More fees proposed for Fairfax parks

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Local,Brian Hughes

The Fairfax County Park Authority is proposing fee increases at popular campgrounds, as well as pools, horse stalls and a bevy of other recreational outlets to help ease a projected $316 million budget shortfall.

Under the plan, campers would pay higher fees at both Reston's Lake Fairfax Park and Fairfax Station's Burke Lake Park, which have become fixes for getaways on the cheap, park leaders say.

Fees would rise $3 per night -- to $37 for those needing electricity and $28 without -- but park officials called the proposed changes nominal, saying they would not deter campers.

"I think we feel that they are pretty well thought out and relatively small," said Park Authority spokeswoman Judy Pederson. "People understand we have our budget issues just like every other operation."

More than $4 million was cut from county parks in the current budget.

If you go

Fairfax County will hold a public meeting about the proposed park fees:

»  When: Feb. 3, 7 p.m.,

»  Where: Room 107 Herrity Building, 12055 Government Center Parkway.

»  For more information: 703-324-8662 or e-mail comments to parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The proposal hasn't received the scrutiny of last year's plan to charge county residents for taking their vehicles to the parks -- which was nixed following massive public outcry.

However, county resident Sandy Kosch, who pushed for the elimination of those admission fees, said the Park Authority proposal continues a trend of raising park fees without enhancing services.

"Why do you have to raise it $2 or $3 a night?" she asked of the potential campground fee. "Did they improve the campgrounds? If not, why should county residents have to pay for it?"

For their part, park officials say the fee increases are less severe than recent years, pointing to the static rates at park-operated golf courses and recreation centers.

As part of the proposal, evening discounts would be eliminated on weekends and holidays at the Water Mine water park in Lake Fairfax Park. And those in groups of 12 or more would pay $3 each to swim at the formerly free Martin Luther King pool, in Alexandria.

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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