Chairman’s Message ^
Thank you for taking a few moments to glance at our Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2014. We feel it is important to reflect on recent accomplishments and challenges and to share that information with you. As always, it has been a productive year and I am very proud of our staff and leadership. This year our efforts to focus on strengthening our partnerships in this community are helping our park system. In my six terms as Chairman of the Park Authority Board, I have worked hand-in-hand with individuals who understand the value of working together for the common betterment of the community
The commitment to our park system by our partners has made a significant difference in our ability to deal with these challenging budget times. Let me share some insights on how these partnerships and collaborations benefit all of us.
I was honored to be a recipient of the Tony Griffin Partnership Leader Award presented by the Office of Private Partnerships, affectionately known as OP3, this past May. It is a great honor to be recognized in this manner but I can hardly take credit for this accolade alone.
Each year individuals and organizations use the Mastenbrook Volunteer Matching Fund Grant program to help fund projects in the community such as batting cages, dog parks or playgrounds. This year, the Park Authority Board increased the maximum from $10,000 to $20,000, thus stretching those dollars even further and increasing the possibilities for community-driven improvements in our parks. It’s a program that really works.
Other collaborations include working with the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services to resolve flooding issues in the Great Falls neighborhood during the conversion of a natural turf field to synthetic turf at Nike Park. This partnership used innovative under-drain technology to catch storm water runoff and reduce impacts to nearby streams, thus reducing neighborhood flooding. The project made use of storm water funding and park bonds to complete this important project for the county and the neighborhood. Numerous athletic fields throughout the community have been funded through creative partnerships between developers, Fairfax County and youth sports organizations. One of the best examples is the recently completed Sully Highlands complex in the west end of the county, a showplace of what is possible when everyone works together.
Whether it’s environmental education programs with the public schools; contractors rebuilding the gazebo at Green Spring Gardens; or construction firms and energy companies helping to restore stream valley parks, provide scholarships for summer camp and fund our free summer concert series; we depend on these partnerships and welcome more in the future.
Another partner, the Fairfax County Park Foundation has a robust track record of success. It is well-earned. Through their efforts and the support of countless donors large and small, $868,673.38 were provided in Fiscal Year 2014 in support of facilities, programs and events. So even though this year was fiscally lean, just as others have been over the past decade, we are able to leverage the commitment of our partners, depend on the largess and talent of our volunteers and harness the passion of our staff to overcome those potential shortfalls. Finding the way forward in challenging times is our goal.
I hope you enjoy these highlights of the past fiscal year. I can tell already that the next one is full of promise and bound to be exciting.
William G. Bouie, Chairman
Fairfax County Park Authority Board
Director’s Message ^
Welcome to our story! Our annual report takes a look at Park Authority success in Fiscal Year 2014.
There were great accomplishments and our collaboration and partnership with the community, continue to sustain our park system. With your help we increased our matching grant programs to leverage private donations and provided nearly one million dollars in scholarship and reduced rate opportunities to local families and individuals across the county.
The Park Authority success at Huntley Meadows Park, with the wetland restoration, has provided visitors with a new chance to see the many returning species to this beautiful wetland and park. One of the hallmarks of this project was the tremendous opportunity for public comment and collaboration as planners and ecologists studied the best approach to this issue over several years. Public meetings, informal walks with the park’s manager and the chance to review draft plans as the project matured made this an especially inclusive and successful effort.
Across the nation and in Fairfax County, we are moving forward to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed energy conservation early on and provided funding to jump start these vital environmental initiatives. The Park Authority’s energy management program has already shown tangible results significantly reducing our energy costs, helping to brighten indoor spaces, cutting energy usage and setting the standard for other agencies following our lead.
Improving water quality and protecting our watershed begins in our stream valleys. Although the Park Authority owns many stream valley parks, the management and improvement of those areas takes cooperation and innovation most recently shared by the Park Authority and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. With just a few projects under our collective belts, this is an area ripe for greater participation and accomplishments.
