Vienna Town Council approves funding for new parks master plan

The Town of Vienna’s parks and recreation facilities include Waters Field for baseball (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna is moving forward with the creation of a parks system master plan.

The Vienna Town Council authorized parks and recreation staff on Oct. 23 to spend $236,230 to hire the consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which was selected from four potential vendors to develop the plan that will guide the town’s facilities and services over the next decade.

“The parks and recreation department has a strong commitment to provide fair and just access to high-quality parks, green space, recreation facilities and programs for all members of the community,” Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman told the council. “The park system master plan will set a vision to guide long-term future development, redevelopment and improvements to the town’s park systems, open space, trails and recreation facilities over the next five to 10 years.”

In addition to creating an inventory of existing amenities and their conditions, Kimley-Horn has been tasked with evaluating town-owned properties that could be used for parks or recreation in the future, including the Annex site (301 Center Street South) where the former Faith Baptist Church is set to be demolished and the Robinson family property at 124 Courthouse Road SW.

According to Fairfax County property records, the Town of Vienna bought the property where former mayor Charles Robinson and former council member Maud Robinson had lived for $1.4 million in December 2019, not long after Maud Robinson died. The 31,688-square-foot site has been designated as future park land.

As part of the parks master plan, the town has asked Kimley-Horn to recommend three options for developing the Robinson property, complete with conceptual designs and cost estimates.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson suggested that the consultant also look at how much the town could potentially get if it sold the property and used the resulting funds to support parks and rec initiatives.

“That, I think, is one option for that property,” Anderson said. “That’s just one I want to make sure is on the table.”

The council was initially scheduled to approve the funds at an Oct. 2 meeting, but the vote got deferred after members raised questions about the project’s cost and scope.

After getting a 23-page report from Kimley-Horn responding to those questions, council members said they’re now satisfied with the firm’s proposal for the master plan, which it anticipates will take about 16 months to develop.

In response to a question about the timeline from Councilmember Howard Springsteen, the firm said the project could take less time, but it recommended considering “this a 16-month effort at the outset so as to set realistic expectations.”

Springsteen said he was “ready to support” the master plan project after Kimley-Horn reassured him it would provide operating, maintenance and capital costs for its recommendations, along with comparisons to the town’s annual budget.

Springsteen said the master plan needs to provide “a good roadmap,” especially since it will be developed and implemented under a different council. All six council seats and Mayor Linda Colbert, who’s running unopposed, are on the ballot for this year’s general election, which will take place next Tuesday (Nov. 7).

Early voting has been ongoing since Sept. 22, with in-person locations operating through Saturday, Nov. 4.

“We have a lot of expectations out there, and we have to put things down in writing,” Springsteen said. “I too would like to have five extra homes, go to Europe 10 times a year, but there’s a cost involved [to] what we can or cannot do, so I look forward to you racking up these ideas.”

The town didn’t respond by press time to an FFXnow inquiry regarding a possible kick-off date for the parks master plan process. Public engagement efforts are expected to include surveys, stakeholder interviews and community workshops.