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Maintenance Facility for Nottoway Park?

Master Plan revisions for Nottoway Park will be subject of a Feb. 5 open house.

To the dismay of a group of citizens who live near Nottoway Park, the issue of a maintenance facility at the 19-acre park on Courthouse Road hasn’t gone away. The Fairfax County Park Authority has included the maintenance facility in two maps featuring proposed revisions to the park's Master Plan.

"Friends of Nottoway is very pleased with what the Park Authority has done so far," said Julie Appleby, a member of the citizen's group composed of Vienna residents who live near the park. "We’re just there to encourage them not to cut any trees."

On Nov. 19, 2002, the Fairfax County Park Authority conducted a preliminary public planning workshop at Marshall Road Elementary in Vienna to discuss with citizens proposed revisions to Nottoway Park’s 1973 Master Plan. When the Park Authority asked what citizens wanted future uses of the park to look like, citizens opposed a regional maintenance facility and additional parking. They also wanted more quality soccer fields and supported the preservation of wildlife and trees as well as the maintenance of the park’s landscape.

In October 2003, the Friends of Nottoway submitted a petition of roughly 2,700 signatures opposing the construction of a maintenance facility and more parking.

The Park Authority will continue its Master Plan revision throughout this spring, with an open house scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5, from 7-9 p.m., at Oakton High School. At the informal gathering, citizens will be able to present their comments to park staff on two proposed revised Master Plan layouts for Nottoway Park.

Over the next three months, the Park Authority will conduct a formal public hearing and comment period.

"Neighborhoods change over a great deal of time," said the Park Authority’s public information officer Judy Pedersen, explaining why the Park Authority decided to revise the 1973 Master Plan for the 90-acre park.

If constructed, a maintenance facility at Nottoway would centralize the maintenance activities for the more than 20 parks that reside in the area surrounding Nottoway. These activities include building and parking lot maintenance and patching, field preparation and trash emptying, and grounds upkeep

Many of these activities already come out of Nottoway Park, but the maintenance facility would centralize these activities to one building in the park.

"We would just simply consolidate these activities to one area," Pedersen said. "We believe we can do that without significant impact."

ON THE TABLE are two proposed layouts that include a maintenance facility with a 2.5-acre footprint. One layout has a facility at the edge of one of the park’s parking lots, while the other has the building near the park’s entrance.

The layouts also show a new restroom facility, an additional soccer field, new picnic shelters, additional parking spaces, and a new access drive to improve vehicular circulation. The layouts also designate the area for community gardens, as well as a 6.75-acre cultural resource area recently acquired by the Park Authority.

All the items on the layouts would be subject to needs and funding, and final approval of the Master Plan depends upon adoption by the Park Authority Board.

While many of the Park Authority’s revisions of the Master Plan proposals since the November 2002 meeting have received the approval of Friends of Nottoway, the group would still like the maintenance facility to be removed from future Master Plan revisions.

Their chief concern is the possible removal of trees should a maintenance facility be constructed. Friends of Nottoway were also concerned that the facility’s activities, which could include the use of fuel tanks and heavy vehicles, would contribute to noise and ground pollution as well as devalue property values.

"They have a very clear need for improved maintenance," said Kate Beddall, a Friends of Nottoway member. "We are sympathetic to that need. But we don’t think it has to be in Nottoway."

Instead of having the maintenance facility at Nottoway, the group suggested expanding the use of the maintenance facility at the Oak Marr Recreational Center in Oakton, which is used primarily for maintaining the golf course. Oak Marr’s entrance is also accessed by four-lane Jermantown Road, which has greater traffic capacity than the two-lane Courthouse Road, Beddall argued.

"They could maximize that facility. They’re both centrally accessible," Beddall said.

The Park Authority has countered that the maintenance facility at Nottoway would not only centralize maintenance activity but also bring the current smaller facility existing at the edge of one of the park’s parking lots into operational, safety and building standards. The recent acquisition of 6.75 acres of land would also provide a net gain of woodland for the park, should a maintenance facility be constructed or any other proposed changes take place.

"It already exists and needs to be upgraded," Pedersen said.