Controversial renovations to a baseball field at Bluemont Park are now over, as that area of the park reopened last week and is set to celebrate Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The project at the 601 N. Manchester Street park brought a full replacement of one of its baseball fields, as well as the installation of a connector on the Four Mile Run Trail to N. Manchester Street and Ashlawn Elementary School.
The renovated field got new sod, irrigation, site circulation, fencing, backstops, bleachers, furniture, signage, ADA accessibility improvements and drainage. It officially reopened for use on Friday, June 30.
Neighbors fought against the plan to renovate the baseball field, and met with youth baseball and softball boosters last year for a county-organized “listening session” so each side could have its say. Those in favor of the plan said it would make the field more playable and help keep up with demand as the number of children playing youth baseball continues to rise.
Residents raised concerns about the field being fenced in, and a compromise was reached as the county agreed to remove about 20 percent of the fencing. County Manager Mark Schwartz added at the time that Arlington must reconsider its public outreach on such projects, after opponents said that they were blindsided by the plan.
Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony will include a presentation of colors by the Arlington County Joint Honor Guard and the singing of the National Anthem as well as remarks by County Board members and the community. It begins at 11 a.m.
D.C. and Arlington: Tech Towns? — The Greater Washington area has ranked third on a major real estate firm’s list of “Tech Cities 1.0.” The area received high marks for its educated workforce and pace of startup growth. Arlington, meanwhile, is continuing to land tech firms from D.C. and Fairfax County, in part thanks to active outreach and an incentive program from Arlington Economic Development. State incentives helped keep Applied Predictive Technologies in Ballston; the firm has a new office and is now expanding and creating 350 jobs.
Exotic Pet Ban Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board is expected to delay its consideration of a new exotic pet ban until the fall. The proposal has garnered strong reactions from both sides of the issue, including from the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, which is urging the Board to approve the ban. [InsideNova]
Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Gets Architect — Denver-based Fentress Architects has been selected as the designer of the $75 million 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center. The center will be built near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike, which is set to be realigned as part of an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. [Washington Business Journal]
DJO Standout in Running for National Recognition — Bishop O’Connell High School softball standout Kathryn Sandercock is in the running for USA Today’s ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year. She is currently second in an online poll. Sandercock was also just named to the 2017 Spring All-Met first team. Other Arlington high school students named to the first team All-Met in their sports include three boys soccer and one girls soccer player. [USA Today]
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
Average Paycheck Decreases — The average weekly paycheck in Arlington was $1,734 in the first quarter of 2016, down 0.2 percent compared to one year prior. Nationally, however, the average paycheck was down 0.5 percent. Arlington ranked in the top 10 of U.S. counties with the highest pay. [InsideNova]
New Media Venture Based in Clarendon — Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei’s next media venture is headquartered in Arlington. VandeHei, along with Politico’s Mike Allen and the publication’s former Chief Revenue Officer, are among those helping to found the venture, which has reportedly secured $10 million in financing and is said to be “a media outlet targeting corporate executives and other professionals with a mix of business and political news.” While Politico remains in Rosslyn, VandeHei’s new venture is based in MakeOffices in Clarendon. [Wall Street Journal]
Porn Discussion at DJO — Last night Bishop O’Connell High School hosted a public discussion, aimed at parents and teens, about “the effects of pornography on teenagers.” Today the founder of the website The Porn Effect will address DJO students and “present the reality behind pornography to the entire student body.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
First Responders Cup This Weekend — The annual First Responders Cup fastpitch softball tournament will take place in Arlington this weekend. Among the participants, one team from Salem, Va. is paying tribute by wearing the name of fallen firefighters on the back of their jerseys. The players, who also wrote letters to the families of the firefighters, will be visiting Arlington’s Fire Station No. 5 near Pentagon City today. [WDBJ]
New Website for Chamber — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has launched a redesigned website. [Arlington Chamber]
AHC Seeking Volunteer Mentors — Updated at 2:15 p.m. — Affordable housing organization AHC Inc. is seeking volunteers to serve as mentors and tutors for middle- and high school students. Before the start of the school year, AHC provided backpacks filled with school supplies to more than 900 low-income, school-aged children living in its apartment communities. “Along with scores of generous individuals, several local organizations donated funds or supplies, including Arlington County Community Outreach, BM Smith, Boeing, The Reading Connection, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington,” AHC noted in a press release. [AHC Inc.]
James Lander, the Chair of the Arlington School Board, has responded to public concerns about use of school facilities raised by the Arlington Girls Softball Association.
On Monday afternoon Lander wrote to Steve Severn, president of the 30+ year old organization, regarding use of Wakefield High School’s softball field, as well as proposed batting cages and sponsor signage at Arlington Traditional School.
