Safe! McIntire softball fields saved

The months-long debate over the preservation of McIntire's two historic softball fields is a home run for the softball community with the reduction of the YMCA's footprint.

It may have taken thirteen months, hundreds of petition signatures, and several public meetings, but McIntire Park's historic softball fields will remain.

The fields have been under the threat of the bulldozers since the city's Parks and Recreation department presented City Council with their master plan for McIntire last May. The plan, which included the construction of the Piedmont Virginia YMCA, also required the removal of McIntire's two longstanding softball diamonds, in order to make room for city-regulated parking and stormwater management. A single, multi-use, artificial-turf field was added into the master plan in the space formerly housing the two softball fields.

"From what I've seen and what they've said, there will not be as big a building footprint as there was in the master plan," interim Director of Parks and Recreation Brian Daly says. "It will most likely allow the softball fields to be retained in their current location and size."

The city's announcement of the imminent removal of the fields roused the community's softball league and park users to action. Refusing to sit idly as their prime fields were torn down and accusing the city of neglecting to inform the larger community, softball players demanded both answers and action. Over a period of six months, the city and Albemarle County held half a dozen public meetings to guage the community's desires for both McIntire and the mutually-owned Darden Towe Park. As a replacement for McIntire's fields, former City Parks and Rec Director Mike Svetz recommended lighting Towe's three softball fields– a move that continued to fan the flames, as Towe's County neighbors demanded Towe remain an unlit, daytime park. Former Board of Supervisors Chairman Ken Boyd was "bothered" by the city's assumption that Towe would be lit as a result of McIntire's master plan.

“One of the questions my constituents and I have is– is there another alternative? Do we really have to get rid of McIntire Park?” Boyd asked in the September 4 issue of The Hook. “Those are discussions that we haven’t had with the City–- it’s something that bothers me.”

But as questions and doubts circulated as to the wisdom of McIntire's master plan, word of a slimmer YMCA footprint brought hope to all parties involved. An October 8 County public hearing ultimately benched the proposed Towe lighting, while the YMCA revealed building plans that would position the facility to save the softball fields existing space– a position YMCA Board Chairman Kurt Krueger claims was always their intent.

"This is not a change in direction for us– it's consistent with what we said back in April," Krueger says. "We plan to build a smaller building with the money we have now, but will reserve areas for expansion if the need is there."

Presenting the Darden Towe Committee, a joint city-county body comprised of two Supervisors and two Councilers, with conceptual plans yesterday to positive response, the YMCA plans to seek the approval of the entire City Council and Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks to allow their architect, VMDO, to draw up the final site plan. Similarly, as soon as the conceptual plans are approved by both governing bodies, McIntire's master plan can be amended to provide for the preservation of the fields.



Didn't Paul Goodloe McIntire donate the land with the promise it would not be developed?

Why not move the Y into that abandoned school on 4th street by Staples.

Why not put the Y in the huge ass parking lot in front of staples?

This town has been torn apart in too many ways since the forces of supposed "urban renewal" came through like an awful storm in the late 60's. We've never yet had a City Council with any real vision and what was destroyed in the past still hasn't been renewed. All they ever seem to want to do is extend the range of the destruction

In this case it is to further destroy Mr. McIntire's legacy. That is a despicable betrayal, and something which will never be undoable. Paul McIntire did great things for Charlottesville, and they way his gifts have been treated certainly isn't encouraging anyone else to give something to the city.

The members of Council who approve of that plan really ought to be run out of town. Aren't there any members of McIntire's family left to speak up? I'd really love to see a Hook cover story on McIntire, what he did for the city, and what has become of what he gave.

Amen boys! You are brilliant. This area of using the Staples area and the school would be perfect for the Y. The kids using the Y could even walk to the place. They will need to bused across the bypass if the building is placed in the park. Why destroy public parkland to build the building? Is this even legal???

All y'all is rank hypocrites if you support the Meadowcreek Auto Thruway which is gonna destroy dozens of acres of McIntire's park versus the Y which is entirely in line with McIntire's vision of using parkland to promote recreation. "Save McIntire Park" was a big joke all along because they never took a stand against the Thruway which is gonna do a hundred times more damage to McIntire Park than the Y will. Seriously, grow a pair and stop the nonsense.

p.s. McIntire's plan for that park did NOT include softball fields, they are hardly "historic" and are hardly used anyway so stop the blathering

Hypocrites, I say keep the park natural all the way. No bypass, no Y, no cluttery junk, period. The sad reality, in our spoiled society, folks call for more and more stuff. Green grass and gorgeous trees are not enough for them.

What in God's name is "natural" about softball fields or a golf course for that matter?!?!?!?

