|LISTENING FORUM SUMMARIES|
|March 19, 2009||Colvin Run Mill Barn||Dranesville|
|April 30, 2009||Green Spring Gardens||Mason District|
|May 21, 2009||Oak Marr RECenter –Acorn Room||Providence|
|June 11, 2009||Audrey Moore RECenter||Braddock|
|July 30, 2009||South Run RECenter||Springfield|
|September 17, 2009||Huntley Meadows Park||Lee|
|October 22, 2009||Laurel Hill Golf Clubhouse||Mount Vernon|
|November 19, 2009||Government Center Building||County Wide|
|January 21, 2010||Cabell’s Mill||Sully|
|June 10, 2010||Clark House||Mason District|
|September 16, 2010||Oak Marr RECenter||Providence District|
|November 4, 2010||Wakefield Chapel||Braddock District|
|January 20, 2011||South Run RECenter||Springfield District|
|March 24, 2011||Lee
|May 5, 2011||Mt. Vernon Government Center||Mt. Vernon District|
|July 21, 2011||Sully District Government Center||Sully District|
|September 22, 2011||McLean Government Center||Dranesville District|
|November 17, 2011||Green Spring Gardens||Mason District|
|February 16, 2012||Nottoway Park||Providence District|
|April 19, 2012||Wakefield Chapel||Braddock District|
|June 21, 2012||North County Government Center||Hunter Mill District|
|September 20, 2012||Hidden Pond Nature Center||Springfield District|
|November 8, 2012||Lee District RECenter||Lee District|
|January 17, 2013||Park Authority Board Room||County Wide|
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
DRANESVILLE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: MARCH 2009
As requested, staff phoned both Robert Voas and Jenifer Joy Madden who spoke regarding trails at the listening forum. Mr. Voas’ concern was echoed by Ms. Madden. Ms. Madden had numerous additional concerns which are generally summarized below.
Wolf Trap Stream Valley connection (Voas and Madden)
ISSUE: Missing trail connections between Wolf Trails Park, Wolf Trap Stream Valley and Waverly Parks near the intersection of Old Courthouse Road and Besley Road
- Gap across parcel 5, recently rezoned with road dedication and a 6’ asphalt trail paralleling the road included on the development plan, should be constructed when land is developed, though it will not connect to the existing trail on the south side of Burlwood Court
- Gap between Wolftrap SV trail and Besley Road
- Gap between Besley/Old Courthouse and trail in Waverly Park
Suggestion by Mr. Voas to build a temporary solution on parkland was evaluated in the field by Park Authority trail staff and FCDOT bicycle coordinator, Charlie Strunk
- Long term solution involves trail connection across parkland and bridge across Wolftrap Creek, crosswalks on both Besley and Old Courthouse, acquisition of easement on property on the northeast side of Old Courthouse, and trail connection to existing trail in Waverly Park – or alternatively, a trail in conjunction with relocation of Old Courthouse – either of these solutions would need approval by the governing body and funding
- Short term solution suggested by both Madden and Voas is not viable because of lack of available land and the location of guardrail at intersection
- Long term solution could be considered for future funding.
Missing sidewalk along Creek Crossing Road at southern end of Foxstone Park
ISSUE: Sidewalk desired across park – road crossing and speeding issues also
- Would require a creek crossing/bridge to complete on parkland
- Project is not currently funded
- Existing trail on opposite side of Creek Crossing Road
- Probably not a reasonable request at this time
- Project could be considered for future funding.
Trail along Beulah Road frontage in Freedom Hill Park (Madden)
ISSUE: Desire by trail community to construct a bike lane and parallel asphalt along the south side of Beulah Road at Freedom Hill Park
- Partial trail exists currently on parkland
- Additional trail and/or right-of-way dedication would be supported by the Park Authority barring any unknown constraints regarding historic resources – no currently approved project or funding.
- Consider for future funding
Additional trail connections to the CCT and south of Dulles Access Road
ISSUE: Trail users want a loop trail with the CCT through Sun Valley subdivision, a connection from the CCT to Meadowlark Gardens, a connection from Meadowlark to Lahey Lost Valley Park
- A connection to the CCT from Meadowlark will be constructed by NVRPA, another possible connection is on Park Authority land, but the trail would end at a fence on Meadowlark property unless NVRPA opens the fence or an easement is acquired on HOA land
- Fairfax County Park Authority is willing to work with citizens on both the Sun Valley loop and connection to Lahey Lost Valley if a group is interested in building the trail and adopting it for maintenance – current efforts by individual citizens to build trails without Park Authority approval are considered encroachments and are not appropriate use of parkland
Process concerns re customer surveys, swim lane allocations, registration
ISSUE: Mr. Rick Rawson spoke to his concerns about the aquatics program and facility management at Spring Hill RECenter He alleged that staff was involved in some inappropriate behavior/conduct and addressed other topics including
- efficacy of customer satisfaction surveys and asked that the results of those surveys be shared with customers.
- complained that there was no appeal process for unresolved complaints and reiterated previous complaints about site management.
- noted growing dissatisfaction with swim lane allocations.
- requested that customers be told who the instructor would be for a class at the time of registration.
Turner Farm/ Annalema Society programs appreciated
ISSUE: Paul Reistrup expressed his pleasure and support for the work of the Annalemma Society at Turner Farm. The society is ready to keep moving forward on the roll top observatory and that each Friday night when skies are clear, families come out to enjoy a look at the heavens.
- Rolltop observatory project needs to move forward
- Equestrian project work by Park Operations in putting up the new ring and getting rid of the old pole barn was described as exemplary.
Observatory Park – Existing Observatory Building
Park Authority staff has worked closely with the Analemma Society to develop a project scope within the available budget. Staff has negotiated a proposal with Centennial Contracting Corporation to perform Phase I of the renovation work on the building. The renovation work for the existing observatory will be contracted by the end of July for completion by the end of 2009. This work will create a functioning observatory. The second phase, which is not funded, will provide improvements for remote offsite operation of the building and telescope functions. The Analemma Society has agreed to work with the Park Authority to raise that funding.
Observatory Park - New Roll-Top Observatory Building
A new rolltop observatory building will be constructed at the site. The building design is 95% complete and will be submitted for permitting this summer. Funding for this building and related improvements was approved with passage of the 2008 Park Bond. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2011.
Park Authority staff members are constructing equestrian improvements at Turner Farm Park. Improvements include an oversized state-of-the art outdoor fenced arena, a small pony pen, a trail from the existing parking area, improvements to the parking area to assist with vehicular traffic unique to the equestrian communty, landscaping, low impact development features to manage storm water, and related ste improvements. Construction will be complete by fall 2009.
Funding of Riverbend Park intern positions/ discussion of Clarks Branch Bridge
ISSUE: General concerns aired about the cancellation of the funded park internships which are supported by the friends of Riverbend according to Eleanor Anderson. Discussion about status of bridge replacement
- Reiteration of importance of these interns to support stewardship education goals.
- Enthusiasm shown for reconstruction of Clarks Branch Bridge at Riverbend Park.
Budget reductions have resulted in the elimination of funding from the General Fund for a paid intern program. For the summer season of June 2009-August 2009 (spanning FY2009/FY2010), the Park Authority, has invited candidates to a wide variety of unpaid opportunities and have “employed” 24 interns volunteering for resume and experience enriching projects. Additionally, the Park Authority has received contributions into the Revenue Fund from friends groups directed to paid intern projects for this summer, and so six interns are being compensated from those resources.
IMA Program lauded
ISSUE: Alan Ford, an IMA program volunteer thanked the Park Authority for supporting this program and noted this was “an exceptional effort based on science.”
- There is interest in seeing the program continue and expand
- General discussion ensued about the County’s deer management program and the threat of Lyme disease. It was noted that the county’s wildlife biologist position was vacant and not slated for filling.
Funding for the county’s deer management program was originally eliminated for FY10 as part of the necessary austerity measures due to the current economic crisis. However, $42,000 for deer management for FY10 was restored. This amount will be used to fund sharpshoots and managed hunts. Specific activities for deer management for FY10 have not yet been identified.
The County Wildlife Biologist resigned from the county in February 2009. The position was advertised in April 2009, and interviews were held on May 12. Victoria Monroe was selected, accepted the position, and began as the new County Wildlife Biologist as of June 8, 2009.
White-tailed deer populations continue to increase region-wide, resulting in excessive deer browse to native vegetation and the decimation of many of our regions forest ecosystems and the animals that rely on them. The reported cases of Lyme disease appear to be on the increase. Specific information on Lyme disease trends and status can be obtained from the Fairfax County Health Department.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
MASON DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: APRIL
A small group of park enthusiasts, customers and members of Friends organizations from around the county gathered at Green Spring Gardens to discuss issues of concern to them with the director and Mason District representative, Frank Vajda. Representatives from Resource Management Division, Park Services, Park Operations and the Public Information Office attended as well as managers of park facilities in Mason District.
This meeting was held at the height of the budget discussions; therefore, the cuts the Parks had to take; suggestions for raising money, and the budget in general were the overwhelming issues of interest that evening.
ISSUE: Restoration of FY 2010 funds
- Of original required 15% General Fund reductions, $825,840 was restored to Park Authority budget by the Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 27, 2009
- Restoration of 11 positions at lakefront parks was included in restoration of funding
- General criticism that the majority of cuts were coming from Resource Management Division (RMD) sites
- Concerns about using donations for staff retention
ISSUE: Discussion about restoration of funding and fees
- Revisit gate fees
- Questions about the use funds and revenue at RMD sites
- Importance of the education which takes place at the RMD sites.
- How to increase donations for specific purposes
- Could Friends groups earmark subsidizing certain salaries?
It was determined later that funding for positions by Friends group was allowable. For more information contact the appropriate site manager.
ISSUE: Field positions vs. headquarter positions
- Discussion of how and why decisions were made to cut positions
- Explanation of positions that were cut.
Director Dargle pointed out that it wasn't a lack of appreciation for or a perceived lack of importance of the RMD staff. The cuts were mandated in the General Fund and therefore tended to hit that division hardest. However, original reductions and reductions taken since have resulted in staff cutbacks across the board and the absorption of positions into the revenue fund when possible. Each and every division in the Park Authority has been impacted by cuts. Currently, an assessment is underway to determine if some cuts are simply too deep and need to be revisited.
ISSUE: General Fund and Revenue Fund
The discussion continued and the Director took the opportunity to go into funding specifics:
- The importance of educating the public and especially members of advocacy groups such as Friends groups on the sources of funds was made clear.
- Bring the budget process for the parks to the public through presentations to Friends Groups, citizen associations, councils and the federation
- Encourage proactive involvement in budget process
- Explanation of General Fund and Revenue Fund
- Explanation of 170 or Revenue Fund
- Bond usage and capital project funding
- Discussion of the evolution of the old conservation and education divisions to RMD
- The need to move RMD towards becoming revenue producing division.
Other discussion ensued with these suggestions and requests:
- Constituents encouraged the Park Authority to lobby the Board of Supervisors much as Fire and Rescue and Fairfax County Public Schools do. Similarly, Director Dargle encouraged constituents to speak to their elected officials about funding priorities.
- Advocating for the Cold War Museum
- Advocating for the Sportsplex
- Add a tax specifically for the parks
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
PROVIDENCE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: MAY
Fairfax County Park Authority Director, John Dargle, Jr., convened a Listening Forum in Providence District at Oak Marr RECenter on May 21, 2009 at 7 p.m. Citizens and long time park friends were in attendance. Staff representing FCPA divisions attended.
ISSUE: Non-emergency crime
- Vandalism around garden plot areas was discussed. The Town of Vienna has been dealing with this.
- Friends groups have put up signs with the non-emergency police number.
- Staff will meet with police chief if necessary. Keep FCPA informed.
ISSUE: Oakton Schoolhouse
- Compliments on the schoolhouse. A concern about a turn into property. Suggestion to lobby VDOT in terms of entrance road issues.
ISSUE: Equestrian interests
- Laurel Hill horse facility has parking problems in the lot
- The first ring needs attention
- There are no riding facilities on county parkland.
- There are business opportunities for county to allow private venders to give lessons on county land.
- There are no riding lessons or camps.
- Members of Fairfax for Horses are working with park staff on opportunities.
ISSUE: Cross County Trail
- Many happy trail users.
- Would like to see more natural surface trails.
- Applaud the partnership with the county and volunteers.
ISSUE: Laurel Hill Growth
- Fastest growing area in county
- Challenges for community with BRAC will be important and impact our parks and facilities
- Improving the network of trails in Laurel Hill
ISSUE: Jeb Stuart Park
- In the Bailey's Crossroads area
- General discussion about Master Plan amendment in relation to the lights
- Fenced off for soft ball field; criticism of the need with reference to Title IX
- Call to rescue the forest surrounding the field and specifically to rid the area of invasive plants.
ISSUE: Land Acquisition
- A former Park Authority Board Member and park enthusiast, Fred Crabtree, advocated for aggressive land acquisition.
- History of land acquisition was touched upon from various sources such as proffers.
- The development of Tyson's was discussed. The importance of the concept of urban parks was debated.
The Director summarized the evening's discussion. He asked what FCPA could do?
Asked the participants to help the Park Authority by advocating for parks.
Stressed the need to reposition ourselves to a higher place in the county's quality of life.
We will be a part of the critical needs.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
BRADDOCK DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM - JUNE
This forum took place on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 7 p.m. in the Audrey Moore RECenter, the first RECenter in the park system. Director John Dargle addressed the constituents and announced that he was celebrating one year of service with the Fairfax County Park Authority.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
ISSUE: Equestrian facilities in the county
- Availability for kids and adults
- Horses to introduce kids to riding
- Rental opportunities
- More actual places to be able to ride in the county
ISSUE: Laurel Hill
- Equestrian features proposed
- Riding ring, lessons, competition
- Be able to keep what they have planned by instituting
- Contractual services
- Public/private partnership
ISSUE: Permits and zoning
- Discussion regarding English Hills Homeowners, Fairfax Station
- Amanda Ridge, the only teaching facility still existing due in large measure to permits and zoning issues.
ISSUE: History, South Run Field House
- Discussion regarding the renovated turf field in field house
- Original field house used for horseback riding
- No equestrian events at South Run at all
ISSUE: Creative Partnerships
- Discussion regarding the need for equestrian friends groups as we have in other areas of interest in the Park Authority
- The establishment of an equestrian coordinator was suggested as well as an advisory board.
- We must accommodate all park customers
- Consideration in times of extraordinary budget constraints
- Reaching across community for support
- Example: Library Board and Park Authority Board meeting to find common interests and support of those interests
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
SPRINGFIELD DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM - JULY 2009
Cindy Messenger chaired the meeting in John Dargle's absence. The staff in attendance included: Laura Marquart, manager of South Run RECenter, Charlie Reagle, manager Burke Lake Park, Hidden Pond Nature Center Manager Jim Pomeroy and representatives of the Resource Management Division (RMD), Park Operations, Park Services, Planning and Development (P&D) and the Public Information Office.
Several Fairfax County Park enthusiasts from the general Springfield area came mostly to praise the parks and give some constructive criticism. At this particular time the master plan for Stratton Woods, a park and community in Hunter Mill District, was in the process of being amended. A member of that community used the Listening Forum to express her concerns. People came with photos to support their suggestions for improvements on trails as well as other amenities such as the road into the RECenter. In all cases, safety was the major concern.
It was noted that record crowds use every aspect of South Run from the fields to the exercise rooms, classrooms and pools clearly demonstrating the popularity and appreciation for the RECenter.
ISSUE: Traffic concerns near the RECenter
- Several regular RECenter users expressed their concerns with the narrow approach road.
- The narrow road is compromised by cars parking on the side or simply the numbers of vehicles.
- Reports of car accidents at the corner.
- In addition to parking, the cross walk was mentioned.
- Dave Bowden, director of P& D, reported that money left over from the South Run expansion was aside to improve parking and widening the road.
ISSUE: South Run Staff
- Frequent users complimented the facility and service providers
- They expect the same level of service from all employees
- Life for many in community would not be as rich without South Run RECenter.
- Offered praise for the new fitness center as well as the manager
- Require cleaner locker rooms and surfaces and floor.
- Clean more often during camp season when more kids are using facility.
- Excessive heat in exercise area. The issue of leaving doors open could be the cause. The temperature is set at 68 degrees and gets down to 65.
- Request to preserve racquetball was made. This has been a running issue with users at this site
ISSUE: Friends of Hidden Pond regarding budget cutbacks
- Susan Sousa, president of the Friends of Hidden Pond Nature Center noted she is representing 100 people who greatly appreciate Hidden Pond Nature Center
- The education offered and message presented by staff for stewardship is excellent
- The community's concern about budget cutbacks and effect on Hidden Pond's ability to serve the community was discussed
- A 40% reduction was too much. She claimed there is concern that headquarters' staff was increasing while resource staff decreasing and being asked to do much.
- Deputy Director addressed challenges of General Fund reduction.
ISSUE: Further need to help constituents understand the budget
- Constituents expressed concern about budget cuts they heard about and didn't understand.
- The Park Authority's commitment to budget education was reiterated by staff who encouraged residents to ask questions and attend approaching budget hearings.
- Assurances were given that the Park Authority remains committed to do everything that supports the mission
- Deputy Director cautioned about more reductions and tough times ahead.
- Deputy Messinger reiterated that there was great appreciation for the contributions that Friends group make in supporting sites. This includes funding for interns as well as other personnel and items supported by Friends.
