Roughly $100 million of the bonds will be used to help finance land acquisition to finance parks, new park development, and the ownership of natural and cultural resources. The remaining $12 million funds the county’s share for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority‘s capital projects. Those projects include expanding public open space and trails, protecting resources, improving existing facilities, and expanding more recreational opportunities.
The latest request for general obligations bonds is the largest since 1959. In 2016, FCPS requested roughly $95 million.
The bond referendum follows a needs assessment in 2016 that called on county residents to identify areas of importance an unmet needs, according to the county. Following that review, a capital improvement framework was developed to guide future projects.
Plans include a new Riverbend Park Visitor Center in Great Falls, playground replacements, improvements and renovations at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston and the development of new trails and stream crossings across county parks.
Currently, roughly 60 percent of all park operating costs are covered by user fees, which do not cover capital costs. The bond question will be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The Fairfax County Park Foundation (FCPF) will honor The Friends of Riverbend Park (FORB) with the 2020 Eakin Philanthropy Award at a virtual ceremony in November for its support of Riverbend Park programs and projects.
FORB has donated more than $85,600 through the Park Foundation, according to a statement from the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA).
The donations have funded forest restoration and environmental field trips to Riverbend Park for the education of Title I school students. FORB has also paid for multiple summer intern awards and unfunded needs of Riverbend Park staff, as well as equipment for the park, according to the statement.
FORB was formalized in 2018 by ratifying a Fairfax County Park Authority Friends Group Memorandum of Understanding with the Park Authority Board.
The FCPF created the Eakin Philanthropy Award in 2009 to honor the Eakin family who donated the first parcels of the parkland to the Park Authority more than 50 years ago, according to the statement.
The award is given annually to recognize individuals and organizations whose financial or in-kind contributions have supported Fairfax County parks through the foundation.
Photo via the Fairfax County Park Authority
Athletic fields, basketball courts, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and other amenities will be open, but with the following restrictions in place:
Athletic Fields – Athletic fields will open for organized and permitted use based on the governor’s and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines pertaining to use of athletic fields.
Basketball Courts – Outdoor courts will open, but users must stay 10 feet apart.
Volleyball Courts – Outdoor courts will open, but users must stay 10 feet apart.
Dog Parks – Dog parks will open with users urged to maintain social distancing.
Marinas – Marinas will open for rentals at lakefront and riverfront parks.
Mini-golf – Miniature golf courses will open at all locations, except Jefferson District Park (due to construction).
Restrooms – Permanent outdoor restrooms and portable restrooms will open systemwide. We encourage visitors to bring hand sanitizer since these facilities are often without running water.
Picnic Shelters – Shelters within parks will open for permitted use with 50% capacity of regular occupancy limits, not to exceed 50 people.
Playgrounds – Playgrounds will open systemwide including Clemyjontri Park and Chessie’s Big Backyard at Lee District Park. There is no special cleaning; visitors should use at their own risk and must adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Currently, recreation centers and other Fairfax County Park Authority facilities remain closed, including nature centers, pools and historic sites. The county is expected to allow more openings when the state enters phase three.
FCPA staff have begun implementing the changes at several facilities. Implementation of the latest openings could take several weeks.
In the Town of Herndon, dogs and playgrounds opened today, but restrooms and basketball courts remain closed. No special cleaning will be conducted of any playgrounds in the town or the county.
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.”
COVID-19 has prompted a lot of closures, but there are still certain recreational activities in the Reston area to help people stay healthy while social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that people take care of their bodies through tactics like deep breathing, stretching and meditation during the recent outbreak.
Reston Now compiled a list of resources from around the area and websites offering fitness opportunities that support social-isolation.
Parks and Outdoor Activities
The NOVA Parks website said that most parks will remain open for the time being, but with specific changes made to staffing.
Visitors should note that things like the visitor center are closed, but people are free to come and go, according to the website.
While Fairfax County has closed its indoor park facilities and recreation, nature and community centers through March 29, people can still use the county’s outdoor parks and trails.
Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive) is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., according to google.
Though the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive) is closed, according to its Facebook page, its trails are still open for public use.
The Town of Herndon also created a map of area parks for visitors.
