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Soccer players practice at Lewinsville Park in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Now that Holladay Field’s conversion to synthetic turf is complete, McLean Youth Soccer (MYS) has set its sights on a new project to bolster the area’s recreational amenities.

The nonprofit soccer club is collaborating with the Fairfax County Park Authority on plans to build a new, permanent restroom facility for Lewinsville Park, which currently only has port-a-potties.

“Lewinsville Park…offers a lot of parks, tennis courts, baseball fields, community garden, but it didn’t have those restrooms,” MYS Board Chair Susan Mrachek told FFXnow. “…For sanitary reasons, whether it’s changing a baby’s diaper or being able to wash your hands or even seeking shelter, we felt it was really important not just for McLean Youth Soccer players, but for the community at large.”

Encompassing 37.7 acres at 1659 Chain Bridge Road, Lewinsville Park is heavily used by everyone from tennis players and nearby McLean High School students to local sports teams like McLean Youth Soccer, which has approximately 2,800 players aged 4 to 22. It also hosts the annual McLean Day festival, which drew roughly 8,400 people this year.

However, the park has no running water and just three to four portable toilets by the parking lot to serve all those people, Mrachek says.

The permanent restroom project came out of discussions among MYS board and staff members after they celebrated the opening of the renovated Holladay Field last fall.

“We thought, ‘Okay, what’s the next thing that we could improve upon?'” Mrachek said. “And [Executive Director Louise Waxler] talked about the restrooms. We all felt that pain as we watched our kids playing soccer and having to go to a port-a-potty.”

The organization pitched the idea to the county park authority, which will introduce the project to the community with a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. next Thursday (June 16).

The proposed facility will be approximately 1,000 square feet in size, though the exact number of stalls or individuals it could accommodate won’t be clear until it reaches the design phase, according to FCPA spokesperson Judy Pederson.

The current estimated project cost is $670,000, but MYS has proposed funding all but $20,000, Pederson says.

According to the project page, the facility could be completed in late 2023, but Mrachek says a thorough review is still needed to see what will be required from an engineering standpoint.

Lewinsville Park is far from the only outdoor recreational facility in Fairfax County without bathrooms of its own.

According to Pederson, 24 of the park authority’s 46 “larger” parks lack a permanent restroom structure, though some like McLean Central Park have access to nearby public buildings. Just 10 out of 34 district parks have a restroom facility listed in the FCPA Park Register.

The deficit also extends to outdoor athletic facilities at more than half of Fairfax County’s high schools, an issue that the county and public school system are moving to address.

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Morning Notes

Construction at Reston Station during a recent sunset (photo by Wil Villatoro-Reyes)

Fairfax County Man Dies in Alexandria Jail — “Alexandria law enforcement is investigating the death of Anthony Mouf, a 25-year-old Fairfax County man in Alexandria’s William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center. According to a city release, Mouf was found suffering from an apparent medical emergency alone in his cell in the jail’s booking area.” [ALXnow]

Fort Belvoir Housing Contractors Hit with Lawsuit — “After bouncing around houses near Fort Belvoir, pleading with Michaels for repairs and remediation and asking officials on the base for help, Roman filed a lawsuit on March 16 of this year, alleging the owner and manager of thousands of housing units on the base allowed safety hazards and other substandard conditions to persist for years.” [Bisnow]

Fairfax Diner Plans Comeback — After being destroyed by a fire before Thanksgiving last year, the 29 Diner will reopen on Oct. 10, owner John Wood announced earlier this month. Still serving “the thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, milkshakes, and Texas-style barbecue patrons know and love,” the restaurant will have an updated, open kitchen and restored furnishings that pay homage to its 1947 opening. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Tips for Handling the Baby Formula Shortage — “As the nationwide infant formula shortage continues due to a temporary shutdown of the plant that manufactures about half of the U.S. supply, local families are impacted, too. Our Health Department advises if you have any questions, check with your baby’s physician or healthcare provider, especially if your baby is on a restricted diet or has any medical conditions.” [Fairfax County Government]

Vienna Burger Joint Expands to Arlington — “HQ2 will be home to Arlington’s second Conte’s Bike Shop, a South Block, the second location of Vienna-based Social Burger and the first brick-and-mortar location of HUSTLE — a high intensity cycling workout business.” [ARLnow]

Capital One Sets Timeline for Office Return — The Tysons-based financial company announced that it will fully reopen all U.S. offices under a hybrid work model on Sept. 6, almost exactly a year later than previously planned. Capital One is one of the D.C. area’s largest employers, with 11,530 associates and contractors just for its headquarters, according to a spokesperson. [Capital One]

McLean Tennis Court Project Approved — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board “approved $650,000 in funding for court improvements at Lewinsville Park in McLean…FCPA anticipates the courts to be closed for up to four months, while these renovations and repairs are made.” [FCPA]

Reston Shop Hosts “Bike to Work Day” Stop — “National Bike Week happens to be this week with the 21st anniversary of Bike to Work Day in the National Capital Region falling on May 20…In Reston, bicyclists can head to a pit stop just off the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at The Bike Lane, 11150 Sunset Hills Reston, VA, 7 a.m.-9 a.m.” [Patch]

Annandale Food Festival Seeks Sponsors — “Now that planning is underway for the 2022 Taste of Annandale, the top priority is securing sponsors. The family-friendly community festival scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1 in the center of Annandale, is likely to draw at least 6,000 people.” [Annandale Today]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking $650,000 to renovate the aging tennis courts at Lewinsville Park in McLean.

The proposed project will restore the surfacing and fencing at all six existing courts at the park, and one of the courts will be converted into four dedicated pickleball courts.

“The Park Authority Board, working closely with Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, has endeavored to move this project forward quickly to address the growing interest in pickleball locally and countywide,” the FCPA said in a news release on Friday (April 22).

The recommended project is slightly scaled down from the three options that the park authority presented to the community at a meeting in December.

Staff’s suggestions then were to repurpose between two and three courts for pickleball use, either exclusively or as a shared-use with tennis. Many tennis proponents in the meeting argued that the county’s available facilities are too limited to share that many courts with pickleball players.

A countywide pickleball study finalized last year concluded that pickleball has grown in popularity locally, mirroring national trends, but Fairfax County trails other similarly sized jurisdictions in terms of the availability of facilities dedicated to the sport, leading to conflicts with tennis and other recreational activities.

The county opened its first pickleball-only courts at Wakefield Park in Annandale in November, though it has about 50 outdoor tennis courts that have also been outfitted for pickleball.

In addition to adding another dedicated pickleball facility, the Lewinsville project will bring much-needed repairs to the park on Chain Bridge Road. The existing courts remain busy despite cracked surfaces that tennis players say render them almost unusable.

The pickleball study confirmed that use of all of the county’s outdoor courts has climbed during the pandemic.

The Park Authority board will consider the Lewinsville project during a planning and development committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 11. If the committee advances the proposal, the full board will vote on whether to approve the project and the requested funding at 7:30 p.m. that day.

The FCPA says the estimated $650,000 cost of the project would be covered by “a variety of sources,” including approved park bonds.

Public comments on the project will be accepted through parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov until May 10.

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