Pardon me: Softball-busting Norris to save McIntire

The once-threatened historic softball fields at McIntire Park now look to instead be preserved by Mayor Norris and City Council.
FILE PHOTO BY RYAN HOOVER

The man whose government green-lighted a controversial master plan and YMCA ground lease last May, an act which sentenced two softball fields to death by bulldozer, now plans to unveil a secret plan to save the two historic fields. Mayor Dave Norris says in a press release, "It's time for us to end the divisiveness which has pitted various recreational users against each other and instead commit to addressing the recreational needs of all our citizens."

"It's a headfake, basically," says Bob Fenwick, a softball player who spearheaded the Save McIntire campaign. Citing the Y's initial arguments against involvement in the master plan, Fenwick finds it "odd that they're downsizing so the fields can be saved."

After news of the master plan–- which included replacing the softball diamonds with a single, multi-use, artificial turf rectangular field–- reached the softball players in May, many cried foul with accusations of being kept in the dark.

"There was no effort from the city bureaucracy to reach organized groups or representatives of the softball community," softball player Charlie Hubbard said in a Hook cover story. "For a community that likes to put emphasis on transparent public policies, I don't feel that this was done at all with the softball community."

After months of public hearings, protests from various softball advocates, and criticism from Albemarle County supervisor Ken Boyd that the City acted "unilaterally," the city and the Y began to revisit the initial footprint of the building–- a factor that would influence the amount of space left for McIntire's fields.

While Norris did not immediately return phone calls, Fenwick says that Norris' plan includes the creation of a task force between the city, county, and UVA to study the region's recreational needs.

Norris will announce specifics of his plan on Saturday, March 14, at the McIntire Park concessions building at noon.

20 comments

Norris should support the needs of his own city FIRST. He tries to be the mediator in too many cases. The County needs to provide more ball fields for its' own citizens. Let the County chip in and also build some fields. There are plenty of options other than Darden Towle Park for fields. Norris is just too chummy with the county, and that worries many. McIntire Park should be reserved to first accomodate patrons of the city. The wacky county cries help and Norris is the first to fall into feeling sorry for them.

Maybe they should commission a study of this plan?

It's going to be a great event tomorrow and the best part about it is that a wide variety of heretofore competing interests -- YMCA, softball players, CHS, soccer, Sports and Social Club, etc. -- are going to be on hand to jointly support a new path forward and move beyond the divisiveness that has characterized this issue (and the reporting on this issue) up til now.

Dave, The bottom line, the County has taken advantage of our city for way too long and in too many ways. Look at the Parkway issue. Haven't heard you protest the issue lately. My suggestion man, wake up on that one because the County is moving your way real fast!
Remember the ball fields at Mcintire Park belong to the city. I hope we hear you announce tomorrow that the County is finally planning to share the load and build some fields on their own property. For now, the bases are too clogged with out of area residents. Remember to advocate for the citizens you represent first.

Dave, The YMCA should not be placed on "public" land either, and I think you know this. From what i hear, more to come on that "legal" piece.

So plop, if the fields aren't destroyed for the "Young Men's Christian Association", you want to destroy the softball fields just to spite county residents?

The county pays a percentage of its tax revenue (collected from county residents) to the city, plop. County residents are also paying for those city parks.

The city softball leagues primarily use 7 fields: 2 @ McIntire, 2 @ PVCC, 3 @ Towe. Of these, two are in the city. The city's plan was to eliminate those two. So anyone who thinks the county isn't "sharing the load" doesn't know the score.

And FWIW, I can't speak for the rest of the leagues, but of the 10 people on my team, 7 live in the city.

This is great news! So when will they be installing the new Field Turf outfields? That's going to be awesome - no more bad hops, and more importantly no more holes to sprain ankles. Plus far fewer rainouts because the artificial turf will be installed to provide excellent drainage.

I'm not for destroying the existing city fields. I do object to a non-green approach, artificial turf. The YMCA is a Christian organization. Although I am a Christian, there is a separation of church and state clause to consider. This is a PUBLIC park. If I were the Jews and Muslims in this town, I would be steaming. The city is breaking the law. Norris and crew will tie the city up in more legal wrangling as a result of the decision regarding the Y. This is unfair to taxpayers and residents. Until the city and county merge, the city should hold the line in bowing to the county as much as they do.

