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by RestonNow.com — March 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm 1 Comment

Lake Fairfax/Fairfax County Park AuthorityThe Fairfax County Park Authority is looking for 30 volunteers to assist in a watershed cleanup event at Lake Fairfax Park.

The event at Lake Fairfax Park is one of nine around the county scheduled for 9-11:30 a.m. April 1. The cleanup effort is a partnership between the Park Authority and The Nature Conservancy to attempt to prevent trash from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary.

Snacks, giveaways and other incentives will be offered to volunteers.

For more details or to register, visit the Fairfax County Park Authority website.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

by Karen Goff — October 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm 16 Comments

Lake Fairfax ParkWhen Fairfax County voters go to the polls this fall, they will vote for, among other things, the U.S President and a county Meals Tax.

Also on the ballot is a county park bonds question. If that referendum passes, it will provide $94.7 million for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Here’s the question posed to voters:

Shall the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money and issue bonds, in addition to bonds previously authorized for parks and park facilities, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $107,000,000:

(i) $94,700,000 principal amount to finance the Fairfax County
Park Authority’s cost to acquire, construct, develop and equip additional parks and park facilities, to preserve open-space land, and to develop and improve existing parks and park
facilities;

and (ii) $12,300,000 principal amount for Fairfax County’s contribution to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to
acquire, construct, develop and equip parks and park facilities?

Bonds are one of the main funding mechanisms for the park authority. Park fees cover about 60 percent of all park operating costs. The remaining operating funds are derived from taxpayer contributions, including developer proffers.

2016bond-distributionBut user fees do not pay for developing new facilities — such as a $90 million recreation center planned for the Reston Town Center North area — or major renovations.

The sale of bonds helps Fairfax County spread the cost over the years that the facilities are used. Fairfax County has a AAA Bond rating, which ensures low interest on the loans.

The Park Authority is currently operating under a plan of $15M bond sale for FY 2017, and increasing that amount to $18.5M in FY 2018.

If passed, this will be the third bond program of the last 10 years for the park authority. The last bond referendum was in 2012; the park authority says it is still in the process of allocating that $63 million. Of that $63M, the park authority has sold $14.8M, leaving a current balance of $48.2M in bonds authorized, but unissued.

With a bond sale coming up in January, the park authority anticipates that an additional $15M will be sold, reducing the available balance to $33.2M.

The park authority says the 2016 bond would be allocated this way: 56 percent for park renovations and upgrades; 28 percent for new park development; 8 percent for natural and cultural resources stewardship; and 7 percent for land acquisition and open space preservation.

See more about the bonds and some of the improvements planned by the park authority on the Fairfax County Park Authority website.

Graphic courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

by Karen Goff — September 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm 4 Comments

Fairfax County Park AuthorityWhat does the Fairfax County Park Authority need as it upgrades its indoor recreation centers?

That’s what officials want to know as they conduct a community survey this fall and make recommendations in Spring 2017.

The Park Authority will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday to present information on its systemwide study that will guide future redevelopment and growth of the RECenter system throughout the county. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 106/107 of the Herrity Building, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

This meeting is an opportunity to learn more about the study, how to provide input into the study and how to stay informed of the study’s progress, says Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie.

Last year’s Needs Assessment Survey revealed that residents put a high priority on recreational facilities and see a general need for upgrades across the park system.

The Park Authority has hired Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inc. (B&D), CENTERS, and Hughes Group Architects (HGA) to develop a system-wide sustainability plan for the RECenters. The project team will look at potential future operational and facility improvements that effectively and efficiently help to meet the indoor recreation needs of Fairfax County residents, Bouie said.

A Community Interest Survey will be conducted later this month. The survey will be distributed to RECenter users and pass holders and other Fairfax County residents.

A second public meeting will be scheduled this winter.

Bouie said Reston is still on track to get an indoor recreation facility in the Reston Town Center North area during that area’s future redevelopment.

by Karen Goff — September 19, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Rendering of Lake Fairfax Bike Track/Credit: Fairfax County

Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park is about to get a new outdoor amenity: a pump bike track near the Lake Fairfax soccer fields.