Lander said that the Wakefield softball field is closed to all teams due to safety concerns, that the school system is willing to find a location and design for the ATS batting cage that doesn’t interfere with school operation and that AGSA may put up temporary sponsor signage around school fields but must then take it down after games.
Lander, a Democrat, is currently running for Arlington County Board.
The full letter is below.
Dear Mr. Severn:
I am writing to respond further to concerns that have been expressed about use of Arlington school facilities by the Arlington Girls Softball Association (AGSA).
The Wakefield softball field is not being used by any teams until some improvements have been made. The positioning and safety measures for the softball field at Washington-Lee High School are different and, as a result, decisions are made to meet the unique needs of each space. The safety inspector was concerned about the proximity of Wakefield’s field to the parking lot and walkway through the site, and so APS has agreed to install safety netting. Regarding Wakefield’s use of other fields in the community, today was the last day for practice or play by the Wakefield softball teams, and the Wakefield Varsity Softball tournament will take place at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County on Monday, May 18.
The AGSA has proposed building a batting cage at Arlington Traditional School. APS believes that the initially proposed location for the batting cage would be disruptive to the school’s program and that the specific design would not be appropriate on school property. The Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations, Mr. John Chadwick, has spoken to Mr. Severn about this issue and has explained that APS is willing to consider other potential placement of the batting cage at the school and an alternative design. We look forward to working with the County and community representatives on this measure to find a solution that meets the needs of all parties.
We understand the important role that the AGSA sponsors play in supporting this opportunity for young girls in our community. Regarding the issue of posting banners on the fence at Arlington Traditional, as noted in earlier replies, the School Board policies do not allow outside groups to post and leave signs in schools and on school grounds over an eight-week period. However, when community groups such as the Babe Ruth and Arlington Little League teams use our fields and local groups like churches and other community organizations use our schools, as part of their community use they regularly post signs and/or distribute flyers during their activity and then the signs and flyers are taken away at the end of the event. We hope that the Arlington Girls Softball Association will consider this option so that the girls softball sponsors can be recognized during your practices and games.
Finally, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation has contacted APS about these and other concerns, and our staffs will be working collaboratively over the coming months to develop a consistent framework for all athletics and community groups to follow when using county and school spaces so that we can avoid any future misunderstandings.
James Lander, Chair
(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The president of the Arlington Girls Softball Association says a lack of field space and a newly enforced school policy against signs has him very concerned for the future of the youth league.
The AGSA has been in operation for more than 30 years, President Steve Severn said, and currently serves about 500 girls, 92 percent of whom are Arlington residents. Those girls make up 38 local teams and six all-star and travel teams, who play games on just five fields in the county: Greenbrier Park next to Yorktown High School, Barcroft Park, Wakefield High School, Quincy Park and Arlington Traditional Elementary School.
This year, delayed construction at Wakefield has taken away that field, and Wakefield’s softball teams have taken the AGSA’s field at Barcroft Park. At the same time, the field at Arlington Traditional School is becoming increasingly problematic after Principal Holly Hawthorne banned sponsorship signs, a move the Arlington School Board supports.
“Having so few fields available creates havoc,” Severn told ARLnow.com today, after he sent an email to AGSA’s parents informing them of the issues the league faces. “High schools have the first choice to have fields, and that’s the way it should be… But there aren’t enough fields to go around. Youth sports are screaming for outside field space.”
Severn said the Wakefield field opened for one day this spring, but Arlington Public Schools closed it after it determined the fences were too short to protect the surrounding neighborhood. APS facilities staff said it will reopen in June, but high school teams historically have asked to be the first team to use a new field. Hence, Severn said, he doubts AGSA will be able to use that field until spring 2016.
While field space is a serious issue for every league, sport and age group in Arlington, the sign ban is one that could jeopardize AGSA’s future.
“If sponsors cannot see their banners or recognition for the money they contribute to our organization, they’re not going to contribute,” Severn said. “These are by and large community businesses. Their kids play on the team. That is going to hurt us. We depend on sponsorship money, we do not take in enough money from registration. I don’t know what the end result is going to be. Our sponsorship base is going to dry up eventually.”
Severn said the league has been hanging banners recognizing sponsors for decades. This year, they tried to hang small, individual signs for each sponsor, which Severn said Hawthorne put a stop to. He asked the School Board to step in, and they did — to affirm Hawthorne’s decision.
“Ms. Hawthorne contacted APS senior staff to review APS policies on the display of sponsor banners, and we agreed that display of such banners on school property is not permissible,” School Board Chair James Lander said in an email to Severn. “The School Board wishes the AGSA success with the remainder of their season and we appreciate the patience the teams have shown.”
Hawthorne did not respond to an interview request this morning. When asked for comment, APS forwarded to ARLnow.com Lander’s message to Severn.
