The board voted 9-1 in favor of the plan at its meeting last week, said Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie.
The park has been in the master plan process for more than a year in order to better use the space, said Bouie. Baron Cameron is a district park, drawing visitors not only from Reston but from surrounding communities.
Last spring, the park authority released a master plan draft that includes several changes to fields, gardens and lighting. The approved alternative plan includes all those changes, but also adds the option for a indoor recreation center, which would likely feature a 50-meter indoor pool.
The recreation center has been a sometimes contentious community discussion since February of 2013, when the Reston Community Center began discussing the idea of building a new facility at Baron Cameron Park in cooperation with the park authority. The park authority would give the land to RCC at no cost.
In 2013, RCC hired consultants Brailsford & Dunlavy for a feasibility study that estimated the rec center would cost about $35 million.
The swimming community is in favor of a new pool as RCC’s 25-meter indoor pool at Hunters Woods is outdated and crowded, they said. However, many community members question traffic, loss of green space, financial impact and whether there is a need for an additional indoor pool in Reston.
The next step in RCC’s process would be a community referendum, and RCC executive director Leila Gordon says that won’t happen this year.
Meanwhile, the new-and-improved Baron Cameron Park won’t happen for a long time, either. Bouie said earlier this year there are no bonds or developer proffers attached to any park improvements. That means whatever is in the master plan is basically just a wish list for the time being.
“Any bonds we would obtain would be for 2023 at the earliest,” Bouie said.
Also in the master plan: The off-leash dog area will stay in its current location along Wiehle Avenue. There had been a proposal in one of the plan drafts to move it further inside the park, away from nearby homes. There had also been feedback from citizens at a community meeting in March to move the dog park to Lake Fairfax Park.
A group of homeowners in the Longwood Grove neighborhood, which sits across Wiehle Avenue from the dog park, filed an injunction against the park in March. In it, they complained about excessive noise and asked that the dog park be shut down.
The homeowners’ attorney was at the park authority meeting last week and asked again that the dog park be shut down.
Key elements of the master plan include:
- Upgrading the rectangle fields to full-size, with synthetic turf and lights
- Adding a second lighted diamond field
- Increasing the amount of parking spaces
- Adding a second park entrance off Wiehle Avenue
- Adding a multi-use court complex
- Expanding the community garden plots
- Creating a trail network throughout the park and a new pedestrian connection to the adjacent Browns Chapel Park (operated by Reston Association)
- Removing several athletic fields in order to build the indoor rec center.
Read the entire Baron Cameron Park Master Plan Draft.
Graphic: Baron Cameron Park with alternative plan/Credit: FCPA