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.
“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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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]
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org until May 10.