Friday, January 18, 2008

Success has 1,000 fathers, one of them is Darrell Winslow

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in 2009. We have already established a special committee that is working on planning the events to make this year special. In my opinion, NVRPA has long been a national leader in the field of parks; it pioneered the protection of drinking water sources by acquiring around forty miles of shore side parkland upstream of our region’s drinking water intake facilities, and in the process created amazing trail networks like the 17.5 mile Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, and areas of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. It developed one of our nation’s first and most successful rails-to-trail efforts with the W&OD Trail. And it became one of the most self sufficient park agencies in the nation, now generating over 80% of our operating revenues from enterprise operations. Our business like focus on offering appealing services to the public, won NVRPA national attention in the 2007 Better Government Competition hosted by the Pioneer Institute.

There is an old saying “success has a thousand fathers (and mothers).” Certainly there have been a long line of important leaders that have contributed to NVRPA’s success, Board Members like Walter Mess, Ira Gabrielson, and others, Executive Directors like Fred Packard, David Brown, and David Hobson, and hundreds of innovative, creative and highly professional staff with great accomplishments to their credit.

One individual who had a tremendous impact on NVRPA was Darrell Winslow. Darrell was hired in 1966 to lead the effort to build a system of new parks. He had already proven his effectiveness by building a system of parks in Tennessee. By 1976 he was the Executive Director, which is a position he held until his retirement in 1994.

Darrell Winslow is a man with an amazing positive “can do” spirit he bring to every task. Because of his love for parks and drive to get thing done, he is responsible for much of the regional park system we have today. A few of the accomplishments to his credit are:

  • Development of the W&OD Trail

  • Opening Upton Hill Regional Park

  • Development of the rowing facilities at Sandy Run

  • Working with Gardner Mean and Caroline Ware on the donation of the land that is Meadowlark Botanical Garden. After the donation of the land Mr. Winslow was a driving force behind the development and opening of he gardens.

  • Constructing Occoquan Regional Park.

  • Creation of the first and only giant wave pool in our area at Cameron Run Waterpark, as well as many other popular features.

  • Creation of the meeting center and riverside cottages at Algonkian Regional Park.

  • Negotiated the donation of Temple Hall Farm from the late A.V. Symington.

  • Acquired Balls Bluff Battlefield Park.

  • Acquired parkland on Beaver Dam and developed Brambleton Golf Course.

Darrell Winslow’s drive and energy has made an amazing and positive impact on our region. Mr. Winslow still lives in Northern Virginia, still keeps a close eye on the parks he loves so much, and is helping us in our planning for our 2009 celebrations.

Mr. Winslow is one of the “thousand fathers” of the NVRPA success story. But to my mind he is one that truly stands out as one of the principle architects of the park system we have today….An amazing accomplishment!

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