Fairfax County announced today that it is closing both its indoor and outdoor parks “until further notice” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The health and wellbeing of our community, park visitors and staff remain our highest priority,” according to the county. “By limiting park usage to exercising on trails, we hope to reduce the largest crowd gatherings, thus improving the ability to social distance and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Earlier this month, the county closed indoor parks for two weeks starting Monday, March 16. Yesterday, the county announced the closure of its playgrounds, skate parks and restrooms.
Now, all of the Fairfax County Park Authority parks will be closed by tomorrow night.
“This change is in response to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to close public access to recreational facilities,” according to the county.
The county’s full list of new closures include:
- parking lots
- athletic fields
- sport courts
- nature centers
- visitor centers
- golf courses
- historic sites
- picnic areas
- boat launches
- skate parks
- off-leash dog areas
- outdoor fitness equipment
- any areas for open recreation
Additionally, Park Authority programs and events through April 14 and programs at Fairfax County Public Schools through June 15 have been canceled.
People can still use the trails around Fairfax County as long as they keep 6 feet away from other people and don’t form groups.
“While all parks and amenities are closed, trails will remain open for individual use, but not group use,” the county said. “All social distancing recommendations are in effect.”
Fairfax Connector Suspends Fares, Begins Rear Door Boarding — The bus service has temporarily suspended fare collection and all customers must enter and exit the bus using the rear doors. Fares will be suspended because fareboxes and SmarTrip equipment is at the front entrance of buses. Service continues in order to “serve Fairfax County residents who. Have no alternate way to travel during this emergency.” [Fairfax County Government]
Stonebridge Companies Acquires Residence Inn — The Denver-based company will manage the 168-room Residence Inn by Marriott in Herndon. The hotel is located at 315 Elden Street. [Hotel Executive]
Playgrounds, Parks, and Park Authority Restrooms Now Closed — “Effectively immediately, all Fairfax County Park Authority playgrounds, skate parks and restrooms will be closed until further notice. Portable restrooms will be placed near all bathrooms. Signs will be posted at all affected locations. Park visitors are asked to adhere to all closure notices and current social distancing recommendations.” [Fairfax County Government]
Herndon-Fish Offers Emergency Financial Help — “At least for the time being, we are making no changes in our criteria for providing assistance, and our operations remain in place to make this possible. Because our efforts related to providing emergency financial assistance are done by phone and online, we can carry out these activities without endangering the health of those involved. Changes in our revenue receipts or alterations in government policy could mandate that we alter these policies in the future, but they remain in place for now.” [Herndon-Reston Fish]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Fairfax County Park Authority Seeks Comment on Fee Increases — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will hold its annual public comment meeting on the agency’s proposed fee adjustments. The public is invited to share their perspectives on the proposals with the Park Authority Board either at the meeting, via correspondence or by email.” [Fairfax County Government]
New Trail Cycling Teen Ride Kicks Off with Free Class — “New Trail Cycling Studio, located at Lake Anne in Reston, is launching its teen program on January 22. Classes will be offered every Wednesday at 4pm for teens ages 12-17. ” [Patch]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
The Fairfax County Park Authority has launched an in-depth study of dog parks in the county.
The study will examine current and future needs for dog parks throughout the county and include strategies for long-term planning, development, and management.
Currently, FCPA is seeking feedback through an online survey, which is available through Dec. 15.
Residents can also submit comments via email at [email protected]
More information about the study is available online.
Photo by Jay Westcott
Community Meeting on Lake Thoreau Project Today — Reston Association staff will meet with members to discuss future plans for the pool, which will be closed for the 2020 season. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. tonight (Monday) at RA headquarters. [Reston Association]
Metro’s Budget Proposal to Increase Fares, Restore Night Service — “Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year would increase peak fares, offer a flat weekend fare and expand late-night service for the first time since a 2016 moratorium.” [The Washington Post]
Season Extended for Local Farmers Markets — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will extend the season at three farmers market locations; Burke, Reston, and McCutcheon/Mount Vernon Farmers Markets.” [Fairfax County Government]
Photo by Ray Copson
Baron Cameron Park’s facilities have reopened after a death investigation last week prompted a brief closure.
Fairfax County police received a call around 1 p.m. last Tuesday (Sept. 3) about a dead body, a police spokesperson told Reston Now. Police conducted a death investigation and said that there was no threat to the public.
Judy Pedersen, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Park Authority, told Reston Now that the park’s facilities were closed “for a short time on Friday” in connection with the police investigation.
Pedersen said as of yesterday (Monday) morning that the park’s facilities have now all reopened.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-527-4077.
The publication, which made different selections based on the type of waterpark, wrote that the water mine was one of the best in the area for children between ages 7 and 11.