Our planning team has been successfully engaged in the development of urban park standards and guidance for Tysons, an area of our community in transition. As this portion of the county grows, new guidelines and collaboration between developers, planners and the Park Authority will ensure green spaces exist and recreational opportunities are created for those who live or work there.
Our goal to provide you with an accessible and quality park system continues and we have numerous partners, volunteers, and partner agencies to thank for the great success achieved in FY 2014. Please take a few minutes to look through this report and share our excitement in the work accomplished in Fiscal Year 2014.
But most of all, I encourage you to get out and enjoy your parks and recreation facilities!
Kirk W. Kincannon, CPRP
The Fairfax County Park Authority Board ^
The Fairfax County Park Authority Board is appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. These 12 appointees are comprised of one representative from each of the nine magisterial districts, plus three at-large members. The board sets policy and establishes priorities for the park agency. The board holds public meetings on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 7:30 p.m. at park headquarters in the Herrity Building, adjacent the Government Center Complex.
Board Officers are selected annually. 2014 Board officers include Chairman William G. Bouie serving his sixth term as Chairman and Providence District Representative Ken Quincy serving as Vice Chairman. At-large Member Kala Leggett Quintana currently serves as Board Secretary and Mason District Representative Frank Vajda is serving as Treasurer.
To find out more about your Park Authority Board members, visit online at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/board/
People in Our Parks ^
Sealock Softball Complex: Recognizing Hard Work and Accomplishment
Sharon Sealock’s name is synonymous with adult softball in Fairfax County, and now her name is attached to the fields she helped create. On Friday, September 6, 2013, over 100 people gathered at Braddock Park in Centreville, Va., for a ceremony to rename the park’s softball complex in Sealock’s honor. Local dignitaries joined Sealock’s friends, family, and former teammates to unveil two new signs located near the entrance.
The Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted in 2013 to rename the softball complex in honor of Sealock, a longtime player, volunteer, and Fairfax Adult Softball (FAS) employee who retired after 38 years with FAS. Sealock leaves a legacy of excellence. Her various softball-related volunteer posts included positions with Fairfax County Women’s Slow Pitch Softball League (WSPSL), Fairfax County Adult Softball Council (FCASC), and first vice president, FAS. She became a full-time FAS employee in 1987.
In 1988, Sealock managed and played on the first Virginia team to win a national softball championship. As a twelve-time Woman’s All Star selection in the metro District of Columbia area, Sealock is an elected-member of the Washington Metropolitan Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame and the FAS Hall of Fame.
Ben Peck: Local Preservationist, Longtime Farm Supporter Remembered
Frying Pan Farm Park and the Fairfax County Park Authority were saddened by the loss of a true friend, Howard Benjamin Peck. He passed in March 2014. In 1961, Ben, as his friends and family knew him, served as a founding member of the Frying Pan Park and Youth Supervisory Board, now the Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park. This hands-on group helped build stables, cut the grass, schedule events, and generally ran the park until paid staff was hired in the early 1970s.
More than one of the founding fathers for Frying Pan, Ben’s decades as a local dairy farmer and his lifelong residence in the Floris Community made him an invaluable resource for local history. He is survived by his wife Margaret and two adult children. The couple shared the same kind spirit, giving nature and love of their community and generously provided information and photographs for the creation of the award-winning exhibit in the park’s Visitor Center.
Qualified and willing, Mr. Peck provided volunteer service and expertise to Frying Pan and the Park Authority for over 50 years. In recent years, Ben took daily walks on the park’s trails, speaking to visitors, and reporting his findings to staff. Since the beginning of the park and the first meeting of the friends group, Ben has been instrumental in Frying Pan Farm Park’s development, helping to lead the park to where it is today.
