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Construction begins on North Hill Park along Richmond Highway

Construction has finally started on North Hill Park in Groveton, near the intersection of Richmond Highway and Popkins Lane.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s $1.5 million project will create a new public park with trails, a pavilion, pickleball courts, a half-sized basketball court, fitness areas, picnic tables, benches, and an open lawn area.

Part of a new housing development will also provide a publicly accessible playground and seating areas, the park’s construction being financed by a 2016 park bond and the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development (FCHCD).

Construction began late last month and is expected to be completed by spring 2023.

However, construction was supposed to begin in the spring of 2021, according to a park authority presentation from early last year, making the project more than a year behind schedule.

“The delay was due to coordinating construction logistics with the adjacent developments and the need to hire a new engineering and inspection firm for our construction,” FCPA spokesperson Judy Pedersen told FFXnow.

Construction crews are currently installing erosion and sediment control measures. The park authority says nearby residents should expect “occasional” traffic, particularly on Popkins Lane where construction vehicles will be entering and exiting the park through a temporary entrance near Bryant High School.

The site where North Hill Park and the overall North Hill development are under construction was once occupied by a mobile home community and has been on the county’s list for redevelopment for decades.

The park was first conceived more than a decade ago, along with the entire development of the adjacent North Hill property. In 2007, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority put together an initial master plan that included 67 manufactured homes and a 22-acre park on the site.

But that plan was deemed flawed by then-Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay — now the Board of Supervisors chair — who said adding that many manufactured homes to that part of Richmond Highway would put a strain on schools, public services, and traffic.

“67 manufactured homes on this site would be a disaster,” he told the Washington Business Journal in 2016.

A revised plan emerged in 2017 that included a multi-family housing development and reduced the park to 12 acres. In 2020, the land was conveyed to the park authority for development. The ground-breaking for the 33-acre project took place on July 202o.

The final master plan for the North Hill development calls for 216 “affordable multi-family apartments,” 63 “affordable senior independent living apartments,” 175 townhomes at market rate, and the park.

“The park site along with the adjacent North Hill Development was a trailer park that was abandoned and the land was then purchased by Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development, whom FCPA partnered with in development of the site,” Pedersen wrote. “The park was envisioned to serve both the North Hill Development and the surrounding community.”

The park will be completed in two phases. The first phase consists of constructing earthwork and stormwater infrastructure, trails connection, picnic area, pavilion, and open lawn areas. The second phase will be everything else, including the basketball court, pickleball courts, and the playground.

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