To meet the recreational demands of a growing population, the Prince William County Park Authority has proposed a $7.6 million operating budget for fiscal 1989, a 20 percent increase over the current budget of $6.4 million.

The park authority is also seeking an additional $3.24 million for capital improvements that would include erecting night lights for two high school baseball fields and constructing additional playing fields at several county parks.

The proposed budget, totaling $10.9 million, was released to the public Monday and will go before the county supervisors in April for approval. It will take effect in July.

"Last year we requested $7.5 million for capital improvements but zero was approved," said Michael Liedel, budget director for the park authority. "We're requesting half of that this year. Realistically, we are hoping that at least $1 million will be approved."

Of the $7.6 million proposed for the operating budget, $6.33 million is expected to be funded by the county with the rest coming from revenue generated by user fees from parks and recreation centers.

No opposition to the operating budget is expected, park officials said. If it is approved, the park authority plans to hire 12 new staff members, including an activities programmer for mentally and physically handicapped persons and the elderly.

The new employees would help in meeting the increased demands generated by a population that is expected to top 200,000 this year, Liedel said.

In addition to night lights and playing fields under the capital improvements plan, the park authority hopes to build an outdoor equestrian facility and restrooms at James Long Park in Gainesville at a cost of $350,000 and provide overflow parking at Prince William County Stadium next to the McCoart Building.

The park authority owns 35 parks encompassing more than 25,000 acres, most of them undeveloped. Only 15 parks are fully or partially in operation.