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Spring Hill District Park Plan Proposed

Since McLean Youth Soccer (MYS) first proposed two new rectangular fields at Spring Hill District Park, three groups have proposed a total of seven different versions of what a new master plan for the circa-1988 park should look like.

Last week, the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) put forward an eighth plan that will go before the public at a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 4.

Although it includes every element that the groups have sought, it is unlikely to satisfy any of them.

MYS, which wanted two new fields and a parking lot in the northeast parcel known as 1-D, would get one field and temporary parking.

The Lewinsville Coalition, which wanted a nature trail, outdoor classroom and picnic shelter on parcel 1-D, would get all of them, but also a 90-foot baseball diamond.

The proposed plan places the Babe Ruth baseball diamond on 1-D, which isn’t likely to please either MYI or the Lewinsville Coalition. But such a field was present on the existing master plan for Spring Hill.

Other elements of the existing plan — such as two tennis courts, one multiuse court, a Little League baseball field and an expansion of the Recreation Center — would be removed from the master plan.

“The implication they have done this according to their master planning process is fallacious,” said Jane Edmondson, president of the Lewinsville Coalition, who worries that as a district park, Spring Hill is undersized.

The proposed amended plan legitimizes fields that were never formally approved, she said.

“We’ve been fighting against something rather than being able to say what the people want,” said Susan Bartram, who lives near parcel 1-D.

An archaeological survey revealed an “ephemeral” Native American site along a ridge top above Bull Neck Run, “but no diagnostic artifacts to temporarily define this site were identified,” according to the draft master plan for Spring Hill.

However, evidence of a 19th-century farm on about 80 acres in parcel I-D should be surveyed, according to the FCPA.

The discovery of the site of the Elgin Farm, a 19th-century farm on Parcel 1-D, came as a surprise, according to FCPA public information officer Judy Pederson.

An agricultural census dated 1860 shows its owner, Elgin, to be “a modest farmer with limited land resources.”

His farm, acquired in 1849 and worth about $4,050 in 1860, likely had an icehouse, a livestock barn, a granary, a corn house and a hay barn, according to the FCPA proposal.

He could have owned “at least three slaves and possibly as many as six.”

“This area requires further investigation with a Phase I survey to determine the presence or absence of archaeological resources associated with this building,” according to the FCPA’s proposed draft amendment for Spring Hill Park.

“I think it is the plan that does the most with all the comments we’ve received,” said Kevin Fay of McLean, Dranesville District’s representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board, “by preserving rectangular fields, adding baseball, fixing parking, providing trails, a nature education center and the open space that the neighbors had expressed interest in.

“It is the closest they had come back and indicated they would accept on that back parcel [known as I-D].

A public hearing was set for Thursday, Sept. 4, at the McLean Community Center.

“We will see what comes out in public comment, and we will go from there,” said Fay.

The public record will remain open for 30 days after the hearing, or through Oct. 4

One month later, Dranesville District residents will elect a new supervisor, either Joan DuBois (R) or John Foust (D). Fay was appointed in February by incumbent Stu Mendelsohn, a two-term Republican, who is not seeking re-election.

The Dranesville District Supervisor appoints the district’s representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority board.

Spring Hill, a 46-acre park formed from two smaller parcels owned by the Fairfax County School Board, is smaller than most district parks, which are described as 50-200 acres in size and provide “diversified area-wide recreation services.”

According to a survey administered last year for the Park Authority by Leisure Vision, a division of ETC Institute, 37 percent of Fairfax County residents described walking and biking trails as the “most important recreational facility” for their households. Soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, the sports that use rectangular fields, garnered 10 percent.