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Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Master Plan approved for Green Spring Gardens

One of the ponds at Green Spring Gardens.
A revised Master Plan for Green Spring Gardens calls for a potential expansion of the Horticulture Center, an outdoor classroom, a greater focus on historic preservation, and improved pedestrian and bicycle access.

The new plan, approved by the Park Authority Board in April, serves as a guide for future improvements if funding becomes available at some point down the road. Several community meetings were held to gather public input.

The Historic House.
The plan considers – but stops short of recommending – various revenue-generating ideas, such as the establishment of a privately owned restaurant, coffee shop, caterer, or bakery within the park to serve both the park and the surrounding community; a new dual-purpose facility that could be used for public programming and to generate rental income; and an entrance fee.

“Any of the more ambitious options would entail a considerable shift to the overall program and business model for Green Spring Gardens, requiring substantial physical construction, relocation of existing uses, and expansion into new service areas,” the plan states. 

“Although there may be benefit to the consideration of these alternatives for the continued viability of Green Spring Gardens,” the document says, “meaningful and thorough feasibility studies must be conducted to support such a shift.” The county park budget doesn’t currently have the resources for such a comprehensive study.

The Master Plan includes these observations, recommendations, and design concerns:
  • Any further development of the park should ensure, as much as possible, that all locations are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Additional parking is needed, but “significant expansion of on-site parking would have considerable impacts on the character of the park as well as to horticultural, cultural, and natural resources.” As an alternative, the plan recommends acquisition of land or lease agreements for expanded parking, shared parking agreements, and more efforts to publicize the availability of public transportation.
  • Expansion of pedestrian access to the park from surrounding communities needs to be accompanied by safety measures on Braddock Road, such as crosswalks and pedestrian signals.
  • Bicycle access could be promoted by providing secure bike storage.
  • Low-impact development practices, such as porous pavement, should be undertaken to minimize stormwater runoff.
  • Fiscal sustainability needs to be a key element of the plan, so park funding will have to be supplemented with revenue generated by park offerings, sponsorships, donations, and volunteerism.
  • Before any new construction is carried out, staff in the Cultural Resource Management and Protection department should determine whether there are archaeological deposits and how to minimize the impact on those resources.
  • The old fermentation tank on the property should be protected, and there should be an effort to enhance its visibility and help visitors appreciate its value.
  • Any development in or near the Historic House should be evaluated with the goal of protecting the cultural landscape of the setting.
  • The county should pursue the creation of a historic overlay district to provide an additional level of protection of the historical resources at Green Springs.

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