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Monday, November 21, 2011

Park bond will be on 2012 ballot

A $50 million parks bond will be on the 2012 ballot, said Fairfax County Parks Authority Director John Dargle Jr. at a “listening forum” at Green Spring Gardens Nov. 17.

Annandale-area projects to be funded by the bond include improvements to the athletic fields and parking lot at Pine Ridge Park and improvements at Pinecrest Golf Course. The bond includes $38 million for Fairfax County parks; the rest would be for parks managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

In other parks news, 45 deer have been “harvested” (killed) by bow hunters at the Accotink Stream Valley Park since the “deer management” (hunting) season started in September.

Dargle has been holding listening forums around the county to hear local residents’ concerns with park issues. At the Nov. 17 forum, focusing on Mason District parks, nearly the whole session was devoted to Leslie Carper’s complaint regarding irregularities associated with the county shutting down the community gardens at the George Washington RECenter in the Mount Vernon District.

That’s because Carper and her friend were the only members of the public who showed up. The rest of the half dozen or so people at the meeting were either park staff or otherwise associated with the Park Authority.

So what about Carper’s complaint? It was all really complicated, but her concerns included the way the gardens were terminated. About $400 to $500 in funds from the sale of produce and from donations to maintain the gardens disappeared, says Carper, a longtime parks volunteer. Among other issues, a rototiller lent by a volunteer was broken, possibly by rec center staff. The long-running situation led to a hostile situation for her at the rec center, and she urged Dargle to improve accountability.

Dargle promised to follow up on an ongoing investigation into these matters. The gardens were destroyed because they were too close to the rec center and attracted groundhogs and other rodents. “It’s a safety issue,” he says.

Community gardens are only allowed in designated park areas, says Mary Olein, manager of Green Spring Gardens, which administers the county’s community gardens program. There are 400 to 500 people on the waiting list for garden plots.

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