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Votes

Not at Nottoway?

Debate continues on a proposed maintenance facility at Nottoway Park.

Like many others departing the Nottoway Park open house on Thursday, Feb. 5, Barbara and David Williams of Vienna left disappointed. They didn’t want the Fairfax County Park Authority to construct a maintenance facility at Nottoway Park.

"We don’t care for either option," said David Williams, referring to the two options that the Park Authority had made that revise Nottoway’s master plan.

Roughly 200 citizens from Vienna and Oakton attended the Feb. 5 open house in the Oakton High School cafeteria to talk with Park Authority staff about two revisions to Nottoway Park’s master plan.

At the center of the informal open house was a debate on whether the Park Authority should construct a maintenance facility at the 90-acre Nottoway Park, despite ongoing protests by citizens who don’t want to see a facility constructed.

"The way [the Park Authority] is talking to everybody, they're battling their position," said Vienna resident Patrick Andress, who is involved with Vienna Youth Soccer and supported Friends of Nottoway's position. "It's more their reasoning."

Many of the citizens who attended were from adjoining neighborhoods to the park, including citizens affiliated with Friends of Nottoway, a group formed out of the Country Creek Homeowners Association that is against the construction of a maintenance facility.

Others attending were parents affiliated with Vienna Youth Soccer, which had wanted to see another full-sized soccer field considered for the master plan revision.

"We want soccer fields," said Mark Gardiner, the vice president for the house league of Vienna Youth Soccer. The group plans to circulate within the community a petition supporting a second rectangular field for soccer. "If you’re not going to do it when you redesign a master plan, when are you going to do it?" asked Gardiner.

THE MASTER PLAN, which was last revised in 1973, determines what uses the park should have, depending on the demographics which use the park.

The construction of a maintenance facility at Nottoway Park is just one of many proposed changes to the Park Authority’s master plan for the park. There are currently two options for revising Nottoway’s master plan available for public comment. After Thursday's open house, the Park Authority will process citizen feedback and create one plan revision, which will have a formal public hearing before it goes before the Park Authority board for a vote. That hearing had been tentatively set for May but may be pushed back due to the 150 feedback forms that the Park Authority received on Thursday.

The Park Authority had proposed constructing a maintenance facility at Nottoway because Nottoway is already the center of maintenance activity for 28 surrounding parks. If constructed, the half-acre maintenance facility would be in a footprint of 2.5 acres and would be responsible for housing equipment, supplies such as sand, and some offices. The facility would also have two work bays or workshops, which could be used for fixing picnic tables or Park Authority vehicles. The facility area itself would be buffered and screened.

Current maintenance activity occurs in the garage and basement of the Hunter House at Nottoway, as well as in storage areas scattered throughout the park.

"We're trying to consolidate [maintenance] into one facility that is efficient and is up to building code," said Irish Grandfield, Park Authority project manager.

Grandfield also said that because of the ball fields at the park, Nottoway Park needs the most maintenance, compared with the other 28 parks that belong in the Park Authority's Area 7.

YET THE CITIZENS who attended Thursday’s open house disapproved the proposed maintenance facility because both options for the construction of a maintenance facility would entail the removal of some trees. One option has the maintenance facility near the entrance to the park, while the other has the facility at the edge of one of the park’s parking lots, where a smaller maintenance storage area already exists.

"They need more space for maintenance, but I don’t want to see trees cut down," said Warren Havens of Vienna.

The Park Authority has countered that while the trees would be lost, the recent addition of a 6.75 acre parcel of land as a cultural resource area would balance the loss of woodland at Nottoway.

While Friends of Nottoway agreed with the need to support the Park Authority’s maintenance activity, they suggested expanding the usage of the maintenance facility at the Oak Marr Recreational Center in Oakton, which currently houses maintenance activity for Oak Marr’s golf course. They submitted their proposal to the Park Authority last Thursday.

The proposal advocates Oak Marr because of its location off four-lane Jermantown Road. Nottoway is located off two-lane Courthouse Road. The group also supports Oak Marr because maintenance workers are guaranteed better working conditions, whereas the maintenance facility at Nottoway still would need funding passed by voters on a future park bond. The cost of constructing a maintenance facility is also still unknown.

WHILE THE Park Authority has yet to examine the proposal, staff said the problem with Oak Marr is that the maintenance facility there serves the golf course, which requires maintenance equipment unique to golf courses. The Oak Marr facility would have to expand to accommodate other equipment and services, but it doesn't have the area to do so.

"There's not room to program a maintenance facility there," Grandfield said. "We couldn't do it without taking out a soccer field or part of the golf course."

Grandfield said that the Park Authority had looked at placing the maintenance facility at Oak Marr and at industrial sites at Merrifield and Fairfax City but decided against it because of cost.

"The reason that we didn't go with the other sites was that they're very expensive. We didn't believe it justified buying a site for a million dollars," Grandfield said.

Although the maintenance facility has predominated discussion of the master plan revision, the revision also calls for a new rest-room facility, an additional soccer field, new picnic shelters, a designated community garden area, additional parking spaces and a new vehicular access drive.

Parents with Vienna Youth Soccer had hoped to see in both revision options a second full-sized, rectangular field for soccer, vs. a smaller-sized rectangular field. Nottoway currently has one full-sized soccer field.

If a second field were created, the parents would support a field with artificial turf, which, they argue, would not only increase the field’s usability but decrease maintenance.

"Our point is that we need the larger fields for the high-school age. We have enough smaller fields. We need a full-sized field," said Rudi Rudisill, the commissioner for the high-school-girl age group for Vienna Youth Soccer.

Grandfield said it was the Park Authority's vision to accommodate another soccer field, but it may have to consider cutting some trees to create enough space.

"To balance those competing demands of the citizens is what we're trying to do," Grandfield said.