Hollin Hills marks grand reopening of parks

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Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, Hollin Hills Civic Association President Patrick Kelly and community members cut the ribbon at the reopened parks.

Dozens of community members gathered Nov. 19 to celebrate the reopening of Brickelmaier and Charles Goodman Parks in the Hollin Hills neighborhood of Alexandria.

The parks were closed to the public in spring 2021 for a stream restoration project led by Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. Specifically, the county repaired eroded streambeds along 1,800 linear feet of tributaries of Paul Spring Branch that flow through the two parks and nearby residential properties. Invasive plants were removed as part of the restoration process, and new native trees, shrubs and other plantings were installed; Goodman Park’s replanting is still underway, so that park will remain closed for a few more weeks until the process is complete, according to Hollin Hills Civic Association President Patrick Kelly.

New plantings at Bricklemaier Park

Kelly thanked the county for its “tremendous support — not only financial, but professional,” since the civic association first reached out to it in 2016 about an erosion-caused sanitary sewage problem in Goodman Park. He also credited several fellow Hollin Hills representatives for their support and expertise during the project, including Robert Fina of Fina Trails, who helped design and build new walking trails through the parks.

Community members exploring the new trail through Bricklemaier Park

Another project partner, Stantec, will receive the Fairfax County Tree Commission’s “Friends of Trees” award for its efforts to minimize the number of trees removed for the project, said Kelly.

Tree removal had been a major area of concern about the project among some Hollin Hills residents. A group known as Hollin Hills Parks Preservation objected to the entire effort — going so far as to file a lawsuit against the civic association and county — because they believed it was going to be more destructive than helpful to the parkland. The group discontinued its legal challenge in the summer of 2021, however, and construction continued at the two parks.

Signs opposing the project are still displayed in some residents' yards.

After recognizing numerous partners and supporters for their involvement in the project, Kelly welcomed and thanked Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and his staff for “being instrumental throughout the process.”

“I pushed hard to get something done here because of you all,” said Storck. “This is one great example of how we can and did make a difference.”

Storck said the county is working on another stormwater project at Paul Spring Branch. According to the project website, the “Paul Spring Branch at Sherwood Hall Stream Restoration” is designed to improve water quality through the restoration of approximately 12,000 feet of Paul Spring Branch and the north fork of Little Hunting Creek, tributaries, stormwater outfalls and the floodplain within the stream valley between Mason Hill Drive, Sherwood Hall Road and Collingwood Road. That project is still in its pre-design phase.

Following the ribbon cutting in Hollin Hills, community members had the opportunity to walk up the new trail in Brickelmaier Park and cut through some residential streets to walk down the soon-to-be-opened trail in Goodman Park.

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