- Trails along certain areas, especially South Run Stream Valley were in need of repair. The steps need to be fixed. Jenny Pate had promised to get this done. Rainbow Bridge is a problem. It was proffered in the '70's when the development was built. FCPA has not done anything to improve it. Photos taken in 2000 documented the issue, and the bridge is much worse now. There is a finger lake that has bee totally forgotten.
- Great appreciation expressed for the work done on the Cross County Trails.
- Mention of the Laurel Hill trail where it meets Lorton Road and the RR tracks as dangerous. Staff reported that a solution is planned for that crossing when road is redone.
- Staff spoke to the fact that the trail strategy plan was completed and available on our website.
- Again trail users complimented FCPA on the wonders of connecting runners, bikers, walkers throughout the entire county.
ISSUE: Stratton Woods
- The Master Plan amendment process was discussed in reference to Stratton Woods. The criticism suggested that citizens are left out. More data is needed to satisfy constituents. Differences pointed out between Stratton Woods and South Run. Comparisons between Stratton Woods and Lewinsville neighborhood and the lighting used for their park were deemed to be worthless.
- Staff noted the effectiveness of neighborhood involvement as seen in planning Lewinsville Park.
- Staff explained proffers to correct misunderstanding of their use.
- Staff explained field allocation and the relationship between the Athletic Council and Park Authority Board.
- There was discussion about the recent editorial in the South County newspaper about the Sportsplex. Comment was offered on the solid waste landfill in relation to Sportsplex and clearly this constituent does not want any project to move forward that might extend or expand the life of the landfill. There was criticism and a call for censure of the staff members on the team that examined merits of PPEA. No comment was offered from staff on the matter.
- A boy scout and his mother attended to receive a badge. She was most complimentary about the Listening Forum and told of her appreciation of our Park and Recreation.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
LEE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: SEPTEMBER 2009
The Director said that he had his year anniversary of being at the Park Authority and has been out to listen, get feedback, and address the work plan and follow-up with park constituents. The information has been placed on the website so the community can follow up on the progress. At the end of the cycle of forums the Park Authority Board will receive an update and actions will be taken to better serve the community.
Huntley Meadows is a wonderful place all through the year. The Director said he was last here in mid-winter when it was quite different but equally beautiful.
ISSUE: Budget issues
- The Park Authority is out in the community talking to people about budget.
- Important to communicate, explain, and accept responsibility.
- Important to be transparent. Director will hear the issues, work with staff and hold them accountable to follow up.
ISSUE: Land use in Lee District
- A citizen has concerns for his grandchildren and appreciates opportunity to talk about his concerns. He noted strong interest in natural resources, wrote for years about distribution of assets, job slots taken from one category and given to another.
- He reported that the Environmental Quality Advisory Council is concerned that parks need more support. With cutback in program funding, invasives and erosion are addressed too slowly.
- Director addressed these comments noting that these issues are being worked on with resources we have from the tax supported general fund and money earned through fees from RECenters, golf, and the like. The Park Authority has a dual mission, stewardship and resource management protection as well as provision of recreational opportunities.
ISSUE: Zoning and land transfers
- On the issue of land acquisition, the Director noted the county isn't turning land down. The Park Authority has careful criteria and we need to take care of it, accessibility and connectivity must be considered, clean up and title of land. Not familiar with parcel called La Belle. Marcus Wadsworth from Supervisor McKay's office who handles parks and trails will look into it also.
ISSUE: Conservation mission of FCPA, commitment to 10% open space
- Director Dargle commented on the importance of open space stating, "Open space won't generate funds, but it's important to the quality of life. We are committed to preservation, protection, green space no matter if we own it or whoever owns it. Conserving, preserving, protecting is in our Strategic Plan. Ten percent of county land for parks was Representative (then Chairman) Connolly's goal.
- Director Dargle added, "How we can fund natural capital program like capital improvement programs? Look to bonds to continue that. We have natural resource and cultural resource countywide management plans. Our philosophy, like yours, is to protect and conserve.
- We have to be considered "things you can't cut" like police and fire. We can't let the carbon footprint increase. Energy conservation in place: limited mowing, leaving meadows to grow. These preserve and protect.
ISSUE: Who communicates this message to the Board of Supervisors
- All of us do. We have a marketing communication plan. Compare us to police and fire. Important that people know we have 20 million visits in a year. Parks are important to the citizens. With citizen support and friends the message will get out. However, the BOS is in a tough position managing expectations and priorities.
- We have five funds and we will see better days. We do have some flexibility between funds.
ISSUE: Loss of Positions within FCPA
- There was great concern about the loss of positions, with a particular concern about spots in the Resource Management Division (RMD). The Director responded, "We are lucky to have found ways to keep people with a $650 million deficit last year and $350 million this year. On top of that, a $500,000 reduction in our general fund budget was just announced. The goal is to protect and keep positions because if you give them up, you don't get them back. We had to take the risk of taking site positions to fill vacant positions at headquarters. We'll evaluate the impact of the loss of those positions, move people around and discuss reorganization plan with the County Executive. It might appear that we are heavy at headquarters and not at RMD sites, but understand that headquarters had to absorb a lot, do double duty in many areas. We did not want to put people out on the street. We analyze the effect on customers, services and programs. We need to protect people and plan for the future. With capacity for growth, rising costs, we can't equalize. We must look at everything carefully. Next year we expect another reduction. Our goal was to take care of people and that's not always a perfect fit."
ISSUE: Can volunteers do what a full time person can? What future cuts?
- It was noted that there are parallel processes going on; the consolidation of CRS, Department of Systems Management with FCPA. Middle management study to eliminate positions and reductions in general fund mean significant reduction in funding for staffing. The Director thanked the community for over 200,000 hours of volunteer service. That is information which needs to be promoted.
ISSUE: EQAC environment awards
- The Park Authority was urged to apply for the EQAC Awards program.
ISSUE: Revisit fees
- General discussion regarding raising revenues ensued. Some ideas that were brought up included: possible parking fees, an assessment of duplicate efforts between FCPA and Regional Park Authority, public/private partnerships, identify grant dollars that support natural resources, museums and environmental education.
ISSUE: Reclassified a stream on Old Telegraph Road
- Marcus Wadsworth from Supervisor McKay's Office will find out if development is scheduled and where exactly the property is.
- Look at the strategic plan which is the 2006-2010 in use now. A new plan is scheduled for next July due to the FY 2010 cuts. The present plan is to be extended until we can develop the next five year plan.
ISSUE: Long history between Lee District and FCPA
- Working with PAB member with fundraising, Park Foundation projects, special fundraising abilities needed.
- Look to future in redevelopment of Springfield Mall and hope for more ball fields, especially a synthetic turf field. CRS collects $5.50 per child per session. This money is used for maintenance along with general fund money from the BOS.
- There is a wealth of information on the web including Park Foundation information.
ISSUE: Green Corridor
- Interest in the land near Bull Run. Last undeveloped land.
ISSUE: Frying Pan Farm animals
- There was concern about Frying Pan Farm Park working without a night watchman. It was stated that the Friends groups will step up. However, for 60 years the animals have been there. The house rental combines responsibility to check on animals. Staff believes that the farm is safe at night.
Appreciation was expressed to the Director from the citizens and to the citizens from the Director and staff. The listening forums are new ideas, never done before and greatly valued by the community and staff. The Director reminded the citizen participants that he wants to be kept accountable.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
SOUTH COUNTY LISTENING FORUM: OCTOBER 2009
Fairfax County Park Authority Director John Dargle welcomed the constituents from South County to Laurel Hill Golf Club. He noted his having listening forums around the county. This is an effort to hear from the community about the parks, what we do well, what we can do better. This is the seventh listening forum having started in March in Dranesville. The conversations from the forums are on the web under Great Parks, Great Communities. Citizens can check on what issues have come up and what has been done.
The Director offered some facts about the Fairfax County Park system:
How many parks are in Fairfax County park system? 416
How many playgrounds? 250
How many RECenters? Nine
How many golf courses? Eight
How many synthetic turn fields? 22 (And increasing regularly)
A quick budget overview reminded attendees that we have two primary sources of money: the General Fund which is money from taxes that maintains the parks, and the Revenue Fund which is the money from fees, memberships and other charges.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland and staff member Marcia Hanson attended the meeting.
- A recurring issue in the South County area has been the call for better communications between the citizens and planners. The citizens expressed concern that there seemed to be secrecy in discussions especially in subject of the landfill and sportsplex. The planning between DPW and FCPA seems covert.
- It was suggested that a liaison from different parts of the community should be at the table. South County citizens are very engaged representing all aspects of the community including the Chamber, civic associations, and the Federation. They got their new high school built ahead of schedule, will get the middle school built.
- This doesn't have to be negative experience. There is a lot of fact finding that has to be done before the community comes to the table. No decisions have been made.
ISSUE: Land swap
- The land swap between the Park Authority and the Fairfax County Public Schools was finalized. The parcel of land next to the high school owned by the Park Authority to build a middle school was traded for an adjacent piece of land on which ball fields could be constructed some time in the future. The county will bond for the middle school, but the Park Authority doesn't have money to develop its land. The FCPA and FCPS have agreed to share the infrastructure. There is no timeline for the park land. There will be a master plan process into which the community will have input. All decisions will be open to negotiation.
- A representative of MORE who was involved in the original building of the cross county trails expressed appreciation for all the work that has been accomplished. However, he advocated for more night trails. So far Wakefield is the only place you van ride at night. There are so many perfect areas in South County and bikers hope it will be allowed. Night riders have bright lights on their helmets and bikes.
- New trails were discussed in addition to the new trails that were recently opened. They will be looked into.
- A ten year old trail erosion problem was brought up. Hoping to have a FCPA person to walk the trail to analyze the solutions. The asphalt company looked at it. When the South Run Stream Valley Park trail was built, one-third of a mile couldn't be completed when the funds ran out. Ten years later it is still not paved and in very bad shape.
- Better and more communication will help. So many parks, some old, some new. With money seeming to go for new parks, we have to remember the old parks. Building on good relationships with the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission.
Issue: Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
- Mason Neck West at Old Colchester Road which is part of the National Historic Trail.
- The information needed to get federal funding was donated totally from the design, graphics, everything. How will FCPA use the free information? A FOIA request was made at the meeting.
- VDOT was working with Karen Lindquist. Maybe the group wasn't doing things correctly. There is a lot of knowledge in the South County area. It was mentioned that Robert Kelly was speaking on November 7 and he would have a wealth of information.
- Communication was pointed to once again as the best way of resolving differences.
- There is no funding and the present five year plan will be extended to 2012. It is not always a five year cycle and right now the prices are good, we can get more done and projects have been moved up.
ISSUE: CCT (Cross County Trails)
- The Trails are great at the north end of county but dissipate at the south end. To get to Occoquan Regional Park you must use Rt.123. Lorton has obligated $50,000 to trail but the trail picks up out of nowhere and ends in the middle of no where behind the workhouse. A 20% local match is needed. Look at the trail from Silverbrook Rd. south to the bridge by the golf course. All kinds of debris are lying across it.
ISSUE: Parkland or not parkland?
- A parcel of land thought to be parkland that houses are being built on. Van Metre is building. Southgate Townhouse Community built in 1972 donated an acre of open land between Pohick Rd. and Telegraph Rd to FCPA in 1978 and has cared for it ever since. In 1996 anther townhouse community was built and created a multi use area that backed to the one acre open field. The multi use area became a problem and the basketball hoops, tot lot and all were removed. It is not maintained and has fallen into disrepair. It needs a solution. Hopefully to go back to natural state.
- The tree line between Pohick Estates Park and Southgate Townhouses is totally overgrown and encroaching on Southgate's property. Can't get the FCPA to trim them.
- A path connecting the two properties was promised and never done.
- Not allowed at Riverbend. Would like to know why. Also have ability to use land at Laurel Hill.
The question was asked by two residents about orienteering. Why does the Park Authority offer orienteering classes at Riverbend Park and Lake Fairfax Park but prohibit orienteering at those and other Park Authority sites?
Although orienteering classes have been advertised in ParkTakes and elsewhere, low enrollment has forced these classes be cancelled for the last several seasons. On occasion, we will offer training to scout groups to complete a badge, as part of a summer camp or skills class with map and compass, but other than that we are not currently teaching any classes.
We have three orienteering course complexes that are open to the public, one at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (ECLP) is more novice level and but the courses at Hidden Pond and at Burke Lake Park are more advanced. Each site includes elements where a person could teach themselves the principles of orienteering. Individuals are welcome to use these courses without special permit. On occasion, we may set up or approve specialty courses, for example we had a course set up for Cross County Trail Day near Colvin Run Mill. Orienteering as a sport has many healthy principles that support the mission of the Park Authority.
Because of the sensitive nature of the natural areas, we cannot authorize orienteering of any kind at Riverbend. Lake Accotink is potentially an option for orienteering competitions under certain conditions.
Orienteering competitions vs. small group orienteering are more difficult to accommodate. We have worked with several groups on many different attempts to try to find a compromise which would allow an orienteering competition in one of our large natural areas. Unfortunately, some of the basic principles of orienteering competitions directly conflict with best management practices for natural areas. In Fairfax County, our natural areas are under stress from many factors, and orienteering, as well as other off trail activities for large groups of people, are one stress that we can eliminate. We have selected two parks, Lake Accotink and Lake Fairfax as potentially suitable for a large event, but again, we have many restrictions, and would need to work with the event hosts to ensure that no long-term damage is done to the park resource. For more information visit: Organized Activities in Natural Areas on Parkland
We also have geoaching opportunities in some of our parks.
ISSUE: New Friends group
- The Friends of Archeology and Preservation is a new Friends organization. Along with the History Commission they are sponsoring a seminar on 16th Century Virginia. Fascinating information about events that took place exactly at the spot where Laurel Hill is located.
- Extended hours at RECenters
- Fees go up but never come down
- Another 15% cut from General Funds with a list for 25% cuts
- Everyone is impacted by cuts differently
- Will work with Friends groups, Athletic Council, CRS to evaluate impact and present to Park Authority Board. The list will be published after that.
- There will be a budget link on November 14 to show all the input.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
FAIRFAX COUNTY GOVERNMENT CENTER LISTENING FORUM - NOVEMBER 2009
A larger than usual crowd gathered at the Government Center for the eighth Listening Forum in the Director's series. Director John Dargle introduced the evening with an explanation of the listening forum concept. As a new director he wanted to get out into the county and meet the community in their neighborhoods and hear directly from them about out parks; what we do well and not so well. Over the year he's been to seven of the nine supervisor districts and the Government Center. On January 21, 2010 he will be in Sully District at Cabell's Mill and on February 18, 2010 at Frying Pan Farm Park in Hunter Mill District to complete the year of Listening Forums around the county.
Harry Glasgow, At-Large Park Authority Board Member, and Ken Quincy, Providence Park Authority Board Member, attended. There were also representatives from Supervisor Cook's Office (Ryan Kelly) as well as Chairman Bulova's Office ( Christina Fullmer).
Over the course of the year the issues have changed. The areas of importance to constituents have all gravitated to budget issues: how services in parks have been affected, cut backs on favorite activities, lay-offs and declining physical appearance as in mowing.
Since this forum was held in the Government Center, there were several constituencies from all parts of the county attending with specific issues as well as park enthusiasts who were concerned about the cuts in the Fairfax County Park Authority budget. The Director explained about the revenue sources as background. What was fee based and what came from the general fund?
The following are issues as raised during the Listening Forum:
ISSUE: Lake Accotink Park
- Concerns with staff layoffs
- Safety concerns
- Dargle explained about using consolidation to cover safety, accessibility and cleanliness
- Attendees were reminded to communicate with the Board of Supervisors and make comments on our web site.
- More cuts are coming.
- Mowing grass has been changed from a weekly cycle to a 14 or 21 day cycle. Citizens often comment on that.
ISSUE: Night Bike Riding
- Several members of MORE attended and spoke to having night riding and they want to help in any way they can.
- Wakefield is the only place available now. The former manager of Audrey Moore, Bill Helwig, who started night riding, was there. He reported how night riders at Wakefield found a missing child.
- MORE members spoke about night bike riders helping reduce gang activity and there are national programs with statistics showing how night riding helps communities.
A meeting was held with several constituents as well as members of the Park Authority Planning Staff, Park Services Division and Resource Management Division at which mountain bike locations, priorities and processes were discussed. Things appear to be moving forward with Kirk Holley in the Planning Division describing next steps and processes for facility development and master plan inclusion.
A cross-divisional team of Park Authority staff involving the Resource Management, Park Services, Park Operations and Planning and Development Divisions met to evaluate a request for night riding programs at Laurel Hill and Lake Fairfax. The group identified a series of factors that make a park a good fit for night riding including:
- Limited proximity to residences. Sufficient buffer exists between the activity area and adjacent residential neighborhoods to minimize the impact of the activity on residential neighbors.
- Established trail system. The park contains an established trail system that could host regular night riding mountain bike use with minimal impact.
- Manmade intrusion already present. Areas in which park resources have already been heavily impacted by manmade activity are more suitable than areas with low levels of human impact.
- Staffed site/night activities. Staffed sites with existing night activities are most suitable for this activity. Unstaffed sites and those with no evening activity are not suitable.
- Staff support/volunteer coordinator. Presence of a staff contact on-site to oversee the program and coordinate the volunteer effort is important to the success of the program.