A pump track is a continuous loop of dirt berms and “rollers” (smooth dirt mounds) that you ride without pedaling. The name comes from the pumping motion used by the rider’s upper and lower body as he or she rides around the track, say Fairfax County Park Authority officials.

Pump tracks are suitable for cyclists of all ages and skill levels, and almost any bicycle will work, including BMX bikes, mountain bikes, and kids bikes.

The pump track is being built by MORE (Mid-Atlantic Mountain Biking Enthusiasts).  Funding for the project was provided through a grant from PeopleForBikes.org and donations raised from The Bike Lane, The Bike Lane Race Team, and the Capital ‘Cross Classic.

Lake Fairfax will hold a ribbon cutting for the track on Oct. 8.

There are some other improvements heading to the park:

Stream Restoration — A new pedestrian bridge is scheduled for construction as part of the Colvin Run restoration project now underway.

This project will restore 1,700 feet of Colvin Run below the Lake Fairfax dam, and almost 500 feet of tributaries. It will also provide better access to the stream for recreation and environmental education but protect banks from excessive foot traffic that can kill vegetation and cause erosion.

Project construction is scheduled to run from Sept. 16, 2016 to May 26, 2017. During this time the stream below the lake dam will be fenced off. Road and bridge construction will require Lake Fairfax Drive across Colvin Run below the dam to be closed from Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2017.

Campground Improvements: Lake Fairfax’s campground is getting a new bathhouse that meets modern-day standards for efficiency and accessibility. The restroom near the picnic area is also being replaced.

The current bathhouse closed Aug. 15 and will reopen on May 26, 2017. The picnic area restroom is also now closed and will reopen in May 2017.

by Karen Goff — August 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm 1 Comment

Fairfax County Park AuthorityThe Fairfax County Park Authority is offering an outdoor getaway for women very close to home.

The park authority’s “Women Unplugged” Weekend is Sept. 3 and 4.

Here’s the deal: Participants in the program, which runs from 8 a.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday, will kayak from Algonkian Park to Riverbend Park and have an outdoor dinner with a bonfire. Bring a tent and spend the night under the stars or “camp out” in the FCPA Nature Center.

On Sunday, participants will explore birds, edible plants, and learn to shoot a bow and arrow.

Cost is $200; most meals included.

For more details, visit Parktakes online.

by Karen Goff — July 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm 40 Comments

Playtime at the dog parkReston Association’s Board of Directors said last night it supports recommendations that the Baron Cameron Dog Park should, essentially, clean up its act.

The board voted to send a letter to the Fairfax County Park Authority, which operates Baron Cameron Park, asking for a meeting to discuss issues at the park and the working group’s suggested solutions.

RA members who live near the park, mostly in the Longwood Grove neighborhood, asked for RA’s help earlier this year in what has been an ongoing battle.

While noise complaints have been an issue for years, the working group — which included dog park users as well as Longwood Grove residents — also explained complaints about trash, behavior and the park’s appearance.

“I live in Longwood Grove, but a long way from the dog park,” said At-Large Director Michael Sanio. “I have seen my neighbors struggling with trying to have a voice with the county. What I learned from the working group is that not only were the neighbors unhappy, the dog park users were too.” (more…)

by Karen Goff — July 25, 2016 at 11:30 am 30 Comments

Dog Park at Baron Cameron ParkReston Association’s Dog Park Working Group has a variety of solutions for keeping the peace at the off-leash area at Baron Cameron Park.

The ideas range from paid monitors to charging fee for users to installing noise mitigation and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.

The working group, which was formed last spring in response complaints for a group of RA members who live close to the park, will present its recommendations at Thursday’s RA Board meeting.

