Supervisor Jeff McKay, who is a candidate for the Board of Supervisor Chairman, addresses the rally to Save Blake Lane Park in Oakton on Saturday.
Photo by Steve Hibbard.
On a sunny and windy afternoon, more than 50 people attended a rally to Save Blake Lane Park on Saturday, April 27, in Oakton. The 40-year-old, 10-acre park on Blake Lane has a dog park, soccer field, trails and open green space that Fairfax County Public Schools wants to turn into an elementary school. About a dozen people spoke at the meeting, including candidates for the Board of Supervisors from the Providence District; candidates for Board Chairman; and School Board candidates as well. Currently, there are six elementary schools in the Vienna-Oakton area; the land was deeded to Fairfax County Public Schools in 1977 and transferred to the Board of Supervisors in 2006.
According to Sarah Turner of The Oakton Condos and volunteer to Save the Park, the surrounding neighborhood has high-density townhouses and condos without backyards; this is the only green space in the area that is still available for recreation.
“People use this park all the time for soccer leagues, kite flying, just relaxation; it’s a great place for people to relax,” she said. “We also have a dog park that’s been here for 20 years that was started by Congressman [Gerry] Connolly so we want to preserve that as well.”
Speaking to the crowd, Del. Mark Keam (D-35) said: “If you want to save Blake Lane Park, you have the power to do so… If open space is important, conserving nature is important, protecting our environment is important, keeping sustainable climate is important, and making sure that the future generations have more than what we have, then you have to step up. …. We have to put our foot down and say no more development; our schools can be found in different ways.”
Added Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, who is running for Board Chairman: “Clearly we all know that green spaces are limited and seem to be getting limited more and more every day, and so where we have opportunities like this to protect an environmental treasure in a community, we need to be able to do that. And frankly, we need to hit reset on evaluation of schools and capacity in this area; make sure the community is involved in the process and that we do it right… Let’s save our green spaces in Fairfax County.”
Paul Bolon of Oakton, Republican candidate for Providence District member of the Board of Supervisors, added: “Our schools are very overcrowded and I think we’ve done a really bad job of increasing facilities, but I really question, I really don’t like the idea of taking parks away in order to solve the problem of school overcrowding. There’s got to be another place to build out and create space.”
Added Linh Hoang, candidate for Board of Supervisors, Providence District: “For me, this is about protecting our natural environment and our quality of life. We only have so much green space that’s left and we need to protect the green space that’s already here in our community. As Supervisor, I will fight to make sure we continue to keep Blake Lane Park as natural as possible and accessible to everyone in the county.”
Erika Yalowitz, candidate for Board of Supervisors, Providence District, added: “I believe that saving Blake Lane Park is the right thing to do. Because 40 years ago when the plans started, it seemed like a good idea to build a school in this area. However, now that the whole neighborhood is developed, this is the back yard of these condos and townhouses. So, we can’t bring a fifth school to the area and remove the only park that’s left, that’s why I’m supporting Saving Blake Lane Park.”
Added Edythe Frankel Kelleher, candidate for Board of Supervisors, Providence District: “Just like New York City preserved space for Central Park even when there was a lot of pressure to develop it -- because they realized it was important for the quality of life to have that green space in the urban environment; we need to preserve Blake Lane Park. The neighborhood here is denser than in a lot of other parts of the county and Blake Lane Park is the back yard for the neighborhood and it is an essential part and I fully support retaining it as a park.”
For more information, visit https://www.saveblakelanepark.org/