Park Planning and Development
The Fairfax County Park Authority values your input. We depend on you to help us plan your parks. No plan can be successful without the benefit of park users to identify needs, desires, and local community issues. Thank you for helping us to reach our goal of "Better Parks through Community Participation."
Why Master Plan Parks?
Like the population, the county's park and recreation needs are growing. Park master plans provide the public a way to help determine the best uses for a specific site and to optimize management of the site's resources. We use your input combined with analyses of current trends and future needs identified in the Countywide Parks and Recreational Needs Assessment to help craft a long-range blueprint for use of a park site.
What is a Park Plan?
A park master plan (MP) is a general guide for appropriate park uses and their approximate location within a specific park site. The plan serves as a long-range vision (10-20 year timeframe) for future development and programming. Issues typically addressed include planned park elements, natural and cultural resource management, and general design concerns. The plan is conceptual in nature and not intended to address detailed issues related to engineered site design or park operations. The plan is just one of many steps in the process that leads to the development of a public park. Please visit the Master Plan Archives for an index to master plan documents.
The Park Planning Process
Typically, there are at least three public meetings throughout the planning process to seek public involvement.
The first is a public information meeting to introduce the project and existing site conditions; explain the planning process; identify community issues and respond to preliminary questions. Later, there is a planning workshop where the community is invited to evaluate alternative park uses and conceptual designs. After a preferred alternative is identified, a draft park master plan is developed, and a formal public hearing is held to gather further comments.
The draft plan may be further refined after each public meeting. Eventually, the Park Authority Board is presented with a final plan for adoption. While not all individual preferences can be accommodated, the Park Authority strives to provide a fair and balanced park system.
Public Use Approval
Virginia law, Section 15.2-2232, requires local Planning Commissions to review public facility uses to determine if their general location, character, and extent are substantially in accord with the County Comprehensive Plan. Following adoption of a park master plan, the Park Authority submits an Application for Determination or a "2232 Review" to the Planning Commission for a finding of conformance to the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission may hold its own public hearing prior to acting on the application.
Your Input is Essential
Comments and suggestions are always welcome and encouraged. Please send via e-mail to: Parkmail or by post to: David Bowden, Director, Planning & Development Division, Fairfax County Park Authority, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 406, Fairfax, VA 22035.
More Information on Park Planning
- Park Classification System¹
- Adopted Board of Supervisors Guidance for Parks and Recreation¹ (County Comprehensive Plan, Policy Plan, Parks and Recreation)
- Park Planning Brochure¹
- Master Plan Archives
The Park Development Process
Park development does not always closely follow adoption of a park master plan process. The Park Authority Board must identify project funding sources, typically through voter-approved bonds, private developer contributions, and/or cooperative agreements with local user groups.
When funding is secured, a project scope is developed for Park Authority Board approval. The scope identifies the facilities to be developed, areas of cultural and natural resources to be preserved, transportation and utility improvements, and federal, state, and local code requirements. The scope includes a preliminary cost estimate and schedule identifying major milestones for the design, permitting, bidding, and construction phases of the project.
Once the scope is approved the project proceeds to the detailed design phase. During this phase each element of the plan such as buildings, athletic fields, playgrounds, parking lots, and trails are specifically located on a base plan. Various code requirements for buildings, site work, accessibility, wetlands, and Chesapeake Bay preservation are incorporated into the plan during this process. Following completion of the design, the plans are submitted to various agencies to obtain the permits necessary to proceed to construction.
As a public agency, the Park Authority must conduct the bidding of construction projects in accordance with the Virginia Public Procurement Act. Construction projects must be advertised, and the resulting bid proposals opened in public. Each contract is presented to the Park Authority Board for approval. A "Pardon Our Dust" letter is mailed to citizens that live near the construction site notifying them of the impending project. The Park Authority ensures that the project is constructed in compliance with the plans, specifications, and permit requirements resulting in the issuance of an occupancy permit for the facility. Park Authority operational staff then opens each facility for the public's use.