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Hike along the southern border of the Occoquan Reservoir.Park Authority Board Approves Trails & Blueways Council Bylaws
Click here to share your views on this proposal!

March 3, 2009 - As a result of citizen involvement, Prince William’s Parks, Trails and Open Space policies (adopted in April 2008) call for the establishment of a trails and blueways advisory committee “to serve as the focal point for developing a comprehensive network of trails (including blueways) in Prince William County.”

On February 25, 2009 the Prince William County Park Authority Board voted to approve draft by-laws for a Trails and Blueways Council, a first step toward making this goal a reality. Before the Council can be formed, the Board of Supervisors must approve the by-laws. No date has currently been scheduled for a Board vote, which will not likely require a public hearing.

According to Park Authority Board member Jane Beyer, “A Trails and Greenways Council can bring energy and enthusiasm to the development of a countywide trail network, and provide a vehicle for everyone to get engaged. I am very hopeful that this will help highlight opportunities in Prince William County.”

The Park Authority’s proposal calls for a 16 member Council, with eight people appointed by the Park Authority Board and eight appointed by Supervisors for two year terms. All appointees would be required to live in Prince William County and represent the community-at-large.

The Council would serve as an advisory group to the Park Authority. Council goals would include developing baseline criteria for public trails, recommending priorities for Prince William County Capital Improvement Programs, identifying new trails for addition to the Trails Plan, reviewing development proposals to ensure that trail segments are not lost, promoting partnerships and creating benchmarks to measure progress.

You can read the proposed by-laws approved by the Park Authority Board here. We will post information online when a date for a Board of Supervisors vote is scheduled. In the meantime, you can share your views with Supervisors… click here for contact information.

Virginia Bluebells at Merrimac FarmSupervisors Approve New Parks and Open Space Standards

April 15, 2008 — You may or may not be happy with the recent decisions of the Board of County Supervisors regarding planning for parks, open space, and trails, but the relevant chapter in the Comprehensive Plan will not be revised for another 5 years.

What matters now is how county officials implement the action strategies in that planning document.

County demographers say the local population will grow 40% between now and 2030.  In the next 22 years, will the county facilitate public access to recreational facilities, and actually acquire parkland? Will the county actually plan a trails network and build trails?  Will the county actually protect open space, while over 150,000 more people crowd into Prince William?

As the county budget increased dramatically over the last decade, the Board wasted opportunities to acquire new parks to match population growth.  Fortunately, Prince William does not need a lot of money to open up some new areas for public use. There is low-hanging fruit to be plucked.

There are 225 acres at Dove's Landing and 230 acres at Silver Lake already owned by the county.  These could be opened up to public passive recreation uses for virtually no money.  Follow these two low-hanging fruit decisions, if you want to understand the Board's commitment to parks.

The standard in the Comp Plan chapter is for the county to own 15 acres/1000 residents, a far cry from the 25 acres/1000 residents called for by citizens.  With 386,000 residents, Prince William is still 25% short (1600 acres) of that standard.  The county needs to acquire 190 acres/year, every year for the next 22 years, to meet the standard in the year 2030.

Be optimistic, and assume the county buys 190 acres/year.  It still needs to add public access to an additional 335 acres/year to meet the other parkland standard - a total of 70 acres/1000 residents of parkland that is "generally accessible to the public."

Right now is a great time to buy land, while land values are low and owners are willing to sell.  County finances are stretched thin, but the Board of County Supervisors is still funding new initiatives. Follow the money, if you want to understand the commitment to parks.

It's similar for trails and open space.  There's little value in arguing now about what words should be in the Comp Plan chapter.  Now, it's time to measure progress for implementing those words.

Absolute failure is easy to identify: no trails plan, no new trails, no inventory of protected open space, and no new open space protected from development.   This Board can do better... but how high will they reach?

Time will tell.  Let's see how much rhetoric is turned into reality each year.

On the anniversary of the Comp Plan chapter approval, everyone can use the standards in the new chapter to measure the Board's true commitment to parks, open space, and trails.