Turning down $20 million is not something that one might want to do in one's lifetime, but for McLean resident Daniel DuVal, it was a decision rooted in the love and respect he has for his community.
As the owner of the 52.4-acre Salona property located at 1235 Dolley Madison Blvd. in McLean, DuVal was approached by a number of real estate developers who were interested in acquiring the land for private commercial and residential use. However, as a lifelong resident of the community and a member of the McLean Citizens Association (MCA), DuVal is aware that more development is the last thing on the minds of his fellow community members.
"I've seen this from the other side and was sensitive to that," said DuVal.
Rather than sell his property to developers, DuVal instead opted to work out an arrangement with the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) to arrange for preservation of open space while simultaneously meeting some of the recreational needs of the community. The Board of Supervisors and the FCPA are purchasing the conservation easement at the price of $16 million to be paid with a $3.15 million down payment and followed by a payment of $12.9 million spread out over the next 20 years. According to Michael Kane, Director of the FCPA, this price is "less than half of the appraised value at best and highest use."
LAST THURSDAY, Sept. 29, Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois held an informational press conference at her office in the McLean Government Center to announce the establishment of a conservation easement at the Salona property. Chairman Gerry Connolly, representatives from the FCPA, DuVal and several community members were in attendance.
"They say success has many fathers, and in this case I think we have many fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers," said Kevin Fay, Dranesville District Member to the FCPA.
Fay commended DuVal and his wife Karen for displaying "the ultimate in community spirit."
"Their commitment to the McLean community and Fairfax County has been steadfast," said Fay.
Chairman Connolly emphasized his firm belief in the importance of holding onto open space, and discussed his goal to have 10 percent of local land designated as park property.
"Land is very precious, and when we can get a hold of it and preserve it, it really is a signet day," said Connolly.
The Salona property is of particular historical significance because it was the home of revolutionary war hero Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, the refuge of Dolley Madison when British troops were burning the White House in 1814, and part of the Union Army headquarters during the Civil War. The name Salona comes from the circa 1805 homestead associated with the property. The Salona homestead and grounds comprise 7.8 acres of the site, and are already protected in perpetuity by a 1971 easement to the Board of Supervisors.
"This is a special part of our community history," said Whit Field, a representative for the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust.
Field commended all involved for "the protection of this wonderful piece of history and open space in the heart of McLean."
Kane echoed Field's comment and emphasized that Salona is "one of the last, largest pieces of property in the McLean area," and that it is "a tremendously historical property."
The Salona plan calls for 41 acres of the property to be designated as a new conservation easement. Within this easement, 10 acres will be marked for recreational use, and the remaining 40 acres left for passive recreation such as trails. The remaining three acres are to be retained by the DuVal family for future use.