Future of former Claude Moore Farm remains in limbo

If you’ve been wondering what the future holds for the former Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, rest assured that the National Park Service is asking the same question.

About 18 months since its last public meeting on the subject, the NPS released a 43-page final concept plan in March outlining the current conditions of the farm, which has been renamed South Turkey Run Park, and proposing recommendations for what to do with the property.

The NPS says that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the concept selection process, but there does not to be any clear timeline yet for when the federal agency will select which of the three proposals described in the report to pursue.

“No management direction other than providing continued access to the trails has been decided,” George Washington Memorial Parkway Chief of Staff Aaron LaRocca told Tysons Reporter last week.

Claude Moore closed in December 2018 when the nonprofit Friends of Claude Moore Colonial Farm that operated the 18th century-style “living history” farm departed following a long, rather bitter contractual dispute with the NPS, which has owned the land as part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway since 1971.

While the trails at South Turkey Run Park remain open, the livestock, farm equipment, and several buildings that once occupied the 70-acre site have been removed, and no visitor services or facilities are currently available. J.R.’s Custom Catering announced in July that The Pavilions at Turkey Run were shut down, though the webpage for the venue has since been removed.

The National Park Service held two public meetings in 2019 to share its vision and initial concepts for South Turkey Run Park. The recently released concept plan builds off of those proposals with some revisions based on input from stakeholders, neighbors, and park visitors, according to LaRocca.

As outlined in the concept plan, the three possible visions for South Turkey Run Park are:

  • Adventure + Exploration: emphasizes recreational activities and wildlife education by repurposing the existing administrative/maintenance yard area into “an outdoor exploration
    and adventure facility” with obstacle courses, an active sports area, and a “nature-inspired” play area
  • Cultivation + Connection: focuses on farm-based activities and sustainable agriculture with a community garden, an open field for picnicking and events replacing the park’s volleyball courts, and a portion of the park devoted to an interpretive produce farm
  • Rejuvenation + Renewal: emphasizes habitat restoration and creating “a serene environment for visitors” with a reforestation nursery, wildflower and pollinator meadows, and the existing field, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits mostly left intact

According to the concept plan, all three proposals would include space for events and an expanded trail system with some accessibility improvements. The concepts would require the installation of some new recreational facilities and renovation of existing ones, but no new buildings will be constructed.

“New facilities would be carefully situated and designed to avoid large tree removal, sensitive habitats, and steep and unsustainable slopes, as well as protect other resources identifed in the future,” the document says.

Whichever concept the NPS ultimately chooses will need to be evaluated for its potential impact on the environment and historic properties on the site. The agency also has to develop a maintenance plan for the existing open field and identify potential partners for funding, programming, and trail construction or maintenance.

“We remain committed to keeping you and the public up to date on any future actions and next steps,” LaRocca said.

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