most of the goals of a fence without incurring the costs of replacing open space.
Right now, Bluemont Park contains the largest contiguous open space in the entire County, a space that is unique and irreplaceable at any cost. The proposed Bluemont fence would eliminate an acre of that open space by fencing it off for the exclusive use of baseball players 24/7 year round, irrespective of the fact that baseball is a seasonal, late afternoon and weekend sport played at most 20% of daylight hours in a year. The issue then is not that baseball players don’t use the field more; it’s that other people of all ages use it now during the 80% of the time baseball does not use it. It is that use that the fence would eliminate or seriously impede. Continuing to accommodate that use would require replacing the open space.
The proposed fence would close off roughly 40,000 square feet. Replacement land near Bluemont Park costs over $100 per square foot, so true cost accounting would place the cost of that fence at over four million dollars. Is the baseball community willing to raise more than $40,000 per player (using Mr. Foti’s estimate of 1,000 players) to achieve baseball field perfection? Because asking taxpayers to fund baseball field perfection for a scant half a percent of the population is a tough sell.
This is a policy question for the County. If baseball fields are to be fenced off County wide, it could become an incredibly expensive sport, because much of that open space would have to be replaced. Those 1,000 players may be playing on up to ten fields during the year, so the baseball community is actually asking taxpayers to replace $40 million worth of land – at a cost of $400,000 per player.
It turns out that fences aren’t actually necessary for baseball played by 8- to 12-year-olds.
First, the baseball community argues that the fence is necessary to mitigate costs of repairing damage to the field caused by non-baseball users. If users are damaging the field now it is because the field has poor drainage and, paradoxically, no irrigation, conditions shared by most athletic fields in the County. Both conditions are to be addressed with the proposed upgrade to the Bluemont field, obviating most maintenance issues. But even if other users do harm the field, maintenance is incredibly cheap compared to the cost of replacing lost open space.
Second, the baseball community argues that a fence delineates the field for other park users to warn them to stay out during practices and games. But having held out for baseball perfection in the form of permanent or even seasonal fencing, they have not explored less expensive and intrusive means of marking the field. Signs and paint can do wonders once one has ruled out metal and concrete.
Third, the baseball community claims that safety demands a fence, yet they can cite not a single incident where a passer-by was injured by a budding Bryce Harper. Since Virginia is a contributory-negligence state, adequate warning signs can again come to the rescue.
Finally, fence proponents have argued that baseball fields should be treated like tennis courts. Their argument is misplaced: Tennis is played from dawn to past dusk and by players from 5 to 95 years of age. The problem with a fenced-off baseball field is not the time when baseball is actually being played; it’s that baseball can actually be played so little of the time, but a fence closes it off all of the time.
Mr. Foti closes his letter by reference to the several thousand kids who play baseball in Arlington. Unless the families of those kids plan to raise the millions it would cost to replace the fenced off open space, perhaps the baseball community should consider the interests of the 220,000 other Arlingtonians who use and pay for the parks before demanding perfection for the one percent and exclusion of the other 99 percent.
6th Street North
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
Gunston Could Get New Baseball Diamond — Arlington County officials are considering renovating a baseball diamond at Gunston Middle School, replacing it with a lighted artificial turf field. A public meeting about the project, is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 7-9 p.m. at the Gunston community center. [Arlington County]
TJ Elementary Design Approved — The Arlington School Board has unanimously approved schematic designs for the new elementary school planned for the Thomas Jefferson Middle School site. Construction on the $59 million project is expected to begin in July and wrap up in time for the 2019-2020 school year. [InsideNova]
More Details About W-L Fight — A large fight at Friday night’s Washington-Lee High School football game, first reported by ARLnow.com, involved “at least 20 parents and students” and “was the result of a dispute between two families,” unrelated to the game, according to police. Officers used pepper spray to break up the fight. One adult was arrested during the game. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Brent Robson
The following letter to the editor was submitted by John Foti on behalf of Arlington’s youth baseball community. Via letters and outreach at meetings, baseball advocates are pushing back against vocal opposition, among a group of residents, to the renovation of a baseball diamond in Bluemont Park.
A small minority of opponents have dominated the conversation about the planned improvements to the baseball diamond at Bluemont Park. I’d like to speak up for the proponents.
