Grants approved to fund improved facilities at McLean, Reston area parks

The Cricket Association of Fairfax County is seeking to replace the cricket pitch at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (via FCPA)

Some facility upgrades are in the works for three Fairfax County parks.

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board approved a total of $55,325 in Mastenbrook grants on Wednesday (Dec. 13) to help fund improvements at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, McLean Central Park and Frying Pan Farm Park south of Herndon.

Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive)

The Cricket Association of Fairfax County (CAFC) was awarded $15,325 to replace Lake Fairfax’s cricket pitch, which was developed in 1997 and is “one of the few in the Northern Virginia region large enough to meet the international standards of cricket,” according to the FCPA.

In its proposal to the park authority, the association reported that it has replaced the field’s artificial turf three times in the past 20 years, but inadequate drainage has damaged the wicket — a concrete base covered by artificial turf used to bounce the ball — and results in frequent waterlogging.

“Recent discussions with the park management have resulted in the determination that the wicket cannot be repaired,” the CAFC said. “A new wicket needs to be constructed with elevation and drainage to prevent water build up.”

The project to replace the pitch’s base and turf carries a total estimated cost of $30,650, half of which will be covered by the cricket association.

McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd)

The 28-acre park near the McLean Community Center is getting a renovated basketball court, thanks to a friends group formed this year to honor Thomas A. Mulquin, a McLean resident who was “an avid supporter of basketball,” according to an FCPA staff summary for the board.

“The basketball court is currently in disrepair and therefore seldom used,” the Friends of Thomas A. Mulquin wrote in its grant application. “A tree root protrudes through the surface at one end of the court and a thicket downhill at the other end makes retrieving balls difficult and unsafe.”

Supported by $45,176 in community contributions, on top of $20,000 from the park authority, the $65,176 renovation will refurbish the court surface, update the color coating and line painting, replace both hoops and add a 10-foot-tall chain link fence “to prevent basketballs from going into the heavy overgrowth near the court,” according to the FCPA press release.

Frying Pan Farm Park (2709 West Ox Road)

Spirit Open Equestrian also requested and received a $20,000 grant — the maximum allowed for a single project by the Mastenbrook Grant Program, which provides matching funds for park improvements undertaken by local residents or community groups.

The nonprofit wants to bring electricity to the equestrian facilities where it provides therapeutic horseback-riding programs. The four horse barns and three sheds with supply and office space currently rely on solar panels, which are limited in capacity and unreliable, depending on the season, per the grant application.

“The project plan proposes to have Dominion Energy extend power from an existing cell tower, and then to contract with a vendor to outfit the buildings with wiring, conduit, outlets and related electrical components,” FCPA staff said.

With the project estimated to cost $72,458, the park authority grant will be supplemented by $52,458 from SOE.

All three projects are on track to be completed by spring 2024, according to the park authority.

These will be the last improvements supported by Mastenbrook grants for the time being. The FCPA has suspended applications to the 25-year-old program as it conducts a review, prompted by concerns about a gap in the quality of park facilities based on the ability of different neighborhoods to fundraise.

“The goal of the review is to examine the process through an equity lens and determine how to improve accessibility and benefit of the program in all areas of the county — particularly in communities of opportunity,” the park authority said.

FCPA staff are expected to deliver recommendations for the program’s future to the board in early 2024.

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