All posts by neil.nelson

Trails question on Lake Ridge ballot

Lake Ridge residents have an opportunity to support trails in our community!

The 2011 Board Election ballot will include a question asking members of Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association if they are in favor of leasing some Association Common Area land to Prince William County (PWC) to become part of a public walking trail from the McCoart Building to Occoquan. The proposed walking trail will connect residents with pathways to recreational opportunities, restaurants and retail establishments in Occoquan, and provide a scenic avenue for those who enjoy walking and jogging outdoors.

The proposal would formalize an 8 mile trail from the McCoart Building to the historic town of Occoquan. Completion of this trail will be a cooperative act with Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association and other homeowner associations through which the trail will pass.

While a number of informal trails currently exist in our wooded common areas, they lack connectivity that would make them more useful to nearby residents. Many segments extend toward the Occoquan reservoir, then terminate (just as some Lake Ridge streets do, such as Hedges Run, Mohican, and Antietam). If established, the proposed trail will link a number of those disjointed trail segments creating longer routes for walking or running, and establishing connected loops as an alternative to the current out-and-back routes.

Many of the existing trail segments follow sewer line easements, and are well established. Additional natural surface pathways are envisioned taking advantage of minimal maintenance requirements where volunteer groups could play a major role in maintaining trails. Groups such as the Prince William Trails & Streams Coalition have performed hundreds of hours of volunteer work establishing and maintaining trails throughout the county, including work at our local Lake Ridge Park. An added benefit of leasing land to the County is that any liability is transferred to the County.

Lake Ridge is situated along the shores of the Occoquan reservoir where much of the common area is wooded and there is much scenic beauty for residents to enjoy. An expanded trail network will enhance that experience. Trails consistently rank high on surveys of recreational needs.

The election begins on January 12. Watch for your ballot in the mail, or a letter from the Association with instructions for how to vote on-line, and let your association know how you feel about the added benefit presented to you through this opportunity.

Don’t miss this chance to support trails in Lake Ridge.

Lake Ridge Park Workday

The original plan was to install water bars, two culverts, and if time, do some trimming with loppers, along with cutting grass and weeds along two short sections of trail.  Mike brought a utility vehicle for moving material, and we had plenty of wheelbarrows and tools on hand.  We finished the culvert placement Saturday morning, which was Mike’s first priority for the workday.  Although we didn’t get to the waterbar installation or trimming, there’s another workday scheduled for September to continue the effort.

Thanks again to all who came out:  Erik Lenhart, Harry Wiggins, Rick & Cathy, Kevin L., Earnie, Mike, and Jane England.
Many people use the Lake Ridge Park trails; we saw quite a few come through as we were working on Saturday morning.

Going to the park… how long should it take?

A 90 minute drive to travel from Lake Ridge down to a local park, all within eastern PW County?  That’s what happened to Mr. Charles Gallion, per his letter to the Lane Ranger (Potomac News, August 17, 2008).  Mr. Gallion described his trip to Locust Shade Park on a recent Saturday afternoon:  “A simple 15-mile trip took 90 minutes southbound using a combination of I-95 and U.S.1.  The return 15-mile trip took 60 minutes northbound only because I exited I-95 at Va. 234 and took back roads and residential streets.  What a joke.  All told, that was 150 minutes combined for a total of 30 miles.”

The Lane Ranger responded that he shared Mr. Gallion’s pain, and so do many of the readers who chose to submit comments on the letter.  Obviously there is a transportation issue, but this may point out a park level of service issue as well.

In the Parks, Open Space, and Trails chapter of the PW County comprehesive plan, county parks are catagorized in this way:

Park type Size Service area Level of Service Standard
Neighborhood 5 – 20 acres Up to 2 miles 1 acre / 1000 population
Community 20 – 150 acres 2 – 10 miles 4 acres / 1000
Regional 100 + acres Over 10 miles / entire county 6 acres /1000

While the number of acres per 1000 population is a key standard, another level of service standard mentioned is Service area (i.e., travel time boundaries) (page 19 of the chapter).  The travel times are not specified.  Is 90 minutes of travel to reach a local park an acceptable level of service, by any definition?

Mr. Gallion may not use Locust Shade Park for future company picnics because his recent experience.  Similarly, I used to make frequent trips to Prince William Forest Park for hiking, bicycling and nature watching, but don’t anymore because of the traffic situation on the I-95 corridor.   This highlights the importance of neighborhood and community parks, which should be dispersed within our residential areas, should be within walking and biking distance, and should include natural areas along with other park amenities.  I seek out parks for recreation, because I enjoy nature, and partly for relief from our Northern Virginia congestion.  I’d like to have options for getting to them that don’t involve the congestion.