Death Investigation Prompts Short Closure of Baron Cameron Park

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. 

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Washingtonian Magazine: Local Waterpark is ‘One of the Region’s Best’

The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax Park has been named one of the region’s best waterparks by Washingtonian Magazine.

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

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Boy Scout Receives Award for Environmental Work at Frying Pan Farm Park

The Fairfax County Park Authority is honoring John Foong for a major environmental project at Frying Pan Farm Park.

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

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Report: Reston Farmers Market Organizers Awarded for Community Work

The trio behind Reston Farmers Market was awarded for more than 20 years of community work. The managers received the Elly Doyle Park Service Award from the Fairfax County Park Authority.

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

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Resident Curators Present Plans for Ellmore Farmhouse

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

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Colvin Run Barn to be Renamed in Honor of Local Parks Advocates

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

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Curators to Present Plans for Historic Ellmore Farmhouse

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

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Sugarland Run Trail Improvements Now Complete

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

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Reston Farmers Market Named Best Farmers Market in Northern Virginia

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

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Local Farmers Market Season in Full Swing This Week

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 onlineThe 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.

File photo

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New Education Shelter to Open at Riverbend Park

A new shelter designed to support environmental education programs will open in Riverbend Park in Great Falls this spring. Residents can also reserve the shelter for community gatherings and events.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Saturday, April 27. The $864,000 project — financed through voter-approved park bonds —  also includes 18 new parking spaces and enhanced stormwater management.

Judy Pederson, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Park Authority, told Reston Now the new outdoor education shelter “serves a vital role in outdoor education for local school children,” allowing residents to host up to six classes simultaneously. Previously, the park’s facilities only allowed three classes to be held at once — two indoors and one outdoors.

FCPA hopes the new shelter will meet growing demand for additional educational facilities. Buses can also park near boat trailer parking spaces in the lower waterfront parking, Pederson said.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority

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Town of Herndon Considering Hiking Fees for Facility Use

The Town of Herndon may slightly increase the fees for facility uses and rentals while eliminating its use of the Fairfax County Park Authority’s fee structure.

Herndon’s Parks and Recreation Department provides for community-use facilities at the Herndon Community Center, which includes a pool, gym, tennis courts, fitness rooms and drop-in child care.

For about 12 years, the Parks and Recreation facilities fee schedule has included a pricing structure for community center admission fees and passes tied to the Fairfax County Park Authority rates.

A department review of current services and operational costs prompted the Town Council to rethink its use of FCPA rates.

“Staff is proposing that structure be revised to eliminate the connection to FCPA due to the significant increase in their proposed non-resident rates, which would be detrimental to a large percentage of Herndon Community Center users,” the Parks and Recreation staff report says.

The Town Council now has a proposed resolution that would base the fees on a daily resident/non-resident fee. The change is expected to recover 75 percent of the department’s operating costs through fees and charges for services, according to the Town of Herndon.

The new fee would add $0.50 more to the daily rate for both residents and non-residents.

If approved, the amended fee schedule would go into effect on Sept. 1.

Images via Google Maps and Town of Herndon

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Op-Ed: Nine Questions to Start the Primary Campaign

This op-ed was submitted by John Farrell, who is a Reston resident. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

With the announcement that Cathy Hudgins will not seek re-election and the entry of at least four (and maybe more) people in the June 11 primary to succeed her, it seems appropriate to propose an agenda for the candidates to address over the coming weeks as they knock on our doors and ask for our support.

The Hunter Mill District hasn’t had a primary for supervisor in many decades. And given Hunter Mill’s voting history, it’s reasonable to expect that whoever wins the June Democratic primary will be the next Hunter Mill Supervisor.

What follows is offered as a start of that conversation. Happy to see others add their questions.

1.  Should the Hunter Mill Supervisor lift the PRC ordinance’s 80,000 person population cap on Reston to 100,000 or higher?

The Planning Commission held a five hour hearing on raising the cap last Wednesday (Jan. 23). Few of the 30 some odd speakers spoke in favor of raising the cap.

2.  Should the Hunter Mill Supervisor use the county’s zoning power to end or reduce paid parking at Reston Town Center?

3.  Should Reston National Golf Course or Hidden Creek Golf Course be redeveloped for housing or preserved as a central part of Reston’s open space plan?

It’s been quiet on the RNGC front lately, but the owners of Hidden Creek have been holding focus groups trying to find any community support for redevelopment of that property and adjacent projects that it has recently acquired.

