March 13, 2006

Mr. Carl Sell
Rose Hill Civic Association
PO Box 10891
Franconia, VA 22310

Dear Mr. Sell:

Thank you for your letter and your comments about the proposed Lee District Park Master Plan Revision. Your continued interest and support of the Park Authority and Lee District Park is always appreciated. In response to your concerns, we have carefully reviewed the proposal.

As you are aware, Lee District Park provides a variety of leisure activities to residents of Lee District and Fairfax County. Historic and projected population growth, rising park facility demand, and diminished opportunities to acquire developable parkland requires that the Park Authority plan existing park uses in a more efficient way to increase capacity. Field lighting has become an important part of the Park Authority’s effort to provide full use of athletic field space to better serve residents’ active recreation needs. To that end, the Park Authority proposes to light all of the fields at Lee District Park.

Lee District Park has long been a community asset and good neighbor. To ensure that we remain good neighbors and minimize impacts on surrounding communities, staff has studied the potential lighting and traffic impacts that might occur as a result of our planned changes and found the following.

First, to reduce any impact from lights, the Park Authority has incorporated the newly enacted Fairfax County Lighting Ordinance regulating athletic field lighting, In fact, our efforts to minimize impacts will go beyond these regulations given your community’s concerns.

I believe you are aware that the Park Authority has commissioned a special consultant study to compare current field lighting technology and products to develop new field lighting specifications. This criteria include reducing light spill and glare by using state-of-the-art systems. We will take advantage of improved lighting technology to provide high quality, less intrusive field light systems for Lee District Park. In developing these new specifications, we are consulting recommendations from Dark Skies International, the advocacy leaders in protecting light impacts on “dark skies”.

Second, increased evening traffic associated with the lighting of athletic fields is also a serious concern for us. The Park Authority, in association with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Community and Recreation Services, studied the existing traffic load on roads surrounding Lee District Park and the estimated increase anticipated from games played at night. It is our estimate that lighted fields will each add an extra 25 cars per hour to the park, Except at the beginning and end of the playing seasons, March and November, respectively, this additional traffic would occur the evening rush hour. Attached is a field use analysis completed by the Department of Community and Recreation Services that helps predict how the field uses will change under the proposed plan.

Another concern raised in your letter, and by others, is the creation of a trail connection between Lee District Park, Huntley Meadows, and Greendale Golf Course. This is a goal we share. The adopted Countywide Trails Plan shows a trail planned along Telegraph Road that connects to Rose Hill Drive and South Van Dorn Street. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently completed a study that found a crosswalk at the intersection of South Kings Highway and Telegraph Road would not meet the Department’s safety requirements. This study is being further reviewed to determine possible alternative solutions.

The Countywide Trails Plan also shows a trail through Lee District Park crossing South Kings Highway at Vantage Drive. A number of residents have suggested building a pedestrian overpass over South Kings Highway. This sort of structure would need to meet accessibility requirements, which will be challenging with the existing steep topography and may impact residential properties on the south side of South Kings Highway. In addition, constructing such a facility would be cost prohibitive.

The Supervisor’s Office, along with the Department of Transportation, continues to explore a safe alternative connection. The Park Authority will continue to pursue park and trail connection opportunities, and support implementation of the Countywide Trails Plan with trails and trail connections that serve the public well and safely.
Finally, we agree that internal circulation paths should be connected and logically placed. The draft plan revision shows trail connections between new features in the Family Recreation Area and existing facilities to improve internal circulation. At the Master Plan phase, internal trail locations are not all specifically shown on the Conceptual Development Plan. They are, however, located and specified on site development plans. This allows flexibility in the actual trail design and location at the time they are built. In the plan text however, we have included a recommendation for improving internal circulation within the park.

We are committed to producing a high quality master plan for Lee District Park and your suggestions are important in helping us achieve a balanced plan that addresses community needs and concerns, while also supporting the mission of the Park Authority. Thanks again for your input. If you have any further concerns please feel free to contact me at (703) 324-8741.

Yours truly,

Lynn S. Tadlock
Director
Planning and Development Division

 

cc: Dana Kauffman, Board of Supervisors, Lee District
Edward Batten, Sr., Park Authority Board, Lee District
Michael A. Kane, Director
Timothy K. White, Deputy Director
Judith Pedersen, Public Information Officer
Sandra Staliman, Manager, Park Planning Branch
Jesse Rounds, Project Manager, Park Planning Branch  

 

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