The June 4 front-page story "Deluxe Soccer Field in McLean Spurs Hard-Hitting Legal Match," about the legal dispute over college soccer in Lewinsville Park, nicely made the legal case of the neighbors: that the Fairfax County Park Authority has ceded control over the field to private entities, in contravention of a zoning ordinance requiring use "exclusively for public purposes." The story quoted the chairman of McLean Youth Soccer saying, "Why should folk like us continue to put money into these fields if we can't control them?" The caption on the front-page photo with the story also described youth league officials looking out on "their" field. Indeed, the agreement between the county and the two private entities named in the article leaves only four hours a month of available "public" playing time when children are out of school.
Much more understated in the article was the public policy principle behind the neighbors' opposition, which is that all stakeholders should be brought into decisions on major changes to public parkland before the fact. A public hearing -- which did not occur -- would have enabled orderly consideration of issues such as traffic congestion, adequacy of parking and sanitary facilities in the park for college athletics, and the effects on adjoining neighborhoods.
Instead, neighbors are left with significant increases in traffic and noise because college athletics are taking place in a modest county park, with no remedy but litigation.
That's why we're fighting, and that's why Fairfax County has been unable to "run us off the field."
West Lewinsville Heights