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Planning for Future of McLean Central Park

Master plan aims to integrate park, Dolley Madison Library, McLean Community Center.

Artist Jill Banks works on a painting near the playground at McLean Central Park. The Fairfax County Park Authority has started the master planning process for McLean Central Park, which will revise the 2000 plan.

Artist Jill Banks works on a painting near the playground at McLean Central Park. The Fairfax County Park Authority has started the master planning process for McLean Central Park, which will revise the 2000 plan. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

The Fairfax County Park Authority kicked off the master planning process for McLean Central Park Tuesday, Nov. 27, hosting a public input meeting at Churchill Road Elementary School. The plan will map out the future of the 28-acre park, which is located at the northern corner of the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Dolley Madison Boulevard.

“McLean Central Park is a park that has made a lot of progress, but it has a long way to go to meet the vision of what a central park should be,” said Kevin Fay, the Dranesville representative on the park authority board. “We believe the park, the Dolley Madison Library and the McLean Community Center should be treated as a single entity.”

The park originally consisted of 18.76 acres obtained in 1964 and 65. In 1973, four more acres were added, then another 2.75 in 1975 and the first master plan was created in 1979.

The plan was revised in 2000, and since then the park authority has added five adjacent residential properties, totaling a little more than two acres.

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The Fairfax County Park Authority has begun the master planning process for McLean Central Park. Their goal is to take advantage of additional property gained since the plan was revised in 2000, as well as increase connectivity between the adjacent Dolley Madison Library and McLean Community Center.

“We have two goals in mind with this master plan, to find out what the best uses for the new properties are, and strengthen integration of programming between the park, the library and the community center,” said Gayle Hooper, a project manager with the park authority’s planning branch. “We want to look at the programs as well as design features for enhanced pedestrian connectivity.”

Hooper described the park as an “urban park” due to its proximity to Tysons Corner and the possibilities for new facilities that have been proposed. But many residents said they don’t want the park’s character altered.

“I like the peace and quiet there,” said Sharon Williams of McLean. “It’s not an urban park, it’s a neighborhood forest, and we should leave it alone.”

Kevin Dent, who lives on Ingleside Avenue, says he doesn’t care for the term “urban park.”

“I hear ‘urban park’ and it scares me,” he said. “I think there are ways to make it nicer and more attractive, but that doesn’t include parking lots or new facilities. It’s supposed to be a respite from the rest of the urban landscape.

Amy Swaak, the chair of the annual ArtFest, held by the McLean Project for the Arts, says there are small facilities improvements that would help the park.

“I think some sort of low-key bathroom facility could be very useful,” she said. “I’ve heard the surrounding forest referred to by many longtime users as the ‘bathroom.’”

Sandy Stallman, a manager with the park authority’s planning branch, said they hope to have a draft master plan to present to the public in May 2013.

The park authority will be collecting comments from the public as part of the planning process. They can be submitted by email at parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov, or by regular mail at: Gayle Hooper, Park Planning Branch, Planning and Government Division FCPA, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 421, Fairfax, VA, 22035.

More information, included a summary of comments and presentations, can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/mclean-central.htm.