After learning that construction of planned amenities at Hal and Berni Hanson Regional Park was projected far over budget—meaning potentially losing all its baseball diamonds and tennis courts, among other cuts to the project—county supervisors set the staff to work finding the extra money.
Staff in the county departments of Management and Budget, Finance and Procurement, and Transportation and Capital Infrastructure have done just that. Through a combination of $4 million in proffer money, $3.2 million in bonds, and $5.4 from the county’s capital projects contingency funds, every part of the Hanson Park project on the chopping block has been restored.
That includes baseball diamonds, tennis courts and their associated parking, restrooms and concessions; two synthetic turf soccer fields and their grandstands; a lodge building for year-round programming or renting out for private events, along with its associated garden and parking; a nature center akin to the one at Claude Moore Park; and another restroom pavilion with parking.
“It was kind of a bitter pill to come this far on this project and not be able to actually build out the vision that we’ve had for that park for a very long time, particularly some of those amenities that we would have had to take out like the baseball fields,” said finance committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles).
Plans for the park include 17 lighted athletic fields from baseball to cricket, a nature center building, a lodge building, a park office building, a maintenance building and facilities, picnic shelters, restrooms with concessions, associated parking, five athletic courts for activities like tennis, two playgrounds, two dog parks, a splash pad, a skate plaza, and paths and trails. The project would also involve renovating the historic building on the property, the Hanson House, and putting a turn lane and stoplight on Evergreen Mills Road at the entrance to the park.
The county bought the 257-acre property in 2008. Although the board originally had a $64 million budget for the project, the lowest bid to build it, from Hess Construction, was $76.6 million.
Several other projects had also been expected to run over their expected budgets and required additional funding. Those included the Ashburn Senior Center, the intersection of Braddock Road and Summerall Drive, stormwater and sewer systems at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park and the future Loudoun United stadium, a new Lovettsville Community Center, the Lucketts Fire Station, Moorefield Community Park, Potomac Green Community Park, and restoration of the historic Waterford Mill. Funding for all of those was found through a combination of debt financing, proffer money and drawing from the county’s capital projects contingency fund.
That will also all but exhaust the county’s contingency fund. The current fiscal year’s fund has been depleted from $23 million to only $1.9 million. County staff members also already expect to tap into next year’s $13.7 million budgeted contingency fund for the Lovettsville Park, a trail from Round Hill to Franklin Park, and various road projects. Management and Budget Director Erin McLellan said county staff members will likely recommend supervisors put significant year-end leftover funding into that contingency fund.
Letourneau said it’s a reminder of the importance of a rainy day fund.
“I definitely think that this year is a lesson for us to be as generous as we can with the [Capital Improvement Program] contingency fund during the fund balance process, because we clearly are needing that money to finish these projects,” he said.
He also said Loudoun is in “a tough market that leaves us short on money,” seeking to hire contractors in the busy DC area.
Supervisors on the county finance committee voted 4-0-1 to approve the new funding for the Hanson Park project May 14, with Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) absent. They recommended changes to the budgets for the other projects by the same vote. Supervisors adopted those recommendations 7-0-2 on May 23, with Supervisors Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) absent.