- Available lit parking. Sufficient lit parking within the park is preferred.
Based on consideration of these criteria, the team does not consider Laurel Hill Park to be a candidate for night riding at this time. With park development at Laurel Hill still in its infancy, the Park Authority faces too many operational restrictions to make this site a realistic option at this stage.
ISSUE: Network with REI
- An employee of REI reported that it was difficult to get a working relationship with the Park Authority.
- In the past they have only worked with the parks when an individual manager was contacted.
- Director Dargle committed to improving that situation since we can't do it alone.
ISSUE: Deer Hunting
- Many people attended the Listening Forum to complain about deer hunting with bows and arrows. The news media had played up the discontent among the animal rights groups.
- There is a history of deer hunting in the county. Charles Smith answered questions for FCPA. Sharp shooting and bow hunting are integrated. The rules are very specific and hunts are well planned and monitored. No one has been killed by an archer.
- Deer Management program is overseen by Animal Control, the Police Department and the Board of Supervisors. FCPA plays a role in facilitating.
- Animal rights and Humane Society members expressed their criticism of the program and had information to pass out: Cooperative Community Collaboration and a list of questions entitled We'd Like to Know. When did the public have input?
- Members of communities near Colvin Run spoke in favor of program.
- Information both pro and con was shared including issues such as: the lack of natural predators, deer contraception, health and safety of the community, environment, loss of natural plants that support other animal life,
- White paper is needed on the history, how is improvement measured, it take years to collect data. Criteria for cancelling deer hunts requested.
- Better notification and signage around areas when hunting is happening, park users worry
- Motion detectors suggested for fewer auto accidents. Used in other states.
- Archery groups are looking for a home in Fairfax County. Now they are forced to go outside the county to engage in their sport.
- They would like to start a Friends group to support the effort.
- The subject has a history. Liability and safety were issues. Groups convinced they have those problems covered. Bull Run has ranges.
- Look into the plan similar to one that radio controlled airplanes worked out.
- Bow hunters were in attendance and spoke positively about the deer management program.
- The Park Authority has responded to archers in the past that currently there is no appropriate location for archery identified in existing master plans. A meeting was convened between the respondents and Planning staff at which the Park Authority gathered their requirements. The Park Authority will now look at space and use requirements and work with the Park Operations Division to identify possible locations in the western portion of the county.
ISSUE: Collaboration to Ensure History and Nature Connection
- Centreville Historic Park, a new park that will suffer with budget cuts.
- An example of the importance and great collaboration of history and nature. Other examples, Sears House and Mt. Gilead, Tyson's Pimmit Run
- The Covered Way, a Civil War entrenchment, is ill-maintained. It's beyond neighborhood capacity to keep up. Use scouts here.
- Communities coming together to solve problems: geese in Lake Barcroft and grass cutting, Mason District Park.
ISSUE: Discussion of ideas to support parks in this economic down time
- Parks serving more people that ever. Visits up from 14 million to 17 million serving more people than many county agencies.
- To show support of parks, call your member of the Board of Supervisors and contact your Park Authority Board member.
- Create more Friends groups
- Area crews working with neighborhoods
- Park Foundation looks at revenue sources like naming rights
- Since Virginia is a Dillon state, a locality can't do anything like adding a tax without permission of the state
- More education about invasive plants and the IMA program.
For more information on how you can volunteer with the Invasive Management Area program please visit us online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/ima/
ISSUE: Process for making changes in parks and policies
- Master plan needs assessment, strategic plan. We are coming up to the fifth year of the five year strategic plan.
- Changes involve Park Authority Board decision, public hearings, Planning Commission
ISSUE: Cross County Trail
- The CCT is a jewel.
- Would like to see an east-west trail, and the western part is missing connectors.
- Concern that the trails coordinator is retiring and won't be replaced due to budget cuts.
- Will work with other agencies such as DOT being creative and collaborative. The area crew people will have these additional responsibilities.
- Trail enthusiasts anxious for a Sully Woodlands trail.
- Request for time-use change on CCT until 8 p.m. since it's a commuter route. Right now it's illegal to ride after sundown.
ISSUE: How to advocate for budget increase for our favorite parks and features?
- We need info on web "for dummies," easy to access and understand.
- Green Spring is so special
- Garden plots, waiting list of 300, gardens more important now than ever
- Long Brach Stream Valley erosion, need a plan
- Prepare speaking points for Friends and advocates
- Eagle Scouts are always looking for projects. Make better use of their potential.
- Better education about environment in parks; what's healthy or not for nature.
For more information about our Garden Plot program and how you too can become a community gardener, please visit us online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/plots.htm.
ISSUE: Equestrian Programs
- Great appreciation from horse enthusiasts for new rings at Turner Farm and Laurel Hill.
- Need for Fairfax County to have opportunities for riding lessons if you don't own a
- horse. Fairfax lost riding stables to development and they were never replaced.
- Only Fauquier (Lovettsville) and Montgomery Counties offer lessons.
- Fairfax 4 Horses members attended.
ISSUE: Farmers' Markets
- Popularity and importance of Farmers Markets
- Support of local farmers
- Can there be year-round Farmers Markets?
For more information about Farmers Markets please visit us online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farm-mkt.htm.
January 21, 2010
Director John Dargle welcomed a lively group to the Listening Forum held in Cabell's Mill at E.C, Lawrence Park and began by asking the participants, "How are we doing?" This was the latest in a series of meetings held in each magisterial district allowing Director Dargle to touch base with the park users in the county. The discussions, suggestions and resolutions can be tracked in that manner.
Director Dargle gave a brief overview of the budget noting that there are five fund areas for the Park Authority: general fund, revenue fund, bonds, capital construction and county construction. We can identify $400 million of needs for capital projects.
- ISSUE: Bob's Boot Camp not able to use Burke Lake Park for class.
- Bob Fairchild and approximately 15 participants from his women-only Bob's Boot Camp asked why they were being kicked out of Burke Lake Park. They believe that the Park Authority is starting one of its own at Burke Lake. They wanted to know if more than one could exist as they have been attending for more than four years. The program runs throughout the year. They feel they should be able to use the park for this activity regardless of what the PA is doing. Director Dargle promised to look into the matter and get back to them.
- This issue was addressed by the Park Services Division and several meetings ensued in an effort to allow multiple entities to thrive at that site.
- ISSUE: Why are the parks and libraries the hardest hit in the budget crisis and what can we do?
- Director Dargle explained there is a $315 million county deficit. The parks may need to cut another 15% which represents $3.3 million out of the General Fund. There has been a 30% reduction in the past four years. The Revenue Fund is trying to absorb the general fund reductions, but it's very difficult. You can track the budget on the county website. Director Dargle urged those who are interested to go to the Supervisors and talk to them. The County Executive's budget will be published on February 23, followed by Board of Supervisors hearings in April and May.
- ISSUE: How can the Park Authority continue its commitment to the environment?
- FCPA does have environmental mandates and are players cleaning up the water. FCPA's multi-modal mission is, in part, to preserve and protect open space and the environment. Volunteers monitor watersheds. However, there is a stormwater management branch in county government that we work closely with. Funding is found in the property tax where one cent is specified to improve water quality. Director Dargle encouraged citizens to stay in touch with EQAC as well as to be involved in the invasive management program.
- ISSUE: Archery
- A citizen who came to the Listening Forum at the Government Center returned to Cabell's Mill to discuss the possibility of archery in Fairfax County parks. Director Dargle noted that staff was engaged in the issue and would be in touch regarding possibilities. There was discussion about use of areas under electric wires and the need to update master plans to accommodate this type of activity. Dargle was encouraged to hear that the archery enthusiasts are willing to form a Friends group.
- ISSUE: Rectangular ballfields
- Request to continued funding rectangular ballfields was made.
- Reference to old field allocations in the southern and eastern portions of the county. All the fields pushed west leaving the south and east underserved. (Ft. Belvoir, Franconia)
- The fields built 30 and 40 years ago are too small.
- Discussed Laurel Hill sportsplex as solution. However, the sportsplex is slated to be a public/private partnership and no private partner has stepped forward.
- ISSUE: Funding for ball fields
- Funding from naming rights was suggested.
- ISSUE: Deer Population
- A local resident complained about the deer population being out of control. The ensuing discussion noted that deer management programs are active, that there are an estimated 20,000 deer in urban areas which make it more complicated, and that the deer reduction programs in place take out a few hundred and hardly make a dent. The programs have been in place for at least ten years, but the deer population continues to grow.
- ISSUE: Burke Lake Ice Cream Parlor
- A park user would like to see the ice cream shop at Burke Lake turned into a coffee shop. They claim that the ice cream parlor is hardly ever open and this is a missed opportunity when so many people use the park. The history of concessions stands was discussed: those run by Little League, those contracted out which operated at a loss, and the few successful endeavors.
Many people came out just to say thanks. They wanted to talk and just share information. Thoughts expressed included a general appreciation for parks as a quality of life amenity, the medical benefits of parks and other benefits as well. When former Redskin coach, Jim Zorn, was asked how he relaxed, he said he walked the Cross County Trail. Volunteers shared stories of children and the parks. Parks offer many wonderful opportunities for kids who don't get to play outside.
It was also noted that parks are a great multi-cultural draw. Out of their experiences come different ideas of the use of parks. Parks break down barriers. FCPA has Community Connections Programs; diversity is a major part of the strategic plan. The classes and scout program teach diverse students about stewardship and they in turn teach their parents.
A citizen reminded people to testify in front of the Board of Supervisors. He gave the example from last year when certain fees were being raised and the community came out and were successful in making their points and eventually having lakefront fees rescinded.
In summing up, Director Dargle drew a comparison to the Great Depression when many parks were built and the recognition of the importance of parks in people's lives became commonplace
The Clark House
June 10, 2010
Director John Dargle revisited Mason District as Listening Forums around the community continued. Having kicked off Listening Forums in March, 2009 and having visited every supervisor district by holding a meeting in a Park Authority facility, and a countywide forum at the Government Center, he is hosting bi-monthly meetings in each district again and following up on issues brought up previously, as well as new issues.
Director Dargle welcomed participants to the meeting held at the Clark House, one of FCPA's historic properties. Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross attended the meeting. Director Dargle introduced her and she also welcomed the group. She gave a brief history of the Clark House, an original turn of the century (20th) four-square home that was moved to the Columbia Pike location and renovated. She mentioned its significance since this property was championed by Bo White, a long-time Park Authority Board member from Mason District, who loved parks and worked hard in the support of the Park Authority's projects. Mr. White died on May 30, 2010.
Also attending the meeting and introduced, in addition to Supervisor Penny Gross, were: Frank Vajda, Park Authority Board Rep, Mason District, Richard Maple, Area 2 manager, Michael McDonnell, manager of Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Mary Olien, manager of Green Spring Gardens, Barbara Nugent, Park Services Division director and Judy Pedersen, public information officer.
ISSUE: Glasgow Park & Jeb Stuart Park
- ISSUE: Abandoned property on Peace Valley Lane
- An abandoned 2 ˝ acre property was in question. (only accessible from Route 7.)
- Would the Park Authority take it over?
- Supervisor Gross gave some history regarding the property. She described it as a blight abatement property that at one time was going to be developed but was not. The house on the property has to be razed since it's in such bad shape.
- It is being looked into by Board of Supervisors and Park Authority.
ISSUE: Hogge Property
- The initial information hearing about the six-acre property located at 3139 Glen Carlyn Road in Bailey's Crossroad was held on May 20, 2010 at Glen Forest Elementary School.
- The classification and options were discussed within the parameters of the master plan.
- Public comment was accepted for 30 days.
- A public comment meeting will be held before with an additional 30 days of public comment.
- All information relating to the Hogge property can be found online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/Downloads/Hogge_GMP.pdf.
ISSUE: Pine Ridge Soccer Fields
- Several members of the Fairfax Women's Soccer league attended the forum.
- Their concern was about their continued ability to use the fields on Saturdays after upgrades and allocation changes for fields.
- CRS gives priority of turf fields to youth groups on weekends.
- Ruth Walton gave a brief history of the fields at Pine Ridge and the Women's Soccer League.
- She has been involved since 1980 (and has a field named after her.) Pine Ridge was made available for play because of volunteer efforts.
- Supporters noted that the work that the volunteers did increased the monetary value of the parks, the group always helped on bond referendums, public hearings and site clean ups. Pine Ridge is hailed as an excellent example of public- private partnership. Now they're afraid they'll lose their ability to use the field.
- Director Dargle encouraged the group to stay with the process and remain hopeful. Their situation is unique and there is flexibility in the policy.
- A ribbon cutting for the field and lighting improvements is scheduled on October 16, 2010. For more information contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.
ISSUE: Turf Field discussion relative to schools and synthetic turf:
- FCPA fields vs. FCPS fields
- Historically high school fields were never used for other than school use.
- We have entered a new situation, new territory with the FCPS.
- We are working on new community use policies.
- The use of fields has changed with synthetic turf fields, so discussions are underway.
- Area 2 Manager, Richard Maple, was able to shed light on the process involved with construction and replacement of synthetic turf fields.
- There are approximately 30 turf fields in the county. Baileys was the last one finished.
- There is no funding for replacement of synthetic turf fields. There are 14 fields in rotation to be replaced in the next few years. The life of a turf field is not really known in the industry. Thought to be 10 to 15 years.
- High impact areas are showing wear and tear.
- The user groups' adopt-a-field program doesn't work the same way with turf fields.
- RECenters need upgrades and replacements too.
- FCPA is looking at various sources.
- Fairfax County is protecting its AAA bond rating; therefore, future bonds are on hold.
- The Park Authority is looking at the potential for increased fees and new fees, naming rights, other revenue raising sources.
- ISSUE: Renovate Garage at Green Spring Gardens
- A member of FROGS (Friends of Green Springs) spoke about their long-time dream to renovate the old garage into a classroom to benefit the whole community.
- There is no county money, but they have already raised money from private donations.
- How do they get on the bond project list?
- They need an architectural plan to tell them how much the project would cost so they could move forward.
- Director Dargle said it is being discussed. It has to get on the Planning and Development work plan. Cindy Walsh, Resource Management director, is instrumental in getting it into the work plan. Stay involved. Dargle noted the need to know what permits are needed, costs of starting and completing before anyone moves forward.
ISSUE: Poe Terrace Parkland Update
- Trail work planned for land on Little River Turnpike and Hillbrook Drive across from the George Mason Library that has historic significance.
- Supervisor Gross, Frank Vajda and Mike McDonnell all spoke about the project.
- The land was under construction for the Manassas Gap Railroad when the Civil War broke out and it was never completed. There is great interest in the stone work that remains.
ISSUE: Light at Entrance to E.C. Lawrence Park
- A Women's Soccer representative requested a light at the entrance to E.C. Lawrence.
- The lights go off 10 minutes after the last game and it's very dark remote area and potentially dangerous.
- Park staff was confident this could be addressed.
ISSUE: Safety Issues
- Thefts were reported at Audrey Moore and other RECenters.
- Richard Maple spoke to precautions one must take. Criminals look for opportunities.
- Reporting incident to police is of utmost importance.
- Barbara Nugent described the effectiveness of the cameras in RECenters, the ability to freeze frame, and the recidivism of RECenter thefts if police aren't involved.
- A camera near the recycling area at Wakefield Park was suggested for safety.
ISSUE: Fairfax County is a Great Place to Live
- Supervisor Gross asked to say a few words to wrap up the Listening Forum. As a member of COG (The Council of Governments) she is aware of all aspects of the metro area and wanted to remind the folks that Fairfax County is a great place to live. Fairfax has great parks, water, communities, schools...just about everything. Do not get negative. People who moved from other states to Fairfax expressed their agreement.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
PROVIDENCE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: SEPTEMBER
About 15 guests and members of Friends organizations attended the
recent Providence District Listening Forum. Director John
Dargle Jr. presided at the informal opportunity for
discussion. Providence Park Authority Board
Member Ken Quincy, was in attendance, and helped to answer questions.
A variety of topics and issues were discussed as outlined below:
ISSUE: Support for the Frying Pan Farm Park Equestrian
Appreciation for the renovated equestrian center was expressed.
John Dargle noted that input from a citizen taskforce was key to the
success of the facility. The barns just won an award from
the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society for Best
New Facility in a community with a population over
Issue: Impact of the FY2011 budget on Parks
An individual asked how citizens could obtain early budget information
on any items that could have an impact on Parks. For
general County budget information see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/
The Fairfax County Park Authority having been faced with escalating
budget and fiscal challenges over the past three years
(FY2009-2010-1011) now must consider broader options in how to
appropriately sustain service delivery and service and facility growth
to meet the needs of the expanding and changing population of Fairfax
County. Tasked by the Park Authority Board to undertake this
initiative, the Park Authority Director and staff will
embark upon a process to develop a system whereby the Board can
consider the implementation of measures and initiatives that will
assist the Authority in becoming more fiscally self-sustaining over
the short and long terms. All programs and services will be
assessed under a core services review. The most critical
services provided by the Authority will be fully evaluated under
a benefit/cost analysis exercise. The development of all
the Authority's budgets will be completed using a
Program Based Budgeting model with management considering how the
programs meet the sustainable funding model criteria, service
standards and long term objectives.
