Monday, March 31, 2014

Fishing at Lake Cooke

While Cameron Run Regional Park is known to tens of thousands as the home of Great Waves Water Park, it is also the home of Lake Cooke which is enjoyed by many as a fishing site inside the beltway.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Webb Sanctuary

The Webb Sanctuary is a 20 acre property just outside of the Town of Clifton. The property had been donate from the Webb family to Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) almost 15 years ago. In November 2013, ANS gave this property to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA).

This was part of a larger partnership between ANS and NVRPA that has been formed over the last several years. In Leesburg ANS is leasing its Rust Sanctuary to NVRPA long-term. A great deal of this partnership has to do with aligning strengths. ANS has over 100 years of environmental education as their strength, and NVRPA owns and manages over 11,000 acres of parkland in Northern Virginia, which is a strength.

From a practical perspective the use of the Rust Sanctuary is not changing. With ANS the land was open to the public, and the nice trail system and diversity of wildlife habitat made it a great place to visit. ANS also rented the house on site, which helps with night security, and provides someone who can do some on-site mowing and other minor maintenance. Under NVRPA management all the same uses will be in place. From the visitor perspective nothing will be any different.

From a long-term perspective, we would love to see a trail someday that could go from this site and connect with Hemlock Overlook Regional Park and the greater Bull Run/Occoquan Trail System. That vision is years (maybe decades) off, but with the addition of the Webb Sanctuary the connection to the 4,000 acres, and 19 miles of trails that NVRPA owns on the banks of the Bull Run and Occoquan Rivers is a natural one to hope for.

Entrance Drive

Interpretive Sign

Rental House

Trail Signs

Paul Gilbert, NVRPA, Anne Webb, former owner,& Lisa Alexander, ANS

Park Performance Featured at All Staff Meeting

Every year around this time we have the annual 'All Staff Meeting' at the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. This is one of the few opportunities that we have to come together from facilities spread across over 50 miles and review the performance of the last year, and look ahead to the season to come.

The meeting saw presentations form every department in the organization. One of the many great things was to hear the connection to our strategic plan that is integrated into everyone's thinking. We are a remarkable goal oriented organization, and the results show this focus. We are adding new parkland, creating innovative programs that engage the public about nature, history and more. We are expanding operations, developing our customer oriented focus, and growing our enterprise operations.

NVRPA is among the very best park agencies in the nation on just about every level of measurement, and it is because of a great Board, and the best staff that any organization could hope for.

One of the high lights this year were a series of reports from each of our operational team leaders. These are committees that focus on similar operations that exist at multiple locations like: camping, waterparks, shelters, summer camps, and event venues.

Anna Cote presents on the Event Venue Committee
Todd Benson received recognition for his 20 year of full time service, and as he pointed out there was another 6 years of part time service.

Todd Benson Reflecting on 20 years of service

One of the highlight of this annual meeting are the employee achievement awards. Each year a different cross-functional team reviews and awards nomination that come from other staff. It is a great way to celebrate some wonderful success stories from the year.

Employee Achievement Awards:

In all the photos from left to right is: Stella Koch, Vice Chair, Brian Knapp, Chairman, Award Recipient, Paul Gilbert, Executive Director, David Pritzker, Alexandria Board Member, & Dan Kaseman, Loudoun County Board Member

Johanna Vanness

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Versatility. Johanna was a dedicated performer during the Festival of Lights as the Light Show Technician. This position required a self starter and independent worker who could take on a variety of complicated tasks to keep this signature event running smoothly. Johanna handled this task with pride and great results in often less the ideal weather conditions.

Johanna Vanness
Chris Wright

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Team Player. Chris consistently displays a willingness to do what it takes to accomplish the job at hand which often can mean arriving early or staying late. Chris assists in the maintenance and care of all facilities within the park with a great attitude and pride in the work being performed.

Brad Jackson

has achieved recognition in the area of Safety. Brad’s quick transition into the management of our instituted water policies at Fountainhead has continued to allow those who enjoy the park to do so in a safe manner, including those taking part in our ever growing paddle tour offerings. Another area of note with regards to safety is the Brad’s work with users and contractors on the use and design elements of the park’s extensive mountain bike trail network.

