Center to Provide Needed Opportunities

Center to Provide Needed Opportunities

The first phase of the Dulles South Multipurpose center is scheduled to open next summer.

When the ground was broken on the Dulles South Multipurpose Center at the beginning of the month, the residents of the southern portion of the county saw the beginnings of something they have long been waiting for: a community space to call their own.

"People have come to expect certain things," Stephanie Smith, president of the South Riding board of directors, said. "It’s about the diversity of what we can offer."

The first phase of the project is planned with approximately 24,000 square feet for classrooms, meeting rooms, a large multipurpose room, an activities room, indoor recreation area, restrooms and offices. It is scheduled for opening in summer 2008.

The center is scheduled to replace the old Arcola Community Center.

"The community center moved into the old Arcola school building for two years," Mark Novak, the county’s chief park planner, said. "And then it will move into the new center in South Riding."

WHILE THE CONSTRUCTION has only begun on phase one of the center, the community center, residents are already waiting for all three phases. A senior center is planned for phase two, with an indoor pool and recreation center planned for the third phase, Novak said.

One of the big issues for South Riding residents, Smith said, is the lack of indoor swimming facilities in the area.

"The swim team people would like to be able to swim year round in their own neighborhood," she said. "Right now for their winter swim they are going up to the new facility at Claude Moore."

Smith said that some of South Riding’s longest residents are getting older and need more amenities geared toward them.

"The population is aging so fast," she said. "In our own community, we have an aging population that has to leave the Dulles South area to do things they would want to do in the county."

The parents of South Riding are also concerned about the long waiting lists for preschool opportunities in the county, Smith said, which makes the multipurpose center even more important.

"The Arcola center’s opportunities continue to be very popular," Smith said. "So a permanent recreation center would be even better for them."

THERE ARE SOME obstacles standing in between the center and its completion, however, not the least of which is money.

"The other phases don’t have any funding yet," Novak said. "Supervisor [Stephen] Snow (R-Dulles) tried to get it into this year’s budget, but it wasn’t successful."

What Snow was successful in, however, was getting the referendum for funding for phase two of the center into the county’s Capital Improvement Program.

"So that will be a voter decision," Snow said. "Which is important."

Snow said he is also pleased that the board approved the expansion of the indoor pool to 50 meters.

"The swim teams are really paying to swim, which is offsetting the county requirements for salaries and such," he said. "I am hoping we could all swim in that pool by 2011."

Whenever the final phases of the center are completed, both Snow and Smith said it will service people from across the Route 50 corridor and provide them with opportunities that they do not currently have.

"It will be located in South Riding, but it will be for everyone," Smith said.