The Master Plan of improvements for Franklin Park outside Purcellville were released on October 14, 2022. An informational meeting was held on October 25 to consult with the community on the improvement plans. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is staying involved in this process to advocate on behalf of wildlife with the aim of ensuring that wildlife habitat is protected as much as possible as these improvements are implemented.
The park plan incorporates efforts to improve connectivity of linear parks and trails in the county and beyond. Hiking trails to be installed in the new section of Franklin Park will link to the Round Hill trail that opened in September 2022. Linear Parks and Trails (also known as Emerald Ribbons), a system of connecting green spaces for environmentally sound outdoor recreation, are a vital component in encouraging environmental involvement and advocacy by making outdoor experiences accessible. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy supports the proposed Franklin Park master plan in these aims.
Other improvements to the park include the installation of equestrian and mountain biking trails, as well as the construction of a new office building for the town of Round Hill, in what is currently a forested area of Sleeter Lake Park. This forested area is home to mostly native species of mature trees.
Public comments for this phase of the process are due by Nov 22, 2022. Submit comments here.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy commends the efforts to improve linear parks and trails connectivity in Loudoun County with the inclusion of additional hiking trails in Franklin Park.
Furthermore, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy offers the following recommendations on the proposed Franklin Park Master Plan:
- Designated “meadow” areas need to be clarified. Many areas currently designated as meadow (especially on the Franklin Park – East portion) are actually athletic fields. Other areas of Franklin Park – East labeled as “meadow” are more or less manicured lawn areas of nonnative invasive plants such as Japanese Stilt Grass, Oriental Bittersweet, or Johnson Grass, and are for practical purposes would be more accurately portrayed as unprogrammed lawn areas rather than meadows. We do recommend that large swaths of unprogrammed lawn areas and fields be managed as true meadows. These fields could be reseeded with native grasses and native pollinator plants that are suitable for a meadow designation. It would provide ecological value as well as enhancing the aesthetic beauty of these areas. It would also allow for paths and educational opportunities on the value and benefit of native plants, pollinators, grassland nesting birds, and other species that need grassland meadow habitat to survive.
- We have concerns at the proposed location for the mountain biking trails in Franklin Park – West. This area of the forest contains mature native canopy and understory tree species including Tulip, White Oak, and Dogwood. The density and late successional stage of this forest provides tremendous ecological value for wildlife. Mountain biking trails in this area would disrupt this ecosystem and negatively impact wildlife.
- Similarly, the location of the proposed Town of Round Hill Office/ Maintenance Facility adjacent to the proposed mountain bike trails is also populated with mature native canopy and understory trees. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy suggests that this building site be relocated across the existing road to the south, where the forested area is composed entirely of invasive and nonnative Autumn Olive trees, in order to minimize impact to wildlife in the mature native forest area. In order to minimize the potential viewshed impact that may result from this relocation, we recommend installing a buffer of native evergreen trees, or other native vegetation.
For additional information:
Master Plan documents and maps of proposed improvements
County page for the Franklin Park improvements
The preliminary timeline for this plan’s application process is:
- October 25, 2022: Public Information Meeting
- November 22, 2022: Public Comments Due
- January 2023: Zoning Plan 1st submittal
- Spring/Summer 2023: Zoning Plan Referrals and Staff Report
- Winter 2023: Planning Commission/Board of Supervisors Public Hearing
- January 2024: Final Master Plan