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Lake Accotink Park Master Plan Revision



As part of the process to update the master plan for Lake Accotink Park, the Park Authority will host a community workshop to better understand what types of facilities and programming are valuable to the community. Stop by between 7 and 8:30 p.m. to circulate among a variety of workshop stations at your own pace to help us know what facilities are important to YOU. Allow about half an hour to answer the workshop questions. If you are interested in how the overall project is going, Park Authority staff will provide a brief project update at 7 p.m.

October 27, 2016
7 until 8:30 p.m.
Kings Park Elementary School
5400 Harrow Way, Springfield


Expand Learn more about Lake Accotink Park

Lake Accotink Park provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature across its 449 acres.  Central to the park is a 55-acre lake which is surrounded by wetlands and forest.  As one of Fairfax County's three lakefront parks, Lake Accotink Park attracts visitors from across the county but feels like a neighborhood park to the many residents who live nearby.  Lake Accotink Park offers opportunities to hike and bike miles of trails, fish from the shoreline, and observe the changing of the seasons. From May through October, the park offers bike, canoe, and paddle boat rentals as well as tour boat rides around the lake to expand on the ways to explore the park.  A 9-hole miniature golf, historic carousel, and playgrounds provide family amusements.  Lake Accotink is a great place to enjoy a family picnic or social gathering – among the trees, on the grass, or in a covered pavilion.  A concessions stand and restrooms add to the comfort of a visit to the park.  Lake Accotink Park also serves to build a sense of community through hosting summer concerts and camps as well as perpetual favorites such as the Bark in the Park pet events and the yearly Cardboard Boat Regatta.  Whether young or old, active or a little more laid back, two-legged or four, Lake Accotink Park continues to provide enjoyment to thousands of visitors each year.

The Park Authority's history with Lake Accotink Park began in 1960 with the leasing of 242 acres of land that at the time was owned by the federal government. The modest development of boating facilities and concessions were soon followed by the addition of trails, picnic shelters, and a playground.  Through the early 1960s, numerous smaller acquisitions expanded the park by nearly 50 additional acres.  In 1965 through the Federal Lands to Parks Program, the Park Authority was given the opportunity to purchase the land area that had previously been leased for $88,250.  As the neighborhoods of Springfield and Annandale sprouted in the 60s, Lake Accotink expanded recreation opportunities close to home for the many families moving to the expanding suburbs.  Additional property was added to the park from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, bringing the total Lake Accotink Park acreage to 449 acres.

Historic Features
Of the tens of thousands visitors to Lake Accotink Park, few immediately recognize signs that speak of our county's heritage.  But if one looks closely, the clues start to become evident.  The presence of Accotink Creek would have been attractive to prehistoric and Native Americans to establish their homes.  The name "Accotink" is derived from an Algonquian word meaning "at the end of the hill", referring to the name of the largest village in the area.

The area of Lake Accotink Park was once crossed by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, chartered in 1849, connecting Alexandria with Gordonsville.  During the Civil War, the railroad was used to transport troops and supplies, with its wooden trestle over Accotink Creek being a prime target for saboteurs.  The Orange and Alexandria Railroad was purchased by Southern Railways in 1894. The route of the old rail line is still visible within the park and provides service access to the park from Rolling Road.  In several locations, stone culverts built with the railroad in the 1850s are still visible and functional.

The Lake Accotink dam also tells the history of the area.  Accotink Creek was first dammed in 1918 after the land was purchased by the War Department.  Originally referred to as the Springfield Dam, the structure caused the formation of Lake Accotink for the purpose of providing safe drinking water for the Army Corps of Engineers.  This same structure was dismantled shortly thereafter in 1922 due to concern that the dam threatened the structural integrity of the railroad trestle.  The dam was reconstructed in 1943 and the lake reformed to provide a potential source of drinking water to what is now Fort Belvoir.

Natural Resources
Lake Accotink Park is situated in the middle of the 51 square mile Accotink Watershed.  Runoff from as far north as Chain Bridge Road in the Town of Vienna passes through Lake Accotink on its route through Fort Belvoir and into Accotink Bay and ultimately the Potomac River.  The lake and its surrounding forests provide habitat for a myriad of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and fish.  The consolidated tree cover in the park helps protect water and air quality and provides critical wildlife corridors and safe havens.

Expand Learn more about the Planning Process


Like the population of Fairfax County, the demand for park and recreation options to serve county residents continues to grow. In order to meet the demand of the community for places to recreate, while at the same time protecting and preserving the county's precious natural and cultural resources, the Park Authority has established the park master plan process to guide future improvements and changes to park property and facilities.