Brad Jackson

Doug Radoye

has achieved recognition in the area of Safety. By its nature, Doug’s position is one that must operate with a “safety first” approach, but Doug takes his work beyond that with a great understanding of facility needs. Doug has an ability to develop sound and safe remedies to get a multitude of challenging tasks accomplished. An example of this is Doug’s work on Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights setup. With light displays within arms length of the public, Doug worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of the public and staff.

Doug Radoye

Paul McCray

has achieved recognition in the area of Above-and-Beyond. Paul stepped into one of NVRPA’s newest properties and quickly brought it up to NVRPA standards while transforming it into a successful and highly sought after outdoor event venue. Building on its existing reputation, Rust has continued to exceed budget expectations.

Paul McCray

Donny Wensinger

has achieved recognition in the area of Innovation. Donny’s working knowledge of waterpark operations and his ability to develop new ideas and operational strategies has been exceptional. Developing a focused approach on improving sales and overall facility marketing of Great Waves will grow our business and the bottom line.
Donny Wensinger
Matt White

has achieved recognition in the area of Safety. Safety is often the first course of business for the facilities Matt oversees. Of particular note is Matt’s management of the mountain bike trails addition of a new “Black Diamond Loop.” Matt worked closely with the designers to ensure a safe course, and with county safety personnel to create a management plan for incidents that may occur on the trail.

Matt White
David Garcia
has achieved recognition in the areas of Innovation and Programming. David continues to provide the exceptional programs the Roving Naturalist program has become known for, but has created a focus on additional unique experiences. Expanding an already great program base helps our visitors find their own personal connection, whether it be on the water or in the woods.
David Garcia
Frank Basye
has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Versatility. Frank’s performance during this past unforgiving winter included extended shifts that often began during the overnight hours and lasted until the job was complete. He accomplished this with a great attitude and a “get it done” mentality. Frank also consistently displays an ability to assume roles outside of his normal duties such as carpenters helper and float driver for the NVRPA parade float, filling vital needs across our CM crew.

Diana Lancaster

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Team Player. In the absence of full time staff Diana assumed a leading role in reconciliation of general and credit card accounts. Diana’s can do attitude and willingness to pitch in with duties above and beyond her normal tasks showed her tremendous work ethic and value as a team player.

Diana Lancaster

Charlie Anderson

has achieved recognition in the area of Above-and-Beyond. Charlie’s work to help open facilities after the heavy snows of winter were exceptional and often required extended shifts and working through the night. Charlie remains a go to employee to get these tasks accomplished.

Charlie Anderson
Renee Arellano

has achieved recognition in the areas of Innovation and Above-and-Beyond. Renee’s idea to create a unique bridal basket giveaway as an incentive for prospective brides that generated a large number of sales leads. Renee was also instrumental in the design and execution of The Atrium’s open-house, event which created several on the spot contracts while opening the facility to a variety of prospective clients..

Renee Arellano
Janet Treerapong

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond, Versatility, and Customer Service. In the absence of full-time-staff, Janet assumed many additional accounting responsibilities. These additional tasks included keeping track of incoming deposits and issuing weekly deposit memoranda. Janet accomplished these tasks with great care. Janet also shines with regard to great internal customer service; she is always quick to respond to staff requests for information or guidance.
Janet Treerapong
Dennis Peacock

has achieved recognition in the areas of Cost Savings and Above-and-Beyond. By assuming target setting duties for registered shoots and assisting with day of tournament management, Dennis provides services that would otherwise have to be contracted out, saving NVRPA significant money.

John Justice

has achieved recognition in the areas of Cost Savings and Above-and-Beyond. By assuming target setting duties leading up to registered shoots and assisting with day of tournament management, John provides services that would otherwise have to be contracted out, saving NVRPA significant money.