Of course there is nothing natural about softball areas with dirt playfields and tall fences. As for the golf course, it can be modified to accommodate walking trails or a bird sanctuary. Thank God the golf course happened many years ago. The setup prevented the city from ruining the land with clutter.

Don't forget the light pollution from those huge lightposts and all the noise and cars and asphalt and litter and etc. caused by softball. What a mess.

Hypocrites? Where did you get the foolish notion that anyone who commented before you supports a road through the park? That road is worthless to the city and the worst possible use for the park. In fact, I didn't even write anything to suggest that I thing softball field are the best use of that park land. Rather, I suggested considering what I believe to be a much better site for the Y. If you object to that, then address that suggestion please.

There is a gaping hole in the fabric of the city. That hole was produced by the misguided actions of an earlier city council, which completely disregarded the topography, history, and architectural heritage of the Vinegar Hill area. It is widely accepted that "urban renewal" was a huge disaster for the city.

Urban renewal's Charlottesville legacy includes tremendous racial and economic divides, and a badly disfigured although formerly quite beautiful downtown area. At present, we have an economically threatened downtown which caters primarily to tourists and wealthy residents, but which ignores many of its nearest neighbors. Those who are young and left out have no stake in maintaining order.
Many feel they have few choices for their futures other than laboring in the places that otherwise exclude them or engaging in easy and potentially lucrative criminal activity. Many young people in the City have little or no organized activity to help them burn off excess energy, and lack contact with positive role models who might encourage them to make more productive choices in their lives.

The Mall used to have a reputation for being dangerous. The increasing numbers of attractions which opened downtown in the past two decades brought many more people out at night and helped change that, but there is still a fragile balance. The economy isn't in good shape and many of the business which lure people downtown might not make it. A more deserted Mall which is increasingly left to people who feel excluded and who have little stake in maintaining it or order in general might easily be the beginning of a long term downward spiral and a second wave of flight from downtown. Business lost due to the rebricking fiasco might just be the catalyst. A towering dead hotel project won't help either.

Placing the Y on the lot by Staples as part of a multi-use development and restoring the street grid in the process might go a long way towards healing many of the divisions in this city. It would enhance the 5th-Ridge-McIntire entry corridor, it would finally actually get to the renewing part of the urban renewal process after 40 years of waiting, and it would be a place where a wide spectrum of our population might come together (many on foot, without the need to add additional expensive bus routes).

If we had ever had the benefit of a City Council with actual vision, we might have long since restored Charlottesville to something beautiful and intact, instead we have councilors in support of further destruction. If the can't be found on council, it is up to citizen to provide it and advocate for it, so I propose placing the Y on the Staples lot. That might solve any number of current problems, including any need to disrupt the status quo in McIntire Park.

Clearly, long term plans for space intensive sports like softball need to be made, but thoughtlessly pushing those sports aside for otherwise unnecessary construction is nothing but a bad idea.

Staples sits on private property. The school on 4th Street NW should be the new home of the school system's Central Office.

Today's DP says the Y is short on funding and won't be building the large complex they once proposed. All the more reason to find another area to locate the facility.
How can the councilors mentioned get away with leasing public parkland to a private corporation?
The other issue, the county wants the city to endure the glaring lights and activity of the softball complex. Once again, the city just says OKeydokey and goes along. At least there are no buildings needed for the fields. Softball fields are mostly vacant dusty unused space after the game is over. A wise use of green space????

Even with the softball fields saved, I hope that a better space for the Y will be found. The thought of more parking than park is not a pleasent one. I also hope people who care about the park (and the CHS softball field) will stand up and help bring down the Parkway - a considerably greater threat to our greenspace and city.

The Democrats elect their candidates for city council in June. If we can get one more Democrat for real, like Norris and Edwards - who focus on social justice and ecological health instead of pretend to, we will be in good shape. Let's put a pedestrain bridge across rt 250 and a Bikeway all the way to Rio. Imagine riding thought the woods and fields w/o a road in sight. It costs much less and takes cars off the road without fueling more sprawl growth and demand on our exsisting road network. It's your Park make it happen. Feel free to call if you wanna help 882 -1069

Stratton, As far as the Meadowcreek Parkway goes, it is unacceptable the "other councilors" are more in the business of protecting interests of pro growth developers, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Albemarle BOS. It is Albemarle that is creating the traffic. Let Albemarle assume responsiblity for their own pro growth decisions. Now is the time for Charlottesville citizens to rise up and protect interests in the city. The Parkway can be stopped.

"a building as structually sound as it was historically significant"

That statement is 100% TRUE. The building was both structurally and historically a worthless piece of crap. The only history that took place there worth remembering were keg parties and liberties taken with inebriated coeds.

Sometimes something is just OLD.

Mr. "Thumb," your anonymity is your acknowledgment that your argument is indefensible. Save it for the bathroom stall.