Participation in youth baseball has grown rapidly as the county’s school-age population has grown. There are currently over 3,600 youth baseball participants playing each year, up from about 2,400 participants just 7 years ago. Bluemont field #3 is one of the most heavily-used fields for kids aged 8- to 12-years old.
Bluemont #3 is a field used by more than 1,000 kids for more than 70 games a season and roughly 60 practices per week. Unfortunately, overuse and misuse of the field for non-baseball activities (such as riding bicycles around the diamond) have combined to make it very susceptible to unplayable field conditions. This spring alone, an estimated 60 percent of the scheduled activities on Bluemont #3 were cancelled due to unplayable field conditions – which is significantly higher than any other baseball field in the County
To derail the planned improvements, project opponents have made several assertions that are wrong or misguided.
- They assert there is surplus of baseball fields, but only half of the 38 fields they identified are actually safe, usable fields. The remaining 50% are poorly maintained and are not usable. Bluemont #3 sits at the bottom of the list of playable fields.
- They argue that allocating land to youth baseball is inefficient because of “low utilization rates during daylight hours”. Please keep in mind that the kids that use these fields are in school from 8am-4pm. Using this flawed logic is like stating “APS has plenty of classroom space because the schools are empty between 4pm-6am”. It is used every single weekday from 4pm until the sun goes down for either practices or games.
- They contend that very few county residents benefit from the field, but this conclusion is based on incomplete data. Granted, the field does not serve any of the non-baseball playing residents, but it does serve of the 1,000 KIDS who play baseball.
Opponents are particularly opposed to fencing the field. Fencing helps mark in-play territory, keeps balls from flying out and hitting park users, and extends the life of taxpayer investments. Because the field is not currently fenced, park users routinely wander onto the field of play and interrupt permitted users. This is incredibly unsafe and unfortunate for the kids that are playing. Moreover, fields that have fences elsewhere in the county tend to remain in relatively good shape: They require only routine maintenance during the season and generally last years beyond their expected “useful life”.
The planned renovation of the Bluemont field will restore this much needed field to a condition of playability and safety, while helping to ease diamond field supply/demand issues for families across the County.
There are a few thousand good reasons to restore Bluemont #3, most of them are between ages 8-12 and want a good, safe place to play ball.
Arlington Babe Ruth
(on behalf of the Arlington Youth Baseball Community)
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
Undeterred by the fact that the Arlington County Board already approved a contract for the project earlier this summer, a group of Bluemont and Boulevard Manor residents are continuing to fight the planned construction of a baseball and softball field in Bluemont Park.
Opponents of the project faced off with youth baseball and softball boosters — who support the new field and say it’s necessary to meet demand — at a community meeting Wednesday night. The “listening session” was organized by Arlington County, in response to opposition to the field that has been building since late summer.
A primary concern of the opponents: that the field will be fenced in, thus precluding other uses of what’s currently a poorly maintained but open baseball diamond. A temporary construction fence is already up at the site.
In a presentation during the meeting, county staff said the renovation will bring the field to “County and industry standards and address accessibility, safety and stormwater requirements.”
A county spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the discussion from the meeting and other community feedback will be considered by county staff and the County Board.
“The community is invited to share additional feedback on the website through October 14,” said Bryna Helfer, Arlington’s newly-appointed Director of Communications and Public Engagement. “The County Manager will update the Board at the November 10, 2016 County Board recessed meeting.”
Baseball field opponents said the meeting did not change any minds or clear up the process going forward.
“It was the usual dog-and-pony show,” said local activist Suzanne Sundburg.
“There were a number of speakers who supported the fencing, baseball-softball enthusiasts, naturally,” Sundburg said. “But they were evenly matched by the number of other park users in the community who do not want open space to be fenced off permanently for just a single sport that is played, at most 8 months a year.”
“Staff couldn’t answer any questions about the construction schedule,” she continued. “Nor could they provide any timetable or date for a follow-up meeting.”
Sundburg said that some county staffers “indicated that the plan was pretty much set and that only ‘tweaks’ would be possible at this late date,” while others “were more open to urging the board to consider ‘options.'”
One emailed county staff with “data… assembled and analyzed over the past 3 weeks,” arguing that baseball fields are used for only a portion of daylight hours during the year and that there are enough fields for existing baseball and softball games. Another argument: that the project is within a floodplain.