Greg Fansler

has achieved recognition in the areas of Cost Savings and Above-and-Beyond. By assuming target setting duties leading up to registered shoots and assisting with day of tournament management, Greg provides services that would otherwise have to be contracted out, saving NVRPA significant money.

Lacy Scango

has achieved recognition in the areas of Versatility and Programming. After completing her internship in early 2013, Lacy quickly assumed multiple roles at the park, which she performed with a high level of success. Lacy also assisted in the direction of three summer camps, including the park’s first ever “Puddle Jumper” session. Lacy is also a top mention in program surveys for her expertise and ability to connect with the campers

Debbie Patterson

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Versatility. In just a short time, Debbie has proven her versatility and willingness to jump in and assist where needed. Debbie’s assistance with cash reconciliations while outside her normal duties was handled with precision and accuracy. Debbie accomplished all this while still learning and preparing the agency budget.

Debbie Patterson

Liz Gearhart

has achieved recognition in the area of Team Player. Liz continues to take on a number of important roles within Great Blue Heron Catering and does so with exceptional detail and accuracy. Liz plays a critical role in the administration of all catering files, including those from the event venues and a number of other food and beverage operations.
Liz Gearhart
Sarah Johnson

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Team Player. Sarah assumed the role of Team Leader for the Aquatics Committee bringing to the position an outstanding level of organization and creative thinking. This leadership role has been instrumental in moving NVRPA aquatics to the next level.

Sarah Johnson

Heath Baumann

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Team Player. Heath’s role at the park is one that can vary depending on the day. Heath adapts to this environment with great ease, handling the day to day maintenance tasks of the park, while also being a valuable resource for visitors and staff alike with his expertise in Natural Resource Management.

Heath Baumann
Vivian Roski

has achieved recognition in the area of Team Player and Customer Service. Vivian has displayed exceptional dependability with her recently expanded role in the management of the golf operations. Vivian continues to provide an unmatched customer service to those who play at Pohick and brings a great deal of creativity and passion to the staff and operations.

Tracy Gillespie

has achieved recognition in the areas of Innovation and Programming. Tracy continues to introduce the mill to many new faces through a range of dynamic programs. These programs consistently find their mark at telling the story of the site while engaging the visitor in a one-off experience. Some notable examples are: “Spirited History: A Tasting of Whiskey and History at Aldie Mill and Afternoon Tea at Aldie Mill.

Tracy Gillespie
Anna Cote

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Customer Service. Anna continues to meticulously develop The Woodlands product with a focus on such things as customer care, detailed planning, and exceptional event management. The results of her efforts are satisfied clients and an increase in the overall revenue performance of the venue.

Anna Cote
Casey Pittrizzi

has achieved recognition in the areas of Innovation and Programming. Casey rose to the challenge of creating additional sessions for the always popular park summer camps program. The creation of two new programs, including “Nocturnal Naturalists” were well received and provided the public with additional opportunities to experience Potomac Overlook.
Casey Pittrizzi

Tim Geisler

has achieved recognition in the areas of Above-and-Beyond and Cost Savings.  Tim’s extensive working knowledge of the GIS System has saved NVRPA from having to hire consultants to perform the work he can with the system.  Tim’s willingness to learn this system on his own time has been exceptionally helpful when it comes to planning, land acquisition, and permitting.

David Fletcher

has achieved recognition in the areas of Customer Service and Team Player.  David is often the first staff member a visitor to the park may encounter.  David is always ready to provide assistance when needed, from helping a first time fisherman set up his pole to providing the latest tips on where to fish along the reservoir.  David displays a passion for the park and all the activities it encompasses, often assisting with paddle tours, fishing tournaments and clinics.
David Fletcher

Financial Performance Best Net Change in Income
Bull Run Shooting Center up 256%

Laurelyn Rawson of BRSC

Energy Conservation Best Net Change in Consumption
Central Maintenance down 17%

Central Maintenance

Monday, March 17, 2014

Revenue Development & Management School Attracts the Very Best

The Revenue Development and Management School at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling WVA is a remarkable professional development school. A two year program, that involves a week of intensive business skill education each year. This school has been in operation since 1965! During this time other schools have attempted to replicate this, but none of them have lasted.