Apps and Fitness Resources
Though it isn’t necessarily a new trend, fitness classes are going digital so that people can still exercise at home.
Core Power Yoga closed its studios but offers digital classes so people can take guided classes on-demand from the comfort of their own home, its website said.
FitOn offers a large variety of fitness classes for clients and there is even a free version that people can take advantage of.
Digital Fitness Assessment on major app stores is yet another option for home fitness. It lets people record their goals and helps keep them on track, according to the app description.
For people feeling isolated, experts also suggest touching base with friends and family using digital tools such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts. All these software allow people to video chat and see each other without coming into close proximity.
For mental health issues, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Series Administration has a hotline where people can reach out if they are becoming concerned. People can chat with someone for free at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
The CDC also directly suggests avoiding substances like alcohol and drugs while in self-isolation.
Reston Association Steps Up Cleaning Efforts — “To deter the spread of the virus, our building management service has implemented new cleaning guidelines that include regularly wiping down high touchpoints such as door handles, water fountain buttons and elevator panels.” [Reston Association]
Deadline for Fairfax Parks Poetry Contest Extended — Students in elementary through middle school have until Tuesday, March 17 to submit entries for the contest. [Fairfax County Parks]
Herndon Police Department Cancels Fingerprinting Event — In an effort to protect volunteers, the department canceled Friday’s fingerprinting services until further notice. HPD wrote that the cancellation is “strictly a precautionary measure.” [Herndon Police Department]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The three outdoor tennis courts at Bready Park (814 Ferndale Avenue) are set to get a facelift.
The Town of Herndon plans to work with Bishop’s Tennis, Inc. to resurface and repair the courts. A cushioned hardcourt surface man will be installed and nets on the court will also be replaced.
At a meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 18), the Herndon Town Council discussed the $140,259 bid from the company.
A town spokesperson told Reston Now that the project would begin in August after summer camps are finished for the season. Typically, it takes between one to two weeks to complete resurfacing and repair projects.
Image via Google Maps
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
As the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues, Fairfax County Public Schools is offering resources to furloughed government workers after most missed their first paycheck of the shutdown last Friday (Jan. 11).
FCPS plans to hold a second hiring event for furloughed federal employees interested in substitute teaching positions.
The hiring event last week hit capacity. The event is set for tomorrow (Jan. 15) from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the FCPS Administration Center at 8115 Gatehouse Road in Falls Church, Va. Participants are encouraged beforehand to register, complete an application for employment and bring original documents required for the I-9 form I-9.
FCPS’s “No Student Will Go Hungry” program is supporting families affected by the federal government shutdown by providing breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of their ability to pay or temporary financial circumstances. FCPS will also allow unpaid balances to accrue during the shutdown.
Furloughed workers can also look at Fairfax County’s resources online, including a Human Services Guide to seek assistance from nonprofits and a list of free or low-cost events at county libraries and parks.
The county also plans to have a “Stuff the Bus” event on Saturday (Jan. 19) where locals can bring food and cash donations to support local nonprofit food pantries. One of the collection spots will be the Fox Mill Giant (2551 John Milton Drive) in Herndon from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Food, utility and rent assistance is available from the county’s Health and Human Services agencies.
Fairfax County Public Schools is expediating the hiring of furloughed government workers as new substitute teachers for the district.
— Maya Shwayder (@MayaErgas) January 11, 2019
We are aware that the effects of a prolonged federal government shutdown may be having an impact on the lives of many families living in #FairfaxCounty. We are here to assist those families during this time: https://t.co/RWHzcDPgLV
— Fairfax County Government (@fairfaxcounty) January 10, 2019
FCPS offers support to families impacted by the partial federal government shutdown; will provide meals to all students regardless of ability to pay and plans hiring event for furloughed employees. https://t.co/Mb7d8Kaqmv
— Fairfax Schools (@fcpsnews) January 8, 2019
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.
Piqued by a plan to increase Reston’s population density in select areas, residents pressed county officials to identify specific athletic field options and open space commitments at a work session this week.
During the meeting, the 10-member panel, which included representatives from Reston Association, the Coalition for a Planned Reston and three county officials, discussed how the county plans to ensure future development in and around Reston’s future urban core will incorporate athletic fields and open, community spaces.
