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Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Master Plan Revision


The E. C. Lawrence Park Master Plan has been approved

Thank you for your feedback and involvement during the plannign process.

The Park Authority Board approved the 2017 version of the Master Plan at its meeting on September 27, 2017. You may view it and other park master plans in our Master Plan Archives.

In your comments, we heard your desire to maintain the park’s unique natural setting, your concerns about trails and transportation, the need for improved community access, and the inclusion of a skate park and other active recreation amenities. The approved plan addresses these issues to the greatest extent possible.

What's Next?

We've already started to implement the recommendations of the Park Master Plan. Any new proposed facilities will be dependent on available funding and public need at the time of construction.  Our staff and Board members continue to work with VDOT and County staff during the I-66 and Route 28 improvement projects. For more information and timing, please visit http://outside.transform66.org/

Again, thank you! Your participation has helped Ellanor C. Lawrence Park continue to be a treasured destination for years to come. 

Expand Learn more about Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature across its 650 acres.  Central to the park is the Walney Visitor Center and historic Cabell’s Mill, located along Walney Road in the Bull Run Planning District.  With lawn, meadow, forest, historic sites, trails, and athletic fields, Ellanor C. Lawrence attracts visitors from across the county but feels like a neighborhood park to the many residents who live nearby.  Classified as a resource based park, it offers opportunities to hike and bike miles of trails, fish in the pond, and observe the changing of the seasons. Throughout the year, the park offers naturalist lead programs and provides a great place to enjoy a family picnic or social gathering – among the trees, on the grass, in a covered pavilion, or Cabell’s Mill. 

The Park Authority’s history with Ellanor C. Lawrence Park began in 1971 with the acquisition of the property from the Lawrence family.  This acquisition was made possible with funding provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund grants with the stipulation that the Park Authority will protect the park’s resources while providing a place for recreation in a public park that area residents can enjoy in western Fairfax County.  The modest development of the existing home, mill, and farm buildings into public facilities soon followed by the addition of trails, picnic shelters, and playing fields.  From the 1970s, to the present, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park has served the growing population of Fairfax County.
Historic Features
While many of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park’s historic features are readily evident, few immediately recognize other signs that speak of our county’s heritage.  Rocky Run Creek would have been attractive to prehistoric and Native Americans to establish their settlements.  The same features would have made the site attractive to colonial era European settlers who started the farm and built a mill to grind grain into flour.  The farm flourished into the mid-20th century.  The creek also formed a flat area for a historic road bed and a natural defense during the Civil War.

Natural Resources
Ellanor C. Lawrence protects 650 acres of field, forest, and stream in the Bull Run watershed. The pond 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.

To learn more about Ellanor C. Lawrence Park’s cultural and natural resources, please visit the park's webpage at: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Natural History


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 Ellanor C. Lawrence Park’s Master Plan that was approved in 1991?

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

The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Master Plan was first developed in 1977.  It has been revised several times over the years, most recently in 1991.  The 1991 Conceptual Development Plan reflected the existing visitor center, mill, pond, trails, and parking areas.  The plan also envisioned additional space devoted for family picnics, restrooms, camping, equestrian, and expanded parking.  Some of these facilities have been added while some, such as the campground have not been constructed.  Additional improvements have also been made to enhance accessibility.

Fairfax County’s demographics have changed since 1991.  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 wellbeing 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.

Several parcels have been added to the park since 1991.  Additionally, the expansion of I-66 and Route 28, as well as the planned new interchange, and poplar tree extension with new park entrance to the existing ball fields west of Route 28 will also impact the park.  The sully stewardship center is also planned for Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.  All of which will be taken into account by the new master plan revision.

In addition, Fairfax County has greatly expanded its approach to watershed management planning and the Bull Run 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.


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