Fairfax County supervisors on March 9 set an April 13 public hearing to discuss the proposed conveyance of Blake Lane Park in Oakton to the county’s Park Authority.
The two parcels, located at 10033 Blake Lane near the road’s intersection with Bushman Drive, total about 10 acres. The School Board originally owned the land, but transferred it to the Board of Supervisors in 2006 in exchanged for more bond funding for school construction.
The Park Authority developed amenities at the site, including a dog park, butterfly garden, an open-play area and two rectangular athletic fields. (The county also formerly collected recyclables at the site, but removed the containers in September 2016 because of chronic problems with illegally dumped items.)
Park advocates fought back in 2017 after the School Board identified Blake Lane Park as a possible future site of a $35 million elementary school. The School Board on Jan. 5 this year instead decided to repurpose the Dunn Loring Administration Center as an elementary school, citing data that schools around Blake Lane Park were not suffering capacity problems.
One of the parcels dedicated to the Board of Supervisors was set aside expressly for recreational purposes or open space. The other parcel is covered by a land-bank agreement between the board and the Park Authority, which would allow the Park Authority to return the land to supervisors without fair-market compensation if the board recognized a public need for the site.
By conveying that parcel to the Park Authority, the Board of Supervisors would receive a land-bank credit equal to the site’s tax-assessed value.
County staff recommended supervisors require, as part of the agreement, that the parkland would be used for public-park purposes and kept up according to the Park Authority’s maintenance standards. Initiatives to change facilities and uses at the site would be guided by the Park Authority’s master-planning policies.
Staff also recommended that supervisors reserve the right to allow public entities and utilities, as well as telecommunications and cable-television providers, to provide utilities and services at the site. The county would continue to own and maintain its utilities at the site, such as sanitary sewers and stormwater-management facilities.
Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence) thanked community members for their feedback on the issue, adding she will be “excited to have that official meeting and have a new master plan for that park after April.”
Jennifer Pradas, who has served as site leader at Blake Lane Park for the Park Authority’s invasive-species-management program, welcomed the proposed land conveyance.
“It is long past the time where parks can be regarded as open space available for development, as opposed something that adds enormous value to the well-being of a community,” she said. “Building a school at [the Blake Lane Park site] may have been the ‘easiest’ alternative to respond to the parents’ legitimate concerns of overcrowding, but it wasn’t the best. Far from it.”