The Northern Virginia Park Authority is brainstorming on ways to make better use of its 25 parks and more than 11,000 acres of land.
So far, the Park Authority has been building waterparks, like Ocean Dunes, and developing land for more than 50 year across Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Brian Knapp, chairman of the park authority board, spent the past year polling the public on what they want more of.
“If you're in the business of parks and recreation, you need to constantly challenge yourself on what are the stakeholders wanting,” he said.
Topping the list are requests for new hiking and walking trails, extra places to swim and bike, playing fields and more green space.
“There's this constant tension between development and preserving land,” said Arlington resident Barry Hearn. “The fact that we are in a very populated area, I appreciate the parts that are as pristine as we can make them.”
Chrissy Hall, of Arlington, shares that love of nature and sees opportunities for more quality time outdoors with her twin 4-year-olds.
“We actually live right by W&OD trail so we're very fortunate that we've got that in our backyard. What I would love to see is even more play spaces, playgrounds right there. We have to cross two major roads to actually get to the playground,” she said.
Rob German has lived in Arlington for 35 years and has his own suggestion for park potential.
“First thing that probably comes to mind is more parking just here at least and maybe some of the other parks and then possibly a little more fishing. I mean even stocking the water sometimes,” he said.
Knapp says he appreciates all of the ideas and has a few of his own to help combat a troubling trend.
“We know that obesity is a growing problem in the United States so we've challenged ourselves in this plan to say within a 5 year time, we'd really like to touch 500,000 new children in all of our parks...trying to get them out of the house, get them out away from their Gameboy and iPhones,” Knapp said.
The Northern Virginia Regional Planning Authority will be holding a public hearing on the plan at 6:30 p.m. at 5400 Ox Road in Fairfax Station, VA 6:30 p.m. on September 20. Residents can also submit suggestions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.nvrpa.org.