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WFCCA Gives Nod to Local Dog Park

If all goes well, area dog owners will eventually have a place in Centreville where their dogs may run free, socialize with other pooches and get some fresh air and exercise.

The West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee received details of the plan, Tuesday night, and then gave it its approval. (It goes to the Planning Commission on June 16). It would be an interim use on three of the 101.7 acres of Quinn Farm Park at Braddock and Old Lee roads.

It's county Park Authority land and lies within Sully Woodlands — for which the Park Authority is developing a general management plan. Meanwhile, said Kelly Davis, a Park Authority project manager, it's currently used for CYA soccer and lacrosse practice.

"We'll extend the gravel parking lot and have parking for an extra 28 [vehicles]," she said. "More grading will be needed there for fields [later on], but it can be used now for the dogs because it's sloping. And it has good handicap-accessibility because we can get cars right up to the park."

CentrevilleDogs, a group of 150-plus Centreville residents, is spearheading the effort, and representatives attended Tuesday's meeting. For more information, e-mail CentrevilleDogs@yahoo.com or see www.centrevilledogs.org.

The off-leash dog park would be free and divided into 2 1/2 acres for larger dogs and 1/2-acre for smaller dogs. Some 65,000 square feet would be enclosed by a black, vinyl-clad, 5 1/2-foot, chainlink fence. Hours of operation would be dawn to dusk. And, said Davis, "You have to pick up after your own dog. If people don't, we could close the dog park down."

FIRST, THOUGH, CentrevilleDogs must raise funds to build the fence. "We're at $4,000 to date," said group leader Kate Sims. Once it has $10,000 in money, grants or services, the Park Authority will provide a matching grant.

"Dog parks are great — I think we need them," said WFCCA's Carol Hawn. "But we need a sign that says, 'This is an interim use,' so people are aware." Furthermore, said WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham, "If and when the Park Authority realizes they're getting close to [putting something else there], the sign should also say when it will end."

WFCCA's Dawn Williams said 67 percent of those surveyed in her Pleasant Valley neighborhood "thought Quinn Farm Park was a great location for it." Davis said the dog park would be part of the master plan, but didn't know whether it would stay on that spot or be moved elsewhere.

"Will landscaping hide the fence?" asked Frank Ojeda of the nearby Rock Hill Civic Association. "Chainlink isn't in keeping with the neighborhoods around there." Replied Davis: "We weren't planning any buffering; it's 700 feet from the residences."

Davis said there'll be lots of rules: Too-aggressive dogs will have to leave, and dogs can't run free in the rest of the park. The park is also open to everyone. Explained Park Authority Board member Georgette Kohler: "Fairfax County gets some federal money for its parks, so we can't preclude people from other counties from using [them]."