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Who Knew?

Part of Nottoway Park is a commuter parking lot.

Although it might not be a problem now, the idea that Nottoway Park is a satellite parking lot for the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station has some residents worried.

"We’re concerned that this could grow into a much bigger parking concern," said Julie Appleby, a member of Friends of Nottoway Park.

Recent media reports noted Nottoway Park as a location to use for additional parking as Metro renovates its North Parking garage, drawing it to the attention of the community. Nottoway Park is listed as a parking facility on Metro’s Web site, a list of park and ride lots on Fairfax County’s Web site and on the ADC Map of Northern Virginia. The county Web site notes that the 2W, 402 and 403 buses serve the lot.

Metro is in the initial stages of a two-year renovation of the North Parking garage, said Steven Taubenkibel, Metro spokesperson. During the 10-phase renovation, about 180 parking spots will be unavailable at any given time, he said. At the end of the renovation, which will encompass drainage, stairwell, repaving and other general maintenance, Metro expects to add 10 handicapped spaces to the lot.

As a result, Metro is asking commuters to make use of other parking facilities to mitigate the parking crunch at the station. "Fairfax County does offer several parking facilities," Taubenkibel said. Metro has issued a document suggesting five different parking lots, including one at Nottoway.

THE FAIRFAX COUNTY Park Authority made an informal agreement with Metro about five years ago that would allow a section of Nottoway to be used as a commuter lot, said Judy Pedersen, a Park Authority spokesperson.

"There are 14 spaces dedicated to commuter parking," Pedersen said. The small lot abuts the basketball courts, near the community garden. On one occasion last week, only two cars were parked in the lot.

Pedersen said that the Park Authority does not encourage or discourage use of the lot. She also pointed out that policing the lots is not something that the Park Authority typically does. Vehicles may belong to park users who are out hiking one of the trails far from the parking lots.

She added that the park has ample parking. "We don’t have a problem at Nottoway," Pedersen said.

The agreement came as a surprise to Park Authority Board Member George Lovelace (At-large). Lovelace saw some benefits and drawbacks to using the lot for commuters. "There are lots of partnerships and agreements that are helpful to various groups," he said.

However, he also said that the Park Authority must exercise caution when deciding what sort of activities to allow. "We want to use the park for the thing that it’s designed for," he said.

Lovelace said he plans to bring the matter up with the Park Authority Board. Additionally, he has members of county staff studying the reasons behind the initial agreement. Good reasons may have existed for the agreement when it was made, but those conditions may no longer exist.

Lovelace said that the construction at Fairlee/Metrowest may also play a part in the developing equation.

Appleby noted that, besides the current parking lot renovation, the Fairlee/Metrowest development will result in the closing of an area currently being used as parking for the Metro station. "Then there’ll be real pressure on the park," she said.