County supervisors have agreed to buy 106 acres between Round Hill’s Sleeter Lake Park and the county’s Franklin Park, creating 320 continuous acres of parkland stretching almost from Round Hill to Purcellville.
“Everybody’s looking for more parks, trails and recreation,” said Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge). “We recently opened Sleeter Lake to the public, and everyone knows Franklin Park’s not far away. Well, there’s 105.96-acre lot right between those two.”
If all goes well in the due diligence period, closing is expected on or before Dec. 15 for $1.2 million. The county is buying the property from Round Hill Investors, LLC, and the property has recently been brought up by residents at a Round Hill Town Council meeting who had spotted surveyors on the undeveloped property.
“This would end up being probably a passive-use park, just having trails though there, place you can sit, enjoy the nature, possibly equestrian trails, those sort of things,” Buffington said. “And it stopped houses from possibly being built on there, and it connects two western Loudoun parks into one really big western Loudoun park.”
Buffington said he found out about the land while driving to visit Sleeter Lake Park, which opened in October 2018 after 28 years of planning. He said after reaching out to a few Round Hill officials and Loudoun County staff members, he received mostly positive feedback.
“It’d be hard to find that much for that price out here in western Loudoun, and that’s right in between the two towns of Round Hill and Purcellville, so I think it’s as great spot,” Buffington said, pointing out that would also prevent any future houses on the property, which is currently zoned for up to three units per acre.
But Round Hill Mayor Scott Ramsay said the town “was as surprised as anyone” when the board acted Thursday, Sept. 19.
“In September of 2017 our Town Administrator Melissa Hynes reached out to Steve Torpy at the County Department of Parks and Recreation to point out the potential value of this parcel to the County and encourage their interest in it as a potential connection between the two parks,” Ramsey wrote by email. He said the Town Council meeting one council member informed the twn the parcel was up for sale, and the town notified the county, but was not included in any of the negotiations between Round Hill Investors and the county.
“The Town is happy to learn the County was entering into a purchase contract, and we look forward to productive planning discussions with the County over the future development of the site,” Ramsey wrote.
Buffington said the purchase would expand Franklin Park, which could allow it to host a future western Loudoun parks and recreation facility that last year was added to the county’s Capital Improvement Program.
“The county doesn’t really actively engage in land banking since I’ve been on the board, however it’s something that I’ve really been pushing for as much as possible because of the rate of growth that we’ve had,” Buffington said. “I figure any chance we get to successfully start land banking for uses for parks is a good thing.” And he said he is looking at other properties in the Blue Ridge District to potentially buy and hold for future public uses.