County park officials have approved the master plan for the 9.8-acre Oakton Community Park off Hunter Mill Road, about a quarter-mile north of Chain Bridge Road (Route 123).
Under the plan approved by the park authority board July 27, half of the site will be developed. A rectangular field for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse will be created, along with a playground, a woodland picnic area, a trail loop and two small pavilions. The other half of the park, a wooded area home to mature oak, black walnut and catalpa trees, will be preserved.
"It is a good balance between developed and undeveloped space and between active and passive recreation," said Angie Allen, the authority's project manager for the park. "We are lucky that we can get a little bit of everything."
The timetable for the park still is uncertain. Plans must be approved by the county's Department of Planning and Zoning, Allen said. In addition, there is no money set aside because a funding source has not been identified. It is still too early in the planning stage to put a price tag on the park, according to Judy Pedersen, spokeswoman for the park authority.
The authority acquired the land in 2001 for $2.8 million after area residents told park officials that the land was being sold at an auction, Allen said. The park's address is 2841 Hunter Mill Rd., just north and east of the future site of the Oakton library.
The historic parcel may have been the site of a log cabin that was used by South Carolina troops during the Civil War. Allen said the presumed site of the cabin, believed to have burned down in the 1950s, will be "held out" as a potential cultural preservation site. She said a former owner of the land reportedly discovered some Civil War artifacts on the property using a metal detector.
A six-room house, believed to have been built around 1946, and a barn located just west of the house will be demolished, Allen said, because the buildings are not believed to have significant cultural value.
Area residents have been actively involved in the park planning through a task force and public hearings, the last of which was in March.
"There was a strong consensus to preserve what was there," Allen said.
The park will serve as a recreational centerpiece for the neighborhood, yet the many trees on the site will provide a buffer between the facility and area residents. Public input into the plan led to a decision not to install lights for the field, out of consideration for the neighbors. Also, though athletic organizations will use the field, residents have asked officials to allow field time for casual recreation such as pickup football games and Frisbee-throwing.
Access to the park is off Hunter Mill Road, which currently has two lanes. But there are plans to widen it to four lanes, with trails on both sides. The park parking lot will have 50 spaces.
A group of citizens is still working on a plan to move the 108-year-old Oakton School House from the corner of Hunter Mill and Route 123 to the park, but that would require separate approval from the park board and county government.
Pedersen said the park is an example of the kind of challenge the authority faces as the county becomes more densely populated: finding park space in existing neighborhoods.
"We are going to see more and more examples of this, where we are coming into neighborhoods and developing plans while being a good neighbor," Pedersen said.
Many of the residents will be able to walk or bike to the park. "It is going to be a great park," Pedersen said. "We go into some of these things and it is real hard work getting a consensus from the community. Not to say this wasn't hard work -- planning a park always is -- but it was a pleasure working on this. We had really good community involvement from the first meeting on."