4. Should high-rise housing be allowed to replace North Point or Hunters Woods shopping centers?

The Reston Master Plan allows 50 units per acre as a redevelopment option for those shopping centers. The pending PRC amendment would raise that number to 70. Should this high-rise option be preserved or eliminated?

5. Which recreational facilities are maintained better: County Park Authority facilities or Reston Association’s facilities?

There are only four Fairfax Park Authority facilities in Reston, but they are badly in need of maintenance or improvement.  Neither South Lakes Drive Park nor North Point Park has water to keep the grass ball fields alive in the summer or provide in-door sanitation facilities.  Yet over the last decade, millions of proffer dollars have been promised to the Park Authority. What should that money be used for in Reston?

6. The Tysons Master Plan calls for office developers to make proffer donations for recreational facilities. Should the same be expected of commercial developers in Reston?

The tenants and guests of the commercial developers will use Reston Association’s trails and other amenities. Should they contribute to their renovation?

7. Should proffer donations by developers for recreation facilities go exclusively to the Park Authority to be used anywhere in the county or go to Reston Association for use in Reston?

Developers’ attorneys report to me that even when they write proffers to give recreational proffer money to RA, the current supervisor’s staff directs them to rewrite the proffer for the money to go to the Park Authority with no strings requiring the money to be used in Reston.

8. Should Reston Association have a prominent voice in land use decisions in Hunter Mill?

The turn-out for RA elections will approach the turn-out in the June Democratic primary in Reston. Isn’t RA as legitimate a voice of our community as the McLean Citizen Association is in McLean? MCA is entirely voluntary and yet has virtual veto power over McLean land use application with the Dranesville Supervisor.

What would RA’s Design Review Board have had to say about the Blue Monster next to Plaza America or the Azkaban Apartments at the corner of New Dominion and Reston Parkways? They were never asked.

9. Should four-lane roads be reduced to two-lane roads, and the closed lane devoted to the exclusive use of bicyclists?

South Lakes Drive is getting horrible reviews from locals and the suicide lanes on Lawyers, Soapstone and Colts Neck are inviting head-on collisions and traffic jams when folks try to make overlapping left turns.

No doubt there are other questions that these candidates should answer. So let’s hear them but keep it to issues they can do something about.

— John Farrell

Photo via Len Spoden Photography

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Feeling Outdoorsy? Consider Starting the New Year Off With a Hike

Hit the trails on Jan. 1 if you want to enter a photo contest.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s “First Hike Fairfax” returns this year with expanded hike options — including any FCPA trail — and photo contest prizes for hikes on New Year’s Day.

The FCPA teamed up with America’s state parks and Virginia State Parks for the First Day Hike Programs.

Locals can visit any FCPA trail on Jan. 1 and snap pictures for the photo contest. Nearby trails include the trails at Lake Fairfax and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. More trails can be found at Trail Buddy.

Then, enter one photo in First Hike Photo Contest by Jan. 2. Park Authority staff will select a “Judges’ Choice,” and the general public will vote on a “People’s Choice” winner. Both winners will receive a free four-month RECenter pass valued at up to $300.

All photographers will receive two free RECenter guest passes.

“First Hike Fairfax” also kicks off the Park Authority’s “Healthy Strides 12 Steps for a Healthier 2019,” which offers monthly tips with healthy living ideas.

File photo

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Community Garden Plots Coming to Herndon’s Bruin Park

An environment-focused nonprofit has raked in funding for long-awaited community garden plots at Bruin Park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a funding request from the Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) for $20,000 at its Nov. 14 meeting.

HEN will use the grant money to help develop 40 garden plots on the west side of the tennis courts at the park, which is located at 415 Van Buren Street. The plan also includes adding fencing to protect the plots and accessible trails, according to a county press release.

The project’s budget totals $42,496.22 — a combination of the grant money with a $7,966.06 cash contribution and $14,530.16 of in-kind donations from HEN.

Plans for the community garden sprouted several years ago.

The Master Plan for Bruin Park was amended in January 2014 to allow for community garden plots. In April 2017, an agreement between HEN, the Town of Herndon — which owns the park — and the Park Authority authorized HEN to develop, manage and maintain community garden plots at the park, according to the press release.

HEN is set to celebrate the grant award at the monthly Bruin Park Community Garden planning meeting — free and open to the public — at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Herndon Fortnightly Library.

Photo via Herndon Community Garden at Bruin Park/Facebook

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