Nadar Por Vida
In May 2014 the Fairfax County Park Authority Board presented a resolution to Arthur Lopez, the founder of Nadar Por Vida (Swimming for Life) recognizing his good works. Lopez had partnered with the Park Authority for eight years, creating life-saving, learn-to-swim classes, and a competitive swimming program for minority children and their families. Following his retirement in 2014, Lopez decided to take the Nadar Por Vida program to Indiana where he can continue to oversee its development and possible expansion.Historically, minorities are significantly underrepresented in the sport of swimming at all levels. With drowning deaths in ethnic communities at nearly three times the national average, there is a national need for programs to promote water safety in minority communities and to introduce swimming as a regular part of a lifetime exercise routine.
Nadar por Vida was a financially, self-sustaining public-private partnership that addressed a critical need in the Fairfax community. Together with a number of national and local business, school and community partners, the organizations developed weekly programs at Providence RECenter, and learn to swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make-A-Splash program. This unique partnership has brought national recognition to the Park Authority and in 2010 the partnership was honored with the Fairfax County Celebrate Community and Business Partnerships Blue Ribbon Partnership Award.
Working on a shoestring budget, Lopez gathered volunteers and provided donated swimsuits, caps and goggles for the students. More than 60 kids from nearby middle schools along with volunteer teachers, counselors, police, and coaches from local swim teams participated on Saturday evenings at Providence. Hundreds of children passed through this program in the past eight years.
Congressman Connolly Honored as CCT Becomes GCCCT
State legislators, Fairfax County officials, and trail enthusiasts joined friends and family of Congressman Gerry Connolly on Saturday, June 7, 2014, to rename the Cross County Trail (CCT) in his honor. Ceremonies were held at the scenic Giles Run Meadow Bridge at Laurel Hill Park in Lorton, Va.
During his tenure as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Connolly championed the creation of the 41.5-mile trail, working closely with advocacy groups to plan the route and overcome obstacles. The Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted at their June 12, 2013, meeting to change the trail’s name to the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail.
On May 25, 1999, the idea for a cross county trail was presented to the Park Authority by Fairfax Trails and Streams. The proposed route linked existing Park Authority trails together with other public lands owned by the National Park Service, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the City of Fairfax, the town of Reston, and with public sidewalks through each supervisory district in Fairfax County to form a continuous pedestrian route from Great Falls National Park to Occoquan Regional Park.
Then Chairman Connolly was extremely supportive of Park Authority efforts to acquire the necessary links to complete the route. One of the last significant sections of trail to be acquired was the Laurel Hill Greenway, part of the former Lorton Prison located on the rail bed used to transport goods within the prison property. The Lorton property was acquired by the county from the federal government under Connolly’s leadership as board chairman. He supported the amendment of the county Comprehensive Plan to protect the majority of Lorton as parkland, an action which allowed for the CCT to incorporate the Greenway at its southern terminus. With the Laurel Hill Greenway addition, continuous public right-of-way was established and the trail was officially completed in December of 2005.
Chairman Bill Bouie Receives Anthony H. Griffin Award
Park Authority Board Chairman William G. Bouie is an impassioned, persuasive advocate for parks. His leadership, consensus-building and ability to nurture partnerships leads to unparalleled success for organizations he supports. For those reasons he was honored by the Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships at its Celebrate Partnerships Awards program.
More than 350 people packed the Mason Inn and Conference Center to hear the stories of how lives have been changed for the better by the contributions of partners. Schools, companies, nonprofit and civic organizations and individuals were honored for their work to make our community better.
Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook, who co-hosted the event, noted that “We partner more often, better and in so many different ways in Fairfax County. No one does it better.” (Include photo from event http://www.fairfaxcountypartnerships.org/news/celebrate_partnerships/2014/Anthony_Griffin_award.html )
Parks by the Numbers ^
23,310 acres of parkland and open space
Three lakefront parks
Two skate parks
274 athletic fields
12,281 classes held in FY11 across the community; 12,925 in FY12
Eight off-leash dog parks
Eight golf courses
One ice skating rink
Five nature centers
Nine supervisory district weekly summer entertainment series featuring 194 culturally diverse performances at 12 venues and five drive-in movies in FY14
Three equestrian areas
671 garden plots
One observatory park with sundial garden
323.6 miles of trails
Over three million archaeological artifacts and 5,600 museum objects
One working farm
2013 Elly Doyle Park Service Awards ^
In fall 2013, the agency took a trip down the yellow brick road to honor its cadre of “OZsome” volunteers, cultural stewards and financial supporters at a Wizard of Oz-themed award program. One doesn’t need brains to understand why parks are so important to our communities, but it does take heart and courage to protect them and make them the best in the nation. It’s no mystery who the wizard behind the curtain of our shared success is; it’s our volunteers and generous donors.
