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South Lake Drive Park basketball court (courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority)

The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking feedback from residents on proposed improvements to the basketball court at South Lakes Drive Park in Reston.

Below is a list of the proposed improvements, according to the park authority’s website.

  • Repaving the court surface
  • Installing perimeter paneling and gates
  • Adding combination futsal/basketball goals
  • Constructing an ADA accessible pathway

The improvements at 11951 South Lakes Drive are part of a broader initiative to meet the increasing demand for sports facilities across the county, per the county’s website.

“The Park Authority is committed to improving recreational opportunities for a diverse array of recreational opportunities, including relatively young sports with a rapidly growing interest such as pickleball and futsal,” spokesperson for the park authority Ben Boxer told FFxnow.

Earlier this month, the park authority announced that the basketball court at McLean Central Park is also undergoing renovations.

According to Boxer, the upgrades are financed through multiple channels, including park authority maintenance budgets, ARPA funds, grants and additional third-party sources.

The survey, which was published last week, will remain open until 5 p.m. on May 10.

The McLean Central Park basketball court is slated for renovation (courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority)

The outdoor basketball court at McLean Central Park is getting a new and hopefully improved look.

Contractor ATC began mobilizing this week for a renovation of the facility, a process expected to take about six weeks, depending on the weather, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced yesterday (Thursday).

The project will include a replacement of the court’s two basketball hoops, a new stone dust and asphalt overlay, fresh color coating and line painting, the addition of a 10-foot-tall, vinyl-coated fence on the northern end and the installation of a memorial bench.

The park at 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd will remain open, but construction could affect access to some areas, according to the park authority.

“The work may impact access to some areas of the park, including the parking lot behind the Dolley Madison Library,” the FCPA said. “Visitors are reminded to please follow all signs and placards around the site to safely navigate around construction activities during the project.”

The park authority approved a $20,000 Mastenbrook grant to fund the renovation in December. Supplementing nearly $45,177 in community donations, the grant was requested by friends and neighbors of Thomas Mulquin, a McLean resident and youth basketball coach who died from pancreatic cancer in May 2023.

The project’s total budget is just under $65,177, according to the FCPA.

McLean Central Park’s basketball court will be renovated concurrently with upgrades to the playground, tot lot and walkways that got underway in early March. That project, which will also add an amphitheater, is on track to finish by the end of this year, a park authority spokesperson says.


Nearly two years after updating its vision for the future of McLean Central Park, the Fairfax County Park Authority is ready to start work on some of the planned upgrades.

Imperio Construction, a Delaware-based company contracted by the park authority, began mobilizing on the site at 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd this week, and active construction is expected to start during the first week of March.

“Residents should expect occasional construction traffic entering and exiting Dolley Madison,” the park authority said in a news release. “While portions of the park will be closed throughout the duration of the construction, access for tennis court and basketball court usage will remain open.”

The revitalization project will replace the park’s playgrounds with new, accessible equipment partially funded by community donations. After the FCPA shared initial plans to only update the school-age playground, local parents formed the McLean Central Playground Team and raised approximately $400,000 to also overhaul the tot lot.

The school-age playground will be moved to the same general area as the tot lot, which will be enclosed with a fence. In addition to getting more modern and inclusive equipment, the facilities will feature more seating and poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing.

Other upcoming improvements will include the addition of a pavilion and new walkways, along with any repairs to existing walkways that are needed so pedestrians can reach all facilites in the park.

“Additionally, benches will be replaced throughout the park and pedestrian lights will be relocated to improve the overall park experience,” FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said.

According to Boxer, the new pavilion will be open to the public and available for private rentals. It could also serve as an occasional performance venue for the McLean Community Center, which is adjacent to McLean Central Park and currently utilizes a gazebo there.

Building on a master plan from 2013, the park authority unveiled a development concept for McLean Central Park in 2021 that called for a dog park, amphitheater and recreational facilities, including a fitness area and bocce and game tables. The dog park was dropped from the proposal after some community members objected to losing a tennis court to make room for the amenity.

