Big changes are coming to Alexandria’s Eugene Simpson Stadium Park. The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a plan that will renovate the park by installing synthetic turf rather than grass on the larger of the two baseball fields, expanding the parking lot, and making changes to the landscaping around the park.
A major talking point at the city council meeting was the installation of synthetic turf on Big Simpson field, the larger baseball diamond located within the park. Some city residents submitted comments indicating concern that the turf would generate excessive heat on the playing field.
However, other comments noted that the field frequently floods when it rains, rendering it unplayable. Synthetic turf, in comparison, would include water retention systems below the field to mitigate flooding.
“We do see very significant impacts [from rain] because this is one of our very few large fields … every time that we do have a rain events, it does cause problems for a practice or games,” said Bethany Znidersic, the project manager, during the meeting. “We have had situations where almost the entire season of games had to be played at other facilities or jurisdictions on the baseball team because our field wasn’t playable.”
“I have been to many, many games on turf — it stinks. Nobody wants to play on turf. But there is a balance with playability,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, noting that he believes the turf’s ability to increase the field’s playability will be “a positive.”
Additional changes to the baseball fields will include new bleachers, dugouts, and press boxes, as well as a space for equipment storage and a concession stand.
The plan will also include changes to the landscaping in the park. The proposal includes both the removal of old trees and the planting of new ones. The plan notes that trees which are “invasive, in poor condition, or impacted by the proposed construction,” will be removed.
The rest of the plan includes planting at least 100 new trees and shrubs around the area, which the plan indicates will add to the area’s crown coverage and provide shade to the park. Znidersic noted that these landscaping changes would be executed in stages.
Other elements of the plan include renovations to the parking lot to include an additional 16 parking spaces, install new lighting fixtures, and create a secondary access point that will make it easier for visitors to leave the lot. The basketball field that is currently at the park will be removed and rebuilt further east in the park to make room for these parking changes.
On the eastern side of the park, hardscape trails will be installed — a primary trail that will be 8 feet wide and a secondary trail that will be 5 feet wide.
Next to this park is a dog park, which closed in November to accommodate an ongoing renovation. This project will impact approximately 250 square feet, or 2 percent, of the dog park project.
The final design of the park is expected by January 2024.
Feature rendering courtesy the City of Alexandria
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