NUMBER GAMES: WHAT SHOULD WE INCLUDE AS PARKLAND?

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An interesting email from The Prince William Conservation Alliance on Prince William County’s lower parkland standard. Parents with children in the PWC school division may be inclined to think of it as a “math investigation.” 🙂

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Prince William Count Board Adopts New, Lower Parkland Standard

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When the Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a new standard of 70 acres per 1,000 residents of parkland generally accessible to the public, the Supervisors had no inventory to assess the impact of their decision. The tricky loophole is that the standard includes private parks, including golf courses, as well as public parks, including those where the County has no opportunity to control public uses or access.

The devil is in the details. Our evaluation, using previously published statistics from the Planning Department and other readily available information, shows that, under this new standard of 70 acres of public “parkland” per 1,000 residents, Prince William County currently exceeds this new parkland standard and will continue to exceed the standard until 2013.

The 2003 Comp Plan standard (13.8 parkland acres/1,000 residents) counted only public parks under county control. Under the old standard, the county should have 5,327 acres of public parks. We were 642 acres short. That’s no surprise: the 2007-08 Park Authority Needs Assessment and multiple citizen satisfaction surveys make clear that we need more places where kids and adults can play ball, and more places where people can walk with a dog in the woods near their houses.

The new Parks and Open Space chapter for the Comprehensive Plan lowered the standards for the county because the new standard for parkland (70 acres of parkland/1,000 residents) counts “all parks accessible to the general public.” By adopting the new standard, the Board determined the County has an excess of parks and we have immediately exceeded our goal.

By including state and federally owned parkland, golf courses, school grounds and other privately owned “parkland,” the new standard creates a paper statistic that does not match reality. Currently Prince William County fares very poorly when compared to both surrounding localities and other localities with comparable populations nationwide. However, this new standard will make it very difficult for the County and others to compare Prince William’s parkland amenities to surrounding jurisdictions, who include only county controlled parkland in their progress reports.

Click here for more information and to view the numbers. Click here to share your views with Prince William Supervisors.

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