“No one wants to prevent the existing field from being used for baseball, though several people asked whether rehabbing this particular field (to the tune of $700K) made sense, given the existing drainage problems, proximity to a Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area, and the fact that this field lies in a FEMA floodplain,” the resident wrote.
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A $720,000 project to renovate a baseball field in Bluemont Park, approved by the County Board in July, is now facing some community resistance.
A number of residents, along with the Boulevard Manor and Bluemont civic associations, have written letters to the Board asking them to reconsider their decision. The primary concern: a planned fence around the new field.
“Permanently fencing off over a quarter of the open field at Bluemont Park is a drastic action that deserves the full ‘Arlington Way’ treatment,” wrote Boulevard Manor Civic Association President Phil Klingelhofer.
“In violation of the ‘Arlington Way,’ the decision was made with no input from the community and was hidden on the County Board’s Consent Agenda with no notice… of the drastic change it proposed making to Bluemont Park,” Klingelhofer continued. “Our Civic Association first heard of a proposal to improve Bluemont field number 3 when we got a cryptic notice of a meeting to ‘learn about planned field renovations.'” (Links added.)
In a Board report published June 30, county staff said the new baseball field will include “sod, new irrigation, site circulation, fencing, backstops, bleachers, site furnishings, signage, ADA accessibility improvements, landscaping, and site drainage.” An included diagram details a “proposed” fence along with proposed bullpens and a proposed batting cage.
“Athletic field #3 is beyond reasonable maintenance and requires full renovation,” the report notes. Residents, however, say that a fenced-in baseball field — as opposed to the current open baseball field — reduces recreational options in the park.
“Irrespective of whether the process was sufficiently transparent, a bad plan is still a bad plan,” wrote Bluemont resident Suzanne Smith Sundburg. “The fencing and thus conversion of what is currently multipurpose, open-field parkland to a dedicated, single-sport field does a disservice to the many Boulevard Manor and Bluemont community residents as well as other residents who use this space for a variety of athletic and recreational activities. Passive, flexible, open-field space costs little to maintain and maximizes the use of the space.”
A Boulevard Manor resident complained to the Board that the public process behind the field was lacking.
“The purpose of the poorly understood March meeting becomes all the more murky if county staff was presenting a fait accompli to whoever may have attended rather than soliciting real input about the merits of the project,” wrote Joshua Handler. “I ask that the County Board rescind its decision to build a permanent baseball diamond… until the project can be thoroughly vetted by the adjacent communities and its impacts on greenspace, the multipurpose use of the park, the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods and the park visitors’ experience.”
Sundburg also expressed concern about runoff from the field into the Chesapeake Bay — as well as a short connector trail that’s set to be built as part of the project. The trail is billed as a “safe route” for nearby Ashlawn Elementary.
My second concern is the “Safe Routes to School trail connector.” More pavement means more runoff. And calling this a “safe route” sounds like a really sick joke considering that a convicted sex offender has been living in the [neighborhood], just east of where this “safe” route connection is to be constructed. The man has completed his sentence and is free to roam about. Neighbors in this area have reported seeing him frequently walking on the nearby paths and in the parks, particularly at times when children are arriving home from school.
County staff and the County Board have worked hard to urbanize Arlington. With urbanization come some unpleasant realities — including more two-footed predators living among us. Encouraging Bluemont’s young children to walk along isolated paths and through parks to get to school is beyond belief.
The County Board will have its first meeting of the fall, following its August break, this coming Saturday.
An apparent dust devil disrupted a youth baseball game in Arlington Saturday afternoon.
The tornado-like weather phenomenon happened around 4 p.m. at Quincy Field, near Arlington Central Library, during an Arlington Babe Ruth baseball game, we’re told.
A witness said the whirlwind sent spectators and players scurrying for cover.
“Three twisters made their way down the third baseball line during a 13-year old Senior Babe Ruth baseball game,” said Harold Andersen. “At first it appeared to be a strong gust of wind but as lawn chairs and full bat bags were carried up into the sky… players, coaches and umpires went running to the dugouts.”
The dust devils eventually dissipated over the library, said Andersen. But seriously, we asked — did one really lift bat bags into the air?
“I actually had a lawn chair lifted out of my hands as I was protecting my face from the flying sand,” Andersen said. “I would swear at least two bat bags loaded with catcher’s gear flew into and over the backstop.”
He added: “One parent yelled out ‘we are not in Kansas any more.'”