Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Re-claim Poorly Maintained Park

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Re-claim Poorly Maintained Park

This letter is addressed to Mayor Allison Silberberg and Alexandria City Council.

Chinquapin Park is approaching death as a meaningful civic asset. Nine dead or dying trees in the center on the park, plus several more on the ring road, are marked for destruction or have been recently removed leaving almost no shade in the center of the park. The grass in the center of the park is cut so rarely and so long that use of most of the park for sports activity is impossible. When the city repaved the ring road in the park several years ago it removed the speed bumps so that the road is now a teenage auto racetrack. The children’s playground is minimally fenced and now dangerous because it immediately adjoins the racetrack. What had been a youth soccer field is now a "nature area" for "small animals and insects." (Has the city not heard of the rat problem in our area or that a neighborhood dog died last year of lyme disease?)

Thirty years ago there were five sets of soccer/football goal posts in the park. Now there is one set but the goals are set at a 45-degree angle to each other making them useless for a pickup soccer game — something that was routine last year. Yet the Parks and Recreation Commission is apparently recommending demolition of the water park in order to create space to build new, and undoubtedly expensive, fields.

The beginnings of a fix are neither hard nor expensive. Plant a couple of groves of trees in the center of the park using the two remaining large trees as a starting point. Move the old picnic tables to one of those areas so there is a second picnic area. Reinstall the speed bumps so that the 15 mile per hour speed limit has some meaning. Fix the existing goal posts and install an additional set or other equipment which would encourage park usage. And regularly cut the grass. This would involve minimal cost and labor time for the city but we would have a usable park back.

Alexandria has limited parkland. Certainly we can do much better than affirmatively discouraging use of what had been one of our best parks.

Allan R. Winn


Note: This is an abbreviated version of a longer letter sent to the mayor and City Council.