As the Fairfax County Park Authority Board prepares for the possibility voters approve a $63 million park bond this November, members are gathering input from residents on potential projects and improvements that should benefit from the money.
During an approximately two-hour public input meeting Monday, more than a dozen advocates came before the Fairfax County Park Authority Board and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to promote their groups.
In May, the Board of Supervisors voted to put a $75 million park bond referendum to voters Nov. 6. County parks will see $63 million of that money, and regional parks in Northern Virginia will see the other $12 million, if voters approve the referendum.
Representatives from various "friends" groups filled much of the speakers' list, said Judy Pedersen, public information officer for the park authority.
The Friends of Colvin Run Mill asked for more funding for a visitors' center, and a representative from the Great Falls Historical Society talked about expanded community use of the Great Falls Grange, an assembly hall built in 1929 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A number of residents also advocated for the Resident Curatorship program, Pedersen said.
According to the Fairfax County Historical Commission's website: "[The] resident curator program could provide citizens with the opportunity to hold a lifetime or long-term lease on a county-owned historic property at little or no cost to the County. In exchange for this lease, the curator would pledge to restore and maintain the historic property during the life of the lease while periodically opening the historic property to the public."
Other highlights from Monday's public input meeting included:
- New Gum Springs Civic Association asked for improvements and expanded facilities at Martin Luther King Park and in the Audubon neighborhood.
- Students from Mount Vernon High School advocated for synthetic turf fields at the school.
- Representatives from Friends of Lake Accotink Park requested funding for a new miniature golf course and an amphitheater.
- Off-leash dog park supporters wanted to see and other dog parks in the Braddock District.
- A speaker supported expanded equestrian facilities at Laurel Hill.
According to a presentation given Monday, 20 percent ($12.6 million) will be used for land acquisition; 12 percent ($7.56 million) will be used for new facilities; 31 percent ($19.53 million) will be used to expand existing facilities; and 37 percent ($23.31 million) will be used to renovate existing facilities in need.
"The park board has already looked at the $63 million bond," Pedersen said. "Within each of those [four] categories, they have a district-by-district list of potential projects. Much of that is already based on public input that we’ve received over the last two years through the Great Parks, Great Communities initiative," Pedersen said.
Plans for new facilities such as Hartland Green Urban Park and Monticello Park in Burke already exist, as well as plans for expansions at county golf courses and recreation centers, and the installation of synthetic turf fields.
The park authority’s presentation also details efforts to add land to in Lorton, Turner Farm in Great Falls, in Annandale, Patriot Park and more. They plan to restore the and the Colvin Run Mill Miller House, as well.
Residents have until Aug. 10 to submit their recommendations and comments. Then the Park Authority Board will look at public input and decide whether to make changes to their existing recommendations based on where need is greatest.
They do this "with some regularity," Pedersen said.
"There's a long list of existing desires and needs versus a much smaller pie that's actually available to fund them," she said.
If residents wish to submit their input, they can write to the Park Authority at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 927 Fairfax, VA 22035-1118 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.