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Centrally Located Ballfields Planned For Fairfax

On the corner of First Road and Washington Street in western Fairfax, Janet and Elmer Lumsden aren't looking forward to the Popes Head Assemblage Plan’s replacement of a wooded, 91-acre parcel of land along the Fairfax County Parkway with ball fields. Next to their driveway, the dirt trail once owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation was transferred to the Park Authority without the Lumsdens' knowing about it.

"The park bought the land from VDOT, and they didn't tell us," Janet Lumsden said.

The Lumsdens' concerns include traffic, noise, crime, a strain on their sewage system and the depletion of the woods behind their house. In a nutshell, it is suburbia creeping in on their country setting.

Ken Feng, a Springfield District member of the Park Authority board, was out to talk to homeowners in that area. He did stop at the Lumsdens, as well.

"He knew we were not happy campers. He said he would try to minimize our impact," Elmer Lumsden said.

Feng was aware of the Lumsdens' concerns but said the plan wasn't finalized and invited citizen participation. The upcoming meeting is one chance for public input. The public has another opportunity when the issue goes before the Planning Commission.

"This is the process we go through for public input," Feng said. "We invite public input so we can air everything."

The houses in Lincoln Park are on a pressurized sewer system, and the Lumsdens did notice a change when another house was built on the street and put on the system. They were on vacation, and when they returned, their pump was broken. It cost them $640.

"When they added another house on the system, it blew ours," Janet Lumsden said.

The land is in the Springfield District, under Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R). Staff assistant Steve Edwards is familiar with the proposal.

"It will be on county sewer," Edwards said. "There are very few houses on that system, an analysis will be done."

Feng is also aware of the need for increased studies in that area.

THE LOT stretches from the Mott Community Center off Braddock Road to an area just north of Popes Head Road, where Shirley Gate Road will go through sometime in the future. The property is a 91-acre piece of land, an assemblage of 13 parcels, acquired by the Park Authority. The history of the land goes back to 1790, when a grist mill was built in the area.

Up near the Mott Center, a resource protection zone will be established with Piney Branch Stream running through it, then two recreation zones, an entrance zone, and another recreation zone. The property has approximately 5,600 linear feet of Parkway frontage, as well.

Plans call for three rectangular fields and three baseball diamonds, and all will be lighted. The three baseball fields will have 90-foot diamonds, "favorable for tournaments," according to county literature.

"I have no doubt they will all be used," said Park spokesperson Judy Pederson.

Melissa Birkan, 16, whose back yard borders the park, had the same feeling.

"I know there is a demand for parks with all the kids in the area," she said.

Melissa's mother, Gonca, was in favor of it but had some concerns.

"The only concern I have is too many people will be coming and going," she said.

The proposed plan had similar ramifications for Elmer Lumsden.

"They want to build wall-to-wall ball fields," he said. "It's centrally located in the county, all the ball leagues are really pushing for this."

The central location was ideal according to Feng. A 5-mile radius was the rule of thumb for the service area for the fields. Other locations the Park Authority looked at included the former Lorton Prison land, known as Laurel Hill, but this location was more central in the county.

"The issue is location, too," Feng said. "We looked at it, and this is the best we could find."

Funding sources and a time frame for construction are still up in the air. Park bonds and public/private partnerships are being looked at for funding, said Edwards. Feng's guess on a groundbreaking time frame is 2005.

Several community meetings and workshops have already convened on the issue, Pederson said. She urged anyone with any interest in the project to attend the Sept. 2 meeting at the Mott Center.

"Essentially, if they want to give input, they have to come to the meeting," Pederson said.