Kings Park West residents are thrilled that a longtime eyesore in their community soon will be gone.
Mary Haley, whose deck overlooks the tennis courts at the former Kings West Pool, said it was great living next to the community pool when she bought her house in 1980.
“The pool was wonderful when we moved in because it was a gathering place,” Haley said.
Declining membership led to the closing of the swim club in 2005, and the community has been struggling since then to figure out what to do with the property. It was too expensive for the civic association to raise enough funds to buy the property and demolish the pool, clubhouse, basketball and tennis courts, so the property has sat neglected since it closed.
Now, Fairfax County officials have achieved what Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) called a “win-win-win” situation. The county will use funds set aside for stormwater control projects to remove the remnants of the swim club and restore the nine-acre property to a natural state.
“It’s a win for everyone here in the community, it’s a win for our stormwater program ... and it’s a win for parks,” Cook said.
The swim club property sits in a resource protection area near a stream and, under present-day environmental regulations, probably would not have been allowed to be developed as it was.
Demolition is planned for this summer. The Fairfax County Park Authority will then plant native saplings, shrubs and wildflowers throughout the property. The only developed area of the park will be an extension of an existing asphalt trail, that will allow residents to pass through the park.
Emmy Cade said she initially thought it would have been nice to have a playground or dog park at the new community park, but she said she understands the environmental concerns.
“I’m just looking forward to having something better than what is there now,” she said.
Some residents said they have some concerns about safety along the new trail, as well as access to an existing cut-through path during the construction phase. Park Authority officials said they would take that into consideration as they move forward with the project.
Others highlighted current problems with litter and trash dumping at the site.
Park Authority Board member Anthony Vellucci (Braddock) said illegal dumping is a problem throughout the park system and encouraged residents to look into the Adopt a Park program to help monitor and clean up trash.