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Friday, July 15, 2011

FXCO Park Board votes to restrict field use

Ossian Hall Park
The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a policy July 13 to prohibit groups of 20 or more from using county athletic fields unless they are part of a registered league. The previous limit was 40.

The rule change could have the effect of virtually shutting out the casual soccer games that take place at Mason District Park, Roundtree Park, and Ossian Hall Park in Annandale and parks throughout the county. The 20-person threshold includes spectators, as well as players.

The new policy takes effect immediately, and the park regulation signs at athletic fields will be updated by Sept. 1, says Park Authority spokesperson, Matthew Kaiser.

There could be confusion, as people who have been using county fields show up for games and find out the rules have changed and they can no longer play.

The county Neighborhood and Community Services Department, which manages the permit system, will try to minimize conflicts over fields “by educating groups and getting them into the system,” says Karin Avvisato, athletic services division supervisor.

Just two members of the public spoke at the hearing. Soccer coach Lula Bauer, a member of the Fairfax County Athletic Council, testified in support of the measure.

Suzie Phipps, a parent from Bailey’s Crossroads, spoke against the restrictions. She offered some ideas to address the complaints with “walk-ons,” including selling walk-on passes, posting laminated schedules at county fields showing when they have been reserved for league play, and posting phone numbers of field monitors in case there is a conflict.

Only two park board members voted against the measure: Linwood Gorham of the Mount Vernon District and at-large member Marie Reinsdorf.

Frank Vajda, the Mason District representative on the Park Authority Board, voted for the restrictions, he says, because the recreation department made a convincing case for restricting walk-ons. “The cell-phone leagues invade our fields and leave a pile of empty beer bottles,” he says. “They are a royal pain in the butt.”

Vajda did say the proposal for requiring walk-ons to fill out a form and pay a fee “may have some merit.”


  1. Be VERY careful with Lula Bauer! She said she is driving the county towards a policy of ZERO walkons: nobody every for any reason.

    That is NOT what public parkland should be about. There has to be a place for the legitimate pick-up game. Not all of us are beer-drinking, gambling hooligans, as she would have you believe. Some of us just want to play the game we love with a handful of friends. Moving to a ZERO walk-on policy would be devastating.

  2. It is a shame that a few folks who cannot put an empty bottle into a trash can have ruined it for others. Learn the language, Learn the laws, and abide by common curtosy. I know of many school fields that have been littered with bottles, full diapers, etc... it is a shame.

  3. Lets be honest, the soccer crowds that takes over the fields on a daily basis ruin it for everyone. I live right by one of these parks, and can attest to the trash that is everywhere and how the field is occupied for hours on end by pick up games. Plus the people that spit onto the athletic turf are really disgusting, other people have to walk in your mess. Parks are for everyone, and anybody, unless you are banned for some reason, has the ability to make a simple phone call are reserve a time for your games. That way people don't have to drive home because another pick up game wants the field to themselves all day.