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Crunch time is coming on Arlington playing-field allocation

Spring provides challenges owing to weather-related issues

It’s the time of year for maximum friction among prospective users as the need for athletic fields in Arlington outstrips available resources.

But, county officials say, they are trying their best when it comes to providing access to school-system fields to those in recreation leagues.

“We try to accommodate each other’s needs as much as possible,” said Debbie DeFranco, the Arlington school system’s supervisor of health, physical and driver education and athletics.

The “other” in her remarks is the Department of Parks and Recreation, which also uses school fields for its programs.

And while there is no purposeful double-booking of fields, everything is dependent on weather, DeFranco said at a March 19 joint meeting of the county government’s parks and sports commissions.

“The spring is just challenging,” she said, because any school-sponsored contests, particularly playoffs, have little margin for error.

“They’re on a really tight schedule,” DeFranco said. “We’ve got postseason deadlines, state deadlines, and those don’t move for anything.”

The joint meeting between the two advisory bodies was scheduled, in part, to forge closer ties between the members and find ways for collaboration.

At a recent meeting of the Park and Recreation Commission, appointees had voiced dissatisfaction with the communication from Arlington Public Schools to sports teams and leagues regarding field accessibility, something they said needed to be improved.

Following up at the joint meeting, DeFranco said there was communication between the school system and parks department when things went awry.

School and park officials do take the other’s needs into account, but “it’s not as easy as it sounds” to remedy every conflict that crops up, she said.