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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Backlick Park is victim of budget cuts

A picnic table at Backlick Park.
Backlick Park has deteriorated so much, it was featured Aug. 9 on WJLA’s “7 on Your Side,” which serves as an advocate for people who have trouble getting authorities to deal with their complaints.

The TV news show followed up on an email from Annandale resident Binod Gupta, who said the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) failed to address his complaints about a broken slide, poorly maintained pathways, low-hanging branches, and trash build-up. The park is located at 4516 Backlick Road in Annandale.


The slide can't be used until it's fixed.

When the Annandale Blogger visited the park on Aug. 10, a couple of FCPA employees were there but declined to talk to a reporter. The entrance to the broken slide was blocked by plywood, and the slide exit was covered with plastic. Several picnic table benches were badly damaged, the ground by the fitness equipment was covered in weeds, and the trails needed maintenance.

“We know the slide needs to be repaired. We’ve been working on making improvements in that park,” said Judy Pedersen, FCPA public information officer. Finding a replacement part for the slide has been challenging, she said. Once a part is found, it would take 45 to 60 days to fix the slide.

The fitness equipment is being overtaken by weeds.
The benches will be fixed and other small repairs will be done “in the near term,” she said,  “which is not to say we’ve done a terrific job at this park.”

“We do understand his frustration,” Pedersen said of Gupta. “We responded to each of his inquiries and our area manager offered to meet with him three times but he didn’t respond back.”

“Backlick Park is one of our older parks and our staff is stretched,” Petersen said. “It’s a continuing challenge.” The FCPA budget in recent years “has taken a lot of cuts, while the acreage of parkland has increased.” Backlick is not the only park deteriorating due to deferred maintenance.

FCPA has a backlog of $133 million for general maintenance of park facilities, she said. Since 2001, the budget for trails maintenance has been cut by 69 percent while 130 miles of trails have been added during the same period. The budget for contract mowing has been been steadily reduced over the years from $425,000 in 2005 to $271,000 in 2016.

She said funding for repairs to the walkways and parking lot at Backlick Park could come from the park bond on the November ballot.

11 comments:

  1. "funding for repairs to the walkways and parking lot...would come from the park bond." So, now they're paying operating expenses with bond proceeds? These everyday expenses should be paid with funds budgeted annually. Borrowing using bonds is not only more expensive but also conceals the actual cost of parks maintenance.

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    1. Parks get less than 1% of County budget. Most of that goes to large parks/facilities like rec centers and district parks. If we didn't spend so lavishly on schools, we would have more money for parks.

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    2. I've always said Fairfax County needs an Inspector General, spending is going unchecked. Bonds should not be used for day to day operational expenses. I don't trust the BoS anymore, they seem to spend money first and worry about paying for it later.

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  2. Many of you voted for Penny Gross and this is what we are getting in the Mason District. v

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  3. This is what we get when we don't want to properly fund our public services. No one wants to increase taxes but then how are these services paid for?

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    1. We spend over one million dollars on ACCA child care for one facility. That money could go to help repair our parks.

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  4. It's time for the County to critically review the parks inventory to cull those properties that are underutilized. Ffx has for years been purchasing large tracts of land that remain vacant. Most of the so-called parks discussed in this blog over the past few months are actually nothing but woodlots that only provide a scenic backdrop for the homeowners who live on their edges. This article doesn't indicate how intensively Backlick Park is used, but most of it seems to be woods. That's hardly an inviting scenario. So, instead of discussing taxes, it's time to consider marketing some of these properties instead of burdening taxpayers with their upkeep.

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    Replies
    1. I live near this park. I have four kids. I would be happy to use the park if it were not so overgrown and creepy. Frankly, when you let them go into disrepair and overgrowth, they become a haven for not so stellar behaviours and the people next door do not want their kids hanging out there. So either they repair it or sell it, not leave it in disrepair.

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    2. Yes! Raze the trees to the ground and pave every square foot! Heaven knows we need more stores, more McMansions, and more and more and more....

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  5. Why didn't they look at this area as a location for the "temporary" homeless shelter.

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  6. If you think paying higher or more taxes will fix this you should just ask for your doctor to finish the lobotomy now.

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