RA has no jurisdiction over the park, as it is on Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) land. The involvement of RA was to bring both sides together to suggest solutions to the FCPA The RA Board will discuss and vote on one of two motions:

  1. Move to approve, deny, or amend the short and long-term recommendations of the Dog Park Task Force on improving the operation of the Baron Cameron Dog Park for the benefit of the Dog Park users and surrounding neighbors; or
  2. Direct staff to send a letter, outlining Dog Park recommendations and request for a meeting to discuss such recommendations, to the Fairfax County Park Authority Chairs, and copied to the whole Park Authority Board; the Fairfax County Park Authority Director, Sara Baldwin; and Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Catherine M. Hudgins.

It’s a saga that has been going on for several years.

The problem is noise, say many residents of Longwood Grove, a subdivision located across Wiehle Avenue from the dog park. The Longwood Grove residents say they can hear dogs barking at the park day and night, and it is affecting their quality of life. (more…)

by Karen Goff — July 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

Lake Fairfax Park/Courtesy: Fairfax County Park AuthorityThe Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) has earned national recognition for its environmental stewardship.

FCPS has been named the winner of the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) 2016 Barb King Environmental Stewardship Award, which recognizes a parks and recreation agency that has achieved excellence in environmental stewardship.

This national recognition pays tribute to the Park Authority’s growing commitment to protection of natural resources in Fairfax County, says a release from FCPA.

From the FCPA:

Enhancing Stewardship is listed first among the seven values that guide the FCPA, and the agency has a long list of stewardship accomplishments that were included in its award application.

The nomination noted that parkland in the county grew from just 14 acres to more than 23,500 acres over the agency’s 65-year history. It cited environmental design practices, such as the renovation of the Oak Marr RECenter which earned LEED Silver Certification.

Also noted was the agency’s emphasis on community outreach, through teacher-student programs such as the Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE) program, the production of popular, award-winning stewardship publications, volunteer environmental clean-up days at park sites, summer camp education programs, and Leave No Trace workshops.

Other actions considered by the NRPA include the FCPA’s support of the “buy local” environmental movement as evidenced by sponsorship of 11 community farmers markets, its work in establishing an environmentally preferable purchasing policy, and the 2015 Needs Assessment that surveyed 15,000 randomly selected Fairfax County households to assess how the Park Authority is meeting community needs, including the preservation of open space and protection of our parklands.

The Barb King Environmental Stewardship Award will be presented at the NRPA Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 6 at the Best of the Best Ceremony.

by Karen Goff — March 25, 2016 at 1:30 pm 17 Comments

Sign at dog park at Baron CameronCitizens on both sides of the Reston Dog Park issue spent about two hours speaking to the Reston Association Board of Directors on Thursday. In the end, the RA Board decided to speak some more, suggesting that they further discuss noise complaints and possible mitigation measures with the Fairfax County Park Authority.

That’s because that’s all RA can really do. The off-leash dog area, the only one in Reston, is located in Baron Cameron Park, which is Fairfax County Park Authority land. Reston Association has no authority over the park, RA Attorney Ken Chadwick confirmed at Thursday’s meeting.

Still, some of the residents of Longwood Grove, a development of single-family homes located across Wiehle Avenue from the dog park, said they were seeking RA’s help in their ongoing battle to get the dog park moved.

“We are asking [RA] to stand with us to ask the county to relocate the facility,” said Moira Callaghan, representing the Longwood Grove homeowners. She said RA’s mission is to “look out for [members] property values … and the interest of our homes and our health, safety and welfare.”

Callaghan was among seven individuals who sought legal action to have the park shut down in recent years. That case was dismissed in a Fairfax County court.

She maintained in a presentation to the board Thursday that the barking of dogs at the park “degrades the quality of life” for Longwood Grove residents.

Callaghan also gave a history of the dog park. She pointed out that it was never approved by the Fairfax County Planning Commission, was intended to be temporary, and that many Longwood Grove homeowners purchased their homes prior to the dog park’s opening in 2001. She also said county officials — including the park authority and Fairfax County Police have continually passed the buck in regards to evaluating noise levels and responding to complaints. (more…)

by Karen Goff — March 23, 2016 at 11:30 am 13 Comments

Dogs play on a Sunday Baron CameronReston Association wants to know how you feel about Reston’s Dog Park at Baron Cameron Park.

