$3.1 Million in Sports Field Improvements Coming to Prince William
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Left over money – some $3.1 million of it – will go to benefit children, their parents, and area sports leagues who called for better playing fields in Prince William County.
A list of field improvements to be paid for with surplus unbudgeted tax money, called carryover funds, was approved by county leaders Tuesday night. Sports league members, children, and their parents sitting the audience at the government center applauded after the new fields were approved.
“We are the seventh-wealthiest county in the United States, we are continuing to get wealthier… one of the things that has clearly lagged behind [is] athletic facilities not only for student athletes, but also for seniors and others who want to participate athletics as we age,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart.
MORE to the STORY: See Chairman Corey Stewart’s field improvements presentation
The largest of the improvements will be the installation of turf fields at Gainesville and Saunders middle schools, including field lighting, for a combined $2 million. An agreement is being hashed out between the county government and the Prince William County School Division – which currently owns and maintains the fields for school and sports league use – is expected to be completed soon.
Additional improvements include the installation of an auxiliary field at Woodbridge’s Veterans Park, and lighting a rectangular field and a diamond-shaped field at Long Park in Gainesville.
Lighting will also be installed at a field at Godwin Middle School in Dale City for $200,000.
An auxiliary field and restroom facilities will also be included in the plans for Fuller Heights Park that is under construction outside Quantico. A total of $150,000 of surplus tax funds will pay for half the improvements at Fuller Heights while another $150,000 in proffer funds from developers is expected to be used to complete the job.
Stewart, who spearheaded the field improvement initiative, dubbed these projects “low-hanging fruit” that would provide the “best bang for the buck” for taxpayers. The fields are slated to be constructed later this summer.
Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland, who voted against the measure, urged officials to put the field improvements into the annual budget process that begins next month instead of spending the surplus funds now. He cautioned that the maintenance costs for the new fields would something that will have to be budgeted for each year.
“This is taxpayer money that came from all of you and we can’t treat it like it’s a pot of gold we’ve just stumbled upon, that we can spend any way that we want to,” said Candland.
Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan cast the only other dissenting vote.