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Turf Funding Partially Secured for High School Fields

Supervisor Gerry Hyland, School Board members and Park Authority members met to update parents and students about getting funding for turf fields and transportation for after school programs.

A development along Richmond Highway will be providing some funds toward an artificial turf field for a local high school, according to community updates Monday evening from Fairfax County Supervisor Gerry Hyland and others. However, it may be some time before students are able to use it.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland met with parents, students and VOICE leaders Monday at West Potomac High School to provide an update on improving local recreational facilities.

At the meeting, Hyland and Park Authority Board Member Linwood Gorham also provided brief updates on transportation for after school programs.

“We have a number of developments that are occurring, and redevelopments along Richmond Highway particularly," said Hyland. "In Fairfax County we have a system called the Proffer System, and when someone comes in to redevelop property we have a right to ask them to help contribute to those things that are necessary and important for our community.”

Hyland said with Gorham’s help, he has already secured proffers from one of the developments along Richmond Highway which will contribute to half of an artificial turf field for one of the schools.

“I’ll say this unequivocally. We are going to find a way to have artificial turf fields at both West Potomac and Mount Vernon. That is going to happen,” said Hyland.

They will continue to seek out proffers from the developments in the community to secure the funds for artificial turf for both fields.

As for the timeline for the improvements to the facilities, Hyland said with the developers and proffers, they will have to wait for the development to occur and then when houses start to go up and those homes are sold, they will receive the money to fund the improvements.

“It’s probably going to take us a little time to get all of that money together to do one of the turf fields,” said Hyland. Gorham said the Park Authority will try to assist in getting funding for the second turf field.

“This is clearly something the school board has been focused on for a long time now. About a year ago, I seconded a motion to identify a way to try to get turf fields so that we have equalization all around the county,” said Gorham.

The community leaders also said the School Board and Park Authority are in full support of the improvements and they encouraged the high schools — along with the parents and students — to also hold fundraisers and apply for grants to assist in getting the funding they need.

During Monday’s meeting at West Potomac, student athletes presented testimonials about unfit practice areas — expressing their concerns about possibly being injured on uneven playing fields and having to cancel games because of weather.

The students also discussed how opposing teams have often referred to them as “WestPoor” because of the condition of their athletic facilities. The students made the point that these issues can be avoided if they had turf fields for practice and game days.

Reverend Tuck Bowerfind, rector of St. Louis Episcopal Church said VOICE and its supporters are not only looking to improve the terrain of the high schools’ playing fields, but to improve transportation for after school programs for all students as well.

“We are also looking for a pilot after school connector bus from Carl Sandburg Middle School to help more students who live on the other side of Route 1 who participate in after school programs,” Bowerfind said. “We’re meeting with CostCo to see if we can strike an agreement to carve out a space for kids in Audobon and Murrygate [Village] so they can have a place to play.”

Bowerfind also said they have met with Park Authority personnel to secure commitments for improvements at parks like Muddy Hole and worked with Hyland and Park Authority to talk about planning a recreational center for youth on Route 1.

In June, Hyland, Supervisor Jeff McKay and other local leaders committed to working with VOICE to fund the Route 1 Youth Agenda, including:

  • Improvements to Muddy Hole Farm, Mt Vernon Woods, and MLK JR parks including goals, lining, and other specific needs.
  • Funding for a synthetic turf stadium field and practice field at both West Potomac and Mount Vernon high schools.
  • $50,000 to organize a public-private partnership to create a playing field in Audubon, a low-income immigrant community.
  • Planning funding for a low-fee recreation or community center along the Route 1 corridor.
  • Changes to Fairfax County Connector service to help more students participate in after school extracurricular activities at Sandburg Middle School.

After meeting with students and parents at West Potomac, the community leaders went to Mount Vernon to present the update to those students and parents as well.

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