Severn said he’s met with APS Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operation John Chadwick, which “opened up a line of communication, but didn’t resolve anything.” The School Board’s ruling could mean no more banners at Wakefield when the new field opens, either. Severn told parents that an anticipated decline in sponsorship revenue could mean a significant increase in league fees.
“I’m not trying to fan any flames here, but I’m upset because the decisions are made in a vacuum,” he said. “When we got the note back from James Lander, it’s the end of the story. There is no other avenue for us. We have no real recourse there. That’s just the disturbing part.”
Photo, top, via AGSA. Photo, bottom, via Google Maps.
(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) The spring sports season is over for all but the elite teams, like Washington-Lee boys soccer and Yorktown boys lacrosse, which are still hoping to raise more banners in their gyms.
The Generals’ boys soccer team is in the midst of one of its best seasons ever, sporting an undefeated 16-0 record with three ties. It took home the Liberty Conference 6 championship last week and continues its march to the state tournament at home against Stonewall Jackson tomorrow night.
Washington-Lee girls soccer (10-3) also took home the Conference 6 title, defeating Yorktown before losing in the opening round of Region 6A North action, 4-2, to Centreville last night. The Patriots soccer squads both lost just three times this season, and their years wrapped up in similarly heartbreaking fashion: both squads lost in double-overtime last night in the opening round of the regional tournament, the boys to Centreville and the girls to Robinson Secondary School.
Wakefield’s boys soccer team is still playing after turning around what could have been a disappointing season. The Warriors were the runner-ups in the Conference 13 tournament after losing six straight games before the tournament began. They play Leesburg’s Tuscarora in Region 5A North action tomorrow night to try to keep their improbable postseason alive.
Yorktown’s boys lacrosse team, after losing to state powerhouse Langley in the conference champion, secured a huge win last night in the opening round of the regional tournament, blowing by Oakton 12-5. They’ll face South County at a neutral field, Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, tonight at 7:00 p.m. The Patriots girls lacrosse team — also a Conference 6 runner-up — saw its season come to an end last night at the hands of Robinson, 22-12.
Washington-Lee baseball, despite going just 11-11 in the regular season, managed to make a deep run in its conference tournament and qualify for regional play. Arlington’s only remaining baseball team in action will hope to keep its season alive at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in Chantilly.
Wakefield’s softball team is also still alive after a 10-9 season and a 15-1 loss to eventual conference champion Marshall in the Conference 13 semifinals. Their season continues on the road in regional tournament play tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. against Massaponax.
After the jump, the records and results for Wakefield, W-L and Yorktown’s major varsity team sports. (more…)
Currently, the county collects fees from all leagues that use county fields — for youth, it’s $8 per resident and $20 for non-residents. It’s $100 per team per season for adults — but there is no dedicated funding stream for the improvement of baseball and softball fields. The fees have, to this point, been used to fund the replacement of soccer and other rectangle fields with artificial turf.
If approved, the Field Fund would be segregated, and fees collected from using diamond fields would be reserved just for those fields. In addition, staff is asking the Board to dedicate $85,000 in seed funding for the field improvements.
Funds will be assigned to projects following recommendations from Parks and Recreation staff and the county’s Sports Commission. The County Board is expected to vote on the plan this weekend.
‘Luxury’ Apartment Rent Falling in Arlington — Rents for Class A apartments in Arlington and Alexandria fell 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, “a clear sign that the supply of new apartments is catching up to demand.” The average Class A rent in Arlington and Alexandria is $1,973 a month. [UrbanTurf]
Kroger Buys Harris Teeter — Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger has purchased Harris Teeter. So far, the company is not planning any significant changes for Harris Teeter stores, which will retain their branding and management. [Washington Post]
Still No Tenants for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The new 35-story office building at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn — now the D.C. area’s tallest building other than the Washington Monument — is set to open in October. However, the building, which was built “on spec” by owner Monday Properties, could open without a single tenant. [WJLA]
All-American Honors for DJO Softball Stars — Bishop O’Connell softball stars (and recent graduates) Tori Finucane and Jillian Ferraro have been chosen as All-Americans by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Flash Flood Watch Today — A Flash Flood Watch is in effect today for Arlington and the rest of the region. Rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to dump 1-3 inches of rain on the area through this evening. [National Weather Service]
APS Receives ‘SRTS’ Grant — Arlington Public Schools has received a $67,600 state grant that will be used to fund a new “Safe Routes to School” coordinator position. The SRTS program will help “enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.” It also seeks to make walking and bicycling to school safer while reducing traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution near schools. [Arlington Public Schools]