The Park Authority is not expecting any further budget reductions in
In FY12 we have asked for some additional money to make ADA
accommodations and provide some repair and replacements to existing,
The Park Authority is working hard to maximize its capital dollars
with a five year CIP and expects to extend that funding an additional
ISSUE: Deer Park Management
Melissa Klein was concerned about the upcoming bow and arrow deer
management exercise and that it may not be as effective as other
methods and will cause many deer to be wounded, but not killed, and in
turn may run causing citizens to be hurt in the
It was suggested that Twenty First Century Deer
Management has better methods of dealing with deer
overpopulation. Ms. Klein recommended that a
citizen's committee be established and that the
County adopt an alternative, corrective program that is safe.
The Director pointed out that although the deer hunts occur on park
property, the County's Deer Management program is a
function of the Police Department. He provided a listing of
approaching deer management information meetings for her.
ISSUE: Laurel Hill Area
A member of the Clifton Horse Society inquired as to the status of
completion of the outdoor equestrian arena at Laurel
Hill. She understood it to be ready this fall and
wondered if there is money to finish it.
In response to the request resulting from the Providence District
Listening Forum here is a status report on the design and development
of the Laurel Hill Equestrian Area:
Phase I site plan for the Equestrian Center submitted to
the DPWES site plan review in September 2010,
Review typically 3-6 months to approval for permitting
When review is nearing completion, staff will solicit bids for
construction - 1-3 months
Project will use the existing entrance road to be widened
for 2-way traffic
Entrance road will intersect existing Furnace Road which will
become service road to park when new Furnace Road constructed by
Office of Transportation
Construction to start Spring 2011
Construction of equestrian ring in this phase is subject to
available funding in project pending site plan requirements
resulting for DPWES review
Since the site is located within the National Register of Historic
Places a Phase 1 archaeological study had to be performed before any
construction activities can begin to ensure there
aren't any historical sites / artifacts being
disturbed. This is a roughly 3-4 month study that started in
June 2010 and should conclude in October 2010.
- FCPA approved the Conceptual Development Plan (COP) for Laurel Hill
Park in 2004. The CDP includes an equestrian facility near the
intersection of Furnace and Lorton Road
- Fairfax4Horses, a coalition of equestrian interests in Northern
Virginia, signed a MOA with the PA in 2006 and committed to raising
and donating funds to build the equestrian facility, donations
to the Park Foundation from Fairfax4Horses for this facility total
$1,956 to date
- On Oct. 22 2008, FCPA approved a project scope in the amount of
$907,000 to build Phase I of the equestrian facility
- Funding for Phase I is from proffers for park improvements in the
Mount Vernon area and Park Capital Bond funds
- The first part of Phase I was the demolition of two concrete barns
within the existing dairy farm. This work was completed in
November 2009. The second part of Phase I is the new
construction which includes road improvements, parking, landscaping,
storm water management, signs, and a riding ring
ISSUE: Request for more trails in Eakin Park
There was a request for more trails in Eakin Park followed up by a
question as to whether a volunteer group could build trails and is
there a process in place to accomplish this?
The Director cited key park staff to coordinate with to look into the
possible construction of additional trails. Citizens
interesting in volunteering to improve or construct trails can contact
area Park Operations Manager, Richard Maple, directly at 703-324-8594,
or for County-wide trail work call Special Projects Division,
Elizabeth Cronauer, at 703-324-8629
ISSUE: Control of ticks and invasive species?
There was an inquiry as to whether park volunteers are used to control
ticks and invasive species or is it the Health
The Resource Management Division has an invasive plant management
program and does use volunteers. The Director said he
would follow up regarding the Health Department's
role in the management of ticks and invasives.
RESPONSE: For information regarding ticks you can access
the Fairfax County Health Department at West Nile Virus
. For information about the Park
Authority's Invasive Management Area (IMA) program,
please visit us online at
What Are Invasives
ISSUE: Smell of sewage near a number of streambeds in the
The smell of sewage had been detected near both Eakin Park and Daniels
Run streambeds. The Director asked Park Operations
Division to investigate. Staff walked the
Accotink Stream Valley trail, which runs along the side of the sewer
trunk line, and found no odors present. However, it is
common to have a strong sewer odor at the numerous vent pipe locations
along the trail. This is probably the odor that was
ISSUE: Ball fields
There was an inquiry as to whether there is a trend to increase the
number of ball fields in the community versus maintaining open areas
with natural resources.
It was pointed out that the parks have a dual mission to balance both
recreational opportunities as well as to protect the
County's natural resources. There is
no trend or intention of promoting one over the other.
There was an inquiry as to whether ball field lights are left on all
night. It was pointed out that they are usually turned
off after the game but always by 11 p.m. Generally, there
are agreements with the community surrounding a park and the field
users in which it is determined what is appropriate for the site and
ISSUE: Barrett House and near by Giles Run
Are there plans to fix up the historic Barrett House and if not, is
there an opportunity for a friends
group to help?
We are currently evaluating the historic homes requiring work and
looking at whether an outside group could do the work, but at this
time there are limited funds. The Director agreed to
check with Historic Rental Property Services (HPRC) regarding the cost
benefits analysis on the property.
What will Parks do with the property next to the parking lot by Giles
There are no plans at this time. For the latest
information about plans for Laurel Hill on the park side of the
property, residents should speak with the Planning Division project
team: Kirk Holley at 703-324-8787 or Kelly Davis at 703-324-8609.
There were questions about what is planned near the Barrett
House. Mr. Dargle explained that a master plan has been
developed for Laurel Hill and urged those interested in the progress
on the project to look online at Park Authority Planning and Development
or Department of Planning and Zoning.
The uses are constrained by the legislation under which the land was
ISSUE: Sully Woodlands
At Sully Woodlands they have a model plane park. Do they
have plans to keep it separate from the horse trails? The Park
Authority Board has entered into an agreement for model airplane
activities. Kirk Holley in Planning and Development is the contact for
this topic 703-324-8787. Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft Flying Site
or 12/02/09 Planning Committee
ISSUE: Tysons Development
Has there been any development at Tysons?
For information pertaining to the Park Authority's
position on green space in Tysons or for more information about urban
park planning and standards, contact Andi Dorlester at 703-324-8692 or
Sandy Stallman in Planning and Development at 703-324-8643.
A link to the Park
Authority's Urban Park Standards is
provided. 03/12/08 Planning Committee
A Tysons web site will soon be available to direct citizens to various
areas of interest.
ISSUE: Funds for Gabrielson Gardens
A citizen alleged that some $52,000 is owed to Gabrielson Gardens,
which is in the Sully District, from 10 years ago when the money was
diverted to Clemyjontri Park. There was an inquiry as to when or if
that money would be returned to the park. Mr. Dargle
noted that it would take a bit of investigation to track those details
down. It has been assigned to Mike Baird of Park
Financial Management, and is being looked into.
There was a bond project in 1998 with $50,000 programmed for the
development/horticulture of Gabrielson Gardens. However,
the Park Authority Board reallocated those funds, based on priorities,
in 2002 to ClemyJontri Park. There is still $2,000
remaining in the Gabrielson Gardens Fund.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
BRADDOCK DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: NOVEMBER
Item: Park Planning model
Ms. Ritchie Chung, who attended the forum, noted that although the Park Authority has some nice properties, she felt the planning model used by the department is outdated and appears to be "top down" instead of "top down and bottom up." In other words, she would like to see more participatory planning that engages citizens directly in parks planning, beyond accepting comments. She suggested that the Park Authority professionals could be more receptive to ideas and responsive to concerns of citizens, particularly the concerns of those interested in conservation.
She mentioned that collaborative planning models used in numerous states, such as Oregon were, in her opinion, superior because they have organized, diverse groups of citizens determining the appropriate uses for new parks.
As proof that Fairfax County can do such planning, she cited the Middle Potomac Watershed Planning Project (2005-2008). During that project, planners, volunteers, and the general public worked together on determining priorities for stream conservation and stormwater management. She felt it was a good example of how public participation can work here.
The Park Authority uses a consistent and collaborative public participation process for long range planning efforts and site specific park master planning. Public input is essential to the planning process and can be achieved in various ways. Our typical planning process is outlined on the Planning and Development webpage that can be found at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/greatparks/ The Park Authority Board is the approval body for these plans and considers all public input received as part of the planning processes in making its decision. The Park Authority Board must also consider its own plans, objectives and policies, County policies and plans, legal aspects, site conditions and context, county, state and federal regulations, best practices and the allocation of its resources.
Item: Master Plan for Salona
Ms. Ritchie Chung stated that the draft park plan for the Salona property did not make anyone happy. She felt the Park Authority should think longer term when setting priorities. The option exists to purchase the historic home on the site, restore it and use it as a conference center in the future; and that building ball fields is short-sighted. It was recommended that Parks partner with nonprofit organizations like the GMCC's Green McLean and McLean Land Conservancy and form task forces so citizens can be involved in setting conservation and use policies. It was requested that county archeologists be on site to look at the property before a preliminary development plan is approved.
Chung suggested that because of the distance from McLean to the existing nature centers, that the Park Authority should consider an environmentally low-impact alternative at Salona, i.e. a nature center where kids could go to study ecosystems and learn about their neighborhood streams. Hidden Oaks is the nearest facility.
Finally it was mentioned that at the recent historic marker ceremony, citizens expressed that they didn't even know that there was a master plan drafted for Salona. Ms. Ritchie Chung suggested that new strategies for public outreach are needed to reach all Parks constituencies.
The Salona house is not included in the conservation easement with the Fairfax County Park Authority. The house is protected under a separate conservation easement established in 1971 with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors which protects the historic integrity of the house while allowing the house to remain a private residence. This existing conservation easement with Fairfax County runs with the ownership of the house and grounds surrounding the house and ensures that the house is protected in the future.
The County archaeologist is represented on all Park Authority project teams that deal with cultural resources such as Salona and is very familiar with the site. The cultural landscape plan recommends future archaeological study of the site prior to any disturbances. Such archeological study would be performed prior to development of park facilities on the site.
The recommendation to add a nature center will be considered as we continue to receive input to the Salona master plan. In the meantime, in addition to Hidden Oaks, Riverbend Park also has a nature center and it is in the Dranesville District. Fairfax County Park Authority has a close relationship with Fairfax County Public Schools and our programmers meet annually with science administrators to ensure we have the latest information on what the children are studying. Resource management parks,(nature centers, Frying Pan Farm Park, Green Spring Gardens, and our one naturalist staffed RECenter, Cub Run) combined to offer over 50 different programs for students Pre-k to 7th grade to study nature and science at our sites. Staff from our parks were involved in the creation of the new fourth grade ecosystems curriculum unit and participated in training teachers for the roll out of this new unit in Jan. and Feb. of 2009. Since then park programmers have created a special group of programs at parks and through outreach to fit the ecosystem study curriculum of fourth grades in Fairfax County. We are also working closely with the 7th grade teachers and administration in giving students a meaningful watershed experience in our parks. Since its start in 2007, this program has provided a meaningful ecosystem experience for thousands of 7th grade students in Fairfax County. Just recently it was reported that so far this year, 288 Lake Braddock 7th grader science students have been to the Hidden Pond program to learn about healthy ecosystems while conducting stream studies.
Information on Park's master plans can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/mparchives.htm.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
SPRINGFIELD DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: JANUARY
Christian Deschauer, a representative from Supervisor Herrity's Office, was in attendance.
Item: South Run Stream Valley Trail Maintenance
Mr. Neal McBride, who attended the forum, made the point that there is a need for improvement of existing facilities including fields and trails rather than expenditures on new land or facilities. He called the current situation disheartening and claimed that other park systems do a better job. He referenced and provided materials pertaining to the need for specific trail improvements in the Newington Forest area. He felt that the Franconia field is the worst.
He offered to assist in convincing the Board of Supervisors that a bond is needed and that they need to provide greater support to parks. He suggested getting public attention by closing facilities to public use, such as trails in the need of repair.
Mr. Ken Foye noted that the Newington Forest community recently spent nearly $60,000 on trail improvements to its 2.5 miles of trail that connect with Park Authority trails. He reported a significant and dangerous issue near the intersection of Rainbow Bridge and Magic Leaf.
Ms. Jennifer Cortesi did not want to see the trail shut down, just improved and advocated for natural surface trails that would not be so costly or have similar erosion issues. She likes the Cross County Trail and what has been done with this.
Director Dargle responded that he agreed and that earlier in the day he had spoken with staff regarding the use of proffer money for trail improvement in the South Run Stream Valley. He also noted that the Park Authority depends on volunteers and athletic groups to assist in the maintenance of fields though field adoption programs.
In FY10 Park Authority bond money was approved to renovate a section of the South Run Stream Valley trail between Lake Mercer and South Run RECenter. This is to include a new asphalt surfaced trail, since natural surface trails in flooded areas cause more erosion and are more difficult to maintain, and related drainage structures. Funding in the amount of $369,000 was identified for this purpose and Tom McFarland, of the Planning and Development Division, was assigned to manage the team. The PAB approved $80,000 to repair the trail at Rainbow Branch near Magic Leaf. More information will be available shortly on the trail repairs at this intersection. For more information see the Board Agenda Item on South Run Stream Valley Trail -- Magic Leaf Road 05/12/10 Planning Committee
Item: No trails near Lorton schools
Ms. Cortesi also advocated for trails from and around local schools so kids could walk or ride bikes to school. There was general discussion that most of the land she had in mind around these Lorton schools belonged to the school system not parks.
Director Dargle forwarded the item to the Mount Vernon District Supervisor Office.
Item: Giles Run
Another gentleman complained that he did not know what was going on at Giles Run. He advocated for signage which would explain the project.
This is a DPWES project and includes construction on water and adjunct effluent lines, according to PIO Judy Pedersen. In addition to the work on effluent lines, DPWES is also putting in lines to irrigate ball fields and the golf course. For more information on work being done at Giles Run, see the following website. Lower Occoquan Watershed Management Plan Executive Summary
Item: Deer management
An inquiry was made regarding how many deer had been harvested to date.
As of January 25, 2011, we have harvested 725 deer during the FY11 Fairfax County Deer Management Program.
- 114 deer (managed hunts)
- 179 deer (sharpshooting)
- 432 deer (Archery Program)
Our FY11 program has been extremely successful to date. We have three weeks of the Archery Program, one managed hunt (BLM), and seven sharpshooting operations remaining this season. Below is site-specific harvest data from the FY11 Archery Program:
Archery Program Site
Confederate Fortifications Historic Site
Colvin Run SV/ Difficult Run SV
Cub Run SV
Elklick/ Mt Road
South Run SV
I-66 Landfill (DPWES)
Corbalis Water Plant (Water Authority)
The Police Department's Animal Control Division is responsible for the County's Deer Management Program. Contact the County Wildlife Biologist, Victoria Monroe, at 703-246-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Item: ATV's in the Parks
Discussion focused on the use of motorized ATV's on parkland in the Laurel Hills area.
This is not permitted by park policy. "Off-Road Vehicle Operation. No person shall operate any type of motorized vehicle in areas of a park other than established roadways without the express written permission of the Park Authority except as noted in §1.14 (C) above. Appendix 7 Park Authority Regulations
Item: Flooding at Lake Accotink
There were also concerns about how the dam at Lake Accotink overflows, covering the trail below and making the trail impassible.
A primary park trail crosses perpendicular to the discharge point at the down stream toe of the dam. A small concrete channel passes discharge flow beneath the trail. The channel is extremely undersized, so minor storms often overtop the trail making it impassable. Staff has looked at several options for correcting the problem, but all of them would be very costly and currently there is no funding to improve the trail crossing. As part of the dam repair project just completed, the trail will be repaved this spring, but this will not reduce the frequency of flooding.
Item: Bond Money
One attendee asked when the next Park Bond Referendum would be held.
Director Dargle mentioned that Parks has extended the 2008 bond dollars by two years. However, the timing of the next Park bond has not been determined by the Board of Supervisors. As you many know, bonds provide millions of dollars for land acquisition, park development programs, park and building renovations, as well as stewardship projects.
The next Listening Forum is set for March 24, at 7 p.m. at the Lee District RECenter.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
LEE DISTRICT LISTENING
FORUM: MARCH 2011
Marcus Wadsworth, a representative from Supervisor
McKay's Office, was in attendance.
Item: Lee District Synthetic Turf Field
The question was posed as to whether there is a schedule for the
conversion of five more ball fields at Lee District from grass to
synthetic turf. Several of the people in attendance were
Lee District residents whose properties back to, or are very close to,
the new synthetic turf field. There were three primary
concerns with the synthetic field: the bright lights, the additional
noise and the water run off. The lights are much brighter
than what was there before, according to one speaker. It
was, however, appreciated that they are turned off at 10 pm each
night. It was noted that the lights are often on when
there is no one on the field, during heavy rains and snow
storms. The question was raised, could they be turned off
when not in use? With regard to the additional noise, it
was pointed out that when the field was grass, there were a lot more
informal "kiddie" games with limited
people and noise. Now the leagues have been attracted by
the synthetic turf and there are many more people, typically older and
the volume is much greater. With regard to the water run
off, the capacity is now so great that the Dept of Public Works and
Environmental Services came out and decided to do a sewer study to see
if the capacity of the pipes needed to be
The attendees voiced their opposition to building five additional
synthetic turf fields. In addition to the alleged
exponential effect of the issues noted above, they are also concerned
about the additional traffic that the fields would bring.
