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Bond Benefits Sully Fields, Parks, Trails

Fairfax County's 2002 park bond contained $15 million for land acquisition, design and construction of the Cub Run Rec Center — the first one ever in the Sully District.

This time, instead of being earmarked mainly for one project here, the current bond referendum will provide funds for a variety of uses within Sully — including improvements to its parks and construction of athletic fields and trails.

The total bond is for $75 million, although $10 million of it will go to Northern Virginia Regional Parks. Projects chosen for inclusion in the county's $65 million portion of the bond were determined after the county Park Authority received the results of a needs assessment it commissioned a national consultant team to do, some two years ago.

"We told them, 'Based on our population, your experience and national standards, tell us what we need,'" said Sully District Park Authority representative Hal Strickland. "This helped us determine, for example, the number of rectangular fields we need, how many miles of trails, etc."

For instance, the survey says the county needed 117 new rectangular ballfields in 2003. But if none of them got built, 160 new ones would be needed by 2008, and 177 by 2013. But, said Strickland, "With the funding we hope to get in the 2004 bond, we hope to be able to build 95 fields."

Athletic Fields

For Sully, the upcoming bond contains $750,000 for construction of six interim athletic fields and associated improvements at 15620 Braddock Road in Centreville. This is what's known as the Stephens property, across from Cox Farms.

They'll be rectangular fields, used mainly for soccer, football and lacrosse. "That's our greatest need," said Strickland. "Both CYA and SYA are pushing to use them, so I put three-quarters of a million dollars in the bond to get these folks on the fields."

He also supported the addition of three rectangular fields in nearby Popes Head Estates in the Springfield District. "It's a domino effect," he explained. "That's very close to us, so the people there will use these fields, instead of Sully fields, and Sully residents could also use them."

Similarly, Strickland favored adding a rectangular and a diamond field in the Dranesville District, since it's just up Centreville Road in Herndon. "It's in our area," he said. "If we put more fields in our inventory, we can share them, too, because they're our neighbors."

One result of the last park-bond referendum may be seen in Centreville's E.C. Lawrence Park. Just two weeks ago, artificial turf was placed on a rectangular field there.

"Knowing the need in Sully for additional athletic fields, I was able to convince the park board and staff to install the first, artificial-turf field, fully funded by the Park Authority, at E.C. Lawrence," said Strickland. "And we've added lights to the boys' 90-foot baseball diamond there and the girls' 60-foot softball diamond."

Playgrounds

Also for the area's youth, some $83,000 in this year's bond would go toward renovating and improving Sully's playgrounds, as needed, over the next four years. "I'd love to have a skatepark out here," said Strickland. "I'm going after it. We've been very successful with our skatepark at Wakefield Park, and it's the only one the Park Authority has. It exceeded our use expectations, and we need one in the western part of the county."

Stream-Valley Trails

Sully would also get $835,000 to construct five, new stream-valley trail connections. They are as follows:

* Virginia Run area, connecting that community to the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail;

* Stonecroft Boulevard in Chantilly, between the Cub Run Rec Center and Westfield High;

* Pleasant Valley Road, between the Pleasant Valley community and the rec center;

* Braddock Road, new Cub Run Stream Valley connection along that road; and

* Rocky Run area, connecting the Rocky Run Stream Valley Trail to neighboring communities.

"In the needs assessment, one of the highest uses shown was trails — people love to walk our trails and want us to build more," said Strickland. "Therefore, I pushed very hard for us to provide connector trails throughout the Sully District."

"We have a unique opportunity in Sully to provide citizens with an almost-wilderness experience on the new land we recently acquired," he continued. "This will be done with trail access on the Hunter/Hacor property, now called Sully Woodlands. It's in the Cub Run/Elklick Watershed along Pleasant Valley Road."

Twin Lakes Golf

For golf enthusiasts, the bond contains nearly $2.6 million for renovation projects at Twin Lakes Golf Course on Union Mill Road in Clifton. The bulk of these dollars will be used to repair dams in the middle of the golf course. Their water is used for field irrigation but, since this golf course was built more than 50 years ago, these dams no longer meet state standards.

Natural Resources

Besides providing active and passive recreational opportunities, the Park Authority is also responsible for preserving the county's natural, cultural and historic resources. So in December 2003, it approved its first Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMP).

And accordingly in this bond is a proposed $3.8 million to implement this plan, stabilize streams to protect watershed areas, provide support facilities in the Sully Woodlands and create a new entrance road and improve parking at Sully Historic Site.

Again, this was something Strickland supported for all 23,000 acres of county parkland. And, he said, this new initiative will mostly benefit Sully Woodlands.

"In the past, we've done master plans on our properties without having a full inventory of all their cultural and natural features," he explained. "But in Sully Woodlands, we'll make an inventory to learn what's there so we can better manage and protect it earlier than we've been able to do with any of our other parks."

"And then we'll decide how to improve and use it — for example, put trails in certain places, or not," said Strickland. "Environmentally, we'll do it right because we'll know what's in there before master-planning it. It's stewardship of the land and its natural resources."

The NRMP will benefit the Cub Run Watershed, too. In fact, the county Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is currently surveying it and determining the quality of the watershed, itself. Then recommendations will be made regarding what actions should be taken to meet state standards of water runoff that leads to the Occoquan — the county's source of drinking water.

"We have a unique opportunity in Sully Woodlands to make it work," said Strickland. "I'd love to have biologists and naturalists come out here, do the inventory and recommend a management plan for it."

Natural/Cultural Resources

Sully Historic Site is a cultural resource; but when the interchange for the Air and Space Museum Annex was built, the Route 28 entrance into the site was closed. Now, drivers must make right turns in and out of the site.

So $620,000 in bond money would provide access from Barnsfield Road, across from the interchange. It would be used by motorists heading south toward the site, and the current entrance from Route 28 northbound would be closed. The money would also be used for signage and improved parking at the site.

The bond also contains $100,000 toward natural/cultural resources at Sully Woodlands. Part of it will create trail heads where people may access the property and enjoy its open space. A trail head typically includes a sign introducing the start of the trail and, sometimes, a kiosk with a pamphlet and map explaining what may be seen on the trail and in the surrounding area.

The funds will also be used for the naturalist position at the rec center and her supplies. That's because, said Strickland, that facility will be "the gateway to introducing people to Sully Woodlands."

Land Acquisition

Some $12.76 million is earmarked toward land acquisition countywide, and Strickland is hopeful that some of it will be used in the Sully District. If it's not preserved now, he said, a developer could snatch it up and build on it.

"In my 12 years on the Park Authority, one of the things I'm proudest of is that we've been successful in acquiring a parkland base in Sully," he said. "In the past four years, we've added more than 2,000 acres of parkland here — and with our increasing population, it's especially important."

For more information about the park bond, call Park Authority spokeswoman Judy Pedersen at 703-324-8662 or see www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.