Parents, neighbors squabble over proposed soccer fields at Salona Park
Parents and residents are squabbling over plans to turn a McLean park into athletic fields.
Fairfax County last year released a master plan proposing two athletic fields at Salona Park. The county's plan went back to the drawing board after complaints from residents.
Nearby residents said they oppose the soccer fields because they want to preserve the historic park, the open space and wooded areas. Salona Park was the home of Revolutionary War hero Henry Lee. In 1814, Dolley Madison fled here when British troops burned the White House, and during the Civil War, the park served as a campsite for the union army.
But many neighbors say they just don't want to deal with the extra traffic from soccer games or practices. Parents counter their children have to travel to Herndon and beyond for soccer practice.
“What we are facing in McLean, youth organizations as a whole, is the shrinking inventory of fields as a result of county construction projects,” said William Gray of McLean youth soccer.
“He has to go all over the place and we go wherever we can get a field,” said Peter Freire of McLean youth soccer. “So we have long commutse at night.”
The debate over the park's future even became a campaign issue for the local county supervisor. John Foust, Democrat on the Fairfax County board of supervisors, created a 9 member citizen task force to consider all the options.
“The community at large just wants to make sure we get the best plan for the use of Salona Park,” Foust said. “We have to have a master plan in process, we have to look at options. the community at large has a right to have a voice as to how you use a prop like this.”
The county bought 41 acres of the property for $16 million in 2005.
Within the next six months, Foust expects the task force will share its recommendations with the park authority board, which will then make a final decision.
Parents say they're hoping for compromise.
“I mean if we say we're never going to make changes that affect traffic, we're never going to improve the environment that affects our kids and I think supporting our kids playing all of these sports is a good thing for their development and the community,” said Peter Freire, vice chair of the youth soccer group.
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