Sports teams want more fields
Cancellation policy called agreeable
Team sports representatives had the chance to weigh in on the field cancellation policy of the St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks last week.
There weren’t many complaints about the system. Instead, league presidents told the recreation and parks advisory board that they need more fields for practices and playing at different facilities across the county.
About 40 field cancellations are made each year,
recreation and parks staff said, because conditions are too wet. Cancellations can be found on St. Mary’s County government’s website and through the recreation and parks department cancellation line at 301-475-4200, *ext. 1840. League presidents are notified through email.
“We believe we have a real good system,” Arthur Shepherd, recreation and parks department director, said at last Thursday’s forum. There isn’t an emergency with the policy. Staff just wanted to review it, he said.
“It works well for us,” Dan Skane, president of St. Mary’s Soccer, told the rec and parks advisory board. The bigger issue is the scheduling of the fields. St. Mary’s Soccer has about 3,000 players on 260 teams, playing 900 games per season with 80 percent of them on fields in St. Mary’s County, he said.
The group is looking for more fields.
Recreation and parks oversees 128 baseball/ softball, foot - ball and multi-purpose athletic fields in the county.
There is one artificial turf field locally at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, which costs money to use, Skane said.
St. Mary’s Soccer would like to see an indoor facility for winter training for youth sports, which would probably cost $2 million, he said.
The fiscal 2018 St. Mary’s County government budget does not include any plans for an indoor recreation facility. The budget does include a $10.9 million outdoor sports complex in either Leonardtown or California that would include nine playing fields, with four of them having artificial turf. The second phase would add five multi-purpose fields with Bermuda grass surfaces.
“Synthetic sports turf or Bermuda grass playing surfaces with irrigation should be installed to maximize the number of playing dates and min- imize the cancellations due to inclement weather,” the fiscal 2018 budget states. “Additionally, field lighting systems should be incorporated into the project to maximize the number of games to be played on each field per day.”
Construction is not planned for the sports complex until fiscal 2023.
Tim Norris, president of the Leonardtown Wildcats Football and Cheer, said that while some improvements are planned for Dorsey Park in Hollywood, the group would like to see more lighted fields there and and easier flow of parking. “It’s a hazard getting in and out of there” during games, he said.
Bob Richardson, district commissioner for Babe Ruth Baseball, said the county’s cancellation policy is “improving all the time” and the group uses the waiver system to play on a dry field when others have been deemed to wet to use. But otherwise, he said the organization can’t play baseball in the fall at the 5th District Park in New Market and there should be more lighted fields there.
The county’s budget in fiscal 2019 has $300,000 programmed for a new lighting system for the multi-purpose fields at 5th District Park.
Shepherd also said rec and parks hourly staff would be called in to help direct traffic for events at Dorsey Park, Lancaster Park and 5th District Park.