The revised concept was finalized in 2022 after a public meeting on March 2 and a one-month comment period.

The FCPA says it anticipates that active construction on the playgrounds, pavilion and walkways will finish by the end of 2024.

Concept plan via Fairfax County Park Authority


(Updated at 12:45 a.m. on 12/22/2023) No holiday miracle was necessary for the McLean Central Playground Team to reach its goal of raising $400,000 to update the play equipment at their local park.

The group of moms announced on Tuesday (Dec. 19) that they have reached their fundraising target with days to spare before a year-end deadline set by the Fairfax County Park Authority, which is responsible for the planned renovation of the playground and tot lot at McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd).

“We are amazed and humbled by the incredible generosity of our community and all of the partners who’ve supported us in achieving this milestone,” said Jessica Wu, one of seven mothers who collaborated on the fundraising campaign.

The park authority proposed a new playground for the 28-acre park as part of a development concept updated in 2022, but it only had enough funding — about $175,939 — to replace the school-aged equipment, leaving the slightly newer tot lot untouched.

When the park authority started soliciting public input on its concept in 2021, however, a group of moms led by McLean resident Cara Schantz began advocating for a more ambitious design. They wanted both facilities to be renovated, relocated the same place in the park and enhanced with accessible features.

The FCPA ultimately incorporated their design into its McLean Central Park development concept but tasked the moms with raising the additional funds needed to implement it.

Launched in early March, the fundraising campaign required “countless volunteer hours” spent on outreach to the community, meetings and organizing events that often involved partnerships with local businesses, according to a press release.

After hitting a lull around October, the effort got a boost from the McLean Community Center, which contributed $50,000, and the park authority, whose board approved a $20,000 grant. Organizers say the many smaller donations made by community members “helped significantly.”

“Every contribution, big and small, helped get us across the finish line,” Sarah Farzayee said, adding that she hopes the new playground “will stand as a symbol of community spirit and civic duty in Fairfax County.”

Expected to begin in spring 2024, the renovation will include updated equipment, more seating, poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing, fencing around the tot lot, sensory play options, an inclusive merry-go-round and more swings, including an adaptive tandem swing designed so that children and caregivers can stand face-to-face.

“Every playground should be accessible to children of all abilities,” mom Angie Golder said. “We hope that the new McLean Central Playground underscores the importance of inclusion in all public spaces.”

The playground team, which also includes Jenny Gregory, Lacey Obry and Rebecca Antzoulatos, says the Fairfax County Park Foundation, the park authority’s nonprofit supporter, can continue accepting donations until the second week of January at the latest. Any additional contributions “will be used to enhance the playground further.”

“We can’t wait to see the joy and excitement on the faces of children of all abilities and family and community members as they enjoy the renovated playground,” Gregory said.

The Cricket Association of Fairfax County is seeking to replace the cricket pitch at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (via FCPA)

Some facility upgrades are in the works for three Fairfax County parks.

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board approved a total of $55,325 in Mastenbrook grants on Wednesday (Dec. 13) to help fund improvements at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, McLean Central Park and Frying Pan Farm Park south of Herndon.

Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive)

The Cricket Association of Fairfax County (CAFC) was awarded $15,325 to replace Lake Fairfax’s cricket pitch, which was developed in 1997 and is “one of the few in the Northern Virginia region large enough to meet the international standards of cricket,” according to the FCPA.

In its proposal to the park authority, the association reported that it has replaced the field’s artificial turf three times in the past 20 years, but inadequate drainage has damaged the wicket — a concrete base covered by artificial turf used to bounce the ball — and results in frequent waterlogging.

“Recent discussions with the park management have resulted in the determination that the wicket cannot be repaired,” the CAFC said. “A new wicket needs to be constructed with elevation and drainage to prevent water build up.”

The project to replace the pitch’s base and turf carries a total estimated cost of $30,650, half of which will be covered by the cricket association.

McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd)

The 28-acre park near the McLean Community Center is getting a renovated basketball court, thanks to a friends group formed this year to honor Thomas A. Mulquin, a McLean resident who was “an avid supporter of basketball,” according to an FCPA staff summary for the board.

“The basketball court is currently in disrepair and therefore seldom used,” the Friends of Thomas A. Mulquin wrote in its grant application. “A tree root protrudes through the surface at one end of the court and a thicket downhill at the other end makes retrieving balls difficult and unsafe.”

Supported by $45,176 in community contributions, on top of $20,000 from the park authority, the $65,176 renovation will refurbish the court surface, update the color coating and line painting, replace both hoops and add a 10-foot-tall chain link fence “to prevent basketballs from going into the heavy overgrowth near the court,” according to the FCPA press release.

Frying Pan Farm Park (2709 West Ox Road)

Spirit Open Equestrian also requested and received a $20,000 grant — the maximum allowed for a single project by the Mastenbrook Grant Program, which provides matching funds for park improvements undertaken by local residents or community groups.

The nonprofit wants to bring electricity to the equestrian facilities where it provides therapeutic horseback-riding programs. The four horse barns and three sheds with supply and office space currently rely on solar panels, which are limited in capacity and unreliable, depending on the season, per the grant application.

“The project plan proposes to have Dominion Energy extend power from an existing cell tower, and then to contract with a vendor to outfit the buildings with wiring, conduit, outlets and related electrical components,” FCPA staff said.

With the project estimated to cost $72,458, the park authority grant will be supplemented by $52,458 from SOE.

All three projects are on track to be completed by spring 2024, according to the park authority.

These will be the last improvements supported by Mastenbrook grants for the time being. The FCPA has suspended applications to the 25-year-old program as it conducts a review, prompted by concerns about a gap in the quality of park facilities based on the ability of different neighborhoods to fundraise.

“The goal of the review is to examine the process through an equity lens and determine how to improve accessibility and benefit of the program in all areas of the county — particularly in communities of opportunity,” the park authority said.

FCPA staff are expected to deliver recommendations for the program’s future to the board in early 2024.

An updated rendering of the planned McLean Central Park playground renovation (via FCPA/YouTube)

McLean got a step closer this week to realizing its wish for a new, improved and more inclusive playground at McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd).

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a $20,000 Mastenbrook Grant Wednesday (Oct. 25) to help fund the project, which has significantly expanded in scope thanks to the advocacy and fundraising efforts of local parents.

The grant brings the total budget up to $442,609 when combined with $246,670 in community donations and $175,939 in previously allocated FCPA funds.

While supportive of this particular renovation, some board members worried that relying on community fundraising to enhance capital projects might create disparities in the quality of park facilities in different parts of the county.

“I fully expect and hope we do approve this tonight, but we still have the question of equity for this kind of thing and this community’s ability to raise this kind of money to build this world-class facility where that’s just not possible in some other places,” Mount Vernon District board member Linwood Gorham said, referencing the $1.5 million conversion of Holladay Field that utilized $725,000 in private contributions.

FCPA staff said they will look at potential policy changes as part of the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Access (PROSA) Strategy that the board endorsed on Sept. 27. The plan’s goals include consideration of racial and socioeconomic equity when prioritizing projects and services.

Board members emphasized that “nobody did anything wrong with this one,” but they want every community to have access to the level of facilities found in McLean.

“That really should be the standard,” FCPA Director Jai Cole said. “Instead of saying, ‘Why do they get more,’ how do we make sure this is the standard everywhere that we’re going, that we have the means and opportunity to put in a $400,000 playground in parks that are so centrally located like this? It’s a big conversation.”

Ron Kendall, who represents the Mason District, noted that more elaborate facilities also tend to require more extensive and costly maintenance.

“The bigger we build it, the more it’s going to cost for us to keep it in the condition they expect it to be in in that community,” he said. “That is another hurdle that we haven’t discussed much.”

Following a master plan approved in 2013, the park authority acquired $2.2 million from a 2020 parks bond to redevelop the 28-acre McLean Central Park, but that budget only had enough funds to upgrade the school-aged playground, which was installed in 1988 and scheduled to be replaced.