They inquired as to the construction schedule and wanted to know if
the master plan could be modified and if in fact the additional fields
There was an inquiry as to whether the placement of the smaller
"kiddie" fields and the synthetic
fields could be flipped. By putting the grass fields near
the houses, it was felt that there would be less impact from the noise
and light pollution. There was concern that
the master plan was developed when expectations, projections, and the
economy were different.
The final concern about the Lee District synthetic turf fields is how
six fields will impact the green space. When all the
fields were grass, the fields could be used for many outdoor purposes
e.g., picnicking, riding a bike, flying a kite, walking a
dog. Once the synthetic turf is laid, the space becomes
very specific. Also there will be more non-permeable
surface area which seems to be out of balance with the natural green
space, according to one critic.
There are currently no plans or funding available to convert the
remaining fields or modify the master plan for Lee District Park at
The lighting system for the ball fields has an off button that
allows the lights to be turned off when not in use. We request
that users of the field be courteous and turn off the lights when
their use of the field is done and when it is not likely that any
subsequent permitted users will be using the field. We will
contact all users and ask them to turn off the lights when they are
not in use by a permitted user.
Since there is no immediate plan to improve any additional fields
beyond what is already shown on the Master Plan for the park or what
is currently developed, no additional traffic is expected to occur
beyond what already occurs or is planned for.
The noise issue definitely a very difficult one to address since
noise, and whether it is too loud or disturbing, is all relative to
each persons own feelings and opinions. We
wouldn't argue that league-related use
may tend to generate more noise than non-league use, but that really
is more dependent upon how many users and spectators are present and
the type of use occurring (as in a game, versus practice, versus just
kicking the ball around). Synthetic fields generate no more
noise than grass fields from our experience. The noise levels do
comply with County Ordinances regarding noise.
It was mentioned that synthetic turf fields will impact the green
space not allowing for other activities to occur in that space.
However, when the field was grass, it was only supposed to be used for
ball field use. Our rules do not allow the field to be
used for any other purpose than what it was designed for (diamonds for
baseball and softball use, and rectangles for football, soccer,
lacrosse, etc. use). Picnicking, riding a bike, flying a kite or
walking a dog was never allowed to occur on fields, grass or
synthetic. Nothing has changed in this park or any other park
where a grass field was converted to synthetic. The same rules
apply and the same type of usage occurs. See the Park
Authority Policy Manual Regulation 1.15E on Protection of Park
Property at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parkpolicy/app7regs.pdf
We spoke with Phil Hager, Area 3 Athletic Field Manager, regarding
drainage issues. Mr. Hager was not aware of any drainage
problems at Lee District Park. He said the parking lot
has no problem and he's been there during downpours, etc.
The only problem he could think of is water draining across sidewalk
from the end of field swale and icing sidewalks in winter. We
will monitor the perimeters of the synthetic field to see if
there are any issues with drainage occurring that
didn't exist prior to the construction of the
field, and will address any issues that are found as
For reference, the following is a link to the master plan for Lee
There was an inquiry that if a private group raised funds for a field
what disclosure would there need to be?
Any group interested in raising funds for a field would go through
our Planning and Development Division, Park Authority Board and their
Supervisor's Office. Typically, the
groups and staff will notify neighbors and publicly process the
Item: Need for additional staffing at Huntley
Ms. Norma Hoffman, a long-time volunteer and member of the Friends
Group of Huntley Meadows Park and Historic Huntley, noted what
dedicated staff the Park Authority has at Huntley Meadows
Park. She went on to say they had lost staff and she
wanted to know if the hiring freeze could be lifted so that two
additional staff could be added. She also wanted to know
if GMU students could be used as docents or to do research for Huntley
to ease the problem.
Mrs. O'Connell mentioned that she wished there was
more opportunity for citizen to have input on plans for parks in a
down economy. She didn't realize it
meant a loss of staff.
There is no hiring freeze. There just
aren't the funds to re-establish the positions cut
in previous budget year. We have been trying to preserve
staff, natural and cultural resources the best we
can. We do use both volunteers and interns
to supplement. Mr. Vellucci explained that a small
portion of the General Fund budget actually goes to
Parks. He suggested that residents speak to their
representative to the Board of Supervisors if they think Parks should
get a bigger share.
We appreciate our neighbors taking the time to present
creative ideas to assist us in getting through these
difficult financial times and moving forward. Staff will explore
ideas for the use of GMU students.
One gentleman voiced his concern for future vandalism at Historic
The house will have a centrally monitored alarm system as we do at
all of our historic facilities. Staff from Huntley Meadows (who
are charged with overseeing this facility) will be monitoring the
facility as much as possible. The good thing is that there are
neighbors who have helped to keep a watchful eye on the property for
some time. In addition, there is a church right across
the street as well as a school right up the street and it lies on a
fairly heavily traveled road.
Item: Synthetic Field at Loisdale Park
Mr. Richard Kersch felt he had been blind-sided by the construction of
a field in Loisdale Park when it is his understanding that the area is
zoned as residential. He mentioned that there is no
homeowners association in his community so the outreach regarding the
addition of a field was nothing more than a notice in his
mailbox. He asked for information on when the master plan
was done for Loisdale how the Jennings dealership came about.
The artificial turf field between Loisdale Park and the future
Jennings Toyota site was approved by the Board of Supervisors as part
of the Jennings Toyota rezoning. As part of the rezoning
process, the rezoning proposal was reviewed and supported by the Lee
District Land Use Committee that includes representatives from Lee
District HOAs including the adjacent Loisdale community. In
addition, the applicant held community meetings with the HOAs
surrounding the application area, including Loisdale. Two public
hearings were held, one before the planning commission and one before
the Board of Supervisors. Notification to adjacent landowners is
required for the public hearings in addition to newspaper
A certified letter was sent to homeowners by the Department of
Planning and Zoning, Zoning Evaluation Division. The
letter notified homeowners of the public hearings. It
also noted a website where more information could be found as well as
a phone number to call to speak with a staff coordinator.
Even today if more information is sought, an interested citizen could
call 703-324-1290 and ask to speak to the Planner-on-Duty and they
will provide more information on the issue.
Jennings Toyota is funding the engineering and
construction of a state of the art athletic field that will meet
substantial athletic needs in an underserved area of the County.
The proffered field provides a major benefit to the community at no
cost to taxpayers. In addition, Jennings Toyota is dedicating
about 10 acres of land that will be added to Loisdale Park and another
25 acres that will be added to Island Creek Park.
The following are links to the Dept. of Planning and
Zoning's South County Report and the Re-Zoning and
Special Exception Applications for Lee District.
One resident felt it would be wise to wait several years and see if
the economy turns around rather than turning to private sector for
financial support. Others felt that the ball fields are
not professional sports complexes and they have concern about the
visibility and dominance of advertising. They want to
preserve the look of a green space. They did feel
advertising on a trash can or bench would be
Park Board Member Vellucci asked "Do we rent
out space to Starbucks?" Based on a
presentation by a consulting firm to the Park Authority Board, there
is some potential for developing sponsorship partnerships, but we are
at a very formative stage with regard to trying to capitalize on those
opportunities. We have to establish some staffing first and that
is not currently funded. Therefore, there are no plans
for using advertising in the Lee District Park at this time.
Item: Online Reservation System
It was pointed out that customers are struggling with the online
Staff is working to help educate users on the benefits of
Parktakes Online automated registration. Resources
Management Division programs are now coded.
The next Listening Forum is set for May 5, 2011, at 7 p.m. at
the Mt. Vernon Government Center.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
MT. VERNON DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: MAY 2011
Mt. Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland and Park Authority Board Members Linwood Gorham, Mt. Vernon Representative and Ed Batten, Lee District Representative, were in attendance.
Item: Potential Park Property
One gentleman mentioned that there is a landowner of an 11 acre horse farm who would like to make the land available to the Park Authority. He said before the Mt. Vernon Government Center was built, patients at the hospital use to like to watch the horses outside their window.
If the public is interested in land opportunities to parkland, please notify our Land Acquisition Branch at 703-324-8708.
Item: Corridor accessibility to Parks
Mr. Tilletts lives along the Rt. 1 corridor and has to drive to parks. He described the Mt. Vernon area as no longer suburban but urban. When he looks at the master plan he is concerned as to how the County plans to integrate park and recreational activities and green space. He feels that leadership and direction in that planning effort needs to come from the Park Authority Director. He feels attention is long overdue.
Mr. Dargle noted that the Board of Supervisors understands the impact of development and has funded an urban parks planner position to be at the table for planning discussions on behalf of Parks for a number of redevelopment projects. The Route 1 Corridor is still transitional and was originally designed as a suburban commercial corridor. The transition envisioned in the County Comprehensive Plan includes urban design guidelines that are in keeping with a more urban model. This is especially the case in the mixed used business center nodes that are planned. We have a good start with North Hill Park and an established urban park framework that we apply in the County's urban areas. As the Comprehensive Plan vision is implemented through the development process, the Park Authority will be advocating for parks along Richmond Highway as it has in the past with the Area Plan Review process and comments on various rezoning cases that never materialized. It will require coordination among private and public entities to make it happen. Political support is also essential. We will be at the table to use the implementation tools we have established.
Item: Maintenance of Parks
Mr. McBride noted that he was pleased to see improvements at both Newington Heights Park and Franconia Parks which he had cited earlier as needing attention. He continues to be concerned about maintenance issues with South Run Stream Valley trails and ball fields. Mr. Dargle had mentioned that these issues were to be addressed in April. He asked that we check on the status of those repairs. He hoped that there would be enough money in the next bond to address infrastructure and maintenance of parks.
Mr. Batten thanked Mr. McBride for his endless participation.
Staff is coordinating efforts with the Department of Public Works & Environmental Services to plan for a fall construction date to work on the South Run Stream Valley Trails.
Item: Invasive Species
One resident pointed out that our parks and natural areas are being denigrated by invasives, particularly in her area. She asked that more resources be dedicated to this issue. Eleanor Quigley, the Tree Commissioner, added that trees in Lamond Park are almost completely over taken by invasives. She pointed out that we need more resources and that she hates to see local nurseries selling English Ivy.
Mr. Dargle said that the Board of Supervisors supports the Invasive Management Program. The plan relies heavily on volunteers. The Park Authority recognizes the significant threat non-native invasive plants pose to our natural areas and we continue to seek recurring funds for a non-native invasive plant removal program. We do have a successful volunteer program; more information on that can be found here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/IMA/
Supervisor Hyland asked the Sheriff if we could use prisoners from the County Detention Center to help with controlling Invasive Species but the Sheriff said he did not have enough staff to supervise the prisoners. It was suggested that if we do use prisoners in the future that they be properly trained.
Item: Acquire and Restore Land
Ms. Booth urged Parks to acquire more natural area and fix up some degraded areas. Many streams have been destroyed. She feels land doesn't have to be developed. She also mentioned that a new organism was recently discovered in Ft. Hunt Park. We need to inventory and protect this kind of natural asset.
The National Park Service collected macroinvertebrates at Fort Hunt Park in eastern Fairfax County. One of the animals was unusual, appears to be a never before described species, and we are waiting on DNA test results to confirm whether it is new to science. Ms. Booth addresses the need for the Park Authority to conduct surveys of its property in order to identify, protect and restore sensitive resources. More than 20 years ago Park Authority staff attempted to conduct inventories with volunteers and limited paid staff with what was termed the ERIC program. Since that time there have been efforts to obtain funding to conduct professional system wide inventories, but inventory work has been restricted to project based efforts usually tied to park planning and development processes. Even during park development, funding for resource inventory is usually not forthcoming. Staff is working with Park Authority Board Members and has had discussions with the county debt manager to explore the expenditure of bond funds to support resource inventory, planning and management. Fort Hunt Park is currently undergoing a master planning effort. The unusual amphipod was found within natural spring-fed wetland and is an indicator of good water quality and habitat richness. Without the survey efforts, the wetland may not have been found and/or may have been discovered too late to protect it much less study its species. The Park Authority has similar systems to that in which this unusual amphipod was found. However, since we do not have the resources to inventory our properties, we do not know what may be living on them. We support and applaud the efforts of National Park Service staff in managing their resources, and hope that we may be able to conduct similar work in the near future.
Item: More Resources for Park Management
Ms. Tracy feels Parks needs to better manage the resources it has versus acquiring more. She said there are many parks that she didn't know existed. She suggested that they be marketed better. Park Authority Board Member, Ed Batten, encouraged her to be more specific in terms of what she wanted to see in the parks. She noted that she would like to see more off-leash dog parks and clean parks. She said trash is a common sight at Westgrove Park, which she frequents. She also wants restrictive use of park's blog. She submitted several pages of concerns at the Great Parks/Great Communities meeting.
In response to knowing where Fairfax County parks are located, please make note of the following website http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/ , then direct your attention to the "Find a Park" locator on the left hand side of the home page. If you are looking for smaller parks or certain services, try the "Park Search" and just add the criteria you are looking for. To find off-leash dog areas see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/OLDA_development.htm. If you find a problem in a park in the Mt. Vernon District, like uncollected trash, contact Joe Nilson, Area 3 Manager, at 703-765-6020.
Item: Westgrove Park Issue
One resident pointed out that there was a community of people who gathered regularly, with their dogs, in Westgrove Park. However, the people have stopped coming because there is an Animal Control Officer parked there on a regular basis ready to ticket people who let their dogs roam without a leash. Because the tickets are more than $100, the people have just stopped coming. Yet one woman in attendance noted that on a recent walk in Westgrove Park, a large dog, which was off-leash, charged her and frightened her, though it was called off at the last minute. She was not hurt, but shaken.
Another man said the 50-60 dog-walkers at Westgrove Park are the eyes and ears of the community. Yet instead of being appreciated, Animal Control regularly hands out tickets for off-leash violations. He feels they should spend their time with more worth while activities like clearing away a dead deer on the road.
The Park Authority will pursue the OLDA sponsor for the Sept/Oct Park Board Agenda cycle, arrange for a 2232 interim use for the dog park, and develop a master plan of Westgrove Park for January 2012.
Park Policy Manual reference to control of dogs on Park property http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parkpolicy/app7regs.pdf
Item: Park Requests
One woman said she feels the Parks need greater transparency. She feels meeting notices need to be placed in places other than the Park Authority website. She feels we need greater public input and that's how many dog parks or other resources should be gotten as a result of what's needed in the district versus the formula of 1 per x number of residents.
One gentleman stated that all he needs is clean air and clean water from the parks, the rest of our services could be privatized. He needs a natural trail to get away from crowds, pollution, traffic and noise.
Another resident suggested Parks create small, pedestrian-friendly parks that you could walk to with just one basket ball hoop or one swing set, "pocket parks."
Link to Great Parks/Great Communities http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/greatparks/. Link to Park Policy Manual reference to control of dogs on Park property. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parkpolicy/app7regs.pdf
Item: Williamsburg Manor Park Recommendations
Mr. Crider noted that he very much enjoys the summer concerts at Grist Mill Park. However, he asked that we adjust the maintenance schedule so that the maintenance crew is not pumping out at the same time as the concert. He also made three suggestions for Williamsburg Manor Park: 1) For the basketball court that is under water, either change the grade or get rid of it, 2) Add a swing set, and 3) See if the Park Authority could mow the grass along Collingwood Dr. near the guard rail, from the parkland to William and Mary Drive. Although it is the responsibility of VDOT, they only mow roughly twice a year and the grass is about four feet high and difficult to walk through. It's a strip about 100 yards long.
Mr. Crider was updated on the Mt. Vernon "court" flooding at Williamsburg Manor. Staff also is going to get estimates to potentially include the courts in the FY12 resurfacing program. We will also look into proffers for funding for the swing set. With regards to the mowing, if the property was adjoining park property, Park Authority would assist if it would improve the general maintenance of the area. However, since this is not the case, if citizens would like to address this issue further, VDOT can be reached at 1-800-367-7623 or http://www.virginiadot.org/default_noflash.asp.
Item: House at Lamond Park
There was an inquiry as to the status of the house at Lamond Park and whether the public could use it.
There are access/parking limitations to the property; therefore the house is not available for public use at this time. More information about the park can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gmp/lamondGMP.pdf
Item: Effects of BRAC on Parks
There was an inquiry as to whether Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) would have an impact on the parks in the Mt. Vernon District. The Tree commissioner noted it would impact the ozone levels.
Supervisor Hyland responded that there will be about 5,000 additional employees heading to Ft Belvoir as a result of BRAC. Because most of the traffic coming will be coming from south of Woodbridge he did not think there would be much pressure from travelers on the Parks, though there will be pressure for more housing development.
Item: Deer Management
One woman expressed that not enough is being done to manage the deer population. They are eating the young trees, tulips and spreading deer ticks.
The Police Department's Animal Control Division is responsible for the County's Deer Management Program. The hunts are just carried out on Park Authority property. Contact the County Wildlife Biologist, Victoria Monroe, at 703-246-6868 or email@example.com for more information.
Item: Dog Parks
One resident noted that as the county develops more and more, there are less places to walk their dogs. There should be more dog parks. At the parks that they do have, dog walkers do clean up their dog's waste. It doesn't seem right that it should be a criminal offense to let your dog run off-leash.
For off-leash dog area locations see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/wp-offleash.htm
For how to sponsor an off leash dog area see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/OLDA_development.htm
Item: Cell Phone Tower
One gentleman mentioned that there is a proposal to build a 125' cell tower in the Villa Mae community. They suggested that the company that installs it should consider a newer technology (Distributed Antenna System, DAS) similar to what has been used in Old Town Alexandria and Williamsburg. Parks may want to install this new technology in the attic of the Lamond House. She noted a survey crew has been at the house.