Yes sir eee, the city council has surely caved in allowing the county to have their way in building the destructive Parkway. Any dummy knows this much. If Norris opposes the road he better use his influence to stop it,and fast. I'm not so sure this is a real priority with him. Did he attend the protest? Would be interesting to know. I think Norris enjoys the fun,feely good events more than those that are controversial.

The YMCA facility was headed out to PVCC. Mayor Norris championed the idea to locate it at McIntire Park. The initial plans for its siting was supposedly decided upon between April 7 and May 19, 2008. Thus, a totally insufficient amount of time was alloted for public viewing and comment. There seems to be a renewed attempt for broader public participation. All too often, the city allows the public to give comment on the initial plans of a project, then the city revises the plans substantially and move forward with only the watchful having an opportunity to give comment. I hope the city will also include plans that are in the making for the eastern portion of the park, with cost estimates.
As I have recommended several times before, let the YMCA move to PVCC. Instead of busing the kids to and from McIntire, bus them to PVCC. Once they feel comfortable with the environs of that location, they may want to enroll. Council argues that the kids will be able to use the Y right after school by walking to it (Put down the books and pick up the ball) while the news reported yesterday that college students had a function to tell the school kids to "Put down the ball and pick up a book." Council funds stated priorities but often vote to assure failure in acheiving them. Staff and the Planning Commission also often fail to look at the bigger picture.

Using McIntyre Park to route a destructive, divisive highway right through the middle of town has to be about the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard of. If the mayor isn't standing up to oppose that, then he is in no way saving McIntyre and he is helping to royally screw up what used to be a pretty nice little city.

What has so far been done with the legacy Mr. McIntyre left the city is nothing short of disgraceful. If only we had a Mayor Kleeman. Dave is a nice guy it seems, but way out of his league.

The great coming together announced by the Mayor happened yesterday and I would respectfully disagree with the Mayor's characterization of the reporting done by the Hook on this issue.

" wide variety of heretofore competing interests � YMCA, softball players, CHS, soccer, Sports and Social Club,.. be on hand to jointly support a new path forward and move beyond the divisiveness that has characterized this issue (and the reporting on this issue) up til now."

I believe the tension between these groups existed all along, the Hook did not create it. It is the ability to have a public voice that has allowed this compromise to come forward and plan for the possibility of better facilities and more fair use by both city and county residents.

Even when the media makes the powers that be uncomfortable it is their responsibility to report the truth, not the press release. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Hook for providing this service for our community.

I agree, The Hook is our hero! Politicians crack me up as they stew about the real truth being revealed by the media. They would rather get away with putting their own spin on the news. The good thing, people just aren't buying into the politicians' strategy anymore.

Dave Norris calls the YMCA and CHS "heretofore competing interests." I don't think they ever considered themselves as competitors until Mr. Norris voted to close the CHS "home" pool and then give city land to the YMCA so they can build their own facility.

Mayor Norris should cut out the spin and just state things as they are. I think that he should be applauded for learning to listen to various voices and to not be afraid of saying that there is a need to take another look and include those that we not included before. He has done this with the water supply concept-but-not-a-plan and McIntire. Keep it up, Mayor Norris. Hopefully you can teach that to David Brown.

No evidence that David Brown is teachable so far.

My five favorite things about McIntire Park:
5. Used condoms on the ground near the picnic gazebos...my kids think their balloons!
4. The wonderfully maintained tennis courts.
3. The Ted Kennedy Memorial Pedestrian Bridge.
2. Watching people struggle each spring over funding fireworks.
1. Leaving McIntire to go to a much better park...like Ridgview in Waynesboro, Gypsy Hill in Staunton, Hidden Rock in Goochland, Pen Park in Albemarle, and most other parks.

It seems like the "Big Deal" needs a little bit more information. Put it into context.

Yes, Church Hill Homes unloaded some of their bad investment strategies to Eagle Construction, and Jamie and Josh saved themselves by signing on as employees w/Eagle Construction.

It's also a "Big Deal" that Jamie, Josh, and Church Hill Homes went into mass foreclosures and stiffed many contractors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Your cover story on 10/23/08 - Lien On Me