Part of the reason for this success is the remarkable educational experience that is created at this school, and part of the success has been the great support Oglebay has given to this and a number of other schools related to parks and recreation over the years.

I view this school as a mini-MBA where the business principals are applied to the field of parks and recreation. Many park and recreation agencies generate a significant portion of their operating revenues through enterprise (business) operations. This school is set up to hone the business acumen of these professionals. The result of that is stronger agencies that help to build stronger communities!

Students receive classes on a wide variety of business subjects including:
  • Market Trends
  • Budgeting
  • Pricing
  • Capital Development
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Planning
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Economic Development
  • Partnerships
  • Business Plan Development
  • And much more...
  The program builds up to a Year 2 Project, where teams need to develop a complete business plan for a realistic project. After writing the plan, the teams present their big idea to a mock City Council who pepper them with questions. The whole school is based on applying the very best in business skills to the role of serving the community, and building stronger park and recreation agencies.

The students that come to this school are among the very best in the field of parks and recreation nationwide. In recent years the school as attracted a number of students from park agencies in other countries, who are coming to learn with the best.

Mock City Council Reviews Business Plans

Roy Geiger Presents about the Team

Laurelyn Rawson Presents on the Market Analysis

Karl Mohle Presents the Overview of the Business Plan

Cindy Curtis Teaches Strategic Planning
The Regents & Instructors that teach at this school are unique in that they are all professionals in this field, so they can tie the theories right back to how it works in the "real world."

Friday, March 07, 2014

Snow on the W&OD Trail

Snow Blowing on W&OD in Arlington
As cycling on the W&OD Trail is used more and more as a commuting alternative there is more pressure to clear the trail after snow storms. 

Years ago, when the trail was purely recreational some cross country skiers would enjoy the trail when it was snow covered, and there was less pressure from cyclist to have it cleared.

After the snowmageddon of 2010, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority purchased an industrial sized snow blower attachment for one of our tractors to clear areas of the trail after significant snow (pictured). Although we had a lot of snow in the winter of 2014, it is interesting to think about the extremely mild winters we had in 2011 - 2013. While we can get a foot of snow or more on occasions, it is rare for us to have winters like we just had.  

After the 'arctic vortex' winter we have just had we can all see that the roads are very damaged: lots of pot holes, lane striping and sidewalk marking are worn off. VDOT and City/County transportation departments will spend a lot of money in the spring and summer fixing the damage. Some of this damage is from the impact of plowing. Because the Regional Park Authority does not have the resources to rebuild the trail after every snowy winter, our preferred snow removal technology is blowing the snow. While blowers have an impact, it is less than the plows. In 2009 NVRPA invested in significant pavement markings to improve safety. These markings include rumble strips prior to every intersection, "Stop Ahead" lettering and other markings. In 2012/13 we added a highly reflective center stripe, again to enhance safety. With a ten foot wide, and 45 mile long paved trail, we are re-paving areas of the trail, and placing the markings in the re-paved areas every year as part of our ongoing maintenance, to keep it as the premium trail in the region. This maintenance investment means that every inch of the trail is rebuilt about every ten years. 

For significant snow fall of more than a few inches, and when the weather forecast calls for below freezing temperatures for a number of days, NVRPA will start in Arlington and clear the trail of snow with its snow blower moving west. If it is a very minor snow with a forecast for warm temperature and sunshine within a day or two, we will likely let mother nature clear the trail.

Large snow falls create many hazards to cyclist including: roads narrow, sidewalks disappear, sight lines are blocked by mountains of snow, and then there are all the slick areas with ice patches. Even if the W&OD trail is passable after a large snow storm cyclist should consider their entire route and think about whether it is safe to break out the bike, or if they should consider another route until conditions improve. Remember snowy streets in Northern Virginia is not a long-term condition.

I cycle to work sometimes, and I understand the desire to get out there and ride. But please consider the safety of you and others before heading out.