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FairfaxPlan for arts center at Clemyjontri Park moves forward

Plan for arts center at Clemyjontri Park moves forward

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Fairfax County Park Authority Board members on Jan. 12 unanimously approved a master-plan revision that will allow for future construction of a McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) gallery and educational building at Clemyjontri Park in McLean.

Clemyjontri Park’s original park master plan, approved in 2002, featured three phases. The first, constructed in 2006, was of the rainbow-colored, all-inclusive children’s play area as well as a parking lot and bio-retention pond, said Doug Tipsword, a Park Authority landscape architect and park planner. The second phase, developed in 2019, included a secondary parking lot with 55 more spaces and additional pathways.

Phase 3, the “House and Garden Zone,” has not been developed yet. The option advanced by the Park Authority Board would include an MPA arts center with gallery and exhibition spaces and classrooms.

Under the proposal, the former residence of the park’s late benefactor, Adele Lebowitz, would be renovated and made available for meeting and office space. There also would be new gardens, outdoor gathering spaces and classrooms, and new parking opportunities.


The proposed arts facility would ensure that the cultural and learning elements of art are available in Dranesville District, said Lori Carbonneau, MPA’s executive director.

Park Authority officials would work to preserve trees at the site and install planting buffers. Officials have proposed adding a gazebo and enhancing trails in the vicinity, Tipsword said.

Officials held public meetings about the proposal in December 2020 and October 2021. The initial concept called for a gallery building with two pavilions and a pair of parallel classroom wings to the northwest, which would have encircled Lebowitz’s house.

Officials later revised the design to retain Lebowitz’s house, but combine the other buildings into one structure.

The art center’s revised, single-building design would reduce operating and maintenance costs, improve ventilation and provide better security, Carbonneau said at the December 2020 meeting.

Board member Timothy Hackman (Dranesville District) moved for approval of the master-plan revision.

“I think the proposed revision reflects well on the future possibilities for Clemyjontri,” Hackman said. “The revision gives the Park Authority the flexibility in how Clemy may be further developed, if in fact it is, and creates the possibility for new and exciting opportunities for the community and the county.”

The Park Authority will continue to analyze proposals for the site and be sensitive to the community’s interests, said Hackman, who thanked MPA leaders, county staff and the community for their efforts so far.

Ron Hutchinson, president of the Evermay Community Association near Clemyjontri Park, told the Park Authority Board that the surrounding community needs to be kept apprised of the project’s potential impacts.

“We want to ensure that the adjacent residents have input into any details as this gets developed,” Hutchinson said.

The unusual name of 18.7-acre, handicapped-accessible Clemyjontri Park, which opened in 2006, derives from the names of Lebowitz’s children: Caroline (CL), Emily (EM), John (JON) and Petrina (TRI).

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