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Votes

Park Bond Would Raise $75 Million

Bond would provide funding for a variety of park and recreation services.

"Everyone loves their parks," said Sally Ormsby, chair of Park Partners, a group supporting passage of a bond to fund projects in the Fairfax County's park system.

On Nov. 2, voters will decide about four separate bond referendums totaling $325 million. Each of the four will pass or fail independently of the others. The bond to fund park projects is for $75 million, $10 million of which will go to fund the county's contribution to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Service.

Many of the projects funded by the park bond would involve less visible items, like replacing irrigation systems or renovating ventilation systems. "If you look at the whole bond, a lot of it is renovation," said Judy Pedersen spokesperson for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

"It's a cross section of all the various needs in the park program," Ormsby said.

However, opponents of the bond point to Park Authority programs that duplicate services offered in the private sector.

"Parks have some businesses that compete with the private sector," said Arthur Purves of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, a group opposed to all of the bonds.

Purves points to park services such as golf courses and fitness rooms at rec centers that duplicate private enterprises. If such projects are to be funded through bonds, Purves would like to see them paid for from the fees that those park facilities generate, "to put them on a more equal footing with the private companies," he said.

IN THE Vienna area, one potentially controversial project would be funding a maintenance yard that had been previously proposed for Nottoway Park.

"We still need the facility," said Pedersen. Part of the bond would be used to fund design and engineering for a facility somewhere in the county.

While Pedersen could not definitively say that the yard would go in Nottoway, she did call it "highly unlikely."

Some of the bond would be used for other Nottoway projects including new lighting and irrigation systems at three of the park's baseball/softball fields.

"While that may sound rather extravagant, it will help keep the parks in better condition," Ormsby said. Additionally, the new lighting will increase the capacity of the fields by allowing them to be used at night.

The lights can be designed in such a way that they do not shine into the homes of adjacent property owners, Ormsby said. "It's just a matter of getting the right light."

Additional irrigation work would be done at Idylwood and Jefferson District parks. The ventilation systems would be renovated at Oak Marr and Providence rec centers.

Other countywide projects include playground improvement, stream stabilization, funding to implement the Park Authority's Natural Resources Management Plan, and funding to support various nature centers.

Also, $12 million is slated for land acquisition countywide. Pedersen said that the Park Authority has some parcels in mind but does not discuss land acquisition during the process. "As soon as you say you want it, the price goes up," she said.

"[Buying land] is essential. Land is being used up so quickly," Ormsby said.