Copy of Page 8 Dove's landing park map (for jump).jpg

County officials recently held an informational meeting to receive ideas about the future of the existing 308-acre Dove’s Landing Park park and more than 170 acres that could be incorporated into it.

Prince William County will gauge interest in new amenities in the expanded Doves Landing Park before going full force with more upgrades.

During its meeting Oct. 11, the Board of County Supervisors approved a conceptual master plan for the future of the park.

The existing 308-acre park sits in the center of the county at the confluence of the Occoquan River and the Cedar Run and Broad Run tributaries near Bristow Road. It is being expanded to include 170 acres on the other side of the river as part of the controversial Preserve at Long Branch development. The developer received additional density allowances for the project by pledging to donate the acreage to the county as parkland.

The developer also provided an additional 19 acres as a natural and cultural resources preserve at Sinclair Mill, which is next to the river and will connect Doves Landing to the parkland planned for The Preserve.

The Sinclair Mill area includes a residential structure, a mill site, a former gold mine, Civil War earthworks and the route for an old colonial road. The county plans to construct 2.5 miles of trail on the property and 20 trailhead parking spaces.

The county hasn’t done much with the existing 308 acres. It has 18 parking spaces, access to the river and 4.5 miles of trails.

The new plan emphasizes increased access to the river for fishing, boating and kayaks.

Several people spoke about the plan at Tuesday’s meeting, raising concerns about two proposed parking lots. The lots are on the eastern end of the park, with one at the end of an existing utility road.

Speakers said the plan would increase traffic on the road and that it’s not built for that volume of people. They were also concerned that creating a kayak access area could lead to visitors trespassing onto private land along the river.

Former Supervisor Marty Nohe said the county should move forward but still address the “legitimate concerns” about public safety raised at the meeting. 

“This park has the potential to be the true gem for this community,” he said. “This is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Many speakers also urged the board to place a conservation easement on the land, which would prohibit any future development. The board supported the easement.

Seth Hendler-Voss, the county’s director of parks, recreation and tourism, said a lot of the concerns could be addressed during the engineering and design phases. He said the plan is meant to be a high-level policy guide rather than a detailed outline.

“The master plan is merely a framework,” he said. “It’s intentionally conceptually in nature.”

Supervisor Yesli Vega, whose Coles District includes the property, pressed Hendler-Voss for specific data on traffic generation, which he said was “an impossible task right now” to figure out.

Hendler-Voss said the parking lots were added because the planned amenities would require a roughly one-mile hike to reach without them.

“We’re going to try to make those amenities as accessible as possible,” he said.

The total costs for the planned improvements in the existing Doves Landing section and the Sinclair Mill area are $14.3 million. The county has $2.4 million budgeted for some improvements and could pursue $2 million in grant funding.

The board was generally supportive of the planned improvements to the Sinclair Mill area, so supervisors made sure the plan would first implement the work in that area before moving forward in other areas.

The county would then gauge usage of that area to determine how intensive to move forward with improvements in other parts of the park.

“My concern is we’re adopting a master plan that doesn’t seem to have a big champion out there for this, and funding is not going to happen unless we have champions up here to do this,” said Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville. “No one’s made the case to me that this is something that people want … I know this seems like a great project, but if there’s not a constituency for this, what are we doing?”

The proposal would require Planning Commission approval before construction, but the board added a review before the supervisors as well.

The county estimates design and engineering could take two years and construction could begin in 2024.

 

 

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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(1) comment

Charles Grymes

County's "Needs Assessment" in 2019 (https://www.pwcva.gov/assets/documents/park/napExecutiveSummary.pdf) determined that #1 recreational need was walking and biking trails - and #2 was parks with water access. Providing a new boat ramp first at Sinclair Mill is a logical starting point for implementing the Doves Landing Master Plan.

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