The Town of Leesburg bought the land--20 acres at Route 621 and Tolbert Lane--and now Loudoun County has agreed to pay to develop it into a park. The land is part of a 77-acre tract that will be the site of a new county high school set to open in 2002.

Under an agreement approved Tuesday night by the Town Council, the county plans to spend $1.6 million to develop the site with basketball courts and four fields for football, baseball, softball and lacrosse, if voters pass a referendum this fall to provide the money.

The county also will pay for the park's operating budget of $325,000, but the town, which bought the land in April for $2.1 million from the Grenata family, will own the property and help design the park.

Town residents will have priority in using the facilities in the face of an increased demand for fields, especially in central Loudoun and Leesburg, said Cindy Welsh, director of the county's parks and recreation division.

"You have more kids moving out here, more teams and basically the same number of fields," said Kaj Dentler, director of the town's parks and recreation division.

Two council members--Leonard W. McDonald Jr. and Robert J. Zoldos--expressed concerns that town residents would not have priority and that the cost of building the park may be higher than projected. But other council members said they were eager to enter into the agreement because it would relieve the town from bearing all the costs.

"I'm not ready to face Little League parents and say we turned down a $1.6 million offer to get a park when the town has nothing in our [capital improvements budget] for the next five years to address that need," said Vice Mayor B.J. Webb.

Independents Get Democrats' Backing

Loudoun Democrats, short on candidates of their own, are endorsing a pair of independents for county supervisor.

The county's Democratic Committee this week announced that the party would endorse incumbent James G. Burton in the Mercer District and activist William D. "Bill" Bogard in the Sugarland Run District.

Both have Republican opponents in the November election. No Democrats are running.

Burton's opponent, Middleburg Town Council member Mark Tate (R), countered by announcing this week that a group of prominent Loudoun Democrats and independents--including J.T. Shropshire, who was chief of staff under former governor L. Douglas Wilder--has endorsed his candidacy.

The endorsement of Burton and Bogard came after both spoke to the Democratic Committee.

"Mr. Burton and Mr. Bogard are fiscally conservative, socially moderate candidates who believe we must better manage growth to preserve our quality of life," Loudoun Democratic Committee Chairman David Whitmer said in a statement.

Leesburg Law Promises Parking Relief

The Leesburg Town Council has taken the first step to alleviating the parking dilemma in neighborhoods around Loudoun County High School.

On Tuesday night, it passed an eight-page ordinance that allows it to establish a residents-only parking area along streets near the school where students often park.

Dozens of residents have complained to the council about not being able to get to their mailboxes and fearing for the safety of their children as student drivers sped down their streets.

The town staff will begin to determine which streets will be designated resident-only parking in September, according to Vice Mayor B.J. Webb, who has spearheaded the efforts to alleviate the parking problems.

Library to Move Materials During Renovation

While Thomas Balch Library on West Market Street gets a $2 million expansion and renovation over the next 18 months, its books and genealogy research materials will be housed at the former Inglenook Bookstore on East Market Street.

The town will lease 4,000 square feet of the former bookstore from the George C. Marshall International Center, which owns it, for about $3,330 a month starting Aug. 1.

The space has been vacant since Inglenook went out of business in December after a lease dispute with the center, which eventually hopes to develop the site.