Remember that $51.1 million Fairfax County bond issue you voted for - or perhaps against - last June? The vote took place June 14, primary day, and when the ballots were counted, 32,197 people had said "yes" and 26,420 had said "no."
That vote gave the Fairfax County Park Authority permission to spend $39 million over a five-year period - most of it on developing and expanding the county's community parks. (The remainder of the 51.1 million will be used by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to acquire and develop park land in Fairfax County.)
Having won the voters' approval, the Fairfax County Park Authority began the task of spending the money - a process which is more complex than it might seem. Now, after seven months, many decisions on the allocation of funds have been made but many still remain to be made. How and where the Authority will allocate the funds is the subject of a series of reports on park development that begins in today's Virginia Weekly.
Most of the money the Park Authority plans to spend will go for parks "in everybody's backyard," according to Louis Cable, assistant director in charge of programs and planning. The emphasis, he said, will be on "close and convenient park sites" that people can reach on foot, by bicycle or maybe even on horseback.
Right now, there are more than 220 parks in Fairfax County. They range in size from "silvers of ground of less than an acre in some of the more densely populated areas of the county, right on up to our largest parks," the 1,262-acre Huntley Meadows, in the Lee-Mount Vernon area, Cable said. The Authority has acquired more than 12,000 acres of land since it was created in 1950.
The decision to put the emphasis on community parks was based on results of the county's new Planned Land Use System (PLUS), a comprehensive plan for land use and public facilities that took two years to complete.
"Thousands of citizens" were involved in producing the plan, Cable said, and the "clear emphasis" was on "community parks in each neighborhood - convenient and accessible where children can play and adults can enjoy the out-of-doors in their own community."
The Park Authority expects to spend $26 million of the bond money to develop about 257 new and existing parks. Of those 257 projects, 132 will be in community parks.
Another $13 million will be spent to acquire and additional 854 acres of land, with 522 of those acres in new or expanded community parks.
The status report printed above contains information of what already has been done and what developments are planned by the park authority in half of the Annandale District. The remainder of the information on development in the Annandale District will be the subject of a subsequent report.
Future reports will discuss the same process in the county's seven other magisterial districts. The stories will include information of whether master (final) plans for individual parks have been adopted, or whether residents still have a chance to give the Fairfax County Park Authority their opinions on the development of certain parks.
The timetable for park improvements and land purchases could be adjusted if land is about to be turned over to other uses or if certain facilities are in peak demand.
In addition to money allocated to buy and develop land, $5,000 was set aside for each district to study the concept of a cultural heritage center.