Ever since the days of Silas Burke and the railroad station, Burke has evolved from a country-style, sparsely populated area to the lively suburbs it is today. With the advent of a commuter rail, the Fairfax County Parkway, Burke Centre and Burke Lake, its distinct identity is taking shape.
<sh>Virginia Railway Express
<bt>In June, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) celebrated it's 10th birthday with a gala at the King Street station in Alexandria. Gov. Mark Warner was on hand with area supervisors and politicians for the event. Burke is wedged between Metro's Blue Line and Orange Line with little access, so many in the area treat the VRE as their commuter rail. The ridership has grown continuously since 1992 and, this year, the VRE incorporated some of bi-level trains to meet the increasing demand. The Burke Station, along Roberts Road, has expanded parking to include spots on the side of Roberts Road and is looking at other options.
<sh>Burke Fall Festival
<bt>Full of activities, arts and crafts, antiques and community, the 25th annual Fall Festival will be held this year on Sept. 14-15 on the Burke Centre Conservancy grounds.
<bt>In the Fall of 2001, the Burke area district lines were adjusted to make Burke Centre part of the Braddock District under Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D) instead of in Springfield, under Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R ). Now the district line is aligned with Burke Lake Road. With the redistricting, Bulova moved offices from Wakefield Park Road in the eastern part of the district to new facilities that are part of the Kings Park Library.
<sh>Burke Lake Plans
<bt>After hearings on a revision of the master plan by park officials and the public, the plans are in motion for amenities at Burke Lake to include miniature golf, croquet and lawn bowling facilities, according to Fairfax County park official Paul Ingman.
"It will be a funding issue," he said of the full scale implementation, but things are going forward on a lesser scale now.
Miniature golf has already been approved but the sites and money for croquet and lawn bowling are still in process. There will be a pilot project for the lawn bowling to be incorporated by next summer.
<sh>Burke Library Plans
<bt>The Kings Park Library has recorded some of the highest numbers of visits for libraries in the county and the Pohick Library draws from both Springfield and Burke, leaving many library patrons without many options. In a common political process, some call "land banking," the county purchased a parcel of land along the Fairfax County Parkway and slated it for the future Burke Library. Although money is not in the budget for any construction this year, a group of citizens, or "Friends of the Burke Library," was formed recently. With roots in Bulova's office, the friends group continues to make strides toward making the library a reality.
<bt>Every Saturday through Oct. 26, the Burke Centre Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon at the VRE parking lot. Vendors from a 125-mile radius fill the lot, selling everything from fresh bread to yellow squash. The late summer or early fall is the best time for the market due to the growing seasons in Virginia.
<sh>Cross County Trail
<bt>A multi-use trail crossing Fairfax County from the Occoquan River near Route 123 to the Potomac River at Great Falls is becoming a reality. According to information on the county website, the Cross County Trail (CCT) will ultimately be almost 40 miles long. On National Trail Day in early June, the Fairfax County Park Authority trail expert, Jenny Pate, was on hand at Wakefield Park with maps and information as they cut the ribbon on the new map kiosks for the parks.
Major trails in the Springfield-Burke area include Burke Lake Park bicycle trail, which is 4.68 miles of trail encircling the lake, the Accotink Creek trail which winds up the creek, circles the lake, and goes through Wakefield Park, and the South Run Trail, which is
1.6 miles, asphalt bikeway, from Burke Lake Dam southward, crossing Lee Chapel Road, leading to South Run RECenter.
The southern section through the Lorton/Laurel Hill Greenway and to the Occoquan will be completed in future years as that property, which was formerly the Lorton Prison, is turned over for county use. In the interim, the trail will connect from Pohick and Alban Roads in the southern part of the county to Great Falls on the Potomac River.
The proposed route connects three major stream valleys/greenways: the Pohick, the Accotink, and Difficult Run. The existing trails within these stream valleys will be connected using trails along the Fairfax County Parkway and along Pickett Road, Blake Lane, and Jermantown Road. Additional trails, stream crossings, and road crossings will be constructed in the next few years.