Take Action in Support of the New Public Spaces Master Plan
Comments Due by Sunday, December 9th
For the first time in over a decade, Arlington is updating it's Public Space Master Plan (PSMP), which establishes the priorities and framework to guide the County’s efforts over the next decade to maintain and maximize existing public spaces and guide the development of future parks and public spaces.
Arlington Soccer Supports the PSMP
Arlington Soccer believes that, while no Master Plan created through, literally, years of community engagement and participation, is going to include everything that each stakeholder would like to see, the new PSMP is another excellent effort on the part of the County. It balances diverse, competing interests and ensures our parks, trails and recreational facilities will continue to set the standard that is the envy of similar localities across America - serving over 230,000 residents, all within a dense footprint of 26 square miles.
The PSMP is now in its final draft form and we have until Sunday, December 9 to voice our support for this plan. Please review the PSMP here and take 10 minutes to provide comments: Arlington County Survey Link
Why it’s important to engage and comment right now prior to the December 9th deadline?
In recent weeks, an organized effort has emerged aimed at promoting more “passive” or “casual” open space, claiming that the County’s existing playing fields (rectangular and diamond) are not being used enough as is. The group, “Parks4Everyone” has become very active and has been pressuring the County Board to reconsider the PSMP, as drafted.
So, the need to participate now, and ensure the soccer community’s views are being heard is very real. Full guidance and instructions for doing so are included in this message.
Along with submitting your comments on the PSMP, we recommend you write to the County Board directly at email@example.com
Also, attend the next POPS Open Door Event to share your support for the PSMP scheduled for December 3 at Arlington Mill Community Center. The meeting is scheduled to run from 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Some thoughts as you review the PSMP and prepare to submit comments:
- The County needs to know that finding field space for practices and games during peak times is very challenging. That’s our experience right now—and we know from APS data and predictions “post-Amazon” that this will only continue. Clearly, if Arlington’s kids need more seats in our schools, there is a direct correlation with the need for more fields for active recreation.
- Arlington Soccer is supportive of the PSMP and its use of a population-based level of service (LOS) approach. The population-based LOS used throughout the PSMP is common for city planners and requires far fewer assumptions than a utilization-based LOS approach suggested by Parks4Everyone. Using utilization-based LOS approach only for athletic fields but not for other facilities like bike trails and playgrounds would undermine the integrity of the PSMP.
- The PSMP talks about multi-use fields and using public-private and innovative partnerships (section 4.3.2) to help fund major projects - these are sound proposals and the sports community supports these forward-looking ideas.
- Arlington Soccer welcomes efforts to maximize the use of all spaces. That includes collaboration on improving the field allocation process and longer term, converting additional fields to artificial surfaces, as well as adding lights, which will maximize usage and withstand inclement weather, year-round.
NOTE: Your messages will be part of the public record, so we encourage strongly that you to “personalize” your messages by including a little about your personal experiences with organized sports in Arlington. Rather than simply cut and paste verbatim.
Examples of Comments (deadline for on-line submission is December 9):
The on-line form is straight-forward, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/POPSfinaldraft but it also is formatted so that responses to specific questions is limited. Questions 1 through 3 are for identification purposes.
Questions 4 through 6 are where you’re able to share your thoughts to the following questions:
Specifically, the following specific recommendations are most important:
- Section 1.4 Expand or add new facilities. In the winter, the Gunston Bubble is at capacity and presumably reaching the end of its useful life, so adding multi-purpose athletic facilities or adding seasonal air-domes to other fields is crucial.
- Section 1.5.4 Applying the criteria listed in the PSMP to convert additional fields to synthetic field and/or adding lights. Quite simply, we need more lighted turf fields to ensure that all players have access to these facilities. I support the conversion criteria listed in the appendix as well.
- Section 4.3.2 Finding Partners to help fund specific projects. In an era of constrained resources, finding community and/or corporate partners may be the best way to ensure that the needed fields and improvements get constructed.
Suggested answers to specific questions
Question 4. What recommendation in this Plan is the most important for our community?
The largest challenge facing the soccer community will continue to be the need for high quality practice and game space. As such, recommendations to maintain, and enhance, existing spaces and identify and develop new ones are most important.
Specifically, the following PSMP recommendations are most important:
- 1.4 Expand or add new facilities. In the winter, the Gunston Bubble is at capacity and presumably reaching the end of its useful life, so adding multi-purpose athletic facilities or adding seasonal air-domes to other fields is crucial.
- 1.5.1 Complete the remaining elements of Long Bridge Park – in particular, the fourth artificial turf field, with lighting.
- 1.5.4 Applying the criteria listed in the PSMP to convert additional fields to synthetic field and/or adding lights. Quite simply, we need more lighted turf fields to ensure that all players have access to these facilities. I support the conversion criteria listed in the appendix as well.
- 4.1 Work with Arlington Public Schools (APS) to maximize availability and stewardship of public spaces – including exploring every opportunity to improve joint-use of APS facilities for community benefit.
- 4.3.2 Finding partners to fund specific projects. In an era of constrained resources, finding community and/or corporate partners way be the best way to ensure that the needed fields and improvements get done, especially in a timely manner.
Question 5. If you could change one thing in the Plan, what would it be?
I find the plan to be very well thought out and have no major changes. It’s a balanced approach which includes the priorities of those in the organized sports (active recreation) and more “unprogrammed space” (casual or passive recreation) communities.
While I appreciate the methodology of Access Analysis the plan uses, I wonder if thinking about access in terms of where program participants live might be better. For example, in terms of access to lighted synthetic fields, the population in North Arlington is underserved.
Question 6. Please share any additional comments you have regarding the Plan.
I strongly support the population-based level of service model as laid out in the plan. This approach provides a solid-evidence based methodology for determining future needs.
I do urge the rapid adoption of this plan, so we can proceed to the next steps of finding additional field space for our kids to use for practice and games.
NOTE: As with your messages to the County Board, your on-line responses regarding the PSMP will be part of the public record, so we encourage strongly that you to “personalize” your messages by including a little about your personal experiences with organized sports in Arlington. Rather than simply cut and paste verbatim.
Thank you for participating and showing your support for the updated PSMP. Your views do matter to the County Board.
Continue to watch this space for future updates and additional opportunities to get in involved.