Parking and Recreation?
I am kicking and screaming in response to your story about the D.C. Stoddert Soccer League (“Kicking and Screaming,” 10/3) and the neighbors whose homes border the John Burroughs School field. Brian Montopoli implied that the issue was a racial one. The issue has nothing to do with race. Our neighborhood is diverse. There are both African-American homeowners and Caucasian homeowners who reside on the perimeter of that field. It was suggested by some parents that perhaps the league could have offered soccer instruction to neighborhood children, many of whom have never played the sport.
The neighbors whose homes border the Burroughs field do not want to be bombarded with noise, car fumes, trash, and the depletion of available parking spaces in front of their homes. Second, it was not just one game that the league arranged to play on the field. Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Terry Lee informed the neighbors that soccer games would be played consecutively for seven Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We learned that many of the players were children from Maryland and Virginia.
The article suggests that there was an air of civil unrest, with uniformed rangers and a police officer getting involved. There was no organized sit-in; the neighbors and Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioners simply stood at the edge of the field to discuss the situation. There was a uniformed Ward 5 D.C. police officer, who casually leaned against his cruiser.
I am a 1965 graduate of John Burroughs. As a child, I played on that field. The field is not part of any recreation center. It shouldn’t be used as a bargaining tool for a soccer league that has no ties to this community. If the Stoddert League has sunk $500,000 into city park facilities in the last 10 years, and if it has an operating budget of $1 million, then perhaps it needs to purchase or lease its own parcel of land on which to play its soccer games. We don’t want it here.