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Master Plan Approved for Sully Woodlands

Park Authority OKs blueprint for 4,400 acres of parkland.

The Fairfax County Park Authority last week approved the Regional Master Plan for Sully Woodlands. It outlines specific types of recreation — both passive and active — that will be permitted in each major section of some 4,400 acres of parkland.

"SULLY WOODLANDS provides a legacy for the future," said Greenbriar's Hal Strickland, chairman of the Park Authority Board. "The challenge with this plan was reaching a balance between recreational opportunities and preservation of critical resources."

Sully Woodlands is comprised of about 2,200 acres of existing parks, such as E.C. Lawrence, and another 2,200 acres of recently acquired parkland, such as the Hunter-Hacor assemblage, the Stephens and Horne properties and Quinn Farm Park.

To develop a regional framework for park development in the Cub Run and Bull Run watersheds, Park Authority staff was guided by several things:

* Stewardship — protecting and managing the land's cultural and natural resources;

* Recreation — serving the citizens' diverse needs;

* Interpretation and education — explaining what's there; and

* Connectivity — seeing how people, animals, cars and water move through this land.

Ok'd on Sept. 27, the Regional Master Plan will dovetail with the Park Authority's plans for the watersheds. Although most of the land is in a resource-stewardship zone, some of it is designated for recreation.

"This is where we get serious about supporting our dual mission as both a provider of recreational opportunities, and as stewards of the land," said Strickland. "Both of these missions are vitally important to the Park Authority and ultimately to the citizens of Fairfax County."

The document proposes management guidelines, land-use recommendations and potential next steps in the planning process. It also identifies a comprehensive trail system joining one section of Sully Woodlands to another.

Recommendations for each park unit were divided into four "use zones," as follows:

1. Region-wide Recreation Zone: Where the most intense recreation development is allowed, including athletic fields, golf courses, associated parking, restrooms and water fountains.

2. Community-Serving Recreation Zone: Places for less-intense recreation, usually within walking distances of residential neighborhoods. Uses would include playgrounds, tot lots, tennis and multi-use courts, dog parks, neighborhood skate parks, picnic areas, open play areas, trails and basic visitor amenities. Some would have lights and/or parking.

3. Special-Use Zone: An area with site constraints limiting development, but with unique features making it appropriate for specific uses. These would include an interpretive center, reservable picnic pavilions and equestrian-support facilities.

4. Resource-Stewardship Zone: These areas contain sensitive, natural and cultural resources requiring protection and preservation.

In addition, many points of interest — such as historic sites and scenic resources — have been identified for further interpretation. And other areas have been designated as gateways — places where multiple trails converge and may be used as an orienting/hub point for trail users.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the Park Authority has not given up on the hope that a field house for a variety of indoor sports, plus local high-school graduations, could someday arise in the vicinity of the Cub Run Rec Center. Previous plans for a field house fell through, but the future possibility is still very much on the drawing board.

The full Regional Master Plan is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/sullywoodlandsplanning.htm. Below are highlights of some specific areas and the development ideas foreseen for them:

Centre Ridge, limited opportunity for a court or small, dog-park area; Centre Ridge North, upgrade existing open field to athletic field; Chantilly, new athletic fields; Chantilly Library, multi-use courts, skate park or dog park, plus additional parking; Cub Run Rec Center, gateway location, playground, tot lot, picnic areas. Maintain plan for field house.

CUB RUN STREAM Valley North, multi-use courts, open play areas, picnic sites, playground and tot lot; Cub Run Stream Valley South, gateway location at Route 29, plus multi-use courts and dog park; Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, gateway location, recommend initiating a new master plan.

Fair Oaks, open play area, picnic area, multi-use courts, playground, dog park; Fair Ridge, playground, tot lot, multi-use courts on part of this site; Fair Woods, athletic field and park uses; Flatlick Run Stream Valley, athletic field; Greenbriar, playground, picnic area, multi-use courts.

Horne, south of Bull Run Post Office Road, model-airplane flyover area, if possible; Horne, north of Bull Run Post Office Road, southern gateway to Sully Woodlands, parking for cars and horse trailers, kiosks and reservable picnic pavilions; Horne, Resource Stewardship Zone, water access to Bull Run and equestrian trail connecting to Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Hunter-Hacor Core, possible model-rocket launch area, gateway location, nature-viewing deck and/or tower used for Sully Woodlands resource management, horseback riding, horse-trailer parking and possible future equestrian facility, plus orienteering, managed hunts and/or natural-resource education activities. All uses would require permits. And the Virginia Run area of Hunter-Hacor is proffered to remain a Resource Stewardship Zone.

Lanes Mill, interpretive enhancements; Old Centreville Road, athletic field, multi-use courts, playground, open play area and picnic site.

Quinn Farm, implement Master Plan calling for the development of nine, lighted soccer fields with 450 parking spaces total and two bleachers per field. Also planned are a fishing pond, playground and picnic area, plus paved trails along Braddock, Pleasant Valley and Old Lee roads and a hiking trail encompassing the site.

Rocky Run Stream Valley East and West, picnic area, athletic courts, open play area; Stephens, athletic fields and reservable picnic pavilions for large gatherings, possible parking coordination with Quinn Farms; Stone Crossing, playground, athletic court, picnic area, open play area.

However, it's important to note that not all areas of each one of these sections within Sully Woodlands will be developed. For their protection, large portions within many of them are designated as Resource Stewardship Zones on which active recreation will not be allowed.