Bolstered by support from local youth-sports groups and a pair of McLean community associations, the Fairfax County Park Authority’s board of directors on March 23 unanimously adopted a resolution to exchange the agency’s Langley Oaks Park for Langley Fork Park, a National Park Service property.
No final timetable for the land swap has been determined, but Park Authority officials will continue to work with the National Park Service to make the deal a reality, said David Bowden, the agency’s director of planning and development.
The Park Authority is paying $351,000 for an environmental assessment at Langley Fork Park, which will include investigations of the site’s cultural resources and archeology.
Bowden said he hoped the study would not find any significant impacts that would result from the land swap and the park’s future redevelopment.
Located 6250 Georgetown Pike, the nearly 53-acre Langley Fork Park is a portion of Claude Moore Colonial Farm (or Turkey Run Park). The Park Authority since 1981 has operated the park under a special-use permit granted by the National Park Service.
The Park Authority has improved the site with 60- and 90-foot diamond playing fields, a pair of rectangular fields, a fitness trail, two multi-use courts and a 170-space parking lot. None of the athletic fields is lighted.
The original 25-year permit expired in 2006 and because of new policies has been renewed annually ever since, making it difficult for both agencies to manage the park and chart its future.
Under a master plan adopted by the Park Authority in 2013, Langley Fork Park would receive an additional 80 parking spaces, two more rectangular playing fields, another ball diamond, an off-leash dog area, two pavilions and a fitness zone.
All of the athletic fields would receive synthetic turf if funding allowed, but only three rectangular fields and one diamond would be lighted. The remaining fields – two diamonds, one rectangular – would be unlighted because they are located within the Langley Fork Historic Overlay District.
Park Authority officials chose Langley Oaks Park for the land swap because it is located within the Potomac River’s watershed, which is a requirement for the Park Service’s property acquisitions.
Langley Oaks Park consists of nearly 102 acres of undeveloped land and is bordered by National Park Service property to the north and east. The park has an informal trail network that connects with paths at Claude Moore Colonial Farm.
Written testimony from McLean-area community associations and athletic organizations supported the Park Authority’s land-swap proposal.
Lewinsville Coalition president Irwin Auerbach urged Park Authority officials to seal the land-swap deal as quickly as possible so much-needed additional athletic fields can be built at Langley Fork Park.
The site “would seem to be an ideal location for such fields because it would increase supply while decreasing the need for further intrusions into existing neighborhoods such as, for example, requests to install lighting on existing neighborhood fields in order to expand [playing] capacity,” he wrote.
Sarah Corley, president of the 166-home Evermay Community Association, wrote that the organization supports the land swap, but wants the Park Authority to maximize the number of parking spaces available at Langley Fork Park and at its adjacent Clemyjontri Park.
The Park Authority also should install additional signage, a pedestrian bridge over Georgetown Pike between the parks and a pedestrian trail on the west side of that road between Clemyjontri’s entrance and Dolley Madison Boulevard, Corley wrote.
In addition, Park Authority officials should continue, but formalize, an agreement allowing The Potomac School to use Langley Fork Park’s parking lot as a bus pick-up location for students.
Officials from McLean Youth Soccer Inc., which with about 3,200 players is one of the largest youth-sports groups in Fairfax County, also signaled their support for the land swap.
Organization leaders Louise Waxler, James Socas, Sharon King Donohue and Matt Richardson submitted a statement saying the improvement of Langley Fork Park is critical to meeting the community’s needs.
“There simply is no comparable resource in our area with the combination of space and location,” they wrote. “We believe this opportunity is a transformational project MYS and other peer youth-sports programs, and we strongly recommend the project moving forward.”