County Board’s Response to Partial Fence Removal at Virginia Highlands Park

This letter was sent to community members who wrote to the County Board regarding the partial fence removal on the Virginia Highlands Park softball fields.  This letter was sent on 12/19/2017 by Jay Fisette and later re-sent from Katie Cristol in January 2018 to other community members and commisisons.

On behalf of the County Board, I want to thank you for your message regarding the fencing around the two softball diamonds at Virginia Highlands Park. As you may know, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will be removing areas of fencing on the two diamond fields to allow for greater community access to the fields when they aren’t scheduled for use.

     I want you to know that we have heard and understand the concerns from the both softball community regarding removing the fencing, and how that may impact field condition, playability and safety, and Arlingtonians who desire more ready-access to parkland. Fenced fields create barriers to opportunities for unscheduled play.

With land scarce in Arlington, DPR is looking for creative means to increase access to parkland when it’s not scheduled for use. Our goals in removing this fencing are to enable easy access to the fields when not scheduled, to enable safe play when fields are scheduled and to enable staff to monitor the use and field conditions to inform future planning work.

DPR understands the importance of protecting the integrity of the game of softball and they are confident that keeping the outfield fenced will support this goal, allowing for homeruns and balls to be hit into the gaps of the outfield. This change will allow for active and passive enthusiasts to enjoy the park.

We anticipate that we will complete the removal of fencing from the first and third base side of each field by the end of this year. Fencing will remain in place approximately 30’ beyond the first and third base bags, as will 20’ of fencing from the outfield field fence down each base line. Outfield fencing will remain in place.

It is important to note that the removal of the 1st and 3rd baseline fences on both fields is a short-term solution. In the long term, DPR plans to work with the community to develop a Master Plan for Virginia Highlands Park, after the Board adopts the Public Spaces Master Plan, and the County implements its new civic engagement standards, so that we ensure that an appropriate process is developed. When the time comes, DPR will reach out the all stakeholders to develop the future for Virginia Highlands Park.

After the fencing is removed, staff will monitor the fields closely to determine how the reduced fencing impacts field conditions. Safety and maintenance issues, including any inappropriate park uses, should be brought to the attention of Park Maintenance at 703-228-6525. DPR staff have assured me that they are committed to enforcing rules that prohibit dogs on sports fields, even when they are on a leash.

Questions and feedback on public engagement should be directed to Irena Lazic at 703-228-3206. Ms. Lazic is heading up the POPS (Panning our Places and Spaces) process. You can find a wealth of information on that process on the County website, where you can also sign up to receive updates. You may also find it helpful to view the November 28 presentation that staff made to the County Board on the Virginia Highlands diamond field fencing decision.

Thank you again for your interest in Arlington parks.


                                        Jay Fisette
                                        Chair, Arlington County Board