The utility committee of the Manassas City Council may recommend that the city build a co-generation plant, a facility that burns wood chips to generate electricity with steam, on a piece of land on Rte. 28 known as the Wakeman property. The parcel was recently purchased by the city to allow better access to the Manassas airport, but the new access road leaves much of the 242-acre tract unused and available for development, according to council member James Payne.

"We buy our electricity from Vepco at a very high rate," he said, "but wood chips are in plentiful supply and they cost one-quarter the price of coal per ton." Payne said council members observed such a plant in operation recently in Martinsville, Va. If the proposed facility, which Payne said has support from the council and from City Manager Macon Sammons, is built, IBM may buy the steam to heat and cool its Manassas facility, Payne said.

Manassas may be one of five Virginia cities and towns selected in August to take part in the National Main Street Program, which encourages the revitalization of main streets in jurisdictions with populations of between 5,000 and 50,000. Payne said the funds needed, about $30,000, will be raised locally and be guaranteed by the city. The national organization provides "know-how and expertise," he said. The goal is to attract the tourists who visit Battlefield Park and the Manassas museum. "The key to the whole thing," Payne said, "is to rehabilitate the old candy factory near the railroad into nice restaurants and novelty shops." The turn-of-the-century brick building is being used as a warehouse.

To encourage residents to use the Ben Lomond Park in Manassas, the Prince William Park Authority has introduced the "Fun Pass." For $3.50 a fun pass will allow one bumper boat ride, 10 hydrotube waterslide rides and one round of miniature golf. Passes can be purchased at the Ben Lomond Community Center or at the park's mini-golf hut. For information and details call 361-7126.