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District Spotlight: West Side

Editor’s note: Over the past several weeks, Tysons Reporter has profiled the eight districts of Tysons. This is the last article in that series.

Tysons’ West Side is unique among its eight districts: most of it is parkland and two neighborhoods with no pressing need for redevelopment.

The park and these neighborhoods provide a clear transition between the soon-to-be shining towers of downtown Tysons West and the suburban neighborhoods beyond.

The Stream Valley Park

Some residents call it “Tysons’ Last Forest.” Its full name is Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley Park, adjoining Freedom Hill Park and Raglan Road Park, but it’s easiest to simply refer to the entire thing as the Stream Valley Park. It defines the West Side.

The park was created mostly in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as private landowners donated parts of the forest to Fairfax County. It includes Ash Grove, a historic site of some local significance that once belonged to the Lord Fairfax family.

It is an area of ecological significance. As the Neighborhood Coalition to Save Tysons’ Last Forest points out, the park “contains nationally-recognized ‘wetlands,’ which house the stream valley, a Palustrine forest of mature trees, and varied vegetation.” It provides animal habitat and, as part of the Difficult Run and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay watersheds, is important for stormwater management and for the region’s overall environmental water quality.

An active local environmental movement works to protect it from development — a movement which succeeded in preventing a highway ramp from being built in it. The only things that might disrupt the natural environment are bicycle paths, like the Vesper Trail that recently opened between Spring Hill Metro station and Higdon Road on the far side of the park.

Perhaps most importantly for residents, it also provides a natural urban green space. Less than a ten-minute walk from the Spring Hill Metro station, Stream Valley Park is accessible to residents of urban Tysons.

Gosnell and Ashgrove

The Gosnell and Ashgrove neighborhood seem like they will remain as peaceful, urban residential communities.

This pair of residential neighborhoods — Gosnell in the south and Ashgrove in the north — are communities of townhouses and multifamily structures that provide residential opportunities close to downtown Tysons’ employment centers and next to the natural amenity of the park. These residences were mostly built in the 1990s.

The Comprehensive Plan for Tysons found that, in fact, these neighborhoods already have the desired level of density. As such, they’re not slated for redevelopment anytime soon, meaning that this area is unlikely to change with anything near the speed or the intensity of other areas in Tysons.

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