Fairfax County voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve a $75 million bond sale to buy more parkland, spruce up older parks with new lighting and improved sprinkler systems, and build about a dozen athletic fields.
If the measure is approved, $65 million would go to projects and land acquisition planned by the county Park Authority. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority would use $10 million for improvements at its parks, including widening parts of the Washington & Old Dominion trail and upgrading rowing facilities at other parks.
Winifred S. Shapiro, chairman of the county Park Authority, said most of the funds would be used for improvements at the 388 parks run by the authority. But she said the agency also has made it a priority to seek new resources and that $12.76 million would go to buy new land.
"We have a double whammy. We're at the same time an aging system and a growing system," Shapiro said. "Many of our parks are 20 or 30 years old and need renovations. But because our county is growing so fast, we don't have enough facilities."
According to a recent assessment of needs conducted by the authority, eight of every 10 households in Fairfax visited a county park in the past year. Residents in at least 71,000 households contacted for the assessment said the county needs more walking and biking trails, indoor fitness facilities or small community parks.
If the measure is approved, $52.24 million would be used to fund upgrades and maintenance at county parks. Plans include adding campsites and repairing parking lots at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, replacing the equestrian facilities at Frying Pan Park in Herndon and dam repairs at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield.
New construction would include a $3.5 million fitness center expansion at South Run RECenter in Springfield. In addition, a dozen rectangular fields and one baseball diamond would be built at county parks.
The bond also would supply funds to restore the mill at Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls, create a visitor center at Ellmore Farm in Frying Pan Park and replace outdated exhibits at some county nature centers.
Shapiro said the authority is examining possibilities for the purchase of new land, should voters approve the bond. She declined to discuss specifics, saying the authority conducts land acquisition discussions in secret, but said officials maintain a list of several possible sites.
The authority is targeting parcels that are at least 25 acres, those adjacent to existing parks and those in high-density areas where open space is scarce.
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority officials said their agency's share of the funds would be used for projects including a new launch dock for rowers at Sandy Run Regional Park in Fairfax Station and new restrooms and enhancements to the gardens at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna.
For more information, go to www.co.fairfax.va.us/parks/2004bond.htm or www.nvrpa.org/temp/parkbond.pdf.