AT&T has proposed to locate a telecommunications facility at Lamond Park. There have been multiple meetings with staff, members of the community, and Supervisors Office to explore potential alternative locations. The community attending the meetings had wanted to understand what other sites in the Fort Hunt Road corridor have been explored. The Distributed Antenna System (DAS) technology was evaluated but found to be too expensive and not feasible for the site. DAS requires line-of-sight operation to work and Lamond does not provide that. AT&T has submitted a 2232 application to initiate the process.
Item: Park Accessibility
Residents discussed parks with difficult or no access such as Bellhaven Park. There is no access. It's a corridor park which goes into Fairchild. They wanted to know if there are any plans for adding access, stream restoration or a bike trail. Also, for the Potomac Path along the Potomac River by Little Hunting Creek, residents would like historical markers to include Beacon Hill. They would like to be able to follow a historic path that would connect people with shopping and communities.
Belle Haven Park is about 16.6 acres in size and lies along a tributary to Cameron Run. There is no master plan for the park, nor does the tributary have a trail designated on the Countywide Trail Plan. The terrain is forested and consists of a combination of steep slopes and flat Resource Protection Areas (RPA). There are already some informal paths in the park, possibly a result of the sewer line installation, but they are not maintained by staff. The Park Authority presently has no plans to develop trails at this park, although it seems that a maintained, paved trail could have some recreational value for the immediate neighborhoods. Staff will take a look at this as a potential trail project, prioritize it according to its user value, development impact and sustainability, and add it to a list of projects for future consideration as funding becomes available.
The trail along the Potomac River (George Washington Memorial Parkway) belongs to the National Park Service. An appropriate contact for signs along that trail would be:
Kate Barrett, LA/sign coordinator, at GWMP HQ: 703-419-6426
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
SULLY DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: July 21, 2011
Park Authority Board, Vice Chairman, Harry Glasgow was in attendance along with staff which included John Dargle, Judy Pedersen, Diana Fuentes, Ed Richardson and Cub Run Recreation Center staff .
Item: Lake Fairfax Skate Park
NOTE: Numerous citizens discussed their concerns about the suggested location of the skate park at Lake Fairfax Park. We heard comments with regard to the location, the timing, parking for the skaters, and run-off on the suggested site. As a result of citizen input, Supervisor Hudgins' feedback, the Park Authority Board's and staff's review, the location has been changed per the letter (attached at the end of this document) from Park Authority Board Chairman William Bouie to the president of the Lake Fairfax Estates Homeowners Association. For more information see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/skateparkdevelopment.htm
Item: Sully Quilt Show
Ms. Hawn mentioned that she didn't feel the cost of admission to the Quilt Show was a good value. She went on to explain that the $9 admission is almost double the entrance rate that was charged when she first attended the event. Exhibitors pay for tents and the tents were either torn or dirty. She didn't want us to raise the price for the vendors. She thought it would be a good idea to fix the tents and to add rug makers and weavers to expand the number of vendors and possibly lower admission.
In 2002, admission for the Sully Quilt Show was $7 for adults and had been for several years. In 2004, the admission charge was raised to $8, from $7, which it had remained for a number of years. Then it was raised to $9 in 2008 to deal with budget reductions and increased costs and is now more in line with admission rates to large festivals. Mt. Vernon Craft Fair is $15, The Richmond Quilt Guild sponsors a Quilt Show where one-day admission is $10 and classes cost $19 each (our lectures and demos are free), The Quilters Unlimited Show at the Expo Center is $10/day.
Included in admission are a house tour (ordinarily $7) with an exhibit of antique quilts; a chance to win a beautiful handmade quilt; access to lectures and demonstrations on decorating, quilting techniques, preservation and conservation of textiles; historic hands-on textile processing activities and a chance to make your own quilt square; free parking; music, when staff can find musicians that fit our budget; and there are between 40 and 50 vendors.
The Park Authority has not raised vendor space fees for years. With additional revenue resulting from the slight increase in admission fees, the old tattered tents have been replaced with brand new ones. There are still some older tents that aren't in perfect condition, but at $3,000 each, FCPA can't replace them in the optimal timeframe.
In addition to vendors who sell quilts, fabric and patterns, the Park Authority also has vendors/demonstrators doing rug hooking, lacemaking, stained glass, weaving, basket-making, shaker box making €“ a pretty wide variety of traditional crafts and prices. To find out more about Sully Historic Site go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/sully/
Item: Green Spring Gardens
Ms. Hawn also said she didn't know that GSG existed until recently. She feels it's a great resource but Park Authority needs to do more with its marketing.
The Park Authority appreciates your comments on Green Springs Garden s Park. It is truly a gem for our agency and staff is continually working towards making this park better known to county residents. We have created strategies in our marketing and operational plans to help promote the site. This site, along with many of our others, is well-visited, with about 150,000 visitors last year. To find out more about Green Spring Gardens go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp/
Item: Park Security/Encroachments
One woman spoke of encroachments in the Pleasant Valley community. Her neighbors are allegedly mowing park property and claiming it is theirs. She says it's a Resource Protection Area (RPA). She would like to see park police to come out and enforce the rules.
Mr. Dargle explained that we no longer have park police: that they were rolled into the County's Police Department. However, we do have staff in Park Operations who will follow up and notify authorities if necessary. For more information on encroachment see Encroachment web page.
One gentleman congratulated the Park Authority on a good job of crowd control at the 4th of July festivities.
The next Listening Forum is set for September 22, 2011, at 7 p.m. at the McLean Governmental Center.
Letter from Park Authority Board Chairman William Bouie to the president of the Lake Fairfax Estates Homeowners Association
August 2, 2011
Mr. James Cutts
Director and Park Liaison
Lake Fairfax Estates Homeowners Association
1403 Park Lake Drive
Reston, VA 20190
Dear Mr. Cutts:
Thank you for your letter expressing Lake Fairfax Estates Homeowners Association's (HOA)
concerns about the skate park plans at Lake Fairfax Park. The Park Authority is being
responsive to a long standing demand for a skate facility in the Reston area as well as western
Fairfax County. The Lake Fairfax skate park is of great interest to and supported by the
community in the Reston area. The need for skate parks, especially in the Reston area and this
part of the County, has been promoted by the community for years. Voters also supported this
project by voting to approve the 2004 and 2008 Park Bond Referendum's which included
funding for the skate park project by an overwhelming margin.
Implementation of the Lake Fairfax master plan has occurred through phased development that
included investments in the athletic fields, trails and core area facilities such as waterfront access
facilities, parking lots, building replacements, new restrooms and picnic areas over the past ten
years. The remaining phases of implementation include continued trail development, the skate
park, campground upgrades, an off leash dog area and Water Mine expansion. We've continued
to learn more about the park's constraints and opportunities as a result of these extensive
improvements. The majority of the park is designated for Resource Management Areas to
protect many of the natural areas within the park leaving few new areas available for facility
development. Concentrating development such as the skate park in areas of the park where we
can take advantage of previously developed infrastructure required to support the facility is both
environmentally sensitive and cost effective. Park Authority staff has looked at several options
for locating the skate park in the core area to take advantage of the recently completed upgrades
to the infrastructure in the core area.
Staff determined that a location adjacent to the recently developed parking lot in the lower end of
the core area would be the best location for the skate park in the core area due to planned
expansion of other core area elements in the future. We recognize that proposing the skate park
in this location of the core area puts it near to your community. Park Authority staff believes the
skate park design in this area can adequately address the communities concerns with potential
impacts from noise, lighting, diminished park views, dust, stormwater management, traffic,
parking, and security. However after discussing the location in the core area with Supervisor
Hudgins, Hunter Mill District Board of Supervisor Member, and conducting an internal review
of other potential locations within the park, staff has chosen an alternative site within the park to
locate the skate park. The new location chosen for the skate park is the developed area of the
park adjacent to the athletic fields and the camping area. This location will also allow for use of
previously developed park infrastructure while locating the skate park away from existing
Park staff is available to meet with your HOA Board upon request if you still desire to discuss
the skate park development at the new location described above. Staff will also be scheduling a
public meeting in Fall 2011 to review the design concept for the skate park. Please feel free to
contact Rich Fruehauf, the Park Authority's project manager for development of the skatepark, at
703-327-8627 for any additional project information.
William G. Bouie, Chairman
Fairfax County Park Authority
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
DRANESVILLE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: SEPTEMBER 2011
Dranesville Supervisor John Foust and his staff aide, Cheryl Patten, were in attendance as well as Park Authority Board Member Kevin Fay, Dranesville Representative and Park Authority staff.
Item: CCT -- Georgetown Pike Site
Residents pointed out significant erosion on the Cross County Trail (CCT) north of Georgetown Pike near the mouth of Difficult Run. There are actually two spots which are closed where the trail is out. An officer of the Great Falls Trail Blazers noted that he is willing to partner with Park Authority volunteer groups to work on problem areas. He also mentioned that people from REI, Rotary, and Great Falls citizens all want to volunteer. One gentleman suggested a call for citizen's help. It is a nuisance for those who use the trail on a regular basis and the North Face Extreme Challenge holds a race in June which goes through that area and Fire & Rescue, which uses that area to do training, can no longer take a four-wheel drive vehicle down there. It was also requested that we inquire as to the status of the trail south of Georgetown Pike.
Dranesville Park Authority Representative Kevin Fay mentioned that this area, contained in Great Falls Park, is owned by the National Park Service, not Fairfax County Park Authority. John Dargle, Park Authority director said staff would coordinate with the Park Manager Brent O'Neill, to find out what is being done about the erosion. To date the National Park Service has not called us back. He also said that the Park Authority hasn't done an all points call for citizen help before, but would keep that in mind. The Park Authority actually has lots of volunteers working on three Eagle Scout projects on the south side of Georgetown Pike. For additional information on these issues, contact Wayne Brissey, Area 6 Manager at 703-759-4851.
Item: Colvin Mill
Mary Allen, president of Friends of Colvin Mill, pointed out that the grain elevator does not work and asked if the Park Authority could use money from the 2008 bond to fix it. Bill Errico lives across from the mill and said there are cars parking on the shoulders of Carpers Farm Way making it difficult for cars and emergency vehicles to get by. He mentioned they should be parking across the street.
There is funding for the milling system in the 2004 bond. At this time, Colvin Run has several projects in progress including a cultural landscape report, historic structures report, visitor center conceptual design and Miller's House renovation. This specialized work required in the milling project continues to be included in discussions as a priority for the historic site.
Mr. Dargle pointed out that the parking problem would be an issue for VDOT to address. The portion of the park that is on the south side of Route 7 (Carpers Farm) is now in the Hunter Mill District.
Item: Residential Curators
It was suggested that the Park Authority look into the Residential Curatorship Program. The appointed curator would move into one of the Park Authority historic homes with a long-term lease. They would do all the restoration and upkeep of the facility. The Mark Turner home was recommended for such a program because it was said to be an eyesore.
Working with a team from the Department of Zoning, the Park Authority has been tasked by the Board of Supervisors to develop a zoning ordinance for the resident curator program as well as an evaluation of the cost savings and benefits. This report is due by the end of 2011. Mr. Fay said the Park Authority wants to preserve the Turner property but there is no money. Mr. Fay estimated that it would take approximately $500,000 to restore the property. Parks will also have to consider the cost of ADA accommodations. The Turner home is one of three 1830 Queen Anne style homes that has held four generations of Turners.
Item: Park Fees
It was suggested that the Park Authority collect an entrance fee from out-of-County visitors who enter Fairfax County parks.
There is currently an entrance fee charged at Burke Lake Park for non-County visitors on weekends and Holidays. The Park Authority Board has set entrance fees for other parks but at the request of the Board of Supervisors, they have not been implemented. More information on Park Fees.
Item: Falstaff and McLean Hamlet Parks
One woman mentioned she would like to see a multi-purpose shelter at McLean Hamlet Park but understands it can't be developed because it's within a Resource Protection Area (RPA). She would like to see it mowed more than every 60 days and possibly add some trails and a gazebo. Attendees followed up with the fact that the culvert there is littered with trash and it is overgrown with invasives.
Also, there was an inquiry as to why organized athletic activities are prohibited in McLean Hamlet Park.
Mr. Fay hadn't heard anything about the request for development of that Park but mentioned that the RPA is under the Army Corps of Engineer guidelines. You cannot develop anything in an RPA designated area so the gazebo is not a possibility. It was also mentioned that the Park's Invasive Management Area (IMA) program could be of help to the homeowners, in organizing them for the pulling of invasives. The IMA program requires that an individual serve as a Site Leader. IMA Site Leaders must go through a special training before they are able to remove invasive plants and they understand that there is a multi-year commitment. They must sign a contract that outlines their yearly duties and responsibilities. The IMA Site Leader should have a volunteer base or be willing to recruit volunteers to work at their site several times each year. In addition, NRMP staff will have to visit the proposed site to ensure it meets the program's criteria (most importantly the invasive species present must respond to manual removal, as volunteers are not allowed to use power tools or herbicides in this program). IMA has on-going volunteer opportunities which are advertised and kept current on the Park Authority's website. For additional information contact Area 1 Manager, Ed Busenlehner at 703-893-2481 regarding the mowing frequency.
Inadequate space restraints preclude any athletic activities at this park.
Item: "Go Ape" Program
The Great Falls Civic Association asked about the "Go Ape" Program. They wanted to know how much revenue could be generated from it.
Mr. Dargle said staff would be meeting with neighbors to talk about the program. For more information you can contact Todd Brown in the Resource Management Division, Operations Branch Manager at 703-324-8676 or visit our web site.
Item: Bull Run-Reston Trail
Bill Niedringhaus brought a map of the Bull Run-Reston trail and pointed out with only a few enhancements, it could be a loop like the CCT. He noted that the modifications needed to complete the 80 mile loop, located mostly on parkland, would include approval by INOVA, since it would cut through their property and it would need to tunnel under or bridge over Route 28. The loop would run through EC Lawrence Park.
We appreciate the review of the trail system and proposed enhancements by trail users. At this time all trail planning resources and funds are committed by the Park Authority Board to projects. Currently there is neither funding nor resources to expand the trail network. Existing projects are renovating existing trail facilities or connecting existing segments. If new resources become available following the proposed Park Authority Bond in November 2012 we can revisit new proposed projects. Kirk Holley in the Planning & Development Division is our contact for Trail Strategy. He can be reached at 703-324-8787.
Item: Sugarland Run
Jeff Albanus brought up that a bridge had been washed out at Sugarland Run. There was a bridge there about a year ago. If they build a new one it needs to be five or six feet higher to avoid another wash out. The trail is also sinking in the same area. Supervisor Foust would like to focus on getting that area repaired since it is close to Herndon HS.
Some community members have repeatedly noted that this bridge in Sugarland Run washed out. It is in the vicinity of an existing fair weather stream crossing (concrete fording with stepping stones). We have determined that the existing bridge was inadequately sized and that if replaced, a far more substantial bridge would be necessary. Funds do not presently exist for a new bridge. We are aware that the bridge is in the vicinity of Herndon HS but do not believe that it is on any school walking routes. Absent that, and given that there is an existing crossing in place, this project does not rank highly enough to reprioritize existing resources and funding to add this project to the Work Plan. This project will be reconsidered with other nominated projects the next time the Work Plan is reviewed pending new funding for development from the proposed Park Authority Bond in 2012.
For additional information on Sugarland Run, contact either Kirk Holley in the Planning & Development Division regarding Trail Strategy. He can be reached at 703-324-878 or Wayne Brissey, Area 6 Manager at 703-759-4851.
Item: Stream Restoration
Attendees also noted that stream restoration is needed from Lake Fairfax to Difficult Run and Potomac Stream.
Number of bamboo fields growing along Route 123. Bamboo has an 80-100 year cycle and is difficult to get rid of. There are some 20 stands and it was recommended that it be sold to the National Zoo.
There have been three major storm events since 2005 in Colvin Run that each exceeded the 100 year storm for the watershed -- that is a storm of a magnitude that has a likelihood of recurrence once every 100 years. The statistical likelihood of this happening is very low, yet it did happen, and it had a major impact on the stream.
As a result, the stream has changed dramatically and has been significantly degraded. Infrastructure impacts within this segment from these storms has included repeated destruction of the pumps that supply water to Colvin Run Mill, exposure of sanitary sewer lines, the destruction of Hunter Mill Road where it crosses the stream and significant damage to Lake Fairfax Park below the lake dam during Tropical Storm Lee.
Our staff share the citizen's concerns and agree that this stream area should be restored to a stable condition, and we will share this concern with the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Stormwater Division. We also urge the citizen to share the same concern to DPWES Stormwater staff directly. Our goal would be to work with DPWES Stormwater staff to add the stabilization of this stream reach to their work plan in the near future. Once added to the work plan, it will still take several years to plan and construct stream improvements due to the high cost, difficulty of access, permitting requirements and the need to carefully restore areas disturbed by construction. Until improvements are made, the stream should heal itself to some degree as long as we do not have any more storms similar to the three historic ones we have had in the last decade.
