Mount Vernon To the Editor:
I write to clarify the position of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia on the development of Westgrove Park, in response to Jay Spiegel's Aug. 15 letter to the Mount Vernon Gazette.
The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia has gone on record several times in support of enhancing what is left of a largely natural area extending from Mount Vernon District Park to the Potomac River. One of those times was the July 30 hearing at which Glenda Booth spoke for ASNV in support of restoring the grassy area, now largely an ecological "dead" zone, to a more natural state, thus creating more natural connectivity in that corridor. ASNV was also part of the coalition of over 20 organizations that recommended this approach for Westgrove in 2005. Westgrove Park, near the middle of this corridor, will apparently become a temporary off-leash dog area, quadruple the size recommended by Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) guidelines.
In addition, ASNV has on many occasions urged FCPA to create more natural resource parks in a county that has little undeveloped land left. We have also urged elected and park officials to correct the long-standing imbalance in the parks budget, to devote more funding and personnel to natural resource park creation, restoration, acquisition and management.
ASNV joined others in asking FCPA to develop a master plan for Westgrove, a process now underway. With others, we argued that agreeing to an interim dog park effectively excluded most of the public, circumvented a comprehensive review and gave unfair preference to one group and one use. We hope that our recommendations will result in a natural resources park in the master plan for Westgrove.
Restoring four acres of turf in Westgrove Park is a rare opportunity to enhance natural connectivity and help restore healthy ecosystems in this densely-developed community. Doing so is consistent with one of FCPA's goals. We hope decision-makers will agree.
Audubon Society of Northern Virginia