|Ossian Hall Park|
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.”