The Elly Doyle Park Service Award program was established by the Park Authority in 1988 in recognition of former board member and chair Ellamae Doyle’s years of outstanding service.
The annual evening of recognition has grown to include the Park Foundation’s Eakin Philanthropy Awards, the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award, and the Mayo Stuntz Cultural Stewardship Award. The eponymous Mayo Stuntz award was created in 2013 to honor the late, longtime historian, author, and chairman of the Sully Foundation. The award honors significant contributions toward the understanding, preservation, and education of history in Fairfax County.
Elly Doyle Winners
- Howard Albers
- Sarah Kirk
- Jim Hickey
Elly Doyle Special Recognition
- Lassine Doumbia
- Casto DeBiasi
- Friends of Green Spring Gardens Board of Directors
- Great Falls Trail Blazers
- Lynn Mulvey-McFerron
- Melina Tye
- Monica Banghart
- Rohil Bhinge
Mayo Stuntz Cultural Stewardship Award Recipients
- Sully Foundation, Ltd.
Eakin Philanthropy Award Recipients
- RZ Foundation
Accolades and Awards ^
The Fairfax County Park Authority kept up its winning ways in FY 2014, receiving recognition from the National Recreation and Park Association, National Association of Government Communicators, the Learning Resources Network, and the Government Finance Officers Association.
The Park Authority’s comprehensive annual financial reporting (CAFR) was once again recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) which awarded the Park Authority with its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. According to a press release from the GFOA, “It is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment.” The GFOA is a non-profit professional association serving approximately 17,500 financial professionals nationwide.
The Park Authority was also honored by the Learning Resources Network (LERN) with a LERN International Award in the category of Best Management Practice for its Class and Summer Camp Summits.
The Class and Summer Camp Summits bring together over 60 agency staff and partners from across Fairfax County to make use of customer feedback to improve service. The summits draw from an online class evaluation system now in operation for its fourth year that has collected more than 20,000 customer responses evaluating over 700 program titles.
This is the second national award for the Park Authority’s Class and Camp Summits. In November 2012, the summits were honored in Washington D.C. by the Learning Resources Network (LERN) with a 2013 LERN International Award in the category of Best Management Practice. LERN award-winning programs recognize cutting edge in the field of lifelong learning and award criteria include originality, innovation, appropriateness and adaptability and measurable outcomes.
Other efforts recognized in the FY 2014 included an inclusive playground, innovative marketing campaigns, a new fitness expo, engaging writing and a new mobile website.
- National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)
Excellence in Inclusion Award
Our Special Harbor, Chessie’s Big Backyard, Clemyjontri Park
Kudos Marketing Award
Colvin Run Mill, Partners in Preservation (PiP) contest
- National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC)
Black Friday Campaign
Article: Chessie’s Big Backyard
Award of Excellence
Special Events: Healthy Strides Community 5K/10K & Fitness Expo
Award of Excellence
Mobile Application: Parktakes Mobile
- LERN International Award in the category of Best Management Practice
Class and Summer Camp Summits
Smoke Free Parks
Clean, fresh and smoke-free air is the future for Fairfax County parks and recreational facilities. On April 23, 2014, the Park Authority Board approved a campaign that aims to reduce the amount of smoking in areas where children play. With this action, the Park Authority continues its mission of creating healthier and safer environments for all people to enjoy. Fairfax County Public Schools recently joined in this healthful effort, creating an influential partnership that is sure to make an impact.
