Hal Strickland, a longtime Greenbriar resident and Sully District representative on the Fairfax County Park Authority, was elected unanimously last week as chairman of the Park Authority Board.
It's his third time in this position, having served as chairman in 1994 and 1995. He's been a member of the Park Authority since 1992 and is happy to again take the helm.
"I FEEL pretty honored to be selected to be the chairman," said Strickland. "I feel Parks is an important part of the quality of life in Fairfax County for all our communities. And we have a very capable, active and excellent Park Board. There are 12 of us that serve, and to be selected by my colleagues is certainly noteworthy to me. It shows confidence in my leadership, and I'm pleased to do [the job]."
Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) is also delighted for his friend. "I think Hal's a wonderful choice," he said. "He certainly has the knowledge and experience of the county but, most importantly, he's got the temperament for the position. He's solution-oriented and can get people of different perspectives to work through their emotions and focus on what's really important."
Strickland brings a wealth of community experience to the post, having served 14 years as the Springfield, Providence and Sully districts' representative to the Fairfax County Athletic Council — including two years as chairman. Locally, though, he's best known as the founding father of the Chantilly Youth Association providing team sports opportunities for thousands of children. Besides coaching, he served as CYA president for 25 years.
HE'S BEEN honored with the Outstanding Public Official award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation officials and has received a Certificate of Recognition from the county Board of Supervisors. And as if that weren't enough, he's also been three-time president of the 1,800-home Greenbriar Civic Association and is currently its vice president.
On the Park Authority Board, Strickland replaces outgoing Chairman Winnie Shapiro who'll continue to serve as the Braddock District representative. Joanne Malone, the Providence District representative, is the new vice chairman.
Noting that Park Authority Board membership is a volunteer position, Park Authority spokeswoman Judy Pedersen said Strickland's "risen above and beyond the commitment to the Park Authority. He's involved in so much, has chaired the Planning Committee and is very hands-on."
This coming year, he said, the Park Authority is going to update its strategic plan. "We do it every five years, and I look forward to lending some leadership to that, as to the direction parks are going to be going in, said Strickland. "We've made some great accomplishments in the past five, six, seven years and — with support from the Board of Supervisors and others — Parks has increased its acreage to where we're now up to almost 20,000 acres in the county."
Another area the Park Authority is going to emphasize — and which Strickland believes is important — is "the unique position of importance parks play in the overall well-being of our communities. There are so many health benefits associated with parks."
NOTING THE current national dialogue stressing that people should lead more active lifestyles to help fend off obesity, he said parks play a major role in providing opportunities for people to get the exercise and fresh air they need.
Strickland noted, as well, that the value of people's property increases when they live near parks. "We want people to understand the important role parks play in their lives and toward making a healthier society," he said. "So the Park Authority is trying to venture out in broader areas."
In its strategic plan, he said, it wants to have a meaningful dialogue focused on the value that citizens place on parks and how people measure quality of life in their communities. "Having the public with us helps insure that parks remain a vital part of our community," said Strickland. "We've not ever missed passing a park bond."