Doubleheader: City to host own softball field debate
Following the example of Albemarle County supervisor Ken Boyd and his community conversation at the Elk Lodge September 11, the City's Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a "softball team organizational meeting" at the end of the month to gauge the current pulse of softball players, many of whom have expressed anger at the move their league may soon be forced to take.
"It will give an opportunity for the teams to ask questions and give comments–- similar to Mr. Boyd's conversation," Director of Parks and Recreation Mike Svetz says.
But will this "organizational meeting" stray from the issue of lighting Darden Towe's three softball fields to the softball community's growing anxiety about the future of McIntire Park? As Boyd discovered in his conversation, the softballers and Towe neighbors are united under the mutual purpose of questioning the city's decision to convert McIntire's softball complex into a rectangular, multi-use field and additional parking for a planned YMCA. According to Bob Fenwick of the Save McIntire campaign, the city should expect a vocal crowd.
"I expect the city will not want to hear from me," Fenwick chuckles. "But if they keep repeating that we had notice [about the planned demolition of McIntire's two lighted fields], people won't keep quiet on that. The notice came long after we could do anything about it."
Fenwick, who has single-handedly organized what he calls a "lower than grassroots" campaign to inform the city of McIntire's importance in the softball community, reports heavy support from his fellow softballers. His website, SaveMcIntire.com, has continued to grow in site views, and his petitions have circulated through hundreds of McIntire users. He flips through pages of scrawled, looping signatures and guesstimates he has nearly 400 names. While he admits the campaign is all new territory for him, he emphasizes the importance of community involvement in the issue.
"It all depends on the citizens in the community really telling the City Council and mayor that this was just a huge mistake," Fenwick says.
But is it a mistake that is too far gone to fix? If Fenwick and the softball players have anything to do with it, perhaps not. The softball organizational meeting will take place at City Space on the second floor of the Market Street Parking Garage on September 30, at 6:30 pm.