Sports teams want more fields

Can­cel­la­tion pol­icy called agree­able

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JA­SON BAB­COCK jbab­cock@somd­

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.


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