Parks and Rec: a Q&A with the FCPA Board's Mount Vernon District rep
At the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 6, 2022, Mount Vernon District's Linwood Gorham was one of three individuals reappointed to serve a four-year term on the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Board. The board is responsible for setting policy and establishing priorities for the park agency.
Gorham, a resident of the Mason Neck area of Lorton, has represented Mount Vernon District on the Park Authority Board since 2011. On the MoVe caught up with him recently to get his thoughts on local parks and recreation.
Q. You've been a member of the FCPA Board for over a decade. How have things changed in the Mount Vernon District over that time?
A. "Much has changed in the Mount Vernon District over the last 12 years, but I think the most lasting and impactful changes are those relating to our planning process. As the district continues to grow, we are finding new ways to deliver the recreational amenities and open spaces our residents need to be healthy, engaged and to thrive. From our implementation of an equity framework in our strategic planning process to the continued cultivation of community engagement and partnerships with other county agencies and community partners, we have created a solid foundation for delivering quality experiences and opportunities."
Q: What were a couple of highlights or successes in the Mount Vernon District this past year?
A: "Over the last year, I’ve been very happy with the progress we made to acquire the funding for the renovation and expansion of the Mount Vernon Rec Center. We worked closely with the community to analyze the need and several options for how to most effectively deliver a facility that was bigger and better than ever. Very soon, construction will begin to bring that vision to fruition. When complete, the new facility will be a dynamic location unlike any other with a swimming pool, elevated indoor track, a dedicated fitness center and two ice rinks and much, much more."
"The second highlight I am particularly proud of is our work at the Laurel Hill Central Green Recreation Area in Lorton. The completion of a new playground added to the park that already includes a large meadow conservation area, accessible trail and three large picnic pavilions. It’s a perfect location for a variety of outdoor events and gatherings."
Q: What are some of your priorities this upcoming year?
A: "I am very eager to see the outcome of our Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Access Strategy work (PROSA). PROSA will provide a roadmap for improved park access and a balance of recreational experiences to meet the diverse needs of residents countywide. Our analysis is including a variety of parameters including walkable access, park experiences, habitat connectivity and prioritization of needs with an equity lens. This is a significant effort in seeking to build on our One Fairfax equity work and provide a sturdy framework for equitable access to our entire park system."
"We are also keeping a close eye on several high-priority projects in the Mount Vernon district including the Overlook Ridge Park at the old Lorton Landfill and several similar projects like the North Hill Park along Richmond Highway and the inclusion of new garden plots at the NIKE Site."
Q: Where do you personally spend a lot of time in the area?
A: "I can’t say I have a favorite place to spend my time – there’s just so much variety. The Mount Vernon District is home to a rich diversity of recreational, historical, and ecological marvels. It’s literally a place where you can choose your own adventure on any given day. Whether it’s playing ball on one of our fantastic fields, touring one of our area’s historical sites or just enjoying the natural beauty of our open green spaces and parks, there’s just so much opportunity for enjoyment, leisure and recreation in our community. I’m just proud to be a part of bringing that to fruition."
Q: How can community residents become more engaged in sharing what they want or need from local parks and recreation?
A: "The Fairfax County Park Authority values the input of our residents in every respect. Our public engagement efforts are a critical component to providing facilities and amenities within our communities that meet the needs and expectations of those who live, work and play here. Whether it’s comments on recreational features, the preservation of our natural resources, or access to services and programs, every comment plays an important role in delivering a quality product that adds to the quality of life we’ve come to expect in Fairfax County."
"I would invite all our residents to follow Fairfax Parks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and to share your thoughts and comments with us via email at Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov. Residents can also sign up to speak during a public comment period of the Park Authority Board meetings. We really do appreciate the support and participation of our community in this joint endeavor."