Reston’s Hunters Woods ballfield has finished its transformation from an underutilized baseball diamond into a park with walking paths, new trees and other features is now complete.
Construction on the redevelopment started on Aug. 11 and wrapped up last week, coming in not only four months ahead of schedule, but also about 10% under approximately $400,000 budget, according to Reston Association, which owns the park.
Chris Schumaker, RA’s director of capital projects, attributes the speedy timeline and cost efficiency to “good weather” and an absence of unexpected site issues that could’ve caused delays.
“This redevelopment project gives new life to valuable greenspace in Reston,” Schumaker said. “We’re thrilled to be able to work directly with the community to create a space that is beneficial to the surrounding neighborhoods. It’s really a win-win effort.”
RA approved a concept plan to repurpose the ballfield in 2020 at the request of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition. Though once used by Reston-Herndon Little League, the facility’s lack of parking and locked-in location near Breton Court behind the Hunters Woods Village Center made it difficult to access and inhospitable to larger gatherings, like a ball game.
While the new park still doesn’t have parking, it was designed to serve pedestrians and the immediate neighborhood instead of drivers, with footpaths and seating areas that encourage walking and other forms of passive recreation.
“We want people to travel there on foot, so that’s definitely doable with the walkways we added and the connection points to other pathways in the area for sure,” Schumaker told FFXnow.
The roughly 1-acre site is now encircled by a broad asphalt walkway, and a concrete path divides a new rain garden and a meadow reseeded with native plants, though they mostly won’t emerge until the spring. To emphasize the nature-focused setting, the concrete has been stamped with leaves from native trees.
Other amenities include benches, trash receptacles and a Little Free Library Nearby residents started to stock the green box with books as soon as fences around the site came down, according to Schumaker.
In addition to hopefully encouraging more usage, the new park designed by the architecture and landscaping firm Kimley Horn brings environmental and stormwater benefits, RA says.
The rain garden will control and filter runoff from the park and adjacent houses that previously just flowed into streams, Schumaker said. The project also led to 12 new trees getting planted on the site and preserved several existing, mature trees.
“It’s kind of just a nice place to look at right now,” Schumaker said. “I think once the meadow area…kind of grows in through the winter and early spring, it’ll really kind of add a big pop of color and a nice place to walk around and kind of see all the birds and the insects and things of that nature that will traverse the area now versus before.”
After the meadow grows out next spring, RA plans to host a formal ceremony celebrating the new Hunters Woods park.
A nearly 10-acre site just outside Herndon that is currently used as a cricket field is on the path towards redevelopment.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Oct. 24 to transfer county-owned land at 13500 Dulles Greene Drive to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority for an affordable housing project.
No specific development proposal has come to light yet, but the project is intended to boost the county’s stock of affordable housing in a transit-oriented area near the Innovation Center Metro station.
The project would feature a 10-foot-wide shared-use trail connecting the station to residential neighborhoods to the east.
Mike Lambert, manager of the county’s real estate services division, noted that the Fairfax County Park Authority and county staff are working to identify an alternate location for the cricket field.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said he was happy staff and the FCPA were looking into other options. The Capital Cricket Premier League will continue to use the field until construction begins — which could be as early as spring 2027.
Foust said that gives the county plenty of time to identify more options for cricket players.
“This is a pretty exciting opportunity to advance affordable housing goals,” Foust said, adding that the project will be a “win-win” once the alternate cricket field is selected.
The vote simply turns the land over to FCHRA. Additional public hearings will be scheduled once a development plan is proposed.
The community will soon get a chance to comment on whether a temporary cricket field near the Innovation Center Metro station should be opened up to affordable housing proposals, even as the search for a replacement athletic facility continues.
The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 yesterday (Tuesday) to schedule a public hearing on the proposed transfer of county-owned land at 13500 Dulles Greene Drive for Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m.
While no specific development proposals have been made public yet, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority sees the approximately 9.6-acre site as an opportunity to add affordable housing in a growing area close to transit, according to county staff.
