Appeal play: McIntire plan still calls for nixing softball

As Yogi Berra liked to say, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

While softball enthusiasts at McIntire Park may think the fields are safe, the City's master plan for the park still calls for their demolition.

In 2008, softballers were shocked to learn that the City's approved plan for the renovation of the park called for the elimination of the two lighted softball fields in favor of an all-purpose rectangular synthetic turf field. So they raised a ruckus. In response, Mayor Dave Norris proposed saving the fields, but some Councilors wanted more information. The decision was deferred and a joint City/County field allocation study was ordered.

Today, Norris admits there wasn't enough input from the softball community before the master plan with the field switcheroo was adopted, and he remains an advocate of preserving the iconic fields.

There's just one problem. The study hasn't been completed yet, Norris isn't sure Council will support the amendment, and the decision to ditch the softball fields has already been made.

"Unless someone does something," says City Council candidate Bob Fenwick, a long-time advocate for saving the fields, "those softball fields will be eliminated."

Fenwick suspects the issue has become a political hot potato ahead of the coming elections, as no candidate wants to be seen as the one who leveled the McIntire softball fields. "So its being kept kind of murky," he says.

The City officially named the McIntire softball complex last year in honor of Carl "Chubby" Proffitt, 92, a local World War II hero who was also a talented baseball and softball player (one of the fields was already named after Dewey D.S. Shiflett, a local softball legend), a move that would suggest the fields were safe.

But their fate is still undecided.

"Council's approved Master Plan for the park does show a rectangular field there," says Charlottesville parks manager Doug Ehman. "I would not presuppose to speak for the Council on any changes to the approved Master Plan."

Mayor Norris says he organized a meeting in 2009 between representatives of the YMCA, SOCA (a local soccer organization), and the softball league, all of whom spoke in favor of preserving the fields. In fact, Norris says that SOCA director Bill Mueller, whose organization stood to benefit most from an additional turf field, was adamant about finding turf field space elsewhere, as he didn't want to pit one group of recreation users against another.

"I completely agree with Mueller," says Norris.

The plan had assumed the County would allow lighting at Darden Towe Park for nighttime softball games.
"As we know now, that was an incorrect assumption," says Norris.

When softballers objected to the plan three years ago, arguing that the heavily used fields were the only lighted fields around, the City and County discussed the idea of lighting the mutually-owned Darden Towe fields.

That led to more City/County acrimony, as County leaders complained that their Towe-area constituents feared the potential loss of serene night skies.

"It's important to note that in the wake of that flawed Master Plan," says Norris, "Council approved a much better process for master planning our parks to avoid these kinds of mistakes in the future."

But does Norris have the support to save the fields?

"I hope so, but I won't know for sure until the vote," he says. "We had a majority back in 2009, but that was obviously a different Council."

Councilor Holly Edwards says she hasn't decided yet and wants to wait to see the field allocation study (although commissioned in 2009, the study won't be completed until this summer, according to Norris). She's hoping that whatever is decided will benefit area youth in all parts of the city, as she's confident the new YMCA will.

Freshman Councilor Kristin Szakos says she, too, is waiting to see the new study, but says she's "not pushing for replacement of the softball fields." Councilors David Brown and Satyendra Huja had not responded for comment by press time, but according to Charlottesville Tomorrow, Brown has shown some support for the idea of a turf field, while Huja has so far remained undecided.

Despite a City-approved plan that endorses the new turf field, it's hard to find anyone advocating very strongly for one. So how how did turf get so far?

Some have assumed it was the planned $15 million YMCA project that called for the elimination of the softball fields, but YMCA CEO Denny Blank says it was the City's plan, not the YMCA's, calling for the turf field.

"We'd be happy if the City didn't eliminate the softball fields," says Blank.

Still, when the City's master plan was drawn up three years ago it clearly took the new YMCA facility into consideration. In fact, interim Parks director Brian Daly says that earlier versions of the YMCA plan encroached upon the softball fields. In addition, road and trail design, landscaping, and parking configurations all appear to complement the footprint of the new "Y."

