For awhile it looked as though the empty land between Beacon Mall Shopping Center and Beacon Hill Apartments in the Groveton area of Fairfax Country would be filled with townhouses, much to the dismay of Groveton residents.
But the undeveloped property, almost eight acres on Lenclair Street, is now slated to become a park, with plans for basketball and tennis courts, a baseball diamond and a football field.
The change from one more Fairfax County townhouse development to neighborhood park took more than a year and the continuing efforts of Groveton citizens, who claimed that previous owners had promised it as a park in the early '60s.
Fairfax County Supervisor Joseph ALexander (D-Lee) announced Monday that he had received the title to the land from the current owners, the Tower Construction Company, and that it would be passed on to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Alexander had been a go-between the Groveton citizens and Tower Construction, which last fall agreed to donate the land to the Part Authority.
The Groveton citizens got just what they wanted.
"We want a park there for the teenagers; they need a place to play," said Melvin Killian, a retired construction supervisor who searched county files to find documented promises from previous owners of the land that it would be a park. "Once we learn the names of the kids in the neighborhoods through all of us using the park, we know we're going to have any trouble with them."
Alexander said the promises by earlier owners were made "back in the days when people could promise whatever they wanted, but nobody ever held them to it." He said he had met with representatives of Tower Construction several times since last April, when the company sought a zoning change that would allow the company to build townhouses on the 7.9-acre parcel. The land originally had been zoned for singer-family homes.
"I just told them they didn't have much change of getting a rezoning for townhouse, that it would make the citizens hopping mad," Alexander said. "It was a matter of convincing them to donate the property rather than seek a rezoning."
He said last April the county amended the county land-use plan to change use of the parcel from single-family home development "to allow them (Tower Construction) whatever maximum (income tax) credit they could get on the land if they donated it. A higher-density zoning usually [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the commercial value of properties.
Bernard Fagelson, an attorney representing Tower Construction, said the company at first "wasn't even thinking of donating the land." Asked what incentive it received to make the donation, Fagelson replied, "I suppose some tax man said ti would make good economic sense, although I think it was a splendid thing that they did."
Fagelson said he did not know the value of the property or the amount of tax credit gained.