When the FCPA revisited the master plan in 2021, a group of moms urged staff to also renovate the tot lot and relocate the school-aged playground so the two facilites are combined, making it easier for families with kids of different ages to keep an eye on them at the same time. Read More

The current tot lot at McLean Central Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) McLean Central Park is getting a new playground, but the exact design will depend on whether a group of local moms can raise nearly $400,000 by the end of this year.

Ideally, the facility will have a rubberized surface to cushion the ground, tot lot fencing, additional seating and plenty of shiny, modern equipment, including an adaptive tandem swing and other elements accessible to people with disabilities.

But the vision of an inclusive playground reminiscent of the one at Clemyjontri Park exceeds the $279,361 that the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) has budgeted for the project as part of an overhaul of the 28-acre park at 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd.

To close the funding gap, a group of volunteering parents formed the McLean Central Park Playground Team and launched a community fundraising campaign in early March.

“We were all extremely passionate about making sure that this was an inclusive playground for all different types of abilities and ages,” said Jessica Wu, who joined the team last year. “…Clemyjontri is amazing. It’s a wonderful, wonderful playground and we’re so lucky to have it right in our backyard here, but McLean Central Park, that’s our central park, right? That’s the heart of McLean.”

While the fundraiser is just getting underway, it continues a years-long advocacy effort that began in a McLean Facebook group, when Cara Schantz, a McLean native, expressed disappointment with the playground options for young kids after moving back to the area from Arlington County.

She wasn’t alone in her dissatisfaction, as others chimed in with their own experiences, shaped in part by having more time to take their kids to local parks during the early months of the Covid pandemic, fellow original team member Ang Golder recalls.

Clemyjontri has been lauded for accommodating kids with physical and developmental disabilities, but its uniqueness makes it a regional draw, which can mean crowds, the parents told FFXnow. Many other playgrounds belong to schools, making them off-limits when classes are in session.

When Schantz and Golder learned the park authority was developing a concept for new facilities at McLean Central, they saw an opportunity to advocate for improvements to the existing playground for school-aged kids and tot lot.

Installed in 1998 and 2002, respectively, the playground and tot lot are on opposite ends of the park, inconveniencing families with kids of different ages.

“It makes no sense that the playgrounds are like…two or three blocks apart,” Schantz said.

Renderings of the planned McLean Central Park playground (courtesy Cunningham Recreation for Fairfax County Park Authority)

Initially, the FCPA presented a concept for the park in spring 2021 that left both facilities in their existing locations and replaced the school-aged playground, which is at the end of its useful life, according to spokesperson Benjamin Boxer. Read More


While the long-term vision for McLean Central Park continues to take shape, community members can expect to see a more immediate change later this month.

Work will begin in mid-August to replace an aging, wooden bridge in the park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd) with a fiberglass bridge that will last longer and require less maintenance, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced last week.

The agency has enlisted contractor AP Construction LLC for the project, which carries a price tag of approximately $116,200.

Since fiberglass doesn’t corrode like wood, manufacturers typically anticipate a 50-year lifespan for fiberglass bridges compared to 20 years for wood structures, according to FCPA Trails Program Manager Tom McFarland.

“Further, fiberglass trail bridges are lighter and easier to assemble than traditional bridges built from wood or steel,” McFarland told FFXnow by email. “The parts can be hand carried to the site and assembled using common hand tools. These bridges are also stronger than the typical wood structure.”

McFarland says the park authority typically uses bridges supplied by the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer Creative Pultrusions that can hold the weight of a 10,000-pound piece of equipment if needed.

“All of these factors make the fiberglass bridge a much more desirable and economical choice,” he said.

The McLean Central Park bridge replacement is projected to finish in late September, depending on the weather, according to the park authority.

During the project, portions of the park’s trail will be closed “as a safety precaution.” The park authority warns residents to expect “occasional traffic” at Martha Jane Street, which will be used as an access point for construction materials and equipment.


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