“Older children beeline for the three lengthy, winding water slides standing three stories tall,” the magazine wrote. “There’s also a log walk, a lazy river, more slides, and a splash area for younger kids.”
The Fairfax County Park Authority wrote the following about the waterpark:
The Water Mine captures the excitement of the Old West’s Gold Rush with themed attractions including more than an acre of slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and an interactive water playground. Kids can careen off covered wagons, float on wild animals, dash through showers tipped from water-filled ore carts, or float along the Rattlesnake River, a 725-foot lazy river. The centerpiece is Pete’s Peak, a craggy mountain featuring water slides of various size and intensity.
Although the water mine will be open tomorrow (Friday) from noon to 6 p.m., it goes to the dogs with a season-ending event on Saturday (September 7) to benefit the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and the Fairfax County Park Foundation.
Photo via FCPA
Foong received the 2019 Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award for creating and implementing an ambitious plan to remove invasive plants and replace them with native plants.
The student, who describes himself as an avid naturalist, worked five separate workdays to oversee 150 volunteers as they removed 120 large bags of stilt grass.
Volunteers came from ten different Fairfax County Public Schools and ranged in age from 5 to 80.
The project was developed as part of Foong’s efforts to earn a Boy Scouts of America William Hornaday Award.
He will be honored by FCPA in November.
The award was established in 2007 in recognition of Sally Ormsby’s service as a citizen steward. It recognizes individuals and organizations “whose actions embody the spirit and values of stewardship and result in tangible environmental benefits.”
Photo via FCPA
From a program that gives dollars for low-income families to an initiative to reduce plastic waste, the managers have put on the market on Saturday mornings from April through December.
John Lovaas has managed the market for 22 years. His wife Fran Lovaas joined him after her retirement 16 years ago and Keith Strange joined the initiative a decade later.
Northern Virginia magazine featured their efforts in a recent article:
“Community service is probably the number one thing that sets them apart for this award,” says Mary Olien, site operations manager of the Fairfax County Park Authority. “They know the farmers and vendors very well, so they can promote the products in an honest way. They are highly respected, which makes for a very fun and organized market.”
The market managers have worked with local nonprofit Cornerstones since 2012 to enable low-income families to use their SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the Reston Farmers Market. Plus, after all the shoppers have cleared out, vendors gather all of the untouched produce together and bring it to local shelters, decreasing food waste.
The managers partnered with Clean Fairfax to decrease plastic use by encouraging the use of reusable mesh bags. So far, five vendors have joined the sustainability initiative thus far.
FCPA established the Elly Doyle Park Service Award in 1988 to recognize the service of former ParkAuthority Board Chairman and member Ellamae Doyle. The award publicly recognizes a volunteer or group of volunteers for outstanding contributions to county parks.
Photo by John Lovaas
Two resident curators presented their plans to repurpose the historic Ellmore Farmhouse as part of the Fairfax County Park Authority’s resident curator program.
Two applicants proposed uses for the property through the program, which allows individuals and organizations to secure long-term lease agreements in exchange for rehabilitating the park authority’s underutilized historic properties.
Applicants Karl and Jessie Scherm proposed to use the property as a residential home, drawing on his memories and experience of visiting Frying Pan Farm Park.
The Scherms proposed to use the property for several community uses, including hosting members of the Chantilly Bible Church and welcoming widows and their school-aged children into the home.
“Our children, much like the Ellmore and Smith children, have had the opportunity to spend time learning about farming and caring for animals through the 4-H clubs they are in,” according to the application. “Living in the Ellmore Farmhouse would allow us more time to learn and share with others about the original families and animals that lived here on this property.”
The second applicant — a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities — proposed to use the property as a gathering space for its longterm and community integration services program, which serves 15 clients.
“Our solution will maximize heritage conservation efforts for the property to benefit the Fairfax community, including Frying Pan Park visitors, adults with disabilities, and the general public,” according to the application.
The next meeting on the proposals will be held on Thursday, September 12 at 9 a.m. at the Herrity Biulding (12055 Government Center Parkway). The meeting is public but no comments will be taken.
All written comments must be submitted via email to [email protected] by Friday, September 6.
The Ellmore Farmhouse is a two-story home on West Ox Road in Herndon that was first used by William Ellmore, a prominent local politician, until 1935. The successive owners continued to operate the property as a dairy forum until it was sold in 1854. FCPA purchased the property for inclusion into Frying Pan Farm Park in 2001.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Colvin Run Mill Historic Site’s barn will be renamed in honor of two local parks advocates.
The Fairfax County Park Authority voted on July 25 to rename the barn in honor of Robert and Marjorie Lundegard. The board described the Lundegards as advocates who were “a major influence in getting park recommendations for Colvin Run implemented.”
