Editor: The Sun Gazette’s recent article regarding the Gunston Park baseball-field reopening did not get the full story.
The $190,000 contribution from the Diamond Field Fund came from fees assessed on sports leagues by the county government. The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) collects about $220,000 annually in field fees. DPR spends almost $1.4 million from general revenues – i.e., taxes – for field maintenance. No money collected in field fees offsets the taxpayers’ cost for field maintenance, notwithstanding that the leagues get priority, near exclusive in-season use of athletic fields.
For the taxpayer, a fairer approach is for field fees to pay maintenance costs. Fees should offset the costs incurred by field use. If the leagues want capital improvements, like turf, beyond what the county schedules through its capital-improvement plan, they should raise the funds to do so.
The leagues have ample capacity to raise money. Leagues in Arlington are near peak enrollment, and registration fees are the lowest in the region.
At the same time, DPR needs to stop assessing field fees for scholarship registrants. DPR currently charges the field fee per registrant, including for kids that pay reduced or no league registration fees because of family hardship. DPR shouldn’t assess the field fee where a league is truly fulfilling its service to the community.
Stephen Finn, Arlington