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 is 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.