Bamboo has been treated on parkland in select instances through a combination of mechanical control (bush hogging, backhoes) and the chemical glyphosate (commercially available as Roundup). Repeated cutting and spraying will wear the plant down, but it has a strong ability to re-sprout and outcompete other species. It is very difficult to remove the root system without heavy machinery, and unless all the roots are removed this species will continue to re-sprout from those remnants each year. Also, the large stalks need to be cut at ground level and/or dug up because they will remain without rotting for many years and create a safety and trip hazard with sharp, pointy edges. The Park Authority has limited resources to treat invasives and has a prioritization system to determine which sites should be treated. The Park Authority did offer bamboo to the National Zoo several years ago, but they did not take us up on our offer (they were looking for bamboo stands that are a minimum of an acre, lie within a 25- to 30-mile driving distance of the zoo, are at least 100 feet from a roadway and have not been treated with herbicides or pesticides).
Item: Status of Salona
When can residents get information on this item?
A task force has been formed to review this project and present findings to Supervisor's Office. Contact Supervisor Foust's Office for more information.
The next Listening Forum is set for November 17, 2011, at 7 p.m. at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road Alexandria, VA 22312
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
MASON DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: NOVEMBER 2011
Park Authority Board, Vice Chairman, Harry Glasgow was in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle, Deputy Director Sara Baldwin, Park Services Division Director Barbara Nugent, PIO Judy Pedersen, Strategic Initiatives Manager Deborah Babcock-Daley and Green Spring Garden’s Manager, Mary Olien.
Mary Olien welcomed all visitors and told everyone about the facilities and services available at Green Spring Gardens.
Item: Next Park Bond
Ms. Ashford, from the Annandale Blog, asked about plans for the next Park Bond. She asked as to whether there would be any improvements to Hidden Oaks Nature Center.
A $50 million park bond was included in the approved FY2012 County budget. Assuming that it is approved again in the FY2013 budget, a referendum will be placed on the November, 2012 ballot to seek voter approval for the $50 million Park Bond. Of the entire bond amount of $50 million, $38 million is allocated for County Park capital improvements and $12 million is slated to support capital projects of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, pending voter approval. The Fairfax County Park Authority is currently creating a list of potential bond projects in three categories. These categories include: Revenue/Growth and Park Improvements, Park Renovations and Stewardship.
Specific to Mason District, there are to be improvements to athletic fields and a parking lot in Pine Ridge Park.
Regarding improvements at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, there are no projects being considered in the bond project list.
Item: CCT – Vegetable Garden at GW RECenter
Ms. Carper noted that there used to be a vegetable garden at GW RECenter. She volunteered there for three years working in the garden and selling the produce for a small fee to citizens or donating it. Recently there was an infestation of groundhogs which ruined the garden and the garden was disbanded. Ms. Carper mentioned that she was told not to return to the garden by the facility manager. In an effort to get the garden back she filed complaints with a number of government offices but was told that her complaints had no validity. She wanted to know if she could get the garden back.
Ms. Carper also wanted to know why some people have multiple garden plots and some are not even residents of the county.
She also wanted to know what became of garden donations made by local residents.
Ms. Leslie Carper, a former volunteer at GW RECenter, who cared for the garden at the site spoke to Mr. Dargle relative to her recent complaints and allegations surrounding the closure of the garden, staff records, her requested investigation into the matter and her departure from volunteer service. The assembly listened to her concerns for more than 30 minutes. Staff offered explanations regarding the shortage of garden plots in the county and how they are allocated and managed, explained why the GW garden was closed and was not an appropriate site for a garden and also discussed the investigative status and access to records regarding this matter.
Further response is limited as the matter is considered a personnel matter.
Item: Change in Athletic field policy
Ms. Ashford asked what has happened since the Park Authority changed the athletic policy regarding size of user groups from 40 to 20?
Mr. Dargle said that the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) are the ones who schedule the fields and could speak to the issue, but he did mention that we had not had any recent letters. NCS will be providing an update on this topic at the January 2012 Park Operations Committee Meeting. Park Authority Board minutes on this topic can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/archives/071311-pkg.pdf. Additional information on the Athletic Field Use regulation can be found at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parkpolicy/FCPAPolicyManual.pdf .
Item: Deer Management
Ms. Ashford asked how many deer have been harvested recently in the Lake Accotink Stream Valley. She also noted that she did not feel there was adequate signage for residents who might wander into the area during a hunt.
Mr. Dargle said he would get the statistics for not only the Lake Accotink Stream Valley but for the county as a whole. Mr. Glasgow talked about the task force which was established by the Police Department who runs the Deer Management Program. He said there was good representation from citizens who weigh in on both sides of the issue. He explained that all park areas remain open during archery hunting, we merely ask park patrons to remain on trails. Archery hunting is very safe since the archers have to have an unobstructed view of the deer, take a careful deliberate shot, and the shots are taken from elevated tree stands toward the ground.
As requested, as of December 5, 2011, 671 deer have been harvested on parkland since the season began on September 24. The breakdown is as follows:
Archery hunts: 548 Deer
Shotgun Hunts: 72 deer
Sharp shoots: 51 deer
The numbers of deer taken in Accotink Stream Valley are as follows:
Accotink Stream Valley (SV) North + Eakin Park
Accotink Stream Valley (SV) North + Wakefield Park
Accotink Stream Valley (SV) South (of Braddock Road)
Lake Accotink Park
We had a request for improved signage from another citizen recently. The issue has been raised with the County Wildlife Biologist, Vicky Monroe, and we will try to develop improved signage for the future.
The Police Department’s Animal Control Division is responsible for the County’s Deer Management Program. Contact the County Wildlife Biologist, Victoria Monroe, at 703-246-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org or
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/animals/wildlife/management/deer-management.htm for more information.
The next Listening Forum is set for February16, 2012, at 7 p.m. at Hunter House, Nottoway Park at 9601 Courthouse Road in Vienna.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
PROVIDENCE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: FEBRUARY 16, 2012
Park Authority Board, Vice Chairman, Ken Quincy was in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle; Linda Byrne, from Supervisor Smith’s Office; PIO Judy Pedersen; Strategic Initiatives Manager Deborah Babcock-Daley; Area 1 Manager Ed Busenlehner; Frying Pan Farm Park Nicole Falceto, and Marketing & Sales Manager for Historic Properties Cindy Jordan.
One gentleman, a volunteer who helps to pull invasives, brought up the Amur bush honeysuckle in North Side Park. On walks, he has seen very dense invasives on both sides of the trail near the Metro station. He indicated it covers acres and he brought pictures of the honeysuckle for staff to see.
One woman said she is in year six of an invasive removal project and needs more volunteers. She suggested that Mr. McCahill post his need for volunteers and the work dates in the Supervisor’s bulletin. She also noted dense invasives in Nottoway Park near the workout stations along the trail. She indicated it was so bad it keeps animals away.
The gentleman who is an IMA volunteer mentioned that Boy Scouts doing Eagle projects are helping with invasives control, but he needs to get the word out to more people.
North Side Park is actually a Town of Vienna park versus Fairfax County Park Authority. For further information on this park contact http://www.viennava.gov/. Ed Busenlehner is the contact in the Park Authority for any Area I maintenance issues. He can be reached at email@example.com or 703-893-2481 and Erin Stockschlaeder is the Park Authority’s Invasive Management Area (IMA) Coordinator at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/IMA/ or 703-324-8681.
Item: Laurel Hill Equestrian Facility
A member of Fairfax4Horses asked about the status of the equestrian facility to be built at Laurel Hill and added that she could put an update in a local newsletter for equestrians.
An RFP is to go out in the spring and work should commence this summer. They will be building a ring, trails and parking. For more information, contact Kirk Holley in the Special Projects Branch at 703-324-8787. In addition, the link to the Equestrian Task Force is http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/equestriantaskforce.htm
Item: Maintenance of Parks
A guest mentioned that the footbridge at the rear of Nottoway Park had some storm damage and needs to be shored-up. Lots of people use the trails and both the footbridge and trails need maintenance. Also, there are lots of potholes in the entrance road to the park. One guest suggested using an artificial wood product like Trex for the footbridge.
Mr. Busenlehner said he can make the repairs to the bridge. He can also patch the potholes. However, most of his maintenance staff is making repairs from storm damage at Lake Accotink. When available, he will get the repairs made. He also noted that the Park Authority doesn’t have the money to actually pave the entrance road, but his crew can patch.
John Hopkins, retired Area 1 Manager I and current park volunteer, mentioned the need for maintenance and updating of the fitness trail stations. He mentioned some missing signage.
Mr. Busenlehner said the maintenance crews were playing a lot of catch up right now but will be working on Nottoway maintenance issues soon. Although Park Authority will be unable to pave for a while, he was able to get the contractor who was paving the street to extend the paving a bit into the park.
Mr. Busenlehner can be reached at 703-893-2481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Item: 2012 Bond
One person asked about how much money Parks will be receiving in the upcoming bond.
A $50M bond, $38M for the Fairfax County Park Authority and $12M for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, will be coming and will benefit a variety of projects. For preliminary information on the proposed bond see the Park Authority Approval of the 2012 Park Bond referendum project list at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/archives/111611FUND-pkg.pdf . Sandy Stallman would be the staff point of contact for bond issues. She can be reached at email@example.com or 703-324-8643.
Item: RECenter Hours
Several attendees asked if the Park Authority could extend hours of the RECenters on the weekends. Most RECenters close at 6:00 pm and they said they would like to have a place to take their families after dinner. It appears that they close the RECenters early to accommodate the swim teams.
Mr. Quincy said it is difficult to find people to work on the weekends. Staff will be conducting a customer survey in the next six to twelve months. We will ask if patrons of the RECenters are interested in longer hours on the weekends.
Item: Trail Issue
One guest said if you go down Wilson Ave. and turn right into Oakborough Square Park, the trail is under water when it rains and needs some stone to elevate the trail.
It was pointed out that the trail in Nottoway Park that goes around the #1 and #2 ball fields has the same issue. They asked if there is a way to report trail issues online.
The point of contact for maintenance issues in these parks is Ed Busenlehner. He can be reached at703-893-2481 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Residents can report any park issues online via Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.
Mr. Quincy pointed out that there are three new parks in Merrifield. Ruckstahl Park, located off Idylwood Road, is a seven-acre passive park with gardens. It still needs a master plan. Hartland Green and Merrifield Park are the other two parks.
The next Listening Forum is set for April 19, 2012, at 7 p.m. at Wakefield Chapel, 8415 Toll House Road, Annandale, Va. 22003.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
BRADDOCK DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: APRIL 19, 2012
Park Authority Board Member Anthony Vellucci was in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle; Deputy Director, Sara Baldwin; Lindsey Smith, from Supervisor Cook’s Office; PIO Judy Pedersen; Strategic Initiatives Manager Deborah Babcock-Daley; and Diana Fuentes from the PIO’s Office.
Item: Winter Operations at Lake Accotink Park
One woman pointed out some safety/maintenance issues at Lake Accotink Park. She mentioned that there is a need to keep citizens safe and she didn’t feel switching staff around was helping the security issue. She noted that the chain that keeps the boats together and secure had been broken. Kids were climbing over the fence to get to them and had removed one from the pile. There was also a small tree across the entrance road. She felt just one or two staff would be ample to keep kids off the dock, to oversee maintenance issues and to keep an eye on inappropriate activities in the park.
The same guest mentioned that Lake Accotink Park is a Civil War site. She reported that she has contacted John Rutherford, a Park Authority heritage resource specialist who is now in possession of several donated Civil War buttons. The donor may have more. It would be nice to bring back as many artifacts as possible taken from the park, back to the park to be put on display at the visitor’s center for education purposes.
Director Dargle mentioned that although there are no scheduled Civil War events at Lake Accotink Park for the sesquicentennial, the History Commission had mentioned some historical markers, which would be appropriate for emphasizing. The button artifacts have been recorded and the materials are being transferred to Lake Accotink for their exhibit. If there are additional artifacts, please have the owner contact Dr. Elizabeth Crowell. For more information on the upcoming sesquicentennial events see http://www.fxva.com/150/ or call Dr. Elizabeth Crowell, Manager of the Cultural Resources Branch at 703-534-3881.
Item: Gun Shots at Brookfield Park
One guest pointed out that gun shots have been heard at Brookfield Park on several occasions. There seems to be increased patrols from the Franconia police station due to possible gang activity in the parks.
Mr. Dargle pointed out that this is a Police matter, so we need to let them handle the issue. To report possible crimes go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/ or call 911 for emergencies and 703-691-2131for non-emergencies.
Item: Monticello Woods – Copperheads
One woman alerted the group to an unusual number of copperhead snakes in the Hanover Blvd. area of Monticello Forest. She wanted to know how to keep them under control and out of the house. Foxes seem to be following people too.
For more information or to speak at an upcoming HOA meeting contact the Vicki Monroe, the Wildlife Biologist at email@example.com , or 703-324-6868 in the Animal Control Division of the Fairfax County Police Department or Charles Smith, Natural Resources Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 703-324-8555 in the Park Authority.
Item: 2012 Bond
One woman asked, “What does an increase in the amount of the bond mean to me? What would Lake Accotink Park get from the bond?”
Mr. Dargle said there were many speakers at the recent Board of Supervisor’s meeting regarding the budget and noted that as much as budget support for operations was needed, capital funding through the bond was necessary too. Many had contributions to make about the upcoming bond. The Park Authority currently has $400M in needs. The bond money would help to close that gap. On May 1, 2012, the Board of Supervisors approves the 2013 budget. If the bond passes, with its increased dollar value, the Park Authority Board will be able to consider additional projects dealing with business growth, stewardship, maintenance, etc.
Lake Accotink would benefit from the bond money for repaving the entrance road and parking lot and repairing the Danbury Forest trail.
Item: Maintenance at Lake Accotink
One woman mentioned that the mini golf course was in need of repair. She said it wasn’t much of a course and was more for the very young child who wouldn’t know what a good course looked like. She asked who maintains the garden in the circle.
Mr. Dargle explained that the mini golf program was currently being looked at by the agency’s Innovation’s Team. The course will be opening on May 5th for weekends only. Only minimal maintenance of the course is possible at this time but we are hoping to replace the carpet of the mini-golf course in the FY13 budget year. The maintenance of the garden in the circle is done by the Ravensworth Garden Club.
Item: Longbranch Stream Valley Trail
Mr. Smith, from Supervisor Cook’s office, mentioned that there is a safety issue in the Longbranch Stream Valley Trail at the Canterbury Bridge. Citizens are asking for immediate repair of the bridge since it is the path through Canterbury Woods to the Canterbury Woods pool. It is fenced off, but kids have pulled back the fencing and are crossing it or playing on it anyway.
While staff is making every attempt to expedite the process, we do not anticipate that the replacement work for the bridge in Long Branch Stream Valley Park will be completed until the end of 2013. Funding was not allocated until March 6, 2012 and the bridge project will require significant time for design and permitting. The bid process for engaging a contractor to perform the work is also a lengthy process dictated by state law. The project has been moved to the top of the work list, displacing projects at other parks across the County.
Area 4 management personnel have repaired or replaced the bridge barriers at least 3 times, with the latest version being chain link fencing panels across the ends of the bridge. It has been reported that the barrier removal is by adults as well as children. Staff will continue to try to come up with an effective deterrent to folks trying to use the bridge.
Item: Dog Park
Mr. Vellucci announced that there is a Braddock Dogs meeting next week. Their centralized model used at Monticello Park seems to be quite successful. Individual chapters could be set up for different parks. For more information on the Monticello Park Master Plan see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/monticello.htm.
Item: Distribution of information to other homeowner associations surrounding Lake Accotink Park
One woman mentioned that Friends of Lake Accotink (FLAP) is a new organization and wondered if they could include homeowner associations and civic associations to distribute information regarding park activities.
Mr. Vellucci asked that FLAP be the organization to disseminate the information. He thought it was worthwhile to build FLAP up as the key distribution point for information. For more information on FLAP see http://www.accotink.org/ or http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lake-accotink/. Julie Tahan is the park manager and can be reached at 703-569-0285.
The next Listening Forum is set for June 21, 2012, at 7 p.m. at Supervisor Hudgins Office in the Community Room, 12000 Bowman Towne Drive Reston, VA.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
HUNTER MILL DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: JUNE 21, 2012
Park Authority Board Member Janyce Hedetniemi was in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle; Casey Hanes from Supervisor Hudgin’s Office; Linda Byrne from Supervisor Smyth’s Office; Barbara Nugent, Director of Park Services Division; PIO Judy Pedersen; Strategic Initiatives Manager Deborah Babcock-Daley; and Diana Fuentes from the PIO’s Office.
Item: Proposed Dulles Toll Road Ramp at Tysons Corner
The President of the Westbriar Civic Association noted that the last old-growth forest at the intersection of Gosnell Road and Route 7 would be impacted by the proposed entrance ramp. On May 31, 2012, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation was at Westbriar Elementary School to address the community. Supervisors Foust, Hudgins, and Smyth were also in attendance. The association president said county staff indicated that the ramp would run through the Old Courthouse Branch Stream Valley. He felt it would destroy the forest as well as any opportunity for walking or biking in the area. He said the proposed ramp is a second exit and it hasn’t been established whether it is needed or not. He wanted the designers and planners to walk the property and look at it as a central park for Tysons.
Several citizens from the McLean and Tysons Corner area expressed great concern over the proposed construction of highway ramps in the Tysons-McLean corridor and their impact on the natural areas. They spoke at length and discussed their efforts to stop the project and asked the Park Authority to join them in opposition. Mr. Dargle informed them he had sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors regarding the Park Authority’s concerns and objections.
