Ground has been broken at Hal and Berni Hanson Regional Park, kicking off construction on a massive, 257-acre park near Arcola that will offer everything from wooded trails, to a skate plaza, to cricket fields.
The park, bisected by Evergreen Mills Road, has been a long-standing and ambitious project for the county. The property was acquired in a land swap in 2008, and the park has been in design—and sometimes in doubt—since. Most recently, county supervisors found themselves coming up about $15 million short on the $74.3 million project. That could have meant the park lost, among another things, all of its baseball diamonds, two soccer fields, and a nature center.
The Hanson Family Partnership agreed to sell the property, which belonged to Haldore ‘Hal’ Hanson, only if it was preserved as a park. The park is named for Hanson and his wife Berni.
County staff members managed to find funding for the entire project 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. During the groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Service Director Steve Torpy said it would be “not just a park, but a special place.”
And he said his peers in other jurisdictions have said they wish they could build such a park. He said, “that’s what’s special about Loudoun County.”
“This is park like you will not find anywhere else,” Torpy said. “It is a remarkable facility that’s going to be here to provide service and provide opportunities for every single citizen of Loudoun County and people who come to visit Loudoun County. It’s what we do here. We do exceptional things, and it’s something that we all collectively should be very proud of.”
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) reflected on the first phase of the recently completed project to write a new comprehensive plan, which involved a lot of public input sessions.
“One constant theme was they wanted not just fields and not just athletic places, but they also wanted just spaces just to exist, just to recreate, just to spend time with their family,” Letourneau said. “We call that passive recreation and the incredible thing about this park is that it has both.”
“I’ve been a parks designer for 36 years—this is the largest project I’ve ever worked on,” said Chris Camp of Lose Design. “So I commend the staff and the county for persevering and not giving up on the goal of building this park.”
The park is planned to 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.