What's more, while the City's plan may threaten the softball fields, the YMCA's plan kills two heavily-used picnic shelters, complete with large brick fireplaces, electricity, and water, which were donated to the City decades ago by the Lion's Club. Unfortunately, they are standing in the way of the YMCA. Daly confirms the two shelters will be demolished and that new ones will be constructed elsewhere in the park.

"At one point, an individual with the Lions Club expressed interest in salvaging some of the materials from the shelters that will be removed," says Daly, "and we will work with them on that should they remain interested."

Representatives of the Lion's Club could not immediately be reached for comment.

Which way will Council go? While the approved turf field could provide a variety of sporting activities for area youth, who'll gain a new YMCA facility next door, the idea appears to have little public support. As for McIntire softballers, should they be called out at home, expect a vigorous appeal to the umpires.


Why would anyone expect the Charlottesville City Council to agree to anything and stick to it anyway?
While we're at it,let's think about this......leave the sofball fields alone= $00.0 cost, replace with a turf field= hundreds of thousands of dollars. Like the multimillion dollar "pool" at Meade Park, a fancy fence to block pedestrians from using the east side of the Avon Street bridge, and rebricking the Downtown mall. The money just dosn't matter to these spendthrifts nor does common sense.

Softball/baseball are elitist sports which should be discouraged or eliminated. Come the revolution, perpetrators of these bourgeois pastimes will be dealt with harshly.

The City council should support a literally level playing field, like the new turf field, which can foster sports which have broader and more inclusive applications. The city council is right to discourage sports which have in the past been played primarily by white males.

There is no amount of public money which is too small to ensure a level playing field, such as the new turf field at McIntire. I say the city council is on the right track.

where can I find a copy of the Master Plan for McIntire Park (showing YMCA, etc.)?

tried asking Parks and Rec?

There's a big photo of the plan above and you can download the file on the City's website.

I have been going to McIntire park since I was old enough to walk (@meanwhile) and I know for a fact that back in the Fifties and Sixties my Aunt's played softball in an all womens league, my Father was DS Shiflett and he coached Men's Fast Pitch softball which went all the way to a national conference tournament's in California and elsewhere. I have many girlfriends that play either women's league slow pitch or co-rec slow pitch. My Husband plays in a slow pitch league and also have a daughter that started playing fast pitch at age 8 and now plays High School and Travel Tournament Ball. All of these games have been at McIntire at some point bc/ of the lights.

Softball in Charlottesville has not been primarily an all white male sport as you can see from the examples I have listed. There are more soccer/lacrosse/rugby playing fields and spaces in Charlottesville then we know what to do with. Taking one of the oldest parks which has been known for softball since before I was born and leveling it to make turf fields is one of the worst decisions that the City Council could ever make.


Rectangular Turf Field? Sounds like a European Futball field to me. Otherwise known in these parts as<

I have a lot of information about the impact losing fields will have on girls softball but I don't want to rehash on this message board. If there's anyone who is seriously interested in understanding how this will impact the girls of Albemarle County and Charlottesville, and the history of girls softball and field availability, please send me a note. The obvious thing anyone can and should do is look around at where boy's baseball is played and how they are accommodated, and where girls softball is played. That alone should sum it up. Please keep girls softball in this conversation!! It is not all about adults playing rec ball.

I've been involved in softball since my daughter was 7 (now 13...). We need to keep these fields for a number of reasons:
1. Lights - these are few of the fields that even have lights. If they go, where will softball go?
2. Tournaments - I can tell you first hand that many tournaments rely on these fields for tournament games (not to mention the many "regular season games that are played there). Any time there is a tournament here and teams from out of town come to Cville to play, we are promoting the economy. Food, rooms, possible shopping by wives... that all adds up. Take the fields, lose the economic impact.
3. Promoting the sport - I have seen 1st hand the impact softball has had in this area. My daughter has been playing the game since age 7 (she has played 2 seasons every year). She has played on multiple teams and high school. What I've seen so far is that softball is a force to contend with for these young people. Taking these fields will destroy their opportunity to excel and become better players.
4. There are enough swimming pools in Cville/Albemarle to float a battle ship. We don't need more. Period.
5. There are enough exercise facilities in Cville/Albemarle to float an aircraft carrier. Establish a fee structure so lower income individuals can participate in those facilities.....
Softball for these young people needs to stay at the top of the list. We have a perfect storm so we can have a AA and AAA State Champion team in the next 2-3 yeras. We should not deny that chance for our girls. Takes these fields, and you are basically saying you "don't give a damn" about them. Strong softball in this community is just 1 more thing that will let us say we are good, and we want to be that way for years to come. Take these fields, and you are basically saying "piss on 'em".