The future project would also feature a 10-foot-wide, shared-use trail connecting the Metro station to residential neighborhoods to the east.
“There is a critical need in the Dulles Corridor for the creation of housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income households,” staff said in a memo to the board. “The FCRHA is evaluating measures to leverage this underutilized property for development of affordable multifamily rental housing by partnering with a private developer.”
The property is located in walking distance of the Metro station’s north entrance, and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to add a 10-foot-wide, shared-use asphalt path along its perimeter to connect the neighborhoods to the east to the station.
The site is currently undeveloped except for the Dulles Greene Cricket Ground, a regulation-sized cricket field operated by Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services and maintained by the Capital Cricket Premier League.
County staff are “actively engaged” with the Fairfax County Park Authority to find an alternative site that cricket players can use if the field is redeveloped, but no locations have been identified yet, they told Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who voted against scheduling the public hearing.
The search for a permanent cricket facility in the area is “in a holding pattern” while the park authority solicits proposals for a multi-sports complex, according to Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who represents the Herndon area.
“Once the responses come in, assuming that we don’t give all that land away, there will be an opportunity to hopefully move the cricket field to these other locations,” Foust said.
Sites suggested in the request for proposals include Mountain Road and Halifax parks in Centreville, Rock Hill Park in Chantilly, and Patriot Park East near George Mason University’s campus. Patriot Park North — a $28 million baseball and softball complex that opened in April — represented the county’s first project under a sports tourism initiative championed by Herrity.
GMU may add a cricket facility of its own. The university has partnered with Major League Cricket to study the possibility of a joint cricket-and-baseball facility, though county leaders expressed concern earlier this year about potential traffic and community impacts.
Before Tuesday’s vote, Foust noted that the Dulles Greene field was always intended to be temporary.
“We spent $6 billion on Dulles rail,” Foust said, referring to the Metro Silver Line extension that opened last November. “This is almost immediately adjacent to the station, perfect opportunity for an affordable housing development.”
An affordable housing community could take over a nearly temporary athletic field on Dulles Green Drive.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 25, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust asked the county to begin the initial steps to transfer the board-owned site at 13500 Dulles Greene Drive to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCHRA) to develop an affordable housing project.
Foust said that inclusionary affordable housing near Herndon’s “amenity-rich area” supports the county’s equity goals.
“The property presents an opportunity for the creation of an affordable housing community as a Transit Oriented Development within 1/3 mile of the Silver Line’s Innovation Metro Station and nearby recreational and commercial amenities,” Foust said.
The site is currently serving as a cricket field and will remain an athletic field until development begins. If FCHRA opts not seek to pursue the project, the property would be conveyed back to the board.
The project would support the county’s goal of providing a minimum of 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2034, Foust said.
Image via Google Maps
Linway Terrace Park in McLean inched closer last week to getting a new, turf baseball diamond.
At its meeting on June 28, the Fairfax County Park Authority board approved a $20,000 grant to the McLean Little League (MLL), which has proposed replacing the existing grass field at 6246 Linway Terrace with a synthetic turf field.
Synthetic turf will “provide an even and consistent playing surface that is more forgiving of wet conditions,” the park authority said.
MLL has committed to funding the remainder of the conversion, which will cost an estimated $1.2 million to $1.3 million. The grant, along with an initial $230,000 contribution from the little league, will cover the cost of design and permitting, according to the FCPA.
“We are currently working with the community to raise the funds required for this project,” MLL board member Bryan Orme said.
Though some community members have expressed concern about potential health risks posed by synthetic turf, Linway Terrace Park’s soccer and lacrosse fields have already been converted.
The park authority estimates that the baseball field conversion could start in the spring of 2025 and be completed that fall.
The park authority board also approved a Mastenbrook Volunteer Matching Fund Grant last week for new fencing at Frying Pan Farm Park in the Herndon area, according to a June 29 news release:
The Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park has proposed replacing sections of degraded fencing with 2,666 linear feet of new oak board fencing around several of the farm’s pastures. The Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park will be contributing matching funds in the amount of $19,995 to complete the funding needed for the project. Project completion is anticipated for early 2024.