While citizen members lauded the county’s efforts to work with developers, some noted that county plans lacked specific assurances on how and when broad commitments would come to reality.
The meeting is the second in a series of work sessions on topics of concern raised by local residents and community organizations as the county mulls a plan to increase Reston’s population density in its Planned Residential Community district planned from 13 to 16 people per acre.
County officials said planning processes are in place to ensure athletic fields and open space requirements are met. Generally, once major developments are built and occupied overtime and needs are generated through pressure created by development, specific requirements for athletic fields will kick in.
However, they remained mum about the location of future athletic fields, noting that negotiations with developers are ongoing and that, once property owners learn a land is being considered for an athletic field, the property’s price is often hiked considerably.
Asked by a member to point to possible locations for fields, Fred Selden, the director of the county’s planning and zoning department, said, “Right now, we can’t.”
In Reston, one athletic field is required for each Transit Station Area and nine are required outside the TSA areas. Upgrades to existing fields may also be considered. Thus far, the developers have committed $10.3 million to go toward athletic fields in the greater Reston area.
So far, funds have remained untouched.
Others called on county officials to aggressively push developers of major mixed-use proposals — like the 36-acre Reston Crescent project — to identify specific plans for athletic fields.
“Those are the examples where the community feels we were being passed by in some way, shape or form,” said Larry Butler, RA’s Acting CEO.
Dennis Hays, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said he was concerned no immediate plans were on the table.
“Everything that we keep talking about is down the road,” Hays, who led the meeting, said.
Andrea Dorlester, manager of the county’s park planning branch, said the county has been aggressive in pushing developers to identify plans for nearly two years. When working with Brookfield, the developer of the Reston Crescent, county staff said they rejected a proposal by the developer to include a small athletic field suitable for children up to the age of eight.
Now, the plan, which is barreling towards final approval later this month, includes a proposal for the developer to purchase seven acres outside the property and convey it to the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Part of the challenge in securing athletic fields is that Reston’s master plan does not mandate the creation of athletic fields in Reston’s planned downtown core, officials said.
As additional development waits in the pipeline, others worry that challenge may already be difficult to overcome. One question, they say, hovers: As land becomes limited in the area, where will the future athletic fields go?
Bryce Harper, an outfielder for the Nationals, dedicated a baseball complex in Fred Crabtree Park named after him on Monday (July 16).
The Bryce Harper All-Star Complex, located at 2801 Fox Mill Road, includes two renovated fields and is the second baseball facility for youth named after Harper in the area. Another field is located at Takoma Community Center in the District.
“I felt like this not only adds to the community but also achieves my objective of making sure this game continues to grow and is left in a better place than when I entered it,” Harper said at the dedication ceremony.
A video of the complete ceremony is available online.
More from social media:
All-star Bryce Harper is dedicated. And now, so is the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex in Herndon, VA. Great morning celebrating baseball, teamwork and future all-stars! ⚾️⭐️@MLB @Nationals @Bharper3407 @UnderArmour @ScottsLawnCare @RestonHerndonLL #allstarweek #allstargame pic.twitter.com/JhdVDJDaJ8
— Fairfax County Parks (@fairfaxparks) July 16, 2018
A special day for Reston Herndon Little League. Introducing the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex at Fred Crabtree Park — at Fred Crabtree Park https://t.co/Sf5n4S7ewk
— Reston Herndon LL (@RestonHerndonLL) July 16, 2018
Photos via Twitter user @fairfaxparks
The authority will hold a public information meeting on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lake Drive) to discuss possible revisions to the park’s master plan. The process establishes the longterm vision for how the park will be used in the future and current unmet needs.
Updates come as demand for more recreation and park options grows, according to county officials. The current plan, which was launched in 2001, is outdated as additional parcels and structures have also been added to the park since its creation. Roughly five acres along Hunter Mill Road were also added to the park within the last decade.
“The plan will focus on the features of the added property, potential new facilities, and reevaluating existing facilities to see if they are still meeting the community needs and preferences,” said Judy Pedersen, the authority’s spokeswoman.
The meeting in November will introduce the project to the community and include time for community input as the authority assembles a draft concept plan. At a second meeting, staff will present the draft plan to the community and hear feedback, after which the Park Authority Board will make a decision about the final master plan.
