Loudoun County's purchase of a 200-acre site between Purcellville and Round Hill for its newest public park increases the county's total amount of parkland to about 690 acres, but officials say developing the new park will take another year or more.
"We got the land, and we got it at a reasonable price," said County Supervisor James F. Brownell (R-Blue Ridge District). "But it will probably be a year or two before anything significant can be done."
Loudoun paid $1.95 million for the parcel, a part of the 860-acre Franklin Farm, two weeks ago for use as a park to serve the western area of the county. The money will come from a $2 million bond sale Loudoun voters approved last November to pay for a large public park.
"The next step, after we have signed the contracts, will be to use a portion of the remaining bond money to have a master plan developed," said County Administrator Philip A. Bolen. Bolen and park officials said the public's opinions will be solicited in the planning talks.
"Our first priority is to make sure that we get the public's ideas about what the people in that area would like to see there," said Cindy Welsh, assistant director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation.
"The two things we hear about most are a swimming pool and athletic fields," said Welsh. "One of the first staff priorities would be a swimming pool."
Aside from a pool, ballfields and tennis courts, officials are considering building a gymnasium and fitness rooms. And the park will offer something for those looking for quieter places to go.
"We do envision that it will be a combination active-passive facility," Welsh said. "There's going to be a good mix."
Among the more passive features of the new park will be picnic pavilions, fitness walks and nature trails, Welsh said.
Bolen said community support and donations could accelerate the park's completion once the master plan has been completed.
The purchase of the Franklin land comes just months after the county bought a 357-acre parcel of the Claude Moore property near Sterling.
That purchase ended years of legal disputes about the fate of the land in the eastern part of the county.
Together, those two purchases complete, along with the Ida Lee Park in central Loudoun, a county plan to have three public parks, each serving the county's three regions.
In addition to the county parks, about 1,800 acres are in parkland owned by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and Sky Meadows State Park is five miles from the Loudoun County line.
How much the park should be developed will be decided in the master plan stage, and some are hoping that the land will retain some of its natural dimensions.
"It will help create an open-space buffer between Purcellville and Round Hill, an area that will be growing a lot," said Peggy Maio, a spokeswoman for the Piedmont Environmental Council.
"Certainly it's very important to have the whole range of park and recreational amenities," Maio said.
"We are very concerned that these parks preserve natural areas."
As part of the purchase agreement, the county is conducting an environmental survey of the land to make sure no hazardous materials are buried on the property.