Signs that say, “Tobacco-Free Play Zone – Thank you for your voluntary cooperation” were slated for placement near playgrounds, athletic fields, and skate parks during the fall. The Park Authority chose these areas for the initial phase because they are mostly used by children. Over time, the effort may expand to other park areas.
Some of the primary reasons for this campaign are the health and environmental consequences of tobacco smoke. In June 2011, a report by the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax found that 20% of Fairfax County residents listed tobacco use as the most important health-related issue for the community. Secondhand smoke can be damaging for all people, but health experts say that secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to still-developing lungs.
There are some who foresee an end of smoking as a new generation comes to recognize the consequences. Smoking increases the risk for disease, disability and death for smokers and those who are exposed to secondhand smoke. In addition, cigarette butts are detrimental to the environment. Reduction of cigarette butt litter will improve the health of local streams, lakes, and rivers into which they migrate. Cigarette butts contain carcinogenic materials that also pose a danger to wildlife which may ingest them.
The Tobacco-Free Play Zones constitute a voluntary ban on smoking. The campaign’s premise is based on the hope and expectation that Fairfax County residents will comply out of respect for non-smoking neighbors and families.
The signs are partially funded by the Live Healthy Fairfax initiative funded by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Transformation Grant.
Collaboration and Partnerships Work Now and In The Future
If working together is the wave of the future, the future is already here. The Fairfax County Park Authority simply can’t take care of all the recreational and stewardship needs in this community, nor can it meet the mandates of our full mission without the participation and collaboration of partners from all elements of the community.
The good news is that work by the Park Foundation, adoption of a Financial Stability Plan by the Park Board; and through the provision of proffers by local developers as well as contributions made by organizations throughout Fairfax County, more successful partnerships are now in place. From synthetic turf fields and dog parks, to spray grounds and free concerts for the public, the benefits of improved partnerships, and increased collaboration is paying off.
In western Fairfax County, Sully Highlands Park combined donations from Chantilly Youth Association (CYA) and development proffers from Timber Ridge at Discovery Square, Inc. to develop a 17-acre sports complex. Collaborative work on this park resulted in a state-of-the-art park facility that saved taxpayers over $6 million dollars. The park was developed with two side-by-side lighted synthetic rectangular fields with a cricket pitch between them, two lighted and irrigated 60-foot baseball diamonds, one lighted and irrigated 90-foot ball diamond, a trail system, and a 270-space parking lot. CYA contributed over $120,000 to provide batting cages, a pitcher’s warm up area, a playground and picnic tables. (Insert photos from opening and cutline to identify folks at ribbon cutting)
Your park system depends on donations and partnerships to ensure that tax dollars are leveraged to provide as much as possible to our community. That’s one of the roles of the Fairfax County Park Foundation. In Fiscal Year 2014 Park Foundation efforts were successful on many fronts including sponsorship of the Summer Entertainment Series, summer camp scholarship, invasive plant management programs, as well as conversion of turf to synthetic turf fields. Find out more about their success in FY 2014 at LINK.
Telecom Dollars Will Fund Stewardship Projects Next Year
The benefits of telecom dollars have been felt in parks for many years. Cell towers on parkland have sometimes stirred controversy yet they provide vital communications coverage for the region as well as revenues for park improvement, often reaching $1 million a year through lease agreements. The fact of the matter is that a new project or park improvement may have been funded through this non-traditional revenue stream.
The Park Authority’s Fiscal Sustainability Plan, adopted in December 2011, envisioned the examination of all agency revenue streams and an analysis of their use. Park staff reviewed cell tower revenues in 2013 and recommended that rather than apply these dollars only to the particular park or district in which the cell tower is located, greater strategic benefits could be found by using funds countywide on stewardship projects in Fairfax County.
This past spring, the Park Authority Board agreed to dedicate 20 percent of future telecommunications revenues towards projects that strategically support the Cultural Resource Management Plan (CRMP) and Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP). This is an important step towards funding these numerous environmental and stewardship projects that in many cases have not been able to proceed due to limited funding.
