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More Space for the Woods

Design plan to revamp Woods Community Center would allow for larger community gatherings.

The Woods Community Center has been closed for months while board members from the Burke Centre Conservancy await permit approvals to begin work to improve and expand the current structure.

A real need exists for a larger gathering place in Burke Centre, said Kala Quintana, the Woods community trustee. Right now, no place exists to conduct a large meeting or event, and residents and Conservancy officials recognized the potential for the Woods Community Center, at 10100 Wards Grove Circle, years ago. The house on the property, which is the Woods Community Center, brings a bit of history to the area.

“The original house that was there when [the land was] acquired from the Conservancy was originally used as the Conservancy offices,” said Brenda Trask, Woods Community Center planning chairperson. “So it’s old. There have been no improvements to that building in all these years.”

Thomas Wade, former Burke Conservancy executive director, researched the history and concluded that the original house build sometime in the 1760s no longer exists, but remnants of it still do. The front of the current house, according to a report from the ETC Engineering and Consulting Firm in Sterling, is about 60 years old, which is why residents wanted to try to preserve it during the construction of the new community center.

“I was a neighbor when all of this was going down,” said Quintana. “I remember voting to save the historic structure of the building.”

Conservancy staff has worked with architects to draft a plan that would be a more residential type of construction rather than commercial, said Patrick Gloyd, Burke Centre Conservancy executive director. Now officials are standing by for the county’s approval, which could come within the next few weeks.

CIVIL ENGINEERS completed a parking study and determined that sufficient parking would exist for the larger center, but Gloyd said there is always a possibility that the county could find otherwise. Since the Woods pool is only open from Memorial Day until Labor Day, the summer months might prove to be the only time where real parking challenges might arise, said Gloyd. In that instance, the conservancy would explore other options such as modifying pool hours.

“We’re prepared for the typical snags you go through with the application process,” said Gloyd.

The plans will keep the front structure, and add on to the back of the building. Quintana said they want to make it available to as many people as possible, keeping open the possibility of conducting large meetings and events there available to everyone in Burke Centre, not just the Woods community. Since Burke Centre pool passes are good for all of the pools in the community, Quintana said construction shouldn’t really put anyone out next summer.

The Conservancy has budgeted about $1.6 million for the project. Most of that money is already available, said Gloyd, because of the reserve plan and the capital improvement reserve. Residents of Burke Centre pay assessments, and that money has been earmarked for this project. Gloyd said he’s optimistic that the project will actually come in under budget because of the less costly residential type of construction planned.

The design includes an elevator, a large main room and three smaller classrooms. Locked cubbies are also included in the plans so storage for teaching supplies will be easier. Quintana said weddings and birthday parties are an option too.

“The other facilities are like L-shaped,” said Trask. “This will be one big open room. People can mingle and it won’t be awkward.”

“We want to make sure every neighbor in the Woods, and their guests, will be able to access the facility and use the facility,” said Quintana. “They’ve [architects] really done a nice job of creating this very open, semi-modern community center.”

As long as the Fairfax County Planning Commission approves the engineering and architectural permits, Trask said they could break ground as soon as the pool season is over. Quintana said the construction would then take about a year and a half, with a completion sate sometime in the spring of 2008.

“We absolutely can’t wait to do it,” said Gloyd. “It’s got the old house syndrome. We’re really looking forward to it [fixing it up].”

“It’s going to be a nice facility, clean and modern, and everyone will be able to enjoy it,” said Trask.