'Bothered' Boyd slams City for McIntire softball exile

mcintire park softball players gameAn early 1990s upgrade lit the softball fields at McIntire Park, but players have now been told that their days here are numbered.

After making an unprecedented decision to green-light athletic lights at Darden Towe's tennis courts last month, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors may be putting on the brakes. For Chairman Ken Boyd, the decision might have been one made without enough public input, and he now says he's "bothered" by the City's decision to exile softball from McIntire Park.

In a "community conversation" set for September 11, Boyd plans on opening the floor to his constituents to air their feelings about the potential lighting of Towe's three softball fields–- a move that would defy all previous understandings that Towe is a daytime park.

The quest to light Towe began with the City's May 19 decision to approve a master plan for McIntire Park–- a controversial concept that includes giving public land and money to the YMCA and destroying McIntire's two heavily-utilized softball fields in favor of a single artificially-turfed multi-purpose field.

In justifying the decision to oust Charlottesville's adult softball community from its longtime home at McIntire, Director of Parks and Recreation Mike Svetz proposed turning to Towe–- a regional park co-owned by the city and the county– as a replacement, asking both governments to consider lighting Towe's softball fields in order to maintain the same level of play.

ken boyd
Ken Boyd.

In looking to light Towe, Svetz and the city began what has been a months-long struggle to decide the fate of both Towe and Charlottesville softball. Towe neighbor Clara Belle Wheeler claims that "the city and county gave an assurance to never have lights at Darden Towe Park."

Which is where Boyd's community conversation comes in. In a public meeting held August 13, the Board of Supervisors voiced support for lighting Towe's tennis courts, but the Board held off on approving the lighting resolution until its next meeting, set for tomorrow night. However, based on public feedback Boyd received after the August 13 decision, that resolution could remain unsigned.

"I'm really not sure how I'm going to go on the tennis lights," Boyd says. "There's not a lot of tennis use at Towe; there's not high activity there."

Whatever the outcome of the tennis lighting, lighting the softball fields is a completely separate ball game– which is why Boyd is pushing to hear more from the community.

"I want to discuss it with the people, rather than listen to a three-minute speech," Boyd says. "I just don't have a feel for it, so I'm hoping to get a good example from the conversation."

The one thing that puzzles Boyd and his constituents is the City's almost unilateral decision to push McIntire softball to Towe. While Towe is already used frequently by the city's softball league, the lack of lights prevents night games, a mainstay of the City's largest recreational league.

"One of the questions my constituents and I have is–- is there another alternative? Do we really have to get rid of McIntire Park?" asks Boyd. "Those are discussions that we haven't had with the City– it's something that bothers me."

Repeated calls to Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, who led City Council's unanimous decision to overhaul McIntire, sans softball, were not returned.

Both the City and County have set up public meetings, for October 20 and October 8 respectively, to hear the public's opinion on the lighting of Towe's fields. But for Boyd, a public meeting may not be enough. He says there are still conversations that the county must have with the public–- and with the City.


In spending millions on the YMCA and on fixing a park that doesn't need fixing, the city govt. is letting the softballers you want them out of your park and the taxpayers know that rates are on the way up, up, up!

It is my understanding Mr. McIntire donated all of the land for public use, however putting a YMCA on that land is no longer public use since you have to pay to be a member. Therefore taking away the public aspect of the land. Keep it up City of Charlottesville and see if anyone is ever generous again to donate land to you when you dont abide by their wishes. I know if I had any I wouldn't.

Glad to hear that the bad decisions are not irreversible, though I'd guess that the YMCA decision is permanent.

Please, please, please local leaders go for the "triple win:"

-keep softball at McIntire,
-don't light Towe, and
-save some money in these tight times: skip the multipurpose field.

I'm still stunned that the best use of city resources includes plowing under and paving over McIntire's softball fields.......

" 'Do we really have to get rid of McIntire Park?' asks Boyd. 'Those are discussions that we haven’t had with the Cityââ?¬â?? it’s something that bothers me.' " Wouldn't it seem sensible for the city to have consulted with the county on its new parks Master Plan before it essentially got rid of McIntire Park? Not, if money is no object. Or is it that there really isn't anyone at the helm who knows how to make a good decision? Good decision-makers explore the ramifications of each proposal before deciding what to do. We already know that Overrun O'Connell obviously do not otherwise we wouldn't have the school system discussing building a new central office when the city is looking for a compatible use for that old school near downtown WITH PARKING!

The Community Conversation on the issue of lights for the softball fields at Towe Park is Thursday, September 11, from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm at the Elks Lodge on Elks Drive (the road to the park).

Oh God, Isn't the meeting in Ken Boyd's own stomping ground, Elks drive? We'll see what happens. Will be interesting.