The grant program helps fill gaps in funding for facility improvements at county parks undertaken by nonprofits, community groups and other volunteers. Grants can go up to $20,000, but they can’t exceed more than half of the project’s overall cost.
Since establishing the program in 1999, the FCPA has awarded approximately $2.08 million for a variety of projects, including trail and athletic field improvements.
A $28 million baseball and softball complex in Fairfax officially opened this past weekend, marking the county’s first foray into sports tourism.
The ribbon-cutting for Patriot Park North was held Saturday morning (April 15) with local officials, a Washington Nationals representative, and Little Leaguers all in attendance.
The new facility features four turf, 90-foot, full-size baseball diamonds, two 60-foot smaller diamonds, an elevated press and scouting box, concession stands, warm-up areas, streaming capabilities, and a baseball-themed playground.
The facility was designed, constructed, and is now run by the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA).
“This is a state-of-the-art facility for youth and adult sports,” Fairfax County Board Chairman Jeff McKay said in a county-produced video. “It is really rare, one-of-a-kind, to have a turf baseball field and to have this many baseball and softball fields in one location. It will not only help this community but it helps with tournaments and other big events.”
A collaboration with the Southwestern Youth Association, Patriot Park North is the first project to come out of a push by the Sports Tourism Task Force and a number of county agencies to build sports facilities that not only benefit residents, but also bring in tourism revenue by hosting tournaments and events.
Patriot Park North has 26 committed events between April and November, per the office of Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who chairs the Sports Tourism Task Force.
Each event is “anticipated to net between $162,000 to more than $1 million” with a projected economic impact of more than $11 million, according to a press release from Herrity’s office.
“The opening of this facility is a milestone not just for the Springfield District, but for the county,” Herrity said. “It is one example of the many ways we can partner with great community organizations like SYA, in order to provide top-of-the-line sports facilities for residents and at the same time diversify our revenue and reduce the burden on taxpayers with sports tourism revenues. This is the first of what I hope will be many state-of-the-art athletic facilities we will be opening for our residents.”
It also may be the only completed sports facility of this nature for a while. Back in October, the county delayed plans to seek proposals for new facilities after the Board of Supervisors raised concerns that the task force’s site recommendations didn’t take equity into consideration. Read More
Fairfax County officials are guarding their wickets carefully as they size up a recent pitch for a possible cricket and baseball facility at George Mason University.
Since the study is still in its early stages, major questions remain, including what sites are being considered, but there is definitely demand for a regulation cricket pitch, Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk and Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said.
“I’m just interested in seeing if we have the opportunity to at least have a conversation and to see if there’s any feasibility on this coming to fruition,” Lusk said during the Feb. 21 meeting. “…There are many in the community who have been asking for this and would really enjoy having this opportunity to play cricket in a facility of this nature.”
GMU announced on Nov. 29 that it’s collaborating with MLC to study the possibility of building a multi-purpose facility that could host international-level cricket games as well as the university’s baseball team.
Funding for the study comes from technology entrepreneur Sanjay Govil, a founding investor in MLC, according to the press release. The group aspires to have an operational facility that would serve as a home for an MLC franchise by summer 2025.
A regulation cricket field is the size of three baseball fields, making it “extremely difficult to assemble” within the Fairfax County Park Authority’s standard field dimensions, Lusk and Herrity said in their joint board matter.
“This innovative approach has the potential to fill a recreational void in our community, provide a multi-use amenity of benefit to the entire county, and generate a meaningful economic impact as the sole facility of its kind in the region,” the board matter said.
In the community immediately surrounding GMU’s Fairfax campus, however, the proposal may face an uphill battle.
Though he expressed support for both GMU and cricket, Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw warned it will be “really important to manage this process” to avoid a repeat of “some decisions that the university made that created some real challenges and animosity in the neighborhoods.”
He didn’t specify which decisions he was referring to, but he noted that the proximity of Mason’s existing athletic facilities on the west campus to residential neighborhoods “has presented a lot of challenges over the years.” In addition, one possible, currently undeveloped site at Braddock and Shirley Gate roads is in the Occoquan Watershed.
