When the Fairfax County Park Authority held a public hearing in July about a new public park in Centreville called Lanes Mill, residents liked the idea — except that it had no parking or access.
The glitches still remain, but last Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Park Authority approved the Lane Mill master plan. Earmarked as a "cultural-resource archaeological park," it's off Route 29 in the Lee Overlook area of Centreville.
It's on eight acres bounded to the south by I-66, to the north by Route 29, on the west by Gate Post Estates, and on the east by Paddington Lane. It's also at the confluence of Cub Run and Big Rocky Run and, in the 1760s, both a grist mill and a saw mill operated there.
The ruins are still left, and the Park Authority wants a raised, walking-trail system linking the site's features so it can educate the public about 18th- 20th-century life and industry here. It would be a loop trail, joining an existing concrete trail running along Big Rocky Run.
Visitors are to park at London Towne Elementary or the Route 29/Stone Road park-and-ride lot and then cross Route 29, hike downhill and walk through the Pendleton Square townhouses to the park.
Sully District Park Authority representative Hal Strickland said the park is intended as an attraction, or stop, along the existing trail. "The historic sites had gotten into some disrepair, and the best way to protect them was to make it a managed area," he said. "We don't envision that as being a major attraction [for people driving here from elsewhere]."
He said the master-plan approval doesn't preclude the Park Authority from continuing to work with concerned citizens, and he and Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) will meet, Oct. 8, with Dan Cruz, homeowners-association president of Gate Post Estates II, southwest of the site, so it's "not an undue impact on the local community."
Strickland said parking's difficult there because the site's in a stream valley. So now the Park Authority's eyeing a parking spot 100 feet east of White Post Road, on Route 29. "But that's the last thing we want, because it would allow people to access our housing," said Cruz. "We had property vandalism here last summer." So he'll express his concerns at the upcoming meeting.
Also worried about people parking on his neighborhood's streets and accessing the trails from there, he'd prefer no parking, at all. "The modest restoration they're planning is part of our history and children would enjoy it," he said. "It would benefit the local community that can walk to it, and it would be available to the people here who live along the stream and the paths. I think trying to attract people to drive to it, from out of the area, is a little out of whack."