Jean Packard was misidentified in a photo caption in last week's Virginia Weekly. She is vice chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. (Published 7/19/90)
Saturday's dedication of Oak Marr Recreation Center's swimming pool in Oakton was disturbed by sounds that would please the man to whom it was dedicated. As Fairfax County Park Authority officials unveiled the bronze plaque commending Falls Church resident John Mastenbrook for his 20 years on the authority's board, the pool's activities proceeded without a lull.
At one end of the 50-meter by 25-yard pool, men and women of SLAM (Scuba Lifesaving and Accident Management) practiced their maneuvers underwater, looking alien in their frogman gear. In the middle third, recreational swimmers plowed through endless laps. And on the far end, swimmers in several aquatics classes practiced simultaneously, including one class of eight pint-sized swimmers in orange life jackets bobbing up and down like so many buoys at sea.
This demonstration of the pool's ability to handle multiple activities is, perhaps, the best tribute to John Mastenbrook, the work he has accomplished and the many roles he has played to make the pool a reality.
"He was really the force behind it," said U.S. Swimming Inc. board member Arvydas Barzdukas. The organization is the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States. "He was instrumental in making this a fast pool. This is really one of the best pools on the East Coast."
Speed is one reason for the facility's popularity for competitive meets. Swimmers are able to achieve good times because of the pool's water control system, wave quelling devices and great depth.
In addition, the area surrounding the pool is brightened by louvered windows that maintain the water's nonreflective surface and helped the facility to win a 1989 Gold Medal Design award. The pool also boasts two movable bulkheads that enable the dimensions to be varied, electronic timers, movable lifeguard stands, upper seating for 300 and a large deck area seating 200.
The deck area contains a whirlpool bath. Beside it is a shallow pool fed from the main pool, with one side called "the beach" because of a long ramp making it accessible to disabled swimmers and conducive to infant aquatics classes.
As various park officials remarked on those attributes, they thanked Mastenbrook for his combination of knowledge and commitment.
Referring to another of Mastenbrook's accomplishments, Fred Crabtree, from the Centreville District of the Fairfax County Park Authority, told the approximately 20 people gathered for the dedication: "A lot of you would probably have water in your basements if it wasn't for John Mastenbrook. He's kept the streams managed and where they should be."
Mastenbrook was chairman of the Stream Valley Study Committee, which developed criteria to preserve stream valleys in the county. There are now 4,393 acres of stream valley land in public ownership.
"I think it's important," said Mastenbrook, "for any developing urban environment to work, that it develop the park space and facilities that are essential for a healthy urban environment. It provides the means for people with hectic everyday lives to relax physically and mentally."
Since his appointment in 1968, the Fairfax County Park Authority has grown from 100 parks on 3,000 acres to 342 parks on more than 14,000 acres.
Mastenbrook helped create the Division of Historic Preservation in 1973, which restored and operates several sites.
The park authority also dedicated a perennial garden to the late Mary MacNeill Fahringer in a ceremony Sunday at Green Spring Farm Park near Alexandria. Fahringer was a longtime community activist.