Friday, January 28, 2011

Park Fees

Today the Washington Post had an article in the Fairfax Local Living section called "Park fees may increase." This was written by Kali Schumitz who writes for the Fairfax County Times.

This story was about proposed fee increases that the Fairfax County Park Authority is considering for Rec Centers, golf, weddings, and a range of other areas.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is not the only agency with parks in Fairfax County. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns and operated numerous large parks in Fairfax County as well as Arlington, and Loudoun Counties and the Cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria. There are also State and National parks in Fairfax County, each with a different mission and focus.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority was established over fifty years ago primarily to preserve large natural areas along the major rivers of our area. As a result, NVRPA today owns over 14 miles of Potomac River front and over 25 miles of river front along the Bull Run and Occoquan Rivers (and Mason Neck). NVRPA is not so much focused on local recreation as it is having destination parks with unique features.

In December of 2010 NVRPA adopted its fee schedule for 2011. Some of the notable features of this fee structure are as follows:

  • Golf - Our daily greens fees remain unchanged for the third year in a row. Golf usage is down nationwide, and has been for several years. With a desire to bring more players into the game we looked for creative ways to offer a higher value for many of our customers these include:
    • A new Heron Club membership that goes for $195 a year and provides three free rounds of golf along with free range privileges, and daily play discounts. This is an outstanding value designed to build more club loyalty to NVRPA's three great courses (Pohick Bay, Brambleton, & Algonkian).
    • A new Round Card that offers 10%, 15%, and 20% discounts for those that buy golf rounds ahead of time in bulk.
    • A new program for Twilight Pricing. This offers bargain basement pricing for those that want to tee off 3 hours or less before sunset. This is a great offer for those that want to get in a little golf after work.
    • A new Senior Gold Membership that offers the ability for seniors to play unlimited golf 7 days a week.
    • The only increase was for the standard Senior Membership that offers five day a week unlimited play. For this membership we increased the price less than 10% based on the statistics of very high rates of play in this category.
  • Four of our five Waterparks saw not fee change. The one that did was Great Waves with a modest $.25 - .50 increase to offset some new features offered.
  • An all new climbing play feature that will be open this spring at Great Waves at Cameron Run, will be available even when the pool/waterpark is closed. There will be a daily fee of $3.95 -$4.95 for children 2 - 12 to play on this 30 foot feature.
  • Miniature Golf rates will be unchanged at most of our mini-golf, but we will be reducing our rate at Algonkian to encourage greater play.
  • Kayak & Canoe rentals at Pohick Bay and Fountainhead will go up $1 per hour, or $4 per day. This fee has been flat for years and we have seen a huge spike in demand for these rentals. The increased fee will help us expand our fleet. Pohick Bay will also become the first site in the greater Washington DC region to offer stand on top paddle board rentals this summer. These will rent for the same price as a kayak.
    Kayak Rentals at Fountainhead Regional Park
  • Camping at Bull Run and Pohick Bay Parks has seen significant increases in popularity over the last several years with improved facilities. The price for a campsite will go up a modest $1 per night.
  • Wedding Venues like the Atrium at Meadowlark Gardens, and  the Meeting Center at Alongkian are staying unchanged in their fee structure.
Most of the changes in the fee structure for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority are designed to increase the value that our customers are getting and encourage higher levels of participation. Parks remain one of the best values for people to do a wide range of activities. And the more people use their parks the more they value them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stamps commemorate the start of the Civil War

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War the Post office is going to release their first of a series do Civil War stamps in April. The first one out are of the shelling of Fort Sumter which was the first fighting of the war, and of the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) which was the first large battle of the war.

Northern Virginia was a 'front lines' area of the War for most of the four year conflict. Several days before the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), a lesser known battle took place in and around the stream known as Bull Run. This was the Battle of Blackburn's Ford. Today this site is where Rt. 28 crosses from Fairfax to Prince William County. There is a small parking lot for access to the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail, and a historic marker that tells the story of Blackburn's Ford.

The background of the commemorative sheet that these two stamps will be on shows a photo from 1861 of Union Soldiers in formation near Falls Church, Virginia. It will be interesting to examine this photo closer when it is released. It well could be that this is a photo of Upton Hills. Today Upton Hills is a Regional Park on Wilson Blvd, in Arlington on the Fairfax County/Falls Church boarder. During the Civil War Upton Hills was strategic high ground. In the early days of the War, the Confederates built a fort here that included Quaker guns (wooden logs painted black to look like cannons). The Union Army took over this site and built Fort Ramsay that included real cannons and an observation tower.

The First Battle of Bull Run (also known as the First Battle of Manassas) go the war started in a big way. It is interesting to note that the last shots of the war were fired very near that first big battle.

One day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, some of Mosby's Rangers went into Fairfax County to attack the Burke Train Station. They found themselves in a retreating fight against Union cavalry. The fast moving fight ended on the banks of Bull Run at Wolf Run Shoal.

Lieut. James G. Wiltshire of Mosby's Rangers later remarked to a friend: "Has it never struck you as being a notable fact that the first big fight of the war occurred on Bull Run and the last shots of the war in Virginia were fired on the banks of that same stream?"

Today Manassas National Battlefield Park protects the site of the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (Manassas). The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the area of Bull Run where both the last shots of the war were fired and where the Battle of Blackburn's Ford was fought. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority also owns Upton Hill in the Falls Church/Arlington area.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sesquicentennial - Vocabulary word of the day

OK, the vocabulary word for the day is Sesquicentennial

ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al Adjective /ˌseskwisenˈtenēəl/

1.Of or relating to the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of a significant event

ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al Noun /ˌseskwisenˈtenēəl/

sesquicentennials plural

1.A one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary
Now that we are in 2011, what was happening around here in 1861?.. The American Civil War. The greatest conflict in American history, and a war that helped shape the United States in many ways.
Did you know that before the Civil War people would most commonly say "the United States are," and after the war people started saying and writing "the United States is?" This minor change in the way we used language indicates a big shift from a perception that the U.S. was a collection of autonomous states to the U.S. being one singular nation.
The next one to four year will see many events designed around marking the 150th anniversary of this great conflict. For more information on some of these events see the following sites:
Virginia Sesquicentennial Site:

Civil War Trails - Virginia