what is wrong with the people that are ruining this town of ours .1St they want to remove music from our lives but they keep the pavillion going with no rules at all then they spend thousands od dollars on a new clock which they have replaced another clock some years ago ,they had to pay for a reneted christmas tree thAT COST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ,RE-BRICKED THE MALL AND IT STILL HAS ISSUES,building a road to no-where in the middle of the park ,building a YMCA in our park ,closing foot traffic to the belmont bridge that is crumbbling ,instead of taking the traffic off the crumbling bridge ,the mni hotel what a waste of tax payers money,the CITY MARKET that was promised a pernament home in 1976 here it is 35 years later and still no place to call home ,I say charlottesville needs to FIRE EVERYONE INVOLVED ,CLEAN HOUSE AND HIRE SOME SMART YOUNG NOT GREEDY PEOPLE THAT ARE FOR THE TOWN AND NOT FOR THEMSELVES OR A FAT POCKETBOOK ,so what happened to the brick that were removed from the mall ,fire the cith market managers that are very bias in there ways ,fire there boss tom daly head of parks and rec hire an american to run this town and stop ruining our blessed town,hire a farmer to run the city market and stop central market from building a indoor market and leave the ball fields alone they are used very often

I had thought my attempt at irony and sarcasm would be obvious, especially with the "come the revolution" comment. "Level playing field"? Get it? A joke? Anybody?

Geez, tough crowd....

I caught your sarcasm,meanwhile, even if some others did not. Leonard, you have some good points, but as long as the city is governed by one clique of one party machine, the present situation will continue.
Maybe people should start voting with their feet. Then what will the insane city government do? Build a wall like the Berlin Wall to keep people from fleeing?

The property tax rate is higher than it needs to be if we have money to blow on installing artificial turf and redeigning a perfectly functional set of fields. Reminds me of McGuffey Hill park...

Sorry if I did not catch the Irony (Meanwhil) this is an issue dear to my heart and I cannot believe that it is up for discussion again!!!

Sorry if I did not catch the Irony (Meanwhil) this is an issue dear to my heart and I cannot believe that it is up for discussion again!!!

Again, I will say over and over, it is just another example of our Council's not being able to follow a decision-making process. The is borrowing money in order to proceed with construction and the city officials is still trying to come to a decision on the siting of the Y and what kind of auxilliary fields to provide. This is the product of relying upon concensus as opposed to voting to make decision. It the last time they voted they adopted the rectangular field, destruction of the shelters and ball fields, then that's the current plan. This plan to drive the softballers out of McIntire and replace them with the Y and socca players was devised by Maurice Cox who continued to work on the plan after he left Council (while on Council he ran that committe with an iron hand). With Huja (the developer wanna-be) and David Brown (devoted to SOCA) in his hip pocket, Norris and softballers have a tough row to hoe. Simple June Cleaver Szakos seems to be in Brown's hip pocket, too. With that many people being in a hip pocket, it's gonna get awfully funky.

Simple Szakos. I'm afraid that about sums it up as far as she goes.

About 16 years ago, the C'ville Parks & Rec helped me have a tree planted in memory of my brother. He was killed at age 19 as a pedestrian in a hit-and-run in Texas. I wanted my mother who moved with me and my young daughter to Charlottesville to have a special tree in memory of her son. I carefully walked around looking at possible sites near the pavilions across from the softball fields. I learned of some pines that would likely be coming down due to age/disease. The Parks & Rec let me know they didn't have the resources to care for "my" tree – it would be up to it to survive. A baby oak tree was planted. My mother was thrilled.

