FCPA matching grant helps fund swings at Villamay playground


The playground at McCutcheon Park, located in the Villamay neighborhood

The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board recently approved a matching grant request from the Villamay Community Association to fund the installation of swings at the Gilbert S. McCutcheon Park playground.

According to a county news release, FCPA awarded the grant through its Mastenbrook Volunteer Matching Fund Grant Program, which encourages public-private ventures that improve Fairfax County parks and park facilities. The Park Authority’s $13,000 grant will supplement the community association’s $13,000 contribution.

Constructed nearly 20 years ago, the McCutcheon Park playground did not originally include swings due to limited funding. In a recent fundraising drive, Villamay leaders sought community financial support for the installation of a two-bay swing set with four swings. At least 45 families and the community association contributed to the effort, according to county documents.

Two of the swings will be the traditional “belt-seat” type, while the other two are “Expression Swings,” which enable an adult and young child to swing together facing each other. Children under five sit in a bucket-style seat while adults sit on a connected traditional swing seat. Manufactured by GameTime, the Expression Swing is marketed as “the industry’s first playground swing that promotes intergenerational play as adults and children swing together.”

Credit: Fairfax County Park Authority

FCPA will manage the installation of the swing set, which is expected to be completed in spring 2024.

Other park projects around the Mount Vernon District have benefited from Mastenbrook matching grants in the past, said FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer. Those projects include the restroom/concession building construction project at McNaughton Fields Park; the trails rehabilitation project at Mount Vernon District Park; the conversion of Grist Mill Park field 6 to Bermuda grass; and the batting cage installation project at Fort Hunt Park.

New applications for Mastenbrook matching grants are temporarily on hold, however, as the county evaluates how to make them more equitable.

“The goal of this review of the 25-year-old program is to examine the existing process through an equity lens and see how we might improve accessibility and benefit of the program in all areas of the county — particularly in communities of opportunity,” said Boxer.

FCPA does not yet have a specific date when the hold will be lifted, said Boxer, though staff are expected to come back to the Park Authority Board with their recommendations by early 2024.

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