Could slimmer 'Y' save McIntire softball?
In the run-up to this week's impending confrontation between ousted softball players and government officials at the County Board of Supervisors, information revealed at a meeting last week suggests a chance for McIntire Park to avoid the expected softball exile that's put players into a recent uproar. It all depends on the footprint of the Y.
"The YMCA is not building at the size they anticipated because they are not partnering with UVA," says Charlottesville Parks & Recreation Director Mike Svetz. "The [Park's] master plan adopted was based on the footprint of the YMCA, which drives everything else, including site improvements."
The Y has already received a $1/year, 40-year-lease on a 5.2-acre site and financial commitments for more than $3 million from local governments, but it would need to spend $1.5 million on site improvements, Svetz says, "beyond building the building."
"It's in their financial interest to save the existing road and parking lot," Svetz says. "Then we have to do an update of the master plan."
While Y talk dominated the two-hour conversation, Svetz tried to tout the planned lighting of Darden Towe's three softball fields in addition to the already-budgeted $150,000 City plan to light the girl's softball field at Charlottesville High School and news that the City would renews and augment its agreement for softball league field time at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
"If you take fields away, they'll be gone forever," says unswayed softball player Steve Cooper. "I guarantee you that in twenty years, when there are more softball players, you'll be wishing you still had these two damn fields at McIntire."
This was a softball organizational meeting hosted by Svetz–- alongside assistant Parks director Brian Daley and athletic supervisor and head of the adult softball league, Bernie Garrison.
"Is it your desire to play softball or to play softball at McIntire?" Svetz asked the congregation, to great indignation.
"You guys never thought about softball," said Bob Fenwick of the Save McIntire campaign. "I expect you to start being on our side, start talking about softball."
"We have to be advocates for everyone who plays sports," Daly shot back. "We're responsible for needs and demands across the community."
As at a recent meeting convened by Albemarle County supervisor Ken Boyd, the meeting concluded with all parties unsatisfied. After brandishing a stack of petitions at Svetz, Fenwick left before the talk had died down, while Cooper continued to ask for more transparency as the Y moved forward in the design and construction of its building.
"The Y is getting hit pretty hard, and they should not be connected with this at all," Svetz said after the meeting. "As for Towe, this accelerates the conversation about lighting, but it's a conversation that would have been had in the future nonetheless."