Chesterfield park fee proposal; 40,000 adult & youth players to be affected

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – There are 250 sports fields in Chesterfield County. Kids and adults both use them. Right now, kids are playing on county fields for free, but that could change after Thursday night.

Allen Harlow's created many memories on Chesterfield County fields.

"I started playing ball in Chesterfield when I was 8 years old. And we want the youth to keep playing. It's just our point of view that the adults shouldn't have to be burdened with all the costs to keep everyone," said Harlow.

The man in charge of the senior sports league does not want to pay added costs to have fun on the softball field.

"Times are changing. We understand that money is tight. We don't mind the increase for us to keep playing ball, we just have a problem paying $5.00 to go to another program that we don't participate in," Harlow said.

In the wake of $1.6 million in cuts, Chesterfield's Parks Department is brainstorming on ways to keep programs and parks open. One idea would generate $150,000 if all 30,000 kids in little leagues paid $5.00 a piece.

"The leagues and the volunteer organizations collect all the funds for the umpires, for the uniforms, for the equipment," said Mike Golden, with Chesterfield County Parks and Rec.

The fee would mark the first time kids have to pay the county to play. Adults already pay a light fee- which covers the cost of electricity and maintenance of stadium lights. On top of that, the senior team, like many other leagues, will be paying for all maintenance to the field.

"We wouldn't have a problem of paying an extra $5 per person if that money went back into the fields at Byrd, where we didn't have to pay to have them dragged and lined," said Harlow.

Both youth and adult leagues are upset that the $150,000 raised would go back into Parks and Rec's general fund, and not towards the sports leagues. Other facility rentals and programs will also see a price increase.

The public hearing begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Center. That's near Chesterfield's Government Complex. A decision on the fee will be made Thursday night, then passed on to the county administrator for approval.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.