Surprised by Carousel Charge

Surprised by Carousel Charge

Some local residents are unhappy that children must pay $1.50 per ride on the carousel at Clemyjontri Park in McLean. Trish Butler, chair of the McLean Citizens Foundation (MCF), said she was shocked when she heard about the charge from acquaintances who had taken their children to the park.

“I know that at no time when presentations were being made to us, was this discussed,” said Butler.

The McLean Citizens Foundation awarded two $25,000 grants to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to help build the park, which was completed in the fall of 2006. Clemyjontri Park was the dream of McLean resident Adele Lebowitz, who donated her 18-acre property to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Her only stipulation was that the park allow children with disabilities to play alongside children without disabilities. The park is a combination of the names of Lebowitz’s four children — Carolyn (CL), Emily (EM), John (JON) and Patrina (TRI).

However, Lebowitz’s gift was an unexpected and the Park Authority did not have any funds set aside to build the park. Since there was a time constraint on the gift, the Park Authority founded “Friends of Clemyjontri” and began raising funds for the project. The carousel, which features chariots, a spinning teacup and 14 horses, was funded via community donations. A $10,000 contribution gave a family the right to pick one of the horses on the carousel, name it and claim it as their own.

“If I were one of the families that put the money together for one of those horses, I would be so upset about the charge,” said Butler.

Beth Chung, also a member of the McLean Citizens Foundation, said she has taken her children to the park but has not used the carousel. However, she has heard complaints from others about the charge.

“It’s sad,” said Chung.

However, Catherine Hanes, a legislative assistant in Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois’ office said that the $1.50 charge is standard across the county.

“It is consistent with all the other carousels that the Park Authority operates,” said Hanes.