Item: Widening of Route 7 near Colvin Run Mill
A member of the Friends of Colvin Run Mill noted that the widening of Route 7 to six lanes at the Mill would actually go through Colvin Run Mill property. He would like to see a pedestrian tunnel run under Route 7.
Another man said the trees buffer the water runoff. Without the trees it will speed the water to the Mill and flood even faster. Citizens only want local traffic; they don’t want to invite even more traffic. If construction must proceed, workers should cut across the streams as gently as possible. Improve the use of land. Access needs should be tempered. We should protect it and make it grow.
The Tysons Corner to Reston Avenue project runs past Colvin Run Mill Historic Site, Difficult Run Stream Valley, and Great Falls Nike. Care needs to be taken not to confuse this project/section with another adjoining widening project on Route 7 that stretches from Reston Ave to Holly Ave that is projected to begin construction in 2013. For the section in question (past Colvin Run), VDOT is re-grouping from a previous effort and is currently in a very high- level, conceptual planning process, and there are not yet engineering plans. They have not performed any engineering, environmental, or historic resource studies. Currently, VDOT/FCDOT are holding a series of stakeholder meetings that include the Park Authority, as well as representatives from the affected supervisory districts offices, and civic associations. These meetings are intended to determine where they need to focus their future studies. So far they have focused on different areas along the route and topics. The major topics have been pedestrian connections focusing on the Tysons end, transit options, stormwater, and crossing the Difficult Run flood plain.
They have displayed a very rough conceptual alignment past Colvin Run Mill, where they would be raising the roadbed to help prevent flooding. Most impacts from this concept would affect the south side of the site away from the Mill, including rerouting Colvin Run where it passes under Carpers Farm Way, as well as intersection improvements.
Park Authority staff involved in the review of this project includes representatives from Natural and Cultural Resources, Land Acquisition & Management, Park Planning, as well as the Trails branch. Since there is no plan, only very rough preliminary concepts, it is very difficult to provide comments on something that has no details and is subject to change.
As with any project that may impact cultural resources, we look forward to working with VDOT to avoid or mitigate any potential impacts. Currently VDOT is planning on providing an 8' wide sidewalk on both sides of Route 7, as well as an additional travel lane in each direction. Along with the above mentioned potential impacts, staff has identified several benefits to FCPA parks from this project. The proposed sidewalks as well as rebuilding the intersection of Route 7 with Colvin Run Road/Carpers Farm Way that includes a pedestrian/equestrian crossing would both greatly improve our connectivity. Additionally, the stormwater improvements/mitigation could greatly benefit Colvin Run Mill and Difficult Run which are heavily degraded by stormwater, flood events, erosion, utility channels, and invasive plants. VDOT’s contact for this project is Lee Ann Hall and her email is LeeAnn.Hall@VDOT.Virginia.gov.
The next Listening Forum is set for September 20, 2012, at 7 p.m. in the Springfield District at Hidden Pond Nature Center, 8511 Greeley Blvd., Springfield, Va. 22152.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
SPRINGFIELD DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
Park Authority Board Members Kala Quintana, Member-at-Large; Mike Thompson, Springfield Representative; and Tony Vellucci, Braddock Representative were in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle, Jr.; Deputy Director/COO Sara Baldwin; Barbara Nugent, Director of Park Services Division; Mike McCaffrey, Acting Manager of Hidden Pond Nature Center; Sidney Spicer and Brian Umanzor , Hidden Pond Nature Center; Julie Tahan, Manager, Lake Accotink; Charlie Reagle, Assistant Manager Burke Lake Park; Ed Richardson, Manager Area 4 Park Operations; PIO Judy Pedersen; Strategic Initiatives Manager Deborah Babcock-Daley; and Diana Fuentes from the PIO’s Office.
Issue: Park Operations Staff
One guest mentioned that they had seen a Park Authority truck with Park operations staff in the Hidden Pond Nature Center parking lot just eating and drinking, not working.
It is common practice for the Park Authority maintenance teams, as well as other Park staff, to eat in their trucks or do paperwork while in the field. Staff flexes their schedules, some coming in very early and may have lunch at 10 a.m. and others later and could be eating at 2 p.m. Without a county truck number it is difficult to identify who might have been in the park at that time. If you ever see any Park Authority employees in a park vehicle doing something that does not look right, simply take down the truck number or license plate and call the Park Operations Division, Ron Pearson, at 703-324-8594 and we will be happy to look into it for you.
Issue: Potential Staff Reductions
Numerous guests expressed concern over the possibility of a staff reduction at Hidden Pond due to County General Fund budget expense.
Mr. Dargle explained that all county agencies have been asked to submit a list of potential cuts representing 5% of their general fund budget. The Park Authority has had their budget cut by 26% over the last five years, which is roughly $9M. Of the 5%, 65% is staff and the rest is money for utilities, information technology needs, supplies and materials. The County Executive will review the list in October or November; the Board of supervisors will review the list in a January/February timeframe. The budget is adopted in late April. This is a two-year budget process and we have been asked to submit 5% cuts for both FY2014 and FY2015.
Issue: 2012 Park Bond
Is the bond referendum specific to certain Parks?
Yes. The Park Authority has $400M in needs including maintenance, land acquisition, new development, etc. We try to spread it out over five or so years. The money comes to the Parks a little bit at a time. As a result, we are still spending 2008 bond money. See information on the 2012 bond on our website http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/2012bond.htm .
Issue: Fund Raising for a Specific Park
Can the community collect money from partner groups or offer advertising for a specific park to save a position or for other needs?
Yes. However, money that is raised by the public for a particular park has to go through the Park Foundation. So the first step is to contact the Park Foundation at http://www.fairfaxparkfoundation.org or 703-324-8582. The Foundation will let interested residents know what they are trying to achieve and listen to the goals of the residents to determine where there is overlap. Ideally, it would be a sanctioned project that has the approval of both park foundation and park authority boards. If not, the Park Foundation will work with residents to try to direct the funds to the targeted project.
Issue: Park Viability
How do you know that Hidden Pond is vibrant?
We can tell how active a park is based on attendance levels, citizen letters, and financial reports.
How will you keep the nature center open with no staff?
Currently, there is no proposal to eliminate staff at the park. However, if it were necessary to do so in the future, some potential strategies might be to reduce nature center operating days and/or hours, close during less busy seasons, or implement new and/or increased fees for programs and services.
Issue: Potential Budget Cuts to Hidden Pond
One guest pointed out that Hidden Pond is the “go to” place for her family, neighbors and school community. They go there regardless of the weather or seasons. It is actually one of the “best places to go/things to do” that south Fairfax County, and especially Springfield, Va., has to offer. They wanted to know Hidden Pond’s place on the budget cut list.
Guests wanted to know what they could do to prevent cuts at Hidden Pond.
Mr. Dargle recommended that residents talk to their County Supervisors about their budget concerns and suggested they speak with the Friends of Hidden Pond (FOHP) to help funnel contributions to that specific park. He explained the budget schedule and handed out flyers for contacts. He also stressed that the Park Authority Bond is an important driver to show that you support the parks. It shows the Board of Supervisors how citizens feel about parks. It is something you can do immediately. For more information on the County’s budget process see County Budget Primer at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/county-budget-primer.htm or Current Budget at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/current-budget.htm .
Issue: Suggestions for Park Foundation
One guest suggested that the Park Foundation should be on Amazon.com so we can get a “kickback”. Another suggested branding with a company like Subway.
We do actually already have an Amazon program. See http://www.fairfaxparkfoundation.org/support/buy.htm .
The next Listening Forum is set for November 8, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the Lee District RECenter.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
LEE DISTRICT LISTENING FORUM: NOVEMBER 8, 2012
Park Authority Board Members Ed Batten, Lee District Representative and Linwood Gorham, Mt. Vernon Representative, were in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle, Jr.; Barbara Nugent; Director of Park Services Division; Marcus Wadsworth Legislative Aide from Supervisor McKay’s Office; David Wyttenbach, Assistant Manager, Lee District RECenter; PIO Judy Pedersen; Strategic Initiatives Manager, Deborah Babcock-Daley; and Diana Fuentes, Administrative Assistant from the PIO’s Office.
Issue: Ladies Locker Room at South Run RECenter
A patron of five years at the Lee District RECenter noted that the ladies locker room needs regular and deliberate cleaning. The tiles are dirty, water pools around the drain, showers are dirty and there is hair on the floor. This guest also mentioned that there is no customer service and that she doesn’t even know who the site manager is. She would like staff to be more visible and to see person-to-person contact as the method of passing along information. Weekly updates of activities to instructors/patrons would be useful. She also suggested that the bulletin boards be kept up-to-date.
Based on this input, the Assistant Manager of South Run RECenter has refocused the staff work schedule to include more visits to locker rooms for light pick-up during operational hours and made adjustments to the heavy cleaning schedule in terms of frequency and materials used for both restrooms.
The current staff announcement board will be emphasized and refreshed to remain current.
Issue: Support for RECenter Instructors
A guest and fifteen year instructor at Lee District RECenter said the pool equipment needs to be cared for. Patrons are walking off with pool equipment. It needs to be labeled as “Property of Lee District” and secured for the water aerobics classes. Existing equipment needs to be fixed. She also suggested purchasing pool equipment for kids so they could have their own and would leave reserved equipment alone.
It was pointed out that there is a missing soap dispenser in the ladies locker room. She added that staff may not realize how bad the locker room is because there are no female lifeguards to report issues.
This instructor was also disappointed that she never sees the site manager. She would like it if he spoke to her occasionally and maybe observed her classes. She thinks Park Authority staff should take classes for first-hand knowledge of how things are run and to show support. She also noted that a newsletter for instructors to make announcements would be helpful.
She suggested that there be social activities for patrons and a space to interact or have coffee with other patrons and/or instructors.
PIO Pedersen noted that complaints/suggestions could be handled with an email into Parkmail.
The site staff will be examining ways to ensure the merit staff are more visible to instructors and vary schedules to see all programs within three weeks of a new program season.
Issue: Staffing at Lake Accotink
A member of the Springfield Civic Association wanted to know the status of staffing at Lake Accotink for the winter. This guest felt there should be at least one full-time staff person at the park. They were concerned about a recent arrest in the park for illegal substance.
The Director reported that there will be staff at Lake Accotink throughout the 2012-2013winter season.
Mr. Dargle pointed out that any reporting of suspicious activity needs to be directed to the Police Department.
Issue: Westgrove Park Planning Process
One guest, who lives near the Westgrove dog park, feels the dog owners run the planning process rather than there being a normal process. He feels the dog park is a valid idea but that the planners should consider other sites. He feels the community would benefit more from a passive environmental area. He felt Westgrove should be more of an environmental education area with grassy meadows to open spaces instead of a dog park.
Instead he suggested the third tier of the parking lot at Mt. Vernon RECenter or Collingwood Park be used as a dog park. Both appear to have ample space, he claimed.
He noted that South Run dog park is rocky and terrible for dogs.
He mentioned that Mt. Vernon RECenter is very well run and he wanted to let us know.
Mr. Dargle explained that Westgrove is currently in the planning stages. We hope to have a park master plan completed and ready for public review within the next couple months. At that time, the Park Authority will hold a public comment meeting to present the draft master plan and receive comments followed by a 30-day comment period.
Staff has evaluated other location alternatives, including Mt. Vernon District Park, but none were suitable. The Park Authority Board and the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the interim Off Leash Dog Area (OLDA) use. There are still many in the community who cite environmental connectivity as an alternative use to the OLDA and we are balancing many community voices. We have been working with the adjacent Belle View ES to incorporate outdoor educational opportunities in Westgrove. Director Dargle added that while the OLDA is currently receiving a lot of attention, he believes the passive and environmental-related features identified in the planning process (many suggested from environmental groups) will be well received after the draft master plan is available for public review. See master plan for Westgrove Park http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/westgrove.htm
Issue: Tennis Courts Condition at Lee District Park
One guest noted that two years ago the courts were re-surfaced and they did a terrible job. Further, the lighting at night is awful. The lighting on court #4 is dull. Also, there is two inches of standing water on the court after a rain. The instructor has to clear it with a board covered in carpet.
This guest also said they would like to see mobile vendors like for the volleyball courts.
Finally they pointed out that there is broken equipment, like spin bikes that just sit in a corner. It would be nice if they got fixed.
The Director explained that due to budget cuts we can’t do much about the re-surfacing of the courts but there may be a US Tennis Association (USTA) grant that we could apply for to improve the situation. He also said Parks does have a request for proposal (RFP) out for mobile vendors.
The director said it would be helpful to have a contact regarding the court conditions.
Our Energy Management manager is working on potential funding for lighting upgrades for the Lee District tennis courts, which appeared to be the most immediate concern.
We understand that the conditions of the tennis court at Lee District are less than satisfactory. Although there is no specific funding allocated for the resolution of the drainage issue, we will continue to explore potential grant money to address this concern. For more information on grants, contact Roberta Longworth, Executive Director Park Foundation at 703-324-8581 or email@example.com .
Issue: Pool Temperature
One guest mentioned that they feel the new natatorium lighting “is superb” and the pool temperature is great. However, the locker room is freezing. They are also impressed with the lifeguards and feel they are very friendly. They think the in-service lifeguard certification training is top rate.
Issue: Bike Lanes on Telegraph Road
It was requested that bike lanes are needed on Telegraph Road.
The Bicycle Master Plan, which is currently proposed as an amendment to the transportation section of the County Comprehensive Plan, identifies Telegraph Rd. as an important bicycle connector route. If the plan is approved, then, as improvements are made to the road, it is highly likely that bicycle facilities will be added. For instance, the section of Telegraph Rd that is already being widened in the vicinity of Fort Belvoir will include an eight foot wide multi-use trail suitable for bicycles. Unfortunately, the current project ends at Kings Highway and therefore the northern sections of Telegraph Road will have to wait for future, unscheduled improvements for the construction of bike facilities to continue.
This is not a Park Authority issue but certainly of interest in the community. Inquiries to the Lee District Supervisor’s Office would be appropriate. You can reach Supervisor McKay at 703-971-6262, firstname.lastname@example.org, and on the web at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/lee/.
The next Listening Forum is set for January 17, 2013, at 7 p.m. in the Park Authority Board Room, Herrity Building 9th Floor.
COMMENTS AND RESPONSES
COUNTYWIDE LISTENING FORUM: JANUARY 17, 2013
Park Authority Board Vice Chair, Ken Quincy, and Members Linwood Gorham, Mt. Vernon Representative and Mike Thompson, Springfield Representative were in attendance along with staff which included Director John Dargle, Jr.; Sara Baldwin, Deputy Director/COO; Barbara Nugent, Director of Park Services Division; John Berlin, Manager, Program Branch; and Deborah Babcock-Daley, Strategic Initiatives Manager.
Issue: Early Swim at Providence RECenter
Our single guest accompanied by her daughter wanted to talk about swim lane availability in the mornings. She provided a written summary of RECenter facility hours noting that some sites open pools at 6 a.m. and others open at 6:30 a.m. She swims laps at Providence RECenter in the early morning because the later she swims the later she gets into work. Because of school and private swim teams, if you don’t swim early in the morning, you may not be able to get a lane until the evening. There are persons waiting for lap lanes when they open to the public at 6:30 a.m. and believes others would want to swim earlier too. Pointing to the three Arlington County pools which are located in high schools, she noted that they open at 5:30 a.m. to the public. She wanted to know if Parks could open lap swim lanes earlier than 6:30 am.
Mr. Gorham pointed out that US Swim teams, comprised mostly of high school students, practice from 5:00 am until 6:30 am before school. Barbara Nugent pointed out that the US Swim team’s contractual agreement, based on coverage by National Governing, requires all coaches have the highest credentials possible that include lifeguarding/CPR/FIRST AID/AED and as a result does not require us to provide lifeguards for them during non-public hours. If we opened lap lanes for the public during that time, the Park Authority’s contract with Ellis and Associates stipulates we guard the entire pool at all times when the public is invited (or pays) to come to the pool. Since the Masters Swim Team uses the pool in the desired 5:00 to 6:30 a.m. time slot, joining that group would allow you to swim earlier.
Mr. Thompson asked if we could hold a few lanes back from rental groups for public swimming. John Berlin pointed out that we do reserve at least three lanes for lap swimming and water walking during most public hours . There are many different types of users of our pools and many want access during the same hours.
Our guest complimented the Providence staff and lifeguards on their professionalism and helpfulness and she appreciated the opportunity to make her request known. Director Dargle assured our guest that staff would get back to her after looking into this matter further.
The next Listening Forum is set for March 21, 2013, at 7 p.m. at Laurel Hill Golf Course, Clubhouse.
Attend A Listening Forum With The Park Authority Director
Fairfax County Park Authority Director John Dargle, Jr. will host a Listening Forum at the Laurel Hill Golf clubhouse on Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 7 p.m. Residents are invited to ask questions about parks in their communities and to share any concerns they may have. The atmosphere is informal and all conversations about parks are welcome.
Director Dargle has been meeting with residents bi-monthly for the past few years. He values the opportunity to hear feedback directly from park users. The information he receives is shared with his leadership team and helps guide future park planning decisions.
Laurel Hill Golf Course is located at 8701 Laurel Crest Drive in Lorton, Va. For more information, call the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.
Interested in what people said at previous forums? Check the online summaries.
Explore the Park Authority web site for details on: