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Parks & Open Space in the News

County's Planning Is in Budget Pinch; Parks Proposal Would Eat Into Funds
Washington Post; January 17 2008
Prince William is faced with making long-term decisions about the future of the county while it faces an immediate, and some hope short-term, budget crisis. … Supervisors "need to get off the dime and start taking action and start conserving what they say they want to conserve," Grymes said. "We've had rich years, we've had poor years. But if you don't have vision, you aren't going to get there." … Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At large) said the county shouldn't set its long-term goals based on its "short-term fiscal challenges." "It's easy to get caught in the weeds on this," he said. "We have to preserve land and open space for succeeding generations. We have to set the standard high enough that we have something to strive for."

Supervisors to discuss open space
Potomac News, January 14, 2008
The Prince William Planning Commission recommends that the county have 25 acres of parks and open space for every 1,000 people in the county. County staff recommends that there be 15 acres of parks and open space per 1,000 people. There are currently 13.8 acres of parks and open space per 1,000 county residents. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will hold a work session Tuesday to discuss the Park, Open Space and Trails chapter of the county's comprehensive plan and figure out which of those goals can be met. Citizen surveys show that Prince William residents value parks and open spaces.

Ambitious parkland plan back for another debate
Washington Examiner, January 15 2008
… “I think that the short-term fiscal challenges that we have shouldn't shape our long-term vision of the county,” Chairman Corey Stewart said. “We need that parkland.” The planning commission recommended the 25-acre standard, but county staff members have recommended a smaller-scale expansion to 15 acres per 1,000 people, partly because of budget concerns.

Board Set To Resume Open-Space Discussion; Plans Have Costs That Vary Widely
Washington Post; January 13 2008
… "We're already behind," County Executive Craig S. Gerhart said. Kim Hosen, executive director of the Prince William Conservation Alliance , said the county is well behind neighboring jurisdictions' open-space goals. … Taxpayers shouldn't assume they will have to foot 100 percent of the bill, said Hosen, adding that private donors, nonprofit groups, businesses and developer proffers can help make up the difference.

Golf courses contribute to park losses
Potomac News; October 10, 2007
Golf courses dragged down the Prince William Park Authority's bottom line this year, but its two water parks made up some of the difference. Still the park authority will carry over losses from fiscal 2007 into fiscal 2008, said E. Jay Ellington, the park authority executive director. "We didn't quite cover all of the costs even with the water parks," said Ellington, who briefed the Prince William Board of County Supervisors Tuesday.

Planning commission gutting open space
Harry Wiggins, Letter to the Editor, Potomac News, September 16 2007
At the Prince William County Planning Commission meeting of September 12, the commission voted to eviscerate the Citizens Open Space Plan. … The Open Space Plan actually reduces the amount of protected open space currently in the county inventory.

As Sudley Park construction begins, questions mount over site's future
Gainesville Times; May 2 2007
The Gainesville District Little League has a problem common to many businesses: supply cannot keep up with demand. For the nonprofit organization, demand comes from an influx of new residents who have moved to western Prince William County along with their children who play baseball and softball. Naturally, supply for little league is based on open space and personnel. The latter is not problematic; the league has coaches. What it does not have are enough fields to hold the more than 1,000 youngsters who want to play baseball and softball in the area.

Wide Open Spaces
Potomac News; January 14, 2007
Prince William County is "behind the curve" in preserving open space and acquiring parkland, according to its newly elected board chairman. … "We do not have enough open space and we do not have enough trails," County Supervisor Corey Stewart said. Stewart, who was elected chairman at-large on a slow-growth platform in November, said he has a few plans he hopes could begin to reverse the deficit, without creating a more frequent bond schedule.

Planners defer vote on open spaces
Potomac News; September 23, 2006
"The devil's in the details," as one county resident put it, and the Prince William Planning Commission decided the details weren't solid enough to approve amendments to chapters of the Comprehensive Plan relating to parks and open space at Wednesday evening's public hearing. After extensive discussion, the commission voted to defer a decision to a special work session on Jan. 24, 2007.

