Tysons, VA

As the National Park Service decides what to do with Claude Moore Colonial Farm property, locals question if their voices are really being heard.

Yesterday (Sept. 26), NPS presented options for future park development near McLean High School, which would divide the land into multi-use space. 

The options featured different ideas that GW Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier said were synthesized from community feedback at the first meeting. But a few attendees who spoke up during the public comment period last night said they felt like NPS ignored their feedback.

During the half-hour presentation, Cuvelier walked through three plans with the audience. All of the proposed plans included expanding hiking trail networks and expanded event space for gatherings.

The “Adventure + Exploration” plan suggested the creation of a camping area where visitors could hook up utility lines. The “Cultivation + Connection” plan emphasized the implementation of community gardens and farms with agricultural fields. Lastly, the “Rejuvenation + Renewal” idea proposed preserving ecological interest points as well as adding a pollinator meadow and a reforestation nursery.

At the first community feedback meeting in April, people were asked to place blue dots around things they would like to see incorporated into the new park design. From the feedback, it appeared that the most popular idea was the continuation of colonial farm activities.

McLean residents Dan Sperling and Rick Schneider told the superintendent last night that they thought the three proposals ignored previous feedback.

“It seems like you have come in with preconceived notions of what you want to do here,” Sperling said. “Not a lot of people knew about this [meeting] tonight. It was only by accident that I found out about it.”

These statements were met with applause from other community members gathered in the audience.

“I wish that you guys would seriously consider what we already have here and not seem like you’re chomping at the bit to do something else,” he said. 

Cuvelier countered this statement, saying, “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t want to hear from the public.”

Several parents and even a local school teacher in the area said that they want to keep the area as a colonial farm because it is the last place in the region that properly portrayed life from the era “free from apartment buildings and shopping malls.”

“The existing park here is unique to northern Virginia,” Schneider said. 

Going forward, NPS is still looking for community input on the project. The examples from last night’s meeting were to put forth a few ideas and nothing is set, an NPS spokesperson said.

Additionally, NPS plans on renaming the park to South Turkey Run Park to better represent the connection to the surrounding area, Cuvelier said.

NPS has a soft timeline for a final proposal and is hoping to release it in spring 2020.

“I can’t give you an exact date, just a general timeframe given what we are trying to accomplish,” Cuvelier said.

Image via National Park Service

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