Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An open letter to Arlington families

Dear Arlington families --

As parents who have schlepped kids back and forth across the county (with sliced oranges and juice boxes for halftime snacks), we would all love to see more athletic fields. From soccer to lacrosse, from football to baseball, we love the opportunities Arlington provides and we're occasionally frustrated that there aren't more fields that are closer to our homes. But we need to correct some recent suggestions that a proposal to install lights at Bishop O'Connell High School in north Arlington will provide lots of additional field time for Arlington families.

The private high school is seeking to install lights on its baseball and football fields over the strong objections of its neighbors, and has said it will be partnering with Marymount University, which will use the fields extensively. That will leave little, if any, time for Arlington youth sports -- if any. Just a few days ago, O'Connell representatives told the Williamsburg Civic Association that the high school would use 85 percent of the time, leaving only 15 percent for Marymount and others. In meetings with neighbors, O'Connell officials have said Marymount could account for 12 percent of the field time. That would leave only 3 percent for county use.

Given Marymount's financial investment in the lights and field improvements -- as much as 50 percent of the cost -- it's inconceivable that there would be much time for youth sports. There could very well be none, especially as Marymount increases its use of the stadium and baseball fields.

So please don't be misled by suggestions there may some day be lots of field time at O'Connell. Given the school's own statements, there won't be.

Eleanor Smith and Sean Tyler
Greg and L.P. Mitchell
Steve and Kathy Nicholakos
Jeff and Kim Condron
Brian and Maria Davidson
Katherine and Bill Adair
Julie and Dennis Bruns