The new facility’s potential traffic impact could also be an issue. An extension of Shirley Gate Road from Braddock to Fairfax County Parkway is in the works, but that’s about it for planned road improvements in the area, according to Walkinshaw.
“If we’re going to be building a facility here that will bring large groups of people, the university’s got to take some responsibility for how people are going to get to and from the campus, because the existing transportation network doesn’t support it,” he said.
Board Chairman Jeff McKay concurred that the county needs to approach the proposal “with our eyes wide open,” noting that GMU-owned properties aren’t subject to local land use review processes like private or county developments.
“Unlike the county, [GMU doesn’t] go through our regular land use process,” McKay said. “That’s one of the reasons you’re hearing some of the caution flags about making sure this process works right and the board is informed of what’s going on.”
Photo via michael weir/Unsplash
The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) wants Fairfax County to reconsider its embrace of synthetic turf for athletic fields, as a decision nears on whether to replace the grass baseball diamond at Linway Terrace Park (6246 Linway Terrace).
The organization, which represents residents of the greater McLean area, has called for a review of the county’s practices regarding synthetic turf, particularly the potential health and environmental risks posed by crumb rubber — bits of recycled tire commonly used for artificial fields.
Approved by the MCA board of directors at a meeting last Wednesday (Feb. 1), the resolution builds off a February 2018 request that the county test field drainage for possible water contamination and create a citizen task force to explore the issue.
“Looking at the issue anew this year, we learned that concerns about the environmental and health effects related to synthetic turf fields continue to be significant and in some ways have grown,” Barbara Ryan, who chairs MCA’s environmental committee, said.
The Fairfax County Park Authority announced in December that McLean Little League had offered to help fund a conversion of Linway Terrace Park’s baseball field.
Synthetic turf requires less upkeep than natural grass and can be used regardless of weather, McLean Little League board member Bryan Orme told FFXnow at the time, noting that the 10-acre park’s nearby soccer and lacrosse field has been converted.
The Fairfax County Park Authority uses a mix of sand and cryogenic crumb rubber for most of its synthetic turf fields in accordance with a countywide policy last reviewed in 2016, according to FCPA Public Information Officer Ben Boxer.
In response to community concerns about crumb rubber possibly contributing to cancer and other health issues, the county conducted “extensive review” of scientific studies in 2012 and 2015 and data from the Virginia Department of Health, then-county executive Edward Long Jr. said in a May 2016 memo.
The county determined it didn’t need to change the materials in its synthetic fields or reconvene a task force that had been created in 2012.
“No study exists that has shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with crumb rubber,” Long wrote. “The general conclusion for all the studies reviewed is that health effects are unlikely from exposure to the levels of chemicals found in synthetic turf with crumb rubber infill and that these fields do not pose a serious public health concern.”
However, athletes and health advocates have argued that existing research is limited, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies to launch a joint study in 2016.
Beyond the much-debated possible health risks, MCA said it’s also concerned about the heat generated by synthetic turf fields, their limited lifespans of eight to 10 years, and the impact on the county’s waterways.
“Given the concerns cited above regarding synthetic turf fields, MCA recommends that the Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC) investigate how the county is reviewing the environmental and health risks associated with the county’s current practices related to synthetic turf fields to determine if the county should…revisit its…decision that crumb rubber is an acceptable infill material,” the resolution said.
MCA also urged the county to reconvene its Synthetic Turf Task Force, implement a system to track where and how fields are disposed of, and install enhanced stormwater management at Linway Terrace if the baseball diamond conversion is approved.
Boxer says the park authority’s turf fields are designed to “drain primarily downward and have extensive underground stormwater management practices,” per county code requirements.
As stated at a Jan. 12 community meeting, the FCPA will talk to the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services about potential enhancements, though the focus will be on meeting permitting requirements “and not directed at crumb rubber,” Boxer told FFXnow.