The plan will also recommendations for land uses of recently acquired parcels and potential new facilities, Pedersen said.
“Ultimately, the purpose of the master plan revision is to determine how to best incorporate the newly acquired acreage and determined needs within the existing framework of the park,” she said.
While the master plans lays out a refined vision for the park, it requires capital funding for complete implementation.
The park, which was originally a dairy farm in the early 1900s, currently includes a 20-acre lake with fishing, boat rentals, a carousel, athletic fields, picnic shelters, a skate park and campgrounds. The authority acquired a 292-acre parcel in 1966 and a 129-acre parcel in 1972.
As of mid-October, the authority owns or cares for more than 23,000 acres or roughly nine percent of all open space in the county.
The authority is accepting public comments and questions through Dec. 1 via email at [email protected]. For more information on the planning process and for project updates, visit the county’s website.
After hearing a report on the latest plans for a capital project at the Pony Barn Pavilion, the Reston Association Board of Directors still had a lot of questions.
At their meeting Thursday (video), directors heard from Chris Schumaker, RA’s capital operations manager, who presented the most recent information gathered on the project. Schumaker presented the project budget overview, proposed scope options, DRB recommendations for Pony Barn, and a structural analysis of the site.
The Pony Barn pavilion replacement was first approved by RA in 2013, at a cost of $30,000. RA later approved, as part of the 2016-17 capital projects budget, $350,000 for a full-scale renovation project. That money has been locked up since last July, however, when RA put major capital projects on hold in the wake of the controversy over the Lake House purchase.
As the Pony Barn Working Group seeks those funds to be released so the project can get underway, the Board is being presented with four options for the project, with playgrounds and handicap-accessibility being the main variables.
Hook Road Recreation Area was selected by RA’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee as the pilot project for “full-facility enhancement” after multiple facilities were evaluated in 2016. The idea is to take a facility that has pieces of replacement work in the plans in the capital reserve study and, instead, consider comprehensive work to upgrade the facility all at once.
Tuesday’s meeting was a kickoff to the project, sharing information with the community and beginning the process of gathering input. In between tense moments at the meeting, many residents of the community said they appreciated the effort Reston Association is undertaking to engage the community from the very start of the process.
“We all know, living in Reston, things change,” said John Pinkman, of Rescue Reston. “Things have to improve if we want to keep our property values as high as they are, [so] I really encourage this process.”
Dan Pennington, president of the Orchard Green Cluster Association, asked for clarification on what has been identified by Reston Association staff as “aging components” of the park that require attention. Garrett Skinner, RA’s capital projects director, said everything at the park falls into that category.
“Nothing has been replaced — in terms of the tennis court, the ballfields, the multipurpose court — since 1975,” Skinner said. “Many of these features are all kind of due for rehab around the same time, and this will be a good opportunity to look at everything as one facility instead of the previous methodology for us, [which was] just to fix little things as they’re needed.”
Concerns about parking and restroom facilities at the park are among those that have been brought up in one way or another regarding the project. Upgrades to facilities including the baseball field have also been mentioned by community members.
At Tuesday’s meeting, design consultant Dewberry was introduced to members, and its representatives shared information about the studies that have been done so far and how community input will be used as the project continues to be studied and eventually decided upon. A representative of PRAC also shared information, as did Skinner.
The question was raised of whether the fact that $50,000 has already been allocated from the Repair & Replacement Reserve Fund to develop plans for Hook Road means a “very large” project is being envisioned.
“What you saw tonight from Dewberry, all of that work, that’s where we allocated that $50,000 — all the data gathering, all the community input, all the research they’re doing,” said Sherri Hebert, president of RA’s Board of Directors. “There is no design [yet]. It could be anything from a small little thing to whatever the community wants. There’s nothing out there yet.”
Saying the current RA board is “very conservative” when funds are concerned, Hebert said a large-scale project is not anticipated.
“What will be different this year is an iterative process between the Working Group … and the Board,” Hebert said. “It’s not going to come back with this big project. … Nothing will be a surprise with the community.”
The Hook Road Working Group will be tasked with making a proposal to the RA Board on the project’s scope early next year. Applications for the group are currently being accepted, and interviews will take place in October.