By Kevin O’Rourke
All that snow on your lawn and piling up on sidewalks, well it is also on all the baseball and soccer fields in Montgomery County, and as a result Montgomery Parks has delayed the opening of those fields for almost three weeks.
“The opening of all Montgomery Parks’ park and elementary/middle school athletic fields (excluding synthetic turf fields) will be delayed from the original opening date of March 15 until April 1 at the earliest, due to this year’s extremely harsh winter weather conditions,” according to a post on the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Website.
As a result of the severe weather which has caused numerous school closings and delays this winter, the tentative opening of Montgomery County fields is April 1. Montgomery County Parks will monitor the conditions and update its Website with any new information.
The blog post, which was posted prior to the current snow storm said that field conditions will be assessed on a daily basis beginning April 1 to determine if they are suitable for use. “Until then, teams are not permitted to play or practice on fields due to the risk of destroying surfaces as well as the ground underneath,” said the blog post.
Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Department of Parks said, “The unusually cold temperatures coupled with snow, sleet and ice have had a significant impact on our athletic fields. Even when snow and ice melt from the fields, the ground will remain frozen trapping moisture on the surface. Play when the surface is saturated can cause damage to the turf that will last the entire season.”
“All this snow sure is frustrating,” said Marty McNiell, vice president of Germantown-based Montgomery County Little League. “We’re ready for the baseball season to get here, and I’m sure our families are too.”
McNiell explained that while the delay may have in impact on performance in games, but as for the schedule the good news is that Spring Break is early this year. “Luckily, this year our season doesn’t start until after spring break. Our first games will be played during the week of April 13 and our official Opening Day Celebration at South Germantown Park is April 18.”
MCLL players have been participating in winter workouts for the first time this year. “In addition, we had almost 150 players take part in our inaugural Winter Workout Program at Montgomery College in January and February, so hopefully this will help offset the loss of practice time.”
Use of park athletic fields is prohibited when park staff or Park Police have deemed them unplayable and during any of the following conditions: Seasonal rest and/or preparation; Renovations and/or repairs; Standing water on the field; A half inch or more of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours; Soil is frozen or wet and “spongy”; Ground is muddy and/or soil clings to shoes; Steady rain is falling; or a lightning or electrical storm is occurring.
For additional information and updates about fields contact Montgomery Parks and Community Use of Public Facilities athletic field rainout line at 301-765-8787 or register for Montgomery Parks ALERT notifications here to receive updates on field conditions. Updates regarding field status will also be available at www.MontgomeryParks.org.