As a parent of two kids and as a guy who spent a lot of his youth playing sports, I know that quality playing fields make a big difference.
Over the past eighteen months, with the strong support of Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson and his great team as well as my colleagues on the County Council, I have been working with MCPS and the Department of Parks to put a greater emphasis on the renovation and maintenance of playing fields, whether they are located on MCPS property or MNCPPC property.
I am happy to share that the Department of Parks has launched a program to determine the condition and maintenance needs of every Park and public school athletic field in the County. Every single one! The initial assessment of all the fields was completed over the summer. The ballfields were assessed using criteria that included quality of grass, grass coverage, soil compaction, infield mix, infield grading, and drainage.
Our Council Committee received an update about the assessment, which you can read here.
During the 2016 capital budget review, I worked with the Education committee to allocate $750,000 over two years from permit fee funds managed by the Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB) for the Department of Parks to renovate ten school sites (with more than 15 fields) in Winter 2017 and five additional school sites in summer/fall 2017. The list of the first 10 school sites will be finalized soon.
I also worked as a member of the Planning Housing and Economic Development committee to increase the Parks budget for local field park ballfield renovation by 10%, which I certainly think is a good use of taxpayer dollars.
This grass field renovation will start building the supply of quality athletic fields across the County. Parks will use this opportunity to renovate not only the grass (or dirt infield), but improve the quality of the soil beneath when needed, regrade the field for drainage and review whether an irrigation system is realistic. Parks will also be investing in goal posts, nets, backstops and fencing that go along with the athletic fields.