The RA Board of Directors will be discussing the dog park — as well as listening to comments from members during its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, March 24. The dog park discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. RA has no particular motion for action to be taken concerning the park.

At issue: the ongoing saga of nearby homeowners who say their quality of life is being interrupted by the constant barking and yapping from the off-leash area that borders Wiehle Avenue.

The RA board recently received a petition from residents of more than 40 homes in Longwood Grove, located across Wiehle from the park.

While RA can listen to members and discuss the matter with the Fairfax County Park Authority, it likely does not hold any authority as the off-leash dog area sits in Baron Cameron Park, which is owned by the park authority. Park Authority representatives have also been invited to speak at the meeting. (more…)

by Karen Goff — February 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm 68 Comments

Sign at dog park at Baron CameronReston Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to at least listen to and discuss the plight of Longwood Grove homeowners, who say their peace and quiet at home in Reston is being disturbed 365 days a year from a noisy dog park nearby.

While RA can listen to members and discuss the matter with the Fairfax County Park Authority, it likely does not hold any authority as the off-leash dog area sits in Baron Cameron Park, which is owned by the park authority. (more…)

by Karen Goff — February 22, 2016 at 10:00 am 16 Comments

Playtime at the dog parkMore than 50 Longwood Grove homeowners are asking for Reston Association’s assistance in finally quieting the noise from the Baron Cameron Park Dog Park.

The homeowners told RA in a letter/petition on Feb. 1 that it “Despite neighbors’ best efforts to encourage the [Fairfax County] Park Authority to effectively manage and create a sustainable solution for coexistence, we conclude that the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park.”

The Reston Association Board of Directors will discuss the homeowners’ request its monthly meeting on Thursday and may decide to more formally discuss the matter in March.

It is unclear what, if anything, RA can do about the dog park, which is located in a Fairfax County Park Authority Park and not on Reston Association property.

The issue is not a new one. The dog park has been at Baron Cameron since 2001. The Longwood Grove owners — who are separated from the park by noise-reducing fencing material, four lanes of Wiehle Avenue traffic and several hundred feet — have been bothered by the noise pretty much ever since.

In recent years, the neighbors have asked the park authority to move the off-leash area farther into the park or to shut down the location and move it to Lake Fairfax Park, which has much more separation from private homes.

In March of 2014, five Longwood Grove homeowners filed suit against the FCPA and Reston Dogs, Inc., a nonprofit group that formerly ran the dog area, saying the park constitutes a private nuisance.

The complaint cited several previous Virginia rulings dealing with the definition of a nuisance. It claimed the residents are likely to suffer “irreparable harm from the dogs barking and fighting” and have no legal remedy other to quiet the noise other than to ask for an injunction to shut down the park.

The case was dismissed by a Fairfax County judge in March of 2015.

The recent letter from the Longwood Grove residents to the RA Board says “the negative impact of this park feature on our neighborhood is severe. The barking has created years of ongoing stress: the noise disrupts our sleep, invades peace and quiet of homes throughout the day, and can often be heard after the park has closed.” (more…)

by Karen Goff — February 12, 2016 at 10:00 am 54 Comments

Map of Proposed Septage Site/Courtesy Fairfax County

A Fairfax County septic tank disposal site may be relocating from Colvin Run Road road to land owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority in Reston.

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services briefed park authority officials Wednesday on a Septage Receiving Site Feasibility Study that found several reasons to move the site to Reston.

Septic tank customers (mainly homes on large lots not tied into the county sewer system), portable toilet companies and restaurants who must properly dispose of grease have for decades pumped waste safely into the Colvin Run plant.

But that site is aging, prone to flooding and “stinks,” said Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie. About 22 trucks visit the site daily.

The county is proposing a secure, modern, odor-controlled facility off Hunter Mill Road. It is important to have the new plant located off a major road to minimize the impact on traffic, county officials said.

And while the proposed new site is on park land, it is not in a part of Lake Fairfax Park where citizens would be using the park, said Bouie.