This Board action provided over $311,000 in additional stewardship support during FY 2014. This new support adds to existing funding from proffers and the Board of Supervisors Environmental Improvement Program.
With this funding, projects that protect forest land and open space, as well as historic sites and other cultural amenities, will continue to progress. Programs at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly aimed at protecting our natural capital are one example, as well as the protection of natural and cultural resources at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, the site of extensive archaeological activities in Mason Neck.
Park Authority Board Chairman Bill Bouie noted that without this new approach stewardship projects might languish for lack of dedicated funding. “It may be a relatively small step forward, but we know we are clearly heading in the right direction,” he added.
A list of projects recommended for funding for countywide CRMP and NRMP projects and districtwide projects will be developed annually. The proposed project list will be formalized each May by the agency director and presented to the Park Board for approval each July.
For those dollars not assigned to environmental tasks, the Park Authority endeavors to fund a host of projects that improve the customer’s experience at park facilities and include projects selected for reasons associated with safety, service or revenue. Here are some of the projects that are funded by telecom dollars not allocated for stewardship projects:
Braddock District projects include dock repairs at Lake Accotink Park and the replacement of fitness equipment at Audrey Moore RECenter.
Dranesville District projects include playground apparatus repairs at Clemyjontri Park, improvements at Olney Park, repairs at the Pimmit Barn and the purchase of furniture and equipment for the new roll top observatory building at Turner Farm.
The Hunter Mill District telecom dollars will fund the replacement sand volleyball court at Stratton Woods Park, purchase new lifejackets, funbrellas, and chairs for the Water Mine as well as provide for an analysis of the historic Meeting House at Frying Pan Farm Park.
In Lee District, anticipate installation of additional fencing at the Lee District synthetic turf field, upgrades to several security cameras and the purchase of new water rowers for Lee District RECenter.
Mount Vernon District funding includes painting and weatherproofing of the barn at Grist Mill Park, maintenance and preservation work at the Nike Site at Laurel Hill Park as well as turf cleaning equipment installation at Laurel Hill Golf Club.
The Springfield District funding will also pay to install turf cleaning equipment at Twin Lakes Golf Course, upgrade security cameras at South Run RECenters, provide funding towards the replacement of the existing playground at Rolling Valley West Park and provide for pothole repairs at Burke Lake Park.
Telecom dollars will provide Sully District with improvements at Sully Highlands Park.
Contributions from several monopoles will fund the purchase of a grader and roller to support the Park Authority Mobile Crew.
Concerts on the Ellipse
In a busy county with over 1.1 million residents, it can be hard to get to know your neighbors. The Park Authority’s Summer Entertainment Series provides free events at parks throughout the county where friends and neighbors come together to enjoy concerts and cultural performances. In 2013, Evenings on the Ellipse was introduced at the Fairfax County Government Center, a beautiful community hub. The grassy field located behind the Government Center and bordered by forest where concerts are held is known as “the backyard,” which is an appropriate name for a place where fun summer get-togethers take place.
Evenings on the Ellipse fosters a strong and vibrant sense of community by bringing together musicians, dancers, co-workers, neighbors, couples, and families every Thursday evening throughout July and August to enjoy great music and each other’s company. Concerts start at 5:30 p.m., which gives employees and neighbors a chance to unwind and mingle and avoid traffic before heading home. If the weather is inclement, the concerts move indoors to the spacious atrium.
The Thursday performances include something for everyone, including military bands, blues, rock, Zydeco, folk, R&B, swing, and West African music. The 2014 schedule featured jazz, Big Band, pop, Motown, and Latin pop.
Concerts are free thanks to generous corporate sponsors and community supporters. In May 2014, the Government Center complex welcomed a new farmers market that is held in the parking lot every Thursday afternoon. This, along with the addition of visiting food trucks on select Thursdays, has enhanced the community atmosphere envisioned by Evenings on the Ellipse.
Contact Us ^
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