FCPA wrote the following about the couple:
Robert Lundegard and his wife, Marjorie, spent much of their retirement time volunteering and spearheading preservation fundraising efforts at Colvin Run Mill. After Mr. Lundegard’s death in May of this year, he was hailed as a park icon and an “amazing guy” who would be remembered for his love of parks, in particular, Colvin Run Mill Historic Site. He was known as a dedicated and visionary leader who saw the importance and value of educating the public, especially school children, about Fairfax County’s colonial and 19th Century heritage. He pushed for the restoration of the mill and miller’s house, efforts which led to today’s fully operational facilities.
The barn will officially be renamed the Marjorie and Robert J. Lundegard Education Center. Park staff will work with the Friends of Colvin Run Mill to schedule a public ceremony to celebrate the facility’s naming.
The couple raised more than $50,000 to support Colvin Run Mill’s capital improvement plan, which includes renovation of the Miller’s House on the site and the building of a planned visitor education center. They were among the first members of the Friends of Colvin Run Mill when it formed in 1997.
They also raised funds for the mill through a partnership with a local consignment shop in McLean and through Marjorie’s written work about mills in the region.
Photo via FCPA
Applicants will present their plans for Ellmore Farmhouse, a historic property on West Ox Road, to the county’s resident curator evaluation team later this month.
The curator program opens up the property to long-term lease agreements with individuals or organizations. Curators lease the property in exchange for a financial commitment toward rehabilitation of the county’s underused historic properties. Curators are selected through a competitive application process.
The team will hear proposals for the two-story property during a public meeting on Wednesday, July 31 at 7 p.m. in the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The evaluation team will ask questions about the project and provide feedback.
The Ellmore Farmhouse was constructed in 1891 for Mary Ellmore and her two children. The property was sold after the Ellmore family lived in the home for more than 50 years and ran a dairy farm through 1945. William Ellmore, who operated the dairy farm and was a prominent local politician, served on several boards, including the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
After his death in 1935, the owners attempted to operate the dairy farm until they sold the farm in 1954. FCPA purchased the property in February 2001 for inclusion in Frying Pan Farm Park.
An additional meeting is set for Thursday, Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. in the Fairfax County Park Authority’s office (12055 Government Center Parkway).
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Fairfax County has officially completed improvements to a trail at Sugarland Run Stream Valley Park in Herndon.
Last week, local and county officials held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of improvements and trail maintenance.
The $400,000 project aimed to address general wear and tear, as well as trail damage due to severe flooding.
More than 12,000 linear feet of trail was milled and repaired. New culverts and riprap were also installed.
Photo via Fairfax County Government/website
Readers of Virginia Living magazine named the Reston Farmers Market the best farmers market in Northern Virginia.
The selection was made from the magazine’s annual readers’ survey in January and also covered categories like best in arts, culture and entertainment; living and recreation; shopping; services; and food and drink.
The market, which is operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority, is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 7 at Lake Anne Village Center. It is one of 10 producer-only farmers markets run by FCPA.
The magazine wrote the following about the market:
“Market managers John and Fran Lovaas and Keith Strange manage the volunteers who keep the Fairfax County farmers’ market going. All products are strictly producer-only; vendors may only sell what they raise or make from scratch. These truly local vendors travel an average of just 50 miles to the market.”
Photo by John Lovaas
Signs of summer are abound as the farmers markets run by the Fairfax County Park Authority in Reston and Herndon kick off this week.
FCPA’s six other markets will roll in by the first week of May.
The Reston and Herndon Farmers Markets accept SNAP benefits. All purchases under the The Virginia Fresh Match Program are matched up to $20 for additional fresh produce.
Herndon’s market (777 Lynn Street) kicks off on Thursday (April 18) and runs every Thursday until Nov. 14 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Reston market (1609-A Washington Plaza N) starts on Saturday (April 20) and runs every Saturday until Dec. 7 from 8 a.m. until noon.
The Reston market welcomes three new vendors this year, said John Lovaas, who runs the Reston market. Shenandoah Seasonal, a “chemical-free produce farms,” adds a new variety of vegetables and fruits, Bee’s Wing Farm will sell flowers and Ozfeka Catering will bring a mix of Turkish savories and desserts to the market, Lovaas told Reston Now.
The county is also working with the market to carry out a pilot program to reduce the use of plastic bags. Clean Fairfax, a nonprofit organization that specializes in recycling and reducing the use of plastic, is partnering with the market for the program.
Information on other local farmers markets is available online. The Reston Farm Market (10800 Baron Cameron Avenue), which is not operated by FCPA, is open around the year, with few holiday exceptions, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.