The Park Authority’s Area 6 Park Operations / Lake Fairfax Maintenance area is located in an isolated, employee-only part of the park. The septage facility would be heavily screened by trees and is not in a floodplain, according to the county’s proposal. Adding the septage facility would also be a chance to make needed improvements to the current site, which currently is a tree debris and solid waste disposal area, as well as mulch storage.

The new location would also provide convenient access from areas without sewer service (i.e., Great Falls and Oakton), as well as Reston and Vienna restaurants, the presentation noted.

Bouie said most trips to the plant would be grease disposal as home septic customers usually only get cleanouts about once every five years.

Residents can learn more and offer feedback at a community meeting with Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins Feb. 18 at  7:30 p.m., at Bechtel Conference Center, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston.

by Karen Goff — October 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm 3 Comments

Michael and Jesse/Courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority

Employees and regular visitors of Herndon’s Frying Pan Park are mourning the loss of Percheron draft horse Jesse, a popular park attraction who died this week at age 35.

For years, Jesse was a part of the duo known by park visitors as Jesse and Michael. Jesse’s horse friend and work buddy Michael died in September 2013 at age 34.

At Frying Pan, Jesse and Michael could usually be found pulling wagon rides and other antique farm equipment for demonstration purposes. When not working, they would be grazing in pastures with the other farm animals, or standing in their stalls waiting for the next child to be helped up by their parent to pet the strong horses’s soft noses.

“The farm will look a bit vacant for right now without Jesse,” said Todd Brown, a Fairfax County Park Authority operations manager. “Jesse was a wonderful part of Kidwell Farm and will be missed.”

Brown was formerly the site manager for Frying Pan Farm Park. He helped find Jesse and Michael years ago when new draft horses were needed. The park was once home to eight Belgian draft horses, all of whom were related (two aging parents and their offspring).

The park authority says some horses were sold, and the others were not up to the task of working. Eventually, they found new homes too.

So Brown went searching and found Michael and Jesse. Brown got a call from the Virginia Horse Association, which told him of two horses in Manassas. In a 2013 Park Authority article, he recalled meeting the two identical horses, who were named after Jesse Jackson and Michael Jackson.

Brown said he was skeptical the pair was ready for the rigors of life at Frying Pan Park — until the rep hitched them to a wagon and they drove down busy Route 234.

“Cars were crossing the horses’ faces at about 60 miles per hour,” Brown recalled. “The horses just stood there. Then a slap of lines on their backs, and the team pulled out onto 234 in a gap between cars. Our mouths looked ready to catch bugs. The horses started trotting and remained under great control. Cars flew by, cars turned, cars passed us. Jesse and Michael could not have cared less. I was sold.”

Jesse and Michael embarked on years of pulling Santa’s sleigh, letting little hands pet their manes, and enjoying the farm demonstrations. They went into semi retirement about five years ago.

“In my 22-year park career, including days at Frying Pan and now at agency headquarters, I have had hundreds of great days,” said Brown. “But the best days are by far the ones spent behind the butts of those gentle giants. … So I thank Michael and Jesse for that and for so much on behalf of thousands who forged their own experiences because of the team.”

“I am proud to say that I was the first person to drive those horses at Frying Pan Farm Park and the last one to have them in harness there. Drive on guys, you will be missed.”

Michael and Jesse/Courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority

by Karen Goff — August 3, 2015 at 11:00 am 2 Comments

Walter Alcorn/Credit: CEAReston resident Walter Alcorn has been appointed by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova to the county Park Authority Board.

Alcorn fills a vacancy created by the recent resignation of Kala Quintana who left due to a government appointment. His term will expire on Dec. 31, 2017.

Alcorn served on the Fairfax County Planning Commission from 1997 to 2012.  He was its vice chairman from 2007 to 2013 and also chaired several Planning Commission committees over the years including Environment, Infill, Residential Development Criteria and Tysons.

Alcorn is currently president of the Herndon High School PTSA and is currently employed as Vice President for Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability at the Consumer Electronics Association.

Previously, he worked at Alcorn Consulting and at SAIC from 1992 to 2003. Prior to his private sector employment Alcorn was a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office.

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