Well my family and I were out looking at it recently - and it’s just absolutely beautiful! Stunning in shape and size and coming into its prime. It’s done more than survive and fill that space in the park. We’ve had many picnics near its branches and other significant family memories in its shade. I took my daughter there to tell her that she was going to have a sibling. We had our last good-byes with our infirm dog there before having her euthanized. My younger daughter practiced her new skill of walking in the clover and buttercups near the tree. We were thrilled - especially when the year the tree had its first acorns.

But the YMCA is going to take down the tree – we asked for some pictures of it and asked the Y to consider the idea of moving the tree off the site rather than having it sacrificed. The only response was the offer to plan another tree near the Y "in honor." Not the same. and Very disappointing. Now I'm learning that the picnic shelters AND softball fields are in danger? This is just craziness. Beyond craziness. Yes I'm personally sick at heart for my "family's special tree" - but to learn that also those wonderful picnic shelters and ball fields with years of life left in them will be sacrificed for a religious organizations' membership gym? No!

The City Parks and Rec Dept. has done an outstanding job providing opportunities for it's residents and also the county residents since I have lived in the area. Many of the statements on this board are are unwaranted. As someone who visits the park daily, I have seen the thousands of dollars that were invested in the softball fields this past winter and the Master Plan simply has not been updated yet. The Hook and softball community know this but continue to push this nonsense. The girl's softball folks never mention the new softball facility that is planned for Azalea Park or the new softball complex at Charlottesville High. Instead of thanking the City, they continue to slam them at every opportunity.


I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but when I asked Mayor Dave Norris if he had the votes to amend the Master Plan and preserve the fields, he said, "I hope so, but I won't know for sure until the vote," he says. "We had a majority back in 2009, but that was obviously a different Council."

It's not a matter of simply "updating" the Master Plan, its a matter of changing the plan altogether, which will require a City Council vote. That's what we know, that's we've reported.

@Webster52, there has always been a lot of talk about creating a new softball complex for the girls... be it at Azalea Park, or PVCC. As far as a complex at CHS, I believe they upgraded the varsity field & it's fantastic, but I'm not sure if you can call it a complex? Not sure of the status of the jv field behind it on Melbourne, but it was always a very muddy field (bottom of hill) and no parking. I'd love to see the Azalea plan, the funding in place for it, and the timeline for it to be built. If that happens... fantastic, but why spend the money would be a very fair question. Educating the public on this issue is not "slamming" it's called letting people know there are other areas that will be affected. You have no idea how many thank you's have gone to the city and county on behalf of the girls. Both rec dept's have bent over backwards for the girls. Perhaps you don't realize, but it's only in the last 3 yrs the girls have gotten on the city and county fields on a regular basis at all. Tournament games are now bringing in significant funds to the local community on a regular basis, and several new teams have formed over a short period of time because of access. The rec league has grown significantly. This is about keeping the girls in the discussion - they are largely overlooked by the public and press when discussing the McIntire & Darden fields.

Dave, the rectangular field will not be in as much demand since he High School will now be installing a turf field at Theodose Stadium and thus provide field space for football, field hockey, lacrosse, etc. at the youth level. It will be a unique turf facility in that it will allow 2 youth level games to be played side by side. The City Council usually goes along with Parks and Rec's recomendations but yeah I guess they could do whatever they want. I doubt that the City council would approve the softball complex to be named after a local person only to have the fields torn out.

I would consider a $200,000 upgrade a complex. They installed a modern lighting system, new scoreboad, and modified the dimenions of the field and created a natural barrier to the Parkway. They still need to complete the handicap access and upgrade the bleachers. The JV field has been torn-out for the parkway with the promise the the county would provide property for a new field (still waiting on this). The Azalea Park field is included on the master plan on the City website. The field is reconfigured to fit in more parking and a restroom\concession stand building.

