Not so long ago a proposal to light the fields at Greg Crittenden Memorial Park sparked a backlash from Ashburn Farm residents. A budget item approved by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors this year appears to have resolved the issue, at least until for now.
Lights will now be installed at the two fields near Pipeline Plaza – Chick Ford and Ryan Bickel fields – where there are fewer adjacent homes. The closest homes will be those now under construction across Ashburn Village Boulevard. Those fields are also adjacent to an elementary school site, which will also have a lighted field.
“One thing that has been consistent throughout this process is that citizens, organizations and elected officials have brought forward innovative ideas and solutions to meet the real needs facing the Ashburn community,” said Eric Hornberger, president of Ashburn Farm’s homeowners association. “We are pleased with the outcome of this process that is a win for everyone involved: Dulles Little League, Ashburn Farm and the Ashburn community as a whole.”
For the players, coaches and their families, lighted fields mean the teams that start games late in the day can finish before sundown throughout the season. As fall rolls in and the sun goes down earlier, games must be stopped earlier at fields without lights.
For residents near Crittenden Park, the concern about an extension of the time they are exposed to baseball sounds, traffic and lights goes away. Some residents said during one meeting they were afraid that with lights, demand would grow to allow games as late as 10 p.m., which is generally permitted at county parks with lighted fields.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles), who represents part of Ashburn Farm including all the fields in question. “The people in the vicinity [of Crittenden] did not want the lights. We had another place we could put them.”
Initially, it was believed that the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services could build the lights at Crittenden with an administrative approval.
“I had to point out to them that their interpretation was wrong,” said County Chairman Scott K. York, referring to whether the parks department needed a special exception. Countywide zoning changes made in 1993 now apply to the property, rather than the previous ordinance rules the permitted lights at Crittenden.
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors must approve special exception permits, so in the future if lights are requested again at the Crittenden, a public hearing and a board vote would be required.
The Ashburn Farm HOA kept the community up to speed about the issue on the community Web site.