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Revised McLean Central Park concept drops dog park, keeps tennis courts and amphitheater

A revised McLean Central Park concept plan presented on March 2, 2022 (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

McLean Central Park’s tennis and pickleball courts are here to stay.

The Fairfax County Park Authority presented a revised development concept for the 28-acre park (1468 Dolley Madison Boulevard) on Wednesday (March 2) that moved away from previous plans to eliminate one of the three courts to make room for a dog park.

Instead, the park authority has proposed resurfacing all the courts and updating two of them to meet a new standard recommended by a countywide pickleball study finalized in December of allowing two pickleball games for every tennis court.

The park’s two northern courts are currently striped for both tennis and pickleball, but the sports utilize a shared, central net. The planned update would create four pickleball courts with a rollable net, while the court to the south will remain limited to tennis.

“These updates will be able to accommodate both more tennis and pickleball players by adding capacity and also, at the same time, reducing conflicts,” FCPA project manager Adam Wynn said.

Building off of a draft concept revealed at a May 2021 community meeting, the new McLean Central Park development plan significantly shrinks a proposed amphitheater and relocates it farther away from the Dolley Madison and Ingleside Avenue intersection.

While some have questioned the need for a performing arts venue, given its proximity to the McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre and the new Capital One Hall in Tysons, a majority of the 526 comments that the FCPA got on the draft concept favored the facility, according to Wynn.

The Fairfax County Park Authority received 526 comments on its draft development concept for McLean Central Park (via FCPA)

To distinguish it from other venues, the amphitheater will be designed to also function as a community gathering space for everything from yoga classes to the annual MPAartfest, supplementing the park’s existing gazebo.

The facility’s relocation, coupled with a reconfiguration of the accompanying parking lot and drop-off zone, will enable the FCPA to preserve the trees in the park’s northeastern corner, which will be turned into a meadow with educational signage.

“The meadow would be managed with occasional cuttings to maintain a variety of natural species,” Wynn said. “…Preserving this area as a meadow will also further help buffer the area along Ingleside from the more active interior areas of the park.”

The FCPA removed bocce courts and gaming tables from the concept plan, since those ideas drew little public support. It also combined the play area for school-aged children and a toddler-aimed playground, which are currently on opposite ends of the park.

The tot lot will be expanded with new playground equipment for all ages and abilities. The existing school-aged playground will be replaced with a fitness area.

Other proposed improvements include:

  • Resurfacing work and a new backboard for the basketball court
  • Replacement of a bridge over Dead Run
  • New walkways and repairs to damaged trail sections
  • Landscaping and invasive plant management
  • Upgrades to Dolley Madison Library restrooms, which will be publicly accessible during park hours

Wynn noted that the FCPA will also update the basketball court lighting if there’s room in the project’s $2.2 million construction budget, which comes from a 2020 parks bond.

The project is based on a McLean Central Park master plan that the county approved in 2013 but lacked funding to implement at that time. Staff say the concept plan process has helped gauge how public opinion has evolved over the past decade.

“This is a continuing process,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said. “We want to get this right, and I think we’ve taken all the necessary steps to do that.”

Wednesday’s public meeting kicked off a second public comment period on the concept plan. Comments can be sent to McLeanCentralPark@PublicInput.com until April 1.

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