Hearing on Spring Hill Park Could Be Lengthy

Hearing on Spring Hill Park Could Be Lengthy

With 50 speakers already signed up, Thursday’s public hearing on a revised master plan for Spring Hill District Park promises to be lengthy, well attended and contentious.

“I would expect it to be polite,” said Dranesville District Park Authority Board Representative Kevin Fay of McLean. So far, in terms of feedback I have been getting, there are a lot of opinions out there.

“It is important in these processes that they keep their comments concise and to the point.”

Fay said the FCPA board will make a final decision about Spring Hill Park “probably in November.”

Naturalists and athletic groups disagree about what is the best use for a piece of land with the undistinguished label “Parcel 1-D.”

Although the Fairfax County School Board owns the parcel, it is leased by the Fairfax County Park Authority, which proposes to put a baseball field with 90-foot baselines there. The field, which can be used for adult and Babe Ruth baseball, has been on the master plan for Spring Hill since 1984. This is the first time the plan has been revised.

Under the new plan, Parcel 1-D would offer a compromise between requests for educational and passive uses from the 12 homeowner associations in the Lewinsville Coalition, who would prefer that the land remain as close to its pristine condition as possible.

McLean Youth Soccer, which had wanted two additional soccer fields at Spring Hill Park, won’t get them, but the six existing fields will be retained, with lights added to one of them to extend playing time. Four unofficial soccer fields now in use that are not on the existing master plan will be formalized.

SOME NEARBY RESIDENTS are also concerned about the proposal to add lights to the existing soccer field sited close to the northeast intersection of Spring Hill and Lewinsville roads in McLean.

Despite disappointment about not getting additional fields, MYS supports the FCPA’s proposal “in that spirit of community mindedness that they are suggesting this [master plan revision]. There wasn’t any quid pro quo,” said Fay.

Nonetheless, MYS Chairman Ted Kinghorn says the need for more rectangular fields in McLean is dire.

He said he welcomes a proposal by Dranesville Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn, who wants to form a task force to find locations for more fields.

"Kevin [Fay] and I had talked about this a month or two ago,” said Mendelsohn, who has suffered from a respiratory infection since he returned from a vacation in Europe last month. “[It is] an effort to find other places for fields, since the ones we have now are so controversial.”

Mendelsohn said once he finds a candidate to fill the role of chairman, he will appoint the rest of the committee to include representatives from the public schools, McLean Youth Inc., the McLean Citizens Association, and other interested groups.

“We look forward to that,” Kinghorn said. “We need to work together, not against one another, to get more fields for the community.”

“The scarcest resource available to us is real estate,” said Fay. “It forces us to be efficient in using what we’ve got, and smart in planning for the future.”

The Spring Hill hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, comes at a busy time for McLean parents, because schools started on Tuesday.

In addition, this is MYS’ kickoff week for the fall soccer season, and meetings were scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

KINGHORN DISCOUNTED some verbal complaints that MYS had incorporated a Reston-based travel team.

“It is not significant at all,” he said. “Reston, the last time I checked, is in Fairfax County.

“McLean players are on that team [now called the McLean Phoenix], and they deserve to be served just like anybody else,” Kinghorn said. “Spring Hill is a county park.

“One team is not the issue The issue is whether or not you support the Park Authority’s plan.

“We support the plan,” he said. “It is not a complicated matter. There has been due diligence, and a completely fair and open process.

“We appreciate the compromises [engendered in the plan], and feel it is a matter of compromise and consensus. The staff did a good job, and we support the proposal,” he said.

Preliminary results from an archaeological survey on Parcel I-D show no need for further investigation, said Judy Pedersen, Fairfax County Park Authority’s public information officer.

“The news was good. There was nothing that was significant that was found. That was the preliminary finding. I doubt they will have the report in the hand at the hearing,” she said.

It is not likely that a Phase II archaeological survey will be needed, Pedersen said.

The hearing will begin with a presentation to explain the proposed master plan revision, speakers will be given five minutes if they represent a group or three minutes as individuals. Pedersen said no questions will be taken from the floor during the hearing, but citizens can submit written questions to be answered later in writing.