As Director of Parks and Rec, we need Jane Rudolph to direct the Field Maintenance crews under her authority to correct several major deficiencies that have gone unchecked at Greenbrier Park.
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We are specifically targeting issues involving diamond Field #1. These issues all involve areas that should be covered by the normal maintenance expected to be provided by our County Government. Field #1 is the primary field in North Arlington used by the Arlington Girls Softball Association (AGSA) and is also the home field of the Yorktown High School varsity and junior varsity softball teams. The condition of Field #1 therefore has the most impact on Arlington families that have daughters playing fastpitch softball.
The mission statement of Arlington County’s Department of Parks and Recreation states that it "... promotes wellness and vitality through dynamic programs and attractive public spaces.” The condition of Greenbrier Park diamond field #1 is a direct contradiction to the publicly stated mission. All of the issues listed below with the facility must be fixed, and, for the safety of the children of Arlington County, they must be fixed now.
Issue #1- Condition of the grass outfield:
The appearance and playability of the outfield grass surface at Field #1 has gradually deteriorated since its spring 2008 opening. Finally, in 2013 the condition of the outfield had fallen to such a level that it posed safety issues related to ruts, holes and uneven ground that resulted in several injuries to youth and high school players. Aside from the uneven playing surface, the grass itself was in horrid condition being overgrown with weeds, crabgrass and bare spots. After numerous discussions with officials representing Arlington Girls Softball Association, Arlington Senior Babe Ruth Baseball (ASBR), Yorktown High School and Arlington Co. Parks and Recreation the decision was made to bring in an outside contractor to make repairs on the outfield. Game Day Inc., an approved Arlington Public Schools vendor was subsequently issued a purchase order to repair the fields and plant Bermuda grass sprigs, which is the accepted “gold” standard of diamond grass fields. This effort was funded entirely by significant financial contributions from AGSA, ASBR and Yorktown HS.
Parks and Recreation agreed to maintain the fields over the winter and spring with aggressive weed control, irrigation, aeration and regular inspections. According to the plan, the grass would be well on its way to being firmly established by the end of the 2014 summer. The work was completed by Game Day last fall with the expectation that it would take 1-2 seasons for the Bermuda to take hold.
Game Day performed the work that they were funded to provide. Judging from the current condition of Field #1, it must be surmised that the Parks and Recreation Dept. did not adequately maintain the fields as they agreed to do. The grass turf is now in far worse condition than before this $20K project was started last fall. It is overgrown with weeds and large clumps of un-mowed clover. It has large bare spots with no grass whatsoever and only dirt showing. It has large “burned” areas where it appears there was over-application of weed killer and no grass has survived. It is an embarrassment to the community and a travesty. Our non-profit organization has essentially thrown away thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it other than the worst high school level diamond field in all of Northern Virginia.
Issue #2- Outfield Warning Track Drainage:
This problem has existed since construction of the field was first completed. However it has gradually escalated from a minor annoyance to now being a major problem. Any significant rainfall will collect in deep pools several inches deep along the entire block wall in left field.
This would leave the field completely unplayable for days, if not for the efforts of volunteer workers that use their personal gas powered water pumps to remove the standing water.
The drainage in this specific area is a solvable problem.
Issue #3- Infield Dirt Area:
The infield is in dire need of additional infield dirt mix. The current condition has “sink holes” areas so thin that the sandy substrate that is normally several inches below the playing surface has been exposed. This is normal field maintenance that should be conducted on a regular schedule for a high school athletic facility and is not being accomplished by Parks and Rec. Furthermore, the actual dirt being replaced should be a premium grade mixture containing granular calcified clay that greatly improves drainage and water absorption that would improve the playing surface and reduce the number of days that the field is unplayable.
Issue #4- Trash Pick-up:
Arlington County is responsible for trash pickup and Parks and Rec is specifically tasked with trash removal in Park areas. Why is trash collection at the Greenbrier Park ball fields an exception? Trash cans in the dugouts and in the stands go for weeks with overflowing trash before any attempt at removal occurs. This is not only unsightly and embarrassing, but a health hazard. This is lack of maintenance in its most basic form and is a totally unacceptable situation. This needs to be rectified. Trash needs to be removed (both inside and outside the field area) more than once per week during prime season.
Issue #5- Miscellaneous:
1. Sections of the block retaining wall that supports the “stadium” entrance fence are crumbling and need replacement.
2. Several posts supporting the chain link fence that sits atop the high retaining wall in left field have come loose making the entire fence section unstable and could pose a serious risk of injury.
The $10M renovation of Greenbrier Park which was completed in 2007 is a perfect example of what Arlington County can do when constructing new facilities. It was beautiful.
It is also a perfect example of how Arlington County cannot seem to maintain these expensive, state of the art facilities to a level dictated by their initial expense. Focusing on the softball field, it has deteriorated in 7 short years from the pride of our softball community to an embarrassment. It is the gem of Arlington youth softball facilities and the only non-college facility in Northern Virginia with the look and feel of a genuine stadium. It should be a source of pride for not just the youth softball community and Yorktown High School, but also for the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department. It is deteriorating at a fast pace and unless action is taken soon, will become a safety hazard and an eyesore. The outfield in particular on Field #1 is now hands down, the worst High School level playing surface in all of Northern Virginia.
This situation needs to be addressed immediately, especially with the opening of the new multi-million dollar Washington-Lee softball field last year and the highly anticipated opening of the new Wakefield High School field this fall. The W-L field is already showing signs of neglect and unfortunately it is reasonable to surmise that the brand new Wakefield facility will succumb to the same treatment.
Action is required to remediate these issues now while there is still the possibility of correcting the problems with relatively minimum effort and expense.
A gallery of photos showing the current state of the field is available at: http://worldthroughmyviewfinder.smugmug.com/Greenbrier-1#!/
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