Webster 52-

My daughter is a JV player at Charlottesville High School and my husband is a JV coach. The High School did not just put in a new complex...The scoreboard is new but the lights have been there for a few years, there is not enough seating and the hill you have to walk down to get to "The Complex" has no stairs or handicap accesibility. So by all means it is not a state of the art complex. I don't know where the $200,000 dollars you quoted has gone but it surely isn't to our girls field. Not to mention they demolished our JV field to make room for the great parkway. On another note "The Complex" you refer to at CHS is not open to the is the school's field which stays locked unless the Athletic Director has approved for it's use. One more reason that McIntire is a great asset.

one more time: the Y should go next to the high school on melbourne. the parkway should cross the tracks behind the Y and run between the tracks and the mcintire little league and softball fields and connect to the 3/4 cloverleaf in place at the intersection of rugby ave and the bypass. the only change to the ball field needed is taller fences in the outfield. dealing with CSx is a hassle but not an impossible obstacle. and dont tell me its too late to change it, this plan has been in some form of flux for 30+ years, whats the gol durn hurry about now? lets get it right, it will affect this city forever forward. it should be done with the best interests of the CITY RESIDENTS in mind first and foremost. we should accommodate our neighbors as best we can, but the city should come first. it seems that our elected leaders are happy to let the fringes drive the process, just like they did with the rswa/water plan. even the best prepared meal gives you indigestion when it is crammed down your throat. slow down, get it right.

There is plenty of room at Meadowcreek golf course for some softball fields and soccer fields. Just shave off 9 holes or so.

DS, my daughter is a CHS JV player as well and yes, the money put into CHS's field is a public record (lights were installed last year). Just because the field is locked doesn't mean it is not available to the public. Just reqiures a reservation. McIintire is a great asset and I never suggested taking the fields away. CHS was mentioned to show how the city has been investing in girls softball. I am sorry that you don't appreciate all the work done at CHS.


It isn't that I don't appreciate what work has been done to CHS, my daughter played last year as an eighth grader and there were lights. I don't make a habit of looking up to see if they are new and improved so I am sorry I was mistaken on that part. I know the scoreboard was installed and I thought that the fences were altered again because of the parkway. Either way you want to look at it, the field does belong to Charlottesville High School, and when using it you need to abide by school rules and regulations. The only point I am trying to make is that McIntire Park needs to be saved and no more money needs to be spent creating more turf fields. The park is lit and used just about everyday for a variety of leagues and tournaments, just this weekend it was used to hold the Carson Raymond annual tournament which raises funds for the Carson Raymond honor of "Carson" a nine year old boy in our community who passed away way to soon. They are doing good things like fixing the field at Woodbrook Elementary, etc. I am happy that my daughter's school has spent some money so that our girls can play on a field that is worthy, but it doesn't make it ok to level the fields at McIntire....

There's trouble ahead for sure if David Brown is key to what happens with these fields. Politicians in general aren't usually too trustworthy, but he really takes the cake.

Take a minute to read what he's done to derail the democratic process on an upcoming RWSA project.

This one has been exposed, but I'm sure the same has been going on behind the scenes for everything having to do with McIntire Park.

deleted by moderator (come on, Cville're better than that)

There's one other point here that we haven't discussed: why the %$#&^%$ does it take 2 years to study the fate of a plot of land roughly 300' x 600'? I personally favor keeping the softball fields, but either way, why does a study take so long, why is it OK to take 2 years to reach a decision, and why do we tolerate such incredibly inefficient local governement?

@Dave McNair, What on earth could I have said that should be deleted?

I dont live in the City.. and surely dont care to.. but I have been going to Mcintire Park since I was a little girl when my daddy played softball, and the big airplane was there (sigh: memories). and my children have grown up there while my then hubz and I both played softball, and also ran the concessions for a few seasons...Why cant the Y find another plot of land that will accomodate them better? Why not Azalea Park??? Why do you have to destroy, yes destroy a piece of history and memories? Mcintire Park is the Hub for people from surrounding counties to play and enjoy the recreation of softball.

dee plane,dee plane!! I think they should bring the plane back! in fact a couple of planes so there can be a fleet to play on.Oh yea and softball too.