It is simply astounding to me that the city would even consider removing the softball fields at McIntire. The demand and constant use of McIntire for softball is a proven fact.You can simply drive by on any given night and see the amount of people getting together and using these fields. I just cannot believe that you will have the same atmosphere and amount of use from a "multi-purpose" field. McIntire has been a place where people from all walks of life and all parts of central Virginia have been able to get together. I can personally say that I have met many new friends from all walks of life because of those games. All I can see in the future are little gatherings of upper class soccer moms all from local upscale communities gathering for a sip of wine and socializing with their like minded friends, leaving the field abandoned in the rear view mirror of their giant SUV as they drive away to yoga class.

I would encourage all who have ever used this park to make your voice heard.

Lighting the fields at Towe, along with the increased traffic and noise will certainly be a concern to county residents close to the park. I doubt if any city residents would be so impacted.

McIntire has worked long and succesfully, don't rock the boat.

How can 3 city councilers and a mayor give away a park donated to all the citizens of ths city? Stop them Ken Boyd!!

Weren't the contracts with the YMCA signed by the city back in May?

The majority, city council are allowing the park to be ruined. They are giving away park land like candy. They gave space to the YMCA, so now they want to take back the ball fieds as they rob Peter to pay Paul. VOTE dictators OUT! These guys have made up their minds to shove a parkway down our throats, like it or not. What a pathetic legacy they will leave behind. They THINK they know what is best for us all. People are fed up!

The city council has railroaded the people of Charlottesville regarding the closing of McIntire Park softball fields and selling land to a private organization... here are the issues:

1) The land was donated for PUBLIC use by Mr. McIntire. The YMCA is a PRIVATE organization being given public land for $1.00 a year !!!??? Hello... anyone interested in discussing a lowering of our taxes?? Or in having the YMCA pay the city a more reasonable RENT PAYMENT for OUR LAND??? Say around $5,000 - $7,000. a month for rent instead of a $1.00 a year!

2) The YMCA was provided land at PVCC for their building, yet the City Council will give them the land basically for free to put up a bunch of buildings and remove the softball fields.

3) Is it extremely poor planning by the City or is it manipulation? The city dumped this problem of no softball fields into the lap of the County... almost forcing the issue / demanding the issue that lights be put up at Darden Towe. In effect, bulldozing the residents that live in the area of Darden Towe to put up lights; bulldozing over the County Administration, and bulldozing over all the hundreds of softball players who do not want to give up the fields at McIntire, er excuse me....give up public land given to the residents of the City of Charlottesville.

4) Darden Towe Neighbors DO NOT want lights at the park. Softball games do not end at 10:00... more likely 10:30-11:00 p.m. on weekends and who knows what time on weekends (tournaments). With lights there will be noise pollution, light pollution, and a huge increase in traffic congestion for the residents of Route 20 North and Key West, etc.

5) Traffic will increase tremendously at the corner of Rt. 250 and Rt. 20 (already a very, very, very high traffic congested area). Hundreds and hundreds of people will be converging in the area for 6:00 games and throughout the evenings every day during the week.

6) We need centrally located softball fields for all the people driving from the West side of C-Ville and from elsewhere. If this plan goes through the majority of fields will be in outlaying areas, i.e. at Darden and PVCC. Quite a hike for a lot of people. With gas prices as high as they are....why not keep a centrally located field so people don't have to drive as far AND sit in traffic at Rt. 250 and Rt. 20. Right now for 6:00 games at DArden Towe it sometimes takes 20-25 minutes to get through the traffic area from High Street through to Darden Towe Park. Add another several hundred cars to the mix and well.... you can imagine the scene with traffic, pollution and gas wasted trying to get to the Park.

7) The fields at McIntire Park are heavily used for tournaments, non-profit groups, city league softball, church leagues, girls softball, fast pitch tournaments and so on. In addition, the entire area of McIntire Park was completely renovated about 10 (?) years ago or so and upgraded to a beautiful park with shelters etc..... and now you are going to bulldoze it over for a bunch of buildings and only charge the renters $1.00 a year????

8) Will someone from the City Council please address the absurdity of this decision and explain to us why you voted to give away a public park to a private organization... and in doing so created a large problem for the athletes of the city and for the County Administration, and for the home owners and neighborhoods along Rt. 20 North? Better yet, why not reverse this irrational decision that everyone is against??

9) The City makes A LOT of money from softball fees.. likely well over $100,000+ a year. AND we have to buy our own balls. In other cities I have played in the fees are lower and the fees pay for a certain amount of balls given to each team. So can someone explain to me why the YMCA will be getting away with paying only $1.00 a year for rent on our public land???

I do recalled that it was a few years ago that Washington #1 softball field was bulldozed and had a "so-called" multi-purpose field put in for which it doesn't get much public use (in my opinion a waste of tax-payers money and the lost of several games per week). Softball has been a highly popular community sport in Charlottesville for many years. With the lost of one of Washington softball field (and no consulation for another field), it puts a limit on the number of teams signing up for the league each year. With the lost of the McIntire softball fields, not only it will be huge blow to City parks and Recreation, but to the community that use the park more so than just a place that plays softball. Don't forget that McIntire is the place where kids go and play, 4th of July fireworks, and other activities. To bulldozed more softball fields to put in a "so-called multi-purpose field that may not get any use out of it doesn't seem like it would be done in the community best interest.