Crowds, Noise Discussed at Permitting Meeting
A "Community Meeting on Francis Field Permitting" was organized by ANC-2A Commissioner Nicole Goldin, and held on May 9, in response to residents' complaints about "blaring music" and large crowds of "social sports" teams on the field.
The meeting became a frank discussion about field rules and regulations by representatives of the sports leagues, residents who live closest to the field, and Seth Shapiro, the head of the permit office at the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
Photographs and slides to support the individual residents' case were shown by Friends of Francis Field (FFF).
Shown above is a detail of a photo taken on Sunday, April 28, 2019. It was one of several presented to demonstrate that the crowds on the field greatly exceed the "Capacity 50" which is given in DPR's listing for permit applications for Francis Field. The field is located in what is an increasingly residential neighborhood.
It was pointed out that if two professional NFL football teams played on the field, there would be no more that 22 pairs of cleated shoes on the field at one time during a three-hour game (not including the referees).
The two major issues raised by residents were, 1) the bad condition of the field by what is believed to be "overpremmiting and under maintenance," as an ANC-2A resolution of less than a year ago put it; and 2) noise complaints from residents due to boombox music during permitted games, although "amplified sound" is not permitted without written consent from DPR.
Photos of several deep holes were also presented to show the dangerous hazards that now exist for all field users.
On the issue of boombox music, DPR's Shapiro said that playing music was generally not considered the use of "amplified sound" unless it was disturbing someone. Recordings made by residents were played from an iPad. Three residents stated that the levels were quite loud and disturbing to them.
In June 2018, after last year's spring permitting season, similar complaints were presented to ANC-2A, which passed a unanimous resolution requesting DPR to address noise, limit crowd size, and review the balance between the maintenance of field and its heavy use. The resolution was sent to Keith Anderson, who was then the DPR director, with a copy to permit chief Shapiro.
At the May 9, 2019, permitting meeting called by Commissioner Goldin, no votes were taken by the ANC and no decisions were reached or announced by DPR. The residents and sports team members agreed to make an effort to understand the issues on both sides.
In the meantime, FFF's nascent Grounds Committee will see if the dangerous holes in the field can be fixed by reporting them through the DC government process. It is not DPR that contracts for field maintenance, but the Department of General Services (DGS). In January 2019, former DPR Director Anderson was appointed the director of DGS. The acting director of DPR is now Delano Hunter.
The contractor paid to maintain the athletic field portion of Francis Field continues to be Fort Myer Construction, according to the current DGS contract.