What is a Park Master Plan?

A park master plan establishes a long-range vision of future park uses and features and is specific to a given park. Framed by Park Authority and Fairfax County policies, a park master plan integrates a detailed knowledge of the individual park conditions with the desires of the community to provide a document that will guide and inform future uses within that park. Public input it a critical component in the development of a park master plan.

What is the typical planning process?

At the start of the planning process, a staff team is assembled with broad areas of expertise to develop a well-informed, balanced perspective on the park. The master plan team hosts a public meeting to share information about the park, providing an opportunity to introduce the project and park details, and to carefully listen to the community's input on the future of the park. Park users, neighbors and stakeholders are notified and encouraged to share their insights throughout the planning process.

The master plan team develops a draft concept plan for the park, incorporating the community's input. Once a draft plan is prepared, it is published on the project webpage for public review and comment. An additional public comment meeting is held to present the draft master plan to the community and listen to the community's feedback.

The community's comments are carefully considered and the draft plan is adjusted as needed. While not all individual preferences can be accommodated, the Park Authority strives to provide a fair process and a balanced park network that addresses a variety of needs and issues.

Following public comment and plan adjustments, a final version of the park master plan is presented to the Park Authority Board for approval. Plan implementation requires that capital funding be allocated to more detailed design, engineering and construction. Capital funding is typically provided by voter approved park general obligation bonds or other sources of alternative funding such as development proffers or donations.

Expand Learn why we are revising the master plan

Why revise Lake Accotink Park' Master Plan that was approved in 1993?

A master plan revision is undertaken when a park or its surrounding community have notably changed. This is the case of the Lake Accotink Park Master Plan.

The Lake Accotink Park master plan was first developed in 1964. It has been revised several times over the years, most recently in 1993. The 1993 Conceptual Development Plan reflected the existing marina, concessions stand, and parking areas. The plan also envisioned additional space devoted for family picnics, restrooms, and expanded parking. The carousel was planned to remain with the addition of a new playground and expanded mini-golf in the lakefront area. These facilities have been added while some, such as a boat landing on the west side of the lake and a ball field, have not been constructed. Additional improvements have also been made to enhance accessibility.

Fairfax County's demographics have changed since 1993. The population has increased 37% between 1993 and 2015, from 818,584 residents to 1,125,385 residents. And the county's population is predicted to grow by another 12% by the year 2030. Along the way, the average age of Fairfax County residents is increasing. More and more residents are living in townhomes or multifamily buildings without the benefit of a traditional backyard for recreation. Demographics are shifting and so are recreational preferences. The relationship of outdoor recreation to health and well being increases the demand for park space and suggests opportunities for park changes. At the same time, some of the existing park facilities that have served the community for a long time are showing their age. The master plan revision will allow an opportunity to examine existing facilities in light of these changes.

Suburban development upstream of the lake since 1965 has resulted in the recurrent and increasing rate of siltation in the lake. The siltation has reduced the surface area of Lake Accotink as well as the depth to approximately three to five feet deep. Increased siltation degrades the health of the lake, reducing populations of fish, invertebrates, and bottom communities while providing a conduit for pollutants. As a recreational lake, the reduced depth impacts boating operations and the impacted fish population reduces the lake's attractiveness for recreational fishing.

The lake was dredged in 1984 and 2004 and will be needed again within the next decade. Examination of options for addressing the continued accumulation of silt, that impacts the health and recreational value of the lake, will be a key focus of the master plan revision process.

In addition, Fairfax County has greatly expanded its approach to watershed management planning and the Accotink Watershed Plan will be an important policy guide for considering lake sustainability options. The master plan revision provides an opportunity to align the park master plan with watershed planning objectives.

Park circulation, site operational needs, access, natural resource management, history and archaeology will all be reviewed as part of the master plan revision. Site analysis will examine ways to encourage safe bike and pedestrian routes, to and within the park, while easing vehicular movements. Additional park land use and resource management issues and concerns identified by the public, park users and stakeholders will also be examined as part of the master plan process.


12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 406
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

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Meeting Presentations and Notes
Planning Documents and Maps

Comments regarding the Lake Accotink Master Plan Revision can be shared through parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov

E-Mail Updates

Would you like to be kept up-to-date about the Lake Accotink Master Plan Revision? Provide your e-mail address below to receive project updates.



Your e-mail will only be used for updates regarding the Lake Accotink Park Master Plan Revision.

Use the link below to share your thoughts

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Expand Lake Accotink Park Usage Survey: What do you enjoy about Lake Accotink Park and would most like to see?


Download Survey Status as of September 1, 2016 to see how your neighbors have voted so far.

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