The FCPA is accepting public comments on the Linway Terrace proposal until Sunday (Feb. 12).
As for its overall use of synthetic fields, the county isn’t planning another reevaluation — at least not until that federal study is released.
“At such time as a new EPA or CDC study on crumb rubber use on synthetic turf fields is completed, then based on the results of such Federal level studies, the County as a whole may elect to revisit current synthetic turf practices,” Boxer said.
Grass may soon be passé at Linway Terrace Park in McLean.
Located off of Kirby Road in eastern McLean, the 10-acre park at 6246 Linway Terrace already has artificial turf soccer and lacrosse fields, along with tennis and basketball courts and a playground.
MLL board member Bryan Orme says converting the baseball diamond into synthetic turf “will offer countless benefits to the community”:
Regardless of weather, children will be able to play ball and exercise together, while reducing upkeep and allowing broader access to the park for the community. We’ve seen this successful approach work just steps away on the soccer and lacrosse field. Linway Park is a special place and doing this for the children today will benefit generations to come. McLean Little League is proud of the close relationship we have with Fairfax County and the thousands of families who are brought together each year to enjoy Little League baseball and softball and we look forward to working together on this project.
The park authority and Dranesville District supervisor’s office will host a virtual meeting next month on Thursday, Jan. 12 to discuss the project in more detail. The meeting will launch a 30-day public comment period ending Feb. 10.
The FCPA board will then vote on whether to move forward with the conversion.
The park authority told FFXnow that it’s too early in the process to determine how much the project would cost and what McLean Little League will contribute.
“We are very early in the process, and the public meeting scheduled on January 12, 2023, will be the first step in gaining community input that will guide the partnership between McLean Little League and the Park Authority,” FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said by email. “As such, it is premature to speculate about potential contribution amounts or timeframes.”
McLean Little League was founded in 1955 and supports both baseball and softball teams, according to its website.
One of the league’s coaches, Ramón Santiago, got an honorable mention at the Little League World Series in August for his continued support of players despite a cancer diagnosis. The 51-year-old died in October, just as his favorite baseball team — the Philadelphia Phillies — was making a run for the World Series, FOX29 reported.
Capital One has officially gotten permission to build a temporary baseball diamond and two permanent parks near its headquarters in Tysons.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved two separate plans for recreational amenities on Oct. 26, setting the stage for work on the baseball field to potentially finish in time for the upcoming spring season.
Options for sports and recreation at Capital One Center are currently limited, aside from the Perch Putt mini golf course that opened this spring. The campus previously had an interim baseball field that was later replaced by Capital One Hall and other buildings.
“Having these amenities provides more things to do, reasons to visit, reasons to stay longer, and that dynamic is fantastic from a recruiting and retention standpoint for Capital One,” said McGuireWoods Managing Partner Greg Riegle, who represented the banking company at the public hearing. “It supports the growing retail program, and it’s equally beneficial to the surrounding community around the [McLean Metro] station.”
The first application calls for an urban park on the existing Capital One Center campus near the Metro tracks. Built on an underground parking garage, the park will have a water feature, landscaping, a boardwalk, a playground and an area for food trucks.
A temporary retail building and athletic facilities, including volleyball and pickleball courts, are also planned. They will eventually be replaced by a 33-story residential building and a 20-story office building.
Currently occupied by a parking lot used for Capital One Hall, the 6.9-acre property at 1820 Dolley Madison Blvd will host a 33,410-square-foot, publicly accessible park and up to 1.5 million square feet of development when fully built out.
Capital One East Park will include a water feature, landscaping, a play area, a fitness zone, a plaza and seating area, and food truck parking, according to a county staff report.
Before those future buildings come into place, Capital One will provide a baseball field primarily intended to serve travel and college-level summer leagues. While the private facility may be available to other patrons, the schedule is already mostly filled, according to Riegle.
“Demand for the ballfield has been substantial. In fact, we are effectively fully committed with leagues and tournaments and so forth,” he told the planning commission, saying the facility will free up the county’s other fields for schools and community groups. Read More