Clermont Park Lighting Plan Inflames Some Residents

park photoImage by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Clermont Park in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County has a problem, one it shares with many parks in the area: the population around the park keeps growing but the park is still just 40 acres — too small to accommodate all the activities residents would like to pursue.

Since the park can’t get bigger, the Fairfax County Park Authority is considering a tactic it has used at many other parks — installing lighting so the athletic fields can be used at night as well as in the daytime. That allows more fun and games but the downside is that it has the potential to annoy neighbors.

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Source: FCPA

The park authority announced in June that it was starting a “plan revision process” for the park.

“Clermont Park’s current master plan has guided the park’s uses and development since it was approved in 1975. Since the original master plan was approved, usage of the park fields has grown as the county has developed. The volume of users currently exceeds current field capacity,” the announcement said. “Adding lighting would allow for additional field use on existing fields. A revised master plan will help Clermont Park continue to evolve to meet the needs and interests of county residents while ensuring protection of the park’s important resources for future generations.”

Neighborhood residents have organized to oppose the plan.

“Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is considering a request to operate Clermont Park at night including noise, car parking and significant lighting of the ball fields, parking lot and walkways.  Fairfax County zoning (14-904) allows night lighted parks to operate as late as 11:00 PM nightly (with an additional 20 minutes of dimming to allow people to safely leave a park). Neighborhood residents agree this is a bad idea,” the group, Save Clermont Park, says on its website.  

The neighbors say they already put up with noise, parking and traffic congestion during the daylight hours and aren’t eager to see that extended into the late evening hours.

Property values cited

The neighborhood group argues their property values will be negatively affected.

“Today, proximity to Clermont Park is perceived as adding value to homes nearby.  If FCPA implements night time Park operations, home proximity near the park’s artificial lighting, night time parking and noise will be perceived as a nuisance and the value of properties will drop. Studies show homes adjacent to the park will become much less attractive to home buyers and their realtors,” the neighbors claim.

The park authority is taking public comments on the plan until Monday, Aug. 26. Comments can be submitted to parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.