DJO Pitcher Honored by Gatorade — Bishop O’Connell High School softball pitcher Tori Finucane has been named the 2012-2013 Gatorade Virginia Softball Player of the Year. Finucane is now eligible to be named the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Martin Humm
‘Virginia Room’ Reopens With New Name — The former Virginia Room at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has reopened following renovations. Meanwhile, the room has been renamed the “Center for Local History.” [Arlington Public Library]
Phoenix Bikes Plans Move — The nonprofit Phoenix bike shop has been raising money for a planned move. The new location will be larger than the current classroom-sized shop. Like the current shop, it will be located on public property — at S. Walter Reed Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, next to the W&OD Trail. [Arlington Mercury]
Haute Fabrics Now Open Near Ballston — Marshall, Va.-based fabric shop Haute Fabrics has opened a second location, near Ballston. The new location is located at 730 N. Glebe Road and offers two floors worth of fabrics. [My Notting Hill]
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
Thousands of Armed Protesters Expected on July 4 — Pro-gun activists are planning an open carry protest march from Arlington National Cemetery, across the Memorial Bridge and into D.C. The protest, which is being organized on Facebook, is to take place on July 4. Participants are encouraged to march with loaded rifles slung across their backs. More than 2,000 have indicated their intention to participate in the “non-violent event.” [Huffington Post]
DJO Softball Finishes 24-1 — The elite Bishop O’Connell softball team has finished the regular season with a 24-1 record after consecutive victories against Yorktown and Paul VI. The nationally-ranked Knights will now advance to the playoffs. [Sun Gazette]
Too-Tall Parking Meters Being Replaced — A manufacturer of Arlington’s multi-space parking meters is replacing 16 meters that don’t meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements because they’re too tall. The replacements are being done at no cost to the county. [Arlington Mercury]
New Bus Shelters Vandalized in Arlandria — There has been a wave of vandalism directed toward new glass-paned bus shelters in the Arlandria section of Alexandria, adjacent to Arlington. [The Arlandrian]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
The new Washington-Lee High School softball field will open for its first game on Monday.
The $1 million field, under construction since last summer, is located on the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Quincy Street. It was built after parents of softball players threatened to file a Title IX complaint if the school system did not upgrade the no-frills field they were using at the time to include the same amenities of the boys baseball field.
The new softball field has “seating for 280 people, lighting, a press box and a removable fence so that the space can serve multiple uses,” according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.
Arlington Outpaced in Home Sale Prices — Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax County and D.C. have all outpaced Arlington when it comes to growth in home sale prices. Prices in Arlington increased only 1.1 percent year over year in March, and year-to-date prices are down 1 percent, according to data from RealEstate Business Intelligence. The median home sale price in Arlington hit $515,000 in March. [Washington Post]
O’Connell Defeats Stone Bridge — The highly-ranked Bishop O’Connell softball team defeated their closest competitors in Virginia, Stone Bridge, by a score of 3-0 last night. The Knights improved to 10-0, and remain ranked No. 2 in the region. The team will face No. 9 McLean and No. 1 Northern (ranked second in the country; DJO is ranked third) later this month. [Washington Post]
Kanninen Wants More Responsiveness — Barbara Kanninen says she’s running for Arlington School Board because she wants the board to be more responsive to the concerns of parents. “There’s a lot of parent dissatisfaction,” she said in an interview with the Sun Gazette. Of her opponent, incumbent James Lander, she said “it truly isn’t about him, specifically.” [Sun Gazette]
Remembering WEAM — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark takes a trip down Memory Lane and remembers the Arlington-based AM radio station WEAM. The station used to play pop and rock hits from a studio located “above Minor Hill, off Williamsburg Blvd.” [Falls Church News-Press]
The Bishop O’Connell softball team went 27-1 last year, capturing their 17th Virginia Independent Schools state title in 19 years and their 9th straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.
The team seemingly has no place to go but down. In fact, in preseason rankings by MaxPreps.com, there are only two teams in the country with higher expectations. The Knights ranked #3 in the national rankings, just below Northern (Owings, Md.) and Amador Valley (Pleasonton, Calif.).
All-American pitcher Tori Finucane and catcher Jillian Ferraro, who have committed to Missouri and UNC respectively, are back for their senior seasons. Finucane was named to the MaxPreps 2013 preseason All-American first team, and Ferraro to the All-American second team.
Finucane had a improbable 0.09 ERA and 332 strikeouts last year, and Ferraro chalked up a .542 batting average, 55 RBIs and 8 home runs.
According to a school-issued news release: “Other mainstays in this year’s lineup promise to be Hayley Metcalf (.488 batting average), Amanda Ehlers (.438) and Mary Burk (.310) with newcomers Olivia Giaquinto and Jenna Spille expected to contribute right away.”
Spring softball practices are now in full swing and O’Connell will open its season at home at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 in a game against St. Mary’s Ryken. The rest of the school’s softball schedule can be found on the Bishop O’Connell website.
Photo via Bishop O’Connell