Opening Day Postponed as City Arborist Issues Stop Work Order

It was a gorgeous day in late March. A perfect Opening Day for baseball.

However, on this day, there would be no sweet sound of the crack of a bat, no smell of fresh cut grass, no crowds cheering for their teams, and no parents arguing balls and strikes from the stands. The Takoma Park Silver Spring (TPSS) Baseball league, had to postpone Opening Day as the city arborist placed a stop work order at the field, citing several violations.

The TPSS Commissioner was not pleased. “These kids have been practicing all winter indoors, and I was very much looking forward to Opening Day,” he said. “Who knows how much longer I have to keep all these boxes of uniforms in my garage.”

According to the Public Works Department, a Tree Protection Plan was never submitted prior to using the field. In the Takoma Park city limits, a tree protection plan permit is required before fields can be prepped to play on, if they are within fifty feet of urban forest trees.

Listed on the stop work order were several violations including the following:

– The pitchers mound added more than 3 inches of dirt within a critical root zone.
– The new dugouts require air spading, a method to safely expose existing roots using high pressure air
– The backstop and outfield fences are not the required 4 foot tall welded wire metal fencing.
– 6 inches of wood chip mulch are required along the base paths.

It remains unknown how long it will be before Opening Day will happen. A tree protection plan requires the notification of every immediate neighbor of the park – about 1500 residents due to the many apartment buildings nearby. Also, a site meeting must take place requiring the attendance of the commissioner, contractor, landscaper, architect, Director of Parks and Planning, at least 3 city council members, a manager from each team, and a current Washington Nationals baseball player.

Assuming all members can figure out an exact time they can all meet on site, a 15-day grace period then takes place to allow for anyone to appeal the tree protection plan. “We already have 37 appeals,” cited the City Manager. “This is likely going to the city’s tree commission panel for further review.”

Faced with an uphill battle, the TPSS commissioner remained hopeful. “A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. And sometimes you have an arborist.’ Think about that for a while.”