Hike or bike at a local park: Discover Diversions
Potomac News; July 28 2007
Prince William County offers a wide variety of activities to do outdoors. From swimming to skating to horseback riding, area parks offer a variety of family-friendly activities.

Brickley leads call for more area trails
Potomac News; March 26, 2007
… Amid major growing pains, the county continues to lag behind in establishing trails that would save wooded areas that are fast disappearing while raking in tourism dollars, Brickley said. "I don't think they realize the tourist potential," he said, standing on the wood-planked footbridge that spans the Occoquan River into Fairfax County . "We need to get a little bit more of a sense of urgency to get this together. Once you destroy that beauty it's hard to get it back."

Parks plan to cut services due to budget
Potomac News; March 14, 2007
The Prince William Park Authority, which gets 54 percent of its budget from the county, will have to forego $908,397 from the general fund in fiscal 2008, said Jay Ellington, the executive director of the park authority. The park authority's solution is to raise fees, cut services and let people go.

Long Regional Park expansion begun
Potomac News; October 7, 2006
County officials gathered with representatives from luxury home developer Toll Brothers on Friday afternoon to break ground for the expansion of James S. Long Regional Park near Haymarket. Toll Brothers proffered three new soccer fields and a 176-space parking lot for the park as part a proposal to build 420 new homes in its Dominion Valley development off U.S. 15. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved the rezoning in July. Mark Simms, the company's vice president of land development, said the park expansion should be completed in spring 2007.

Tally Unearths More Open SpaceThan in County Plan
Washington Post; April 9, 2006
Prince William County has more open space than appears in its Comprehensive Plan -- the blueprint that guides where to put schools, houses, businesses and parks -- and county planners have spent the past year identifying it. The planners discovered that 6,629 acres of open space, from tot lots to nature trails, are tucked inside subdivisions and owned by homeowners associations whose bylaws protect the land and the recreational facilities from development.

Couple Sues County to Build on Open Space
Washington Post; February 20, 2005
A couple is suing Prince William County for the right to build a luxury home on a three-acre lot in Occoquan that was designated as a park nearly 30 years ago. … Howard said the county is uncertain how many plots of land throughout the county have the park designation. The planning department is conducting research, he said.

Grave Doubts About Grayson Resting Place
Washington Post; February 27, 2005
Prince William officials have pledged to do more to preserve the county's disappearing historic places and artifacts. This is one in an occasional series of articles taking stock of what once was by touring the county's 68 historical markers as they are mapped in the "Prince William County Historical Marker Guide."

Region's Green Space Going Fast: Study Says 28 to 43 Square Miles Disappear Each Day
Washington Post; May 22, 2004
The greater Washington region lost nearly half as much green space to development from 1986 to 2000 as it did in its entire prior history, according to a soon-to-be-released study. … By comparing the green space inventory detailed on the maps with their own land-use plans, local governments can guide future development and maximize the amount and size of green space they have left, LeCouteur said. The authors of the study hope it will someday underpin a regional development plan, as an alternative to the patchwork of local plans. In a recent report, Eugster wrote that although more than 311,036 acres of open space will have gone under the bulldozer from 1990 to 2020, no major green space protection initiative exists in the region.

As the Economy Grows, the Trees Fall
Washington Post; March 23, 1997
… Much of the land is being devoured in large gulps in outer counties whose rural past is rapidly succumbing to a suburban future. Howard, Frederick, Calvert and Charles counties in Maryland together have been projected to lose 144,670 acres—more than 13 acres a day—between 1990 and 2020. Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier counties in Northern Virginia stand to lose 86,583 acres during the same period. … A recent study for Virginia Commonwealth University projects that Fairfax and Prince William could be devoid of farmland by 2020.

Just Saying `Yes' to Developers
Washington Post; July 21 1996
For years, Prince William County supervisors have complained that construction of thousands of new homes has strained the county's finances by increasing the demand for roads, police officers, firefighters, libraries and schools. But while they were complaining, a Washington Post analysis of zoning and voting records from 1990 to 1995 shows, the Board of County Supervisors approved virtually every request to authorize more houses in Prince William. … Although past slow-growth movements have been motivated by concerns for the environment and a desire to protect open space, the current hand-wringing is about the financial health of local governments.