For years, there's been a serious shortage of fields for local youth sports teams, but the opening of Arrowhead Park in Centreville will go a long way toward easing that problem.
Six new athletic fields there actually opened for use in mid-April, but the ribbon was cut Saturday morning to officially dedicate them. And Fairfax County Park Authority Chairman Hal Strickland couldn't have been happier.
"Counting those new fields — and the three, rectangular fields just across Stringfellow Road from Arrowhead — we've added nine total fields to our inventory out here in the last year-and-a-half," he said. "And that's exciting to me because of the need we have for these fields. The Board of Supervisors and the Park Authority Board take pride in being able to provide our citizens these excellent facilities for their enjoyment."
Strickland said the park's opening was the result of a great deal of partnering and hard work. "Today we say thank you to those who did that work," he said. "We want to recognize a job well done, and we want to take a few moments to look around at all the youngsters enjoying this park and savor the moment."
The new fields came about because of a unique agreement between the county, Park Authority, school system and the two developers — Pulte Home Corp. and Winchester Homes — who have since transformed the old Centreville Farms community into the modern Fair Crest subdivision.
In exchange for permission to build new homes there, these developers donated 17 acres for Colin Powell Elementary, 4 1/2 acres for a Metro lot and 23 acres for an enlarged Arrowhead Park. At the time, the park was just 13 acres with two rectangular fields and an open play area. But combined with the school site, there now exists a public green space of 40 acres.
And Arrowhead Park now contains three, irrigated rectangular fields — two of which are lit, two lit and irrigated diamonds and one irrigated rectangular field. There are also two playgrounds on the school property.
"COMBINED WITH the adjacent Colin Powell Elementary School, this site provides $3 million of new recreational facilities to the residents of the Sully District," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "I think there is literally something for everyone." In working with the county, he said, Pulte "agreed to do what was best for the children and the community and provided agreements which serve as models for future endeavors."
Calling Arrowhead Park a "wonderful new asset in this district," Frey said it wouldn't have been possible "without lots of people stepping up to the plate and giving their all. The support of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, the assistance of the school system and the hard work of the Park Authority and Planning and Zoning — coupled with the cooperation of Pulte Homes — has made an invaluable difference.”
The project represented the first time all these entities worked jointly to create a seamless, interconnected facility for the entire community. It also illustrates the commitment made by officials to reduce the existing shortage of fields countywide.
Indeed, said Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly on Saturday, "Today is much more than just another park opening. This is a celebration of the power of cooperation [and] an opportunity to speak to the merits of working together in order to make the final product better."
HE SAID the Supervisors recognize the importance of recreation as a value in the county's quality of life. And toward that end, said Connolly, "We are working with the Park Authority to provide a new bond referendum for $25 million this November which will fund trails, additional land acquisition and synthetic-turf fields." He said such fields can increase the length of an athletic season because "they can be played on, even after inclement weather, and can take the pounding of increased usage that would wear away sod fields."
Noting that the new fields in Arrowhead Park have been in use since April by both CYA and SYA teams, Strickland said, "They just love it there. It's close to both organizations, they're sharing the use of the fields and they couldn't be happier with their coming on line."
Furthermore, he added, "We have room for one more rectangular field at Arrowhead, and that will raise us to 10 total fields within that radius of use. It will also form one of the largest sports complexes that we have in the park system, so that's something I feel really pleased about."
All in all, said Strickland, "We've had good support from Supervisor Frey and his chief of staff, Meaghan Kiefer, the county, school system and developers. Everyone has looked at this in a very positive way."
Saying that the new fields "are going to fill a hole in that area for both CYA and SYA," Strickland added, "I look forward to many years of our programs and our kids out here using the park."