As cranes and bulldozers ripped out a patch of trees in Wakefield Park, making way for two 60-foot softball fields, Soren Trout and Brian Campagna were unfazed as they navigated their mountain bikes along the dirt trails under the power lines. The fields were being constructed on the southeastern corner of the park, altering bike trails over there, but not the main trail.
"The ones there don't really get used," Trout said. "That's the upper loop."
Construction will disrupt some of the trails at the park and remove trees, but youth sports fans all over the county are anticipating the addition of the new ball fields. The $1.8 million project includes the ball fields, which will be used for girls fast-pitch softball, and parking. John Lehman, Fairfax County Park Authority project manager, said that the bike riders will adapt to the changes at the park.
"It is going to involve some removal of the bike trails," Lehman said. "Those are just off-road trails for the mountain bikes."
Park manager Bill Hellwig said that although about a half-mile of trail that was part of the Wakefield Park bike trail loop had to be rerouted, the work improved the flow.
"I think riders are going to find it more friendly with the reroute," Hellwig said.
"A lot of people use this facility," said Springfield resident Pam Caswell, who uses the park on a regular basis. "It's always busy."
Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) pushed for more trails at Wakefield for years.
"This is something that's been in the works for the past five or six years," Bulova said.
Fairfax resident Edward Cho agreed. Cho wanted to see additional tennis courts added, as well.
"A lot of people [tennis players] complain. The parking lot on the weekend here is jammed," Cho said.
ACCORDING TO Park Authority planners, the work includes the placement of silt fencing to catch the runoff, the demolition of outdated playground equipment, and the relocation of the sheds. Work is scheduled to be completed in late December 2004. The price tag does not include the relocation of the trails.
Elsewhere in the county, ball fields for soccer, softball and baseball are being worked on, as well. At Lee High Park, the Fairfax County Park Authority is adding lights. At Hooes Road Park off the Springfield-Franconia parkway, several field improvements are being done, and in the western part of the county, Stratton Woods Park is being built with one rectangular field, one 90-foot baseball diamond and one 60-foot diamond. At Ossian Hall Park in Annandale, an additional field is being added as well.
This spring, a skate park opened at Wakefield Park.
"That's drawing really big crowds," said Hellwig.