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Letter: The Salona Park: Fields to Nowhere

To the Editor:

In December 2005, the Fairfax County Park Authority and Board of Supervisors agreed to pay Dan DuVal the extraordinary amount of $16,050,000 for an open space easement on land owned by DuVal, which is generally known as Salona Park. Among other things DuVal expressly granted the Park Authority and the County Board, in paragraph 3.9 of the Easement Agreement (and which the County paid for), “the right to use approximately 10 acres of the Property for recreation purposes” (emphasis added). Paragraph 3.9 further states that these recreation purposes include “two natural turf rectangular athletic fields.” At the time of this agreement, it was repeatedly represented to the McLean community that this expenditure of taxpayer dollars was intended to help alleviate the critical shortage of playing fields for youth sports like lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, rugby and football. In fact, our Dranesville Supervisor John Faust stated at the FCPA Nov. 17, 2010 public forum meeting that “The opportunity to deliver two playing fields to McLean was a key factor in the Board of Supervisors agreeing to purchase this very, very expensive property.”

Now, seven years later, in 2012, where are those fields? Nowhere. Seven years. $16.05 million. No fields. The land is in exactly the same state as when the County acquired the easement.

Incredibly, in 2011, six years after the 2005 agreement, Supervisor Faust, instead of moving forward with building the fields, appointed a task force. Why wait six years to appoint a task force? And why a task force? The Easement Agreement already grants the Park Authority and the County the right to build the two fields. The taxpayers paid $16 million for that right. Supervisor Faust himself acknowledges that the fields were the “key factor” in entering the agreement. So why a task force? It is certainly obstructing the building of the fields. At this point the task force (which includes DuVal) has been meeting for 15 months and the meetings go on and on. No fields have been built and there are no plans to build the fields. This is worse than the “bridge to nowhere” financed by our federal government.

It is time to end this seven-year travesty. It is time now—indeed it was time years ago—to build the fields. Build the fields the community desperately needs. Build them now for the children of our community.

Michael Clancy

McLean