Over the years efforts have been made by various residents to improve our two neighborhood playgrounds, and now due to the age of equipment and related safety code issues, we believe that it is time we seriously address the playgrounds with the help of the Fairfax County Parks Authority(FCPA). The playgrounds in our neighborhood are built on park land and the FCPA is very willing to work with us. But we need to let them know what we want for our community. If we choose to do nothing, then they will make decisions on our behalf. With that in mind the Civic Association has engaged the FCPA to discuss playground upgrades.
After several initial meetings with FCPA Planning & Development and Park Operations Division representatives, and Supervisor Cook’s Office, we have become aware of the many constraints impacting the parks, primarily Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) established under the Chesapeake Bay Act which regulate what can be built next to streams that feed into the Chesapeake. Information on the Act can be found at: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/ChesapeakeBay/ChesapeakeBayPreservationAct.aspx
Further, there are a number of easements held by the County's Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) for sewers that go right through our parks, and in some cases, right under existing playground equipment. The complexity of the issues involved cannot be easily addressed in a newsletter article, and so there is a need for a community meeting to lay out the current situation, the constraints, and the options so that these issues can be discussed with community input, and a consensus can be developed to move forward.
To that end, a community meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Korean Presbyterian Church in our neighborhood. We encourage you to come and make your voice heard. The meeting will be attended by members of the FCPA, our Braddock District Representative on the FCPA Board, and Supervisor Cook’s representatives so this is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn about the process from the experts.
After this meeting, there will be a 30-day open period where each household can provide feedback so that we can gain consensus about which options reflect the desires of the community. Meeting notes will be posted here for those that are unable to attend the meeting.
With help from FCPA and Supervisor Cook’s office, we have come up with some preliminary working options for our playgrounds. There is flexibility in the options depending on the discussion and neighborhood consensus including phased multi-year approaches. Details will be discussed in depth at the community meeting. Note that Surrey Square 1 is the tot lot at the top of Twinbrook near Braddock Road. Surrey Square 2 is the playground with the basketball court about ¾ of the way down Twinbrook; it is often referred to as Cinderella Park. Olde Forge Park is the grassy area across Twinbrook from Surrey Square 2. George Mason Park is behind Jomar near the garden co-op off of Braddock Road; there are garden plots there now in part of the area. Following is a summary of options that will be discussed at the meeting. Our final plan may be a combination of these.
Options for Surrey 1:
- Replace the equipment to fit in the existing footprint considering development and easement limitations
- Remove the tree to allow for more options for equipment to fit in the existing footprint considering development and easement limitations
Options for Surrey II:
- Remove the slide and replace it with new equipment to fit within the existing footprint of the slide. The spider will have to be removed in any scenario because a sewer line is directly beneath it.
- Turn the space into a restoration site by planting native plant species, removing the existing playground equipment (the basketball court and swings would remain) and adding picnic benches
Option for New Playground at Olde Forge Park:
- Create new playground limited to 2,500 square feet. As this is a small space, an option could be to turn Surrey 1 into a playground built for 5 to 12 year olds and use this space as a tot lot.
Option for New Playground at George Mason Park
- Create large new playground that would allow for all age groups to play in one space. Access to this park will be part of the discussion at the meeting.
We hope you attend the meeting and encourage your neighbors to come as well. Refreshments will be provided.