2006-04-19 / Sports

Keep your car off the grass

Parking is a problem at many county parks
By Richard Carrier


Photo illustration by Charles Batchelor/Chesterfield Observer
AgentTires are tearing up the turf at many county playing fields and parks.
"It's a problem through out the Chesterfield County parks system and at all of the athletic fields," Stewart Connock, Jr. insists.

The chief of design and construction for Chesterfield Parks and Recreation is weary of park users driving and parking their vehicles on the grass, including playing fields.

"People just pop the curbs and park or go where ever they want to," Connock claims.

At some locations damage is significant. Connock cites instances of four-wheel-drive "rooters" causing so much damage at Robious Landing Park that barriers were bought to protect grassed areas. Still, the verges of the roadways continue to be torn up.

"Growth is the culprit," is the opinion offered by Blake Eller, president of the CBC Baseball League as well as southern district commissioner for the Chesterfield Quarterback Club. He is responsible for scheduling 250 baseball teams onto county fields.

"Let's be honest. There is often not enough of anything in the county," says Eller, explaining that multiple venue parks such as Rockwood offer football, baseball and soccer fields, basketball, tennis and handball courts as well as picnic areas and nature trails. This great variety of activity naturally is drawing overfl ow crowds.

"With all those activities, and Mom and Dad bringing the family, there's just no place to park." Eller concluded. "At Harrowgate Elementary people end up parking all the way into the subdivision." Additionally, the hillside parking at Salem Elementary School creates damage regardless of whether it's rainy or dry, Eller concluded.

"In an overfl ow situation people just naturally park where they find room to park," Connock conceded.

Connock says he believes that malicious driving damage at county facilities is minimal, which means the solution is educating the public that enjoys the parks.

The county has discussed remedies with the schools that have had a problem. Barriers, bollards and chain link fencing have been used in some cases. More are likely to be installed.

Nighttime vehicular vandalism has been controlled by the installation of gates at some facilities. All of this is paid out of the county's discretionary funds.

"The worst offenders are those using the facilities. It's a crazy thing. I've seen people drive across a baseball field to get to a football field," Connock says.

Few areas are signed as no parking zones, and typically the police do not enforce those that are signed.

Writing tickets for parking violations at county park sites does not appeal to Connock, however. "It's like ticketing your own customers. We're better off to educate them."

As to expanding or improving parking at the sites his teams use, Eller says, "I'd rather see more fields and restrooms before I see more asphalt."

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