To the Editor:
Gum Springs is poised to receive equipment for an outdoor exercise gym/fitness station, that is welcomed and supported by the community. The eight pieces of equipment were obtained through a grant similar to the grant the National Park Authority obtained for the outdoor exercise gym/fitness station in Anacostia Park.
The remaining decision is location. There are three sites being considered but the one most economical and viable is Site C, which is in the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park (MLK Park). Site C allows families to exercise together — adults on the exercise equipment and children on the playground equipment. Playing is children's work. Having the equipment around the playground area similar to the Anacostia Park concept allows parents/adults to keep a watchful eye on their children while exercising. Site C also has less conflicts with other day-to-day, evening and weekend activities associated with the Gum Springs Community Center (community center) and Head Start programs. Another major advantage for installing the equipment in the MLK Park is that the New Gum Springs Civic Association (Civic Association) has limited funds available that may be used to purchase additional equipment and/or other park improvement accessories. Those funds cannot be used on county property.
Site B is on Fairfax County property at the east end of the community center and appears to be the county's preference despite the location's challenges. The area is adjacent to the entrance of the MLK Park. It is in close proximity to the heavily utilized pavilion picnic area that is often rented to others by the Department of Neighborhood & Community Services, a county agency. The closest playground is controlled by Head Start and is currently off limits to the community. The remaining playground is in MLK Park (Site C). The cul de sac access point for the outdoor exercise gym is used as a turnaround for Fairfax County buses and the daily pick up/drop off point for Head Start buses. The cul de sac is also used as overflow parking for evening and weekend youth league sports games and special events that may occur on the athletic field or in the community center.
The above mentioned comparison of Site B and Site C are just the highlights but shows a clear contrast that Site C (MLK Park) is the most beneficial and desirable location with less challenges than Site B (county property).
Since the grant was obtained mainly by the Park Authority, the equipment should be installed in the MLK Park. The community center currently has an indoor exercise room. The purchased exercise equipment is designed for outdoor use. Therefore, it should be installed outdoors in the MLK Park. There are many advantages for having the equipment in the park and not on county property around the Gum Springs community center.
Overall, we want and encourage residents to get out and exercise while exploring its community park. Exploring MLK Park is in alignment with the Park Authority's explore your parks theme and it's Great Parks … Great Communities slogan. It also softens the blow from the Park Authority diverting funds from the 2012 bond referendum intended for improving and renovating community parks but used for turf fields at high schools to include Mount Vernon HS and West Potomac HS for more than $1.5 million each. Certain community parks suffered as a result of the diversion of those funds.
Gum Springs welcomes all to explore its community park, Martin Luther King Jr Community Park, that has an outdoor swimming pool, athletic field, a small grandstand with reserved picnic tables, a tennis court, a playground and hopefully home of an outdoor gym/fitness station.
For more information on the pros and cons of Site B and Site C to include comparison photos, visit Gum Springs community website: www.ngsca.org or contact the president of the Civic Association at email@example.com or 1-888-740-6009.
President, New Gum Springs Civic Association