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Park Authority Offers Land-Acquisition Info

Via proffers, dedication and purchases, over the past 2 1/2 years, Fairfax County and its Park Authority have acquired eight parcels of land — some 1,740 acres — near the Pleasant Valley/Braddock roads intersection.

Tuesday night, engineer John Pitts and project manager Mark Holsteen, both with the Park Authority, discussed the property with members of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.

1. First was the 838 acres purchased from developer David Hunter in March 2000 for $12.7 million. Bordering Loudoun County, off Pleasant Valley Road, it's just northwest of Cox Farms.

"It's one of the premier future parks in this part of western Fairfax [County]," said Pitts. "Our two main goals there are preservation of cultural and natural resources and the addition of recreational activities, from volleyball courts to ballfields."

Two years ago, said Holsteen, the Sully District ranked lowest in the amount of parkland to people and needed 44 athletic fields. The Hunter property will be able to be used for both purposes. He noted that the 838 acres consists of 16 parcels ranging in size from 2/10 of an acre to 160 acres. And he said a "globally rare, oak/hickory forest" in the southern portion of the property will be preserved.

2. Quinn Farms' 102 acres were acquired in June 2000 for $3.5 million and are bordered by Old Lee and Braddock roads, Westfield High and Richard Jones Park. The Park Authority may build a tournament-style complex of nine fields there; it was originally considering more, but had to scale back its plans due to the property's wetlands and geographical constraints.

"It has wetlands, floodplains and rare oak/hickory forest," said Holsteen. "And there's a prehistoric site in the northeast corner. [But] it's the only parcel within the sewer shed, so we're looking at intense recreational development there. We hope to be using it by fall. We've been asked to put up temporary lights there, but it might be tough."

The Quinn property will have easy access from Route 28. And the county transportation plan calls for the upgrading of Old Lee Road there, from two to four lanes, from Willard to Pleasant Valley Road.

3. Hacor's 208 acres were acquired in December 2000. It's forested land and is an extension of the Cub Run Stream Valley.

4. Pleasant Valley Woods' 21 acres were acquired by the Park Authority from developer Stanley Martin in January 2001. It was once the site of the old Manassas Gap Railroad.

5. Another 138 acres of oak/hickory forest came with another Hacor acquisition in April 2001. Said Holsteen: "It'll have an open-space easement to restrict development there, and we're looking to extend it further."

6. Cardinal Forest brought 247 acres in the county coffers in May 2001. It, too, contains rare forest.

7. The Coscan Brookfield parcel contains 146 acres, and developer Coscan deeded it to the county in October in exchange for permission to build 40 homes nearby. It was the former site of the old Centreville Airport and has a conservation easement and trails.

8. The 40-acre Stephens property was purchased this January for $660,000. It's at Pleasant Valley and Braddock roads and was formerly a sod farm.

Referring to the entire 1,740 acres, Pitts said, "We're excited about this — it's the biggest contiguous assemblage of land the Park Authority owns. And there are some significant, natural resources on it. Globally rare forest covers two-thirds of the site, and it'll be on the National Register of Cultural Sites when all is said and done."

Next, he said, the Park Authority will prepare a generalized management plan detailing what type of park they envision in each area and will decide on appropriate uses within them. Then comes a conceptual development plan with general outlines of what the Park Authority would like to achieve in each park.

He also noted that a future roadway shown on the county's Comprehensive Plan would cut right through the Quinn property and eventually tie into Braddock Road extended. And he wasn't certain how this road would affect plans for that parcel.

The WFCCA's Jim Hart then suggested that, if the road interferes with the Park Authority's plans for that site, then "perhaps, the idea of that road, itself, should be revisited." Pitts and Holsteen said they'd return to the WFCCA throughout the summer to provide further updates as plans for the land progress.