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Fort Hunt Park Design Alternatives Discussed

Residents voiced their concerns at a public meeting.

Community members turned out in full force at a public meeting hosted by the National Park Service to discuss alternative concepts Wednesday night.

National Park Service planners for the design of Fort Hunt Park. These concepts were unveiled in the wake of that would have eliminated picnic pavilions. The National Park Service .

The alternative concepts balance recreational use and resource protection, and enhance the preservation of the historic significance of the land, according to the National Park Service.

“This is how the process is supposed to work,” stressed Park Ranger Ben Helwig.

The new plans minimize or eliminate the need to remove buildings and picnic pavilions.

Common to all action alternatives is the construction of an interpretation/recreation trail, rerouting the loop road through the reopened lower road, and creating zones for the location of the visitor contact station. Any action will require additional planning, design, and public review.

After the meeting, residents had the opportunity to ask questions about the new alternatives. Citizens voiced concerns about security of the loop road and paying to use the park.

Resident Dorothy Canter prefers Alternative 3 or 4.

"This is the one I favor because it's more secluded," said Cantor of Alternative 4. "There's parkland here and you can't see the homes, and there's forest around it."

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland issued a statement Wednesday, which read: "It is my hope that the National Park Service can find a way to preserve existing recreational amenities and educate the public about Fort Hunt's intriguing history through an improved system of regulation and inspection."

Hyland stressed that given Fairfax County's parkland and recreational fields deficiency, the elimination of ballfields at Fort Hunt Park would stress other fields in the area.

The public scoping period is underway and concludes July 28. Residents can submit their comments via the National Park Service website.

J. Griffin Crump June 28, 2012 at 09:34 PM
This account leaves me wondering if the Patch's staff person attended the same meeting I did! The subhed of this article reads, "Residents voiced their concerns at a public meeting." The caption under the main photo reads, "Residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns." Not mentioned at all was the fact that this opportunity was only gained after the audience persistently demanded it, despite the Park Service's having structured the meeting in such a way as to prevent just such open discussion. The Park Service staff resisted the attendees' requests to speak or ask questions for several minutes, until Fairfax County Mount Vernon area Supervisor Gerry Hyland took the microphone and suggested that another meeting be scheduled for the purpose of such open discussion. The audience vociferously rejected that suggestion, insisting that they were there "now" and wanted to hear what each other had to say and to hear the Park Service's responses. Finally, the Superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway came to the microphone and suggested that public discussion be entertained until 8 p.m. -- about 20 minutes. The ensuing question and answer period lasted about 35 minutes. Journalistically, this was the real news of the evening. The only person quoted was a supporter of one of the Park Service plans. If The Patch intends to provide any more coverage of this issue, I suggest that it send a reporter, rather than just a journalism school graduate.
ET1221 June 29, 2012 at 04:14 AM
I was very glad for my 14 year old son to see the community in action, listen to many sides of an issue and witness what it takes to have input in a community situation which has concerns on many fronts. The history, the planning, the government response, the ability to change a plans path and the citizenry standing strong were impressive for his education regarding citizenship in his community. I thank everyone who attended on his behalf! And yes, I think the most profound point in the meeting was when the planned meeting format had the tables turned. So proud to be a part of this neighborhood!

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