Letter: John Hentschel, Ashburn

Editor: Bles Park needs our attention and help. The Board of Supervisors doesn’t understand the value of Bles Park’s natural beauty and value to the county. 

On Jan. 18, the board plans to pass zoning special exceptions put forth by Loudoun County Parks and Recreation to greatly increase hard surface parking areas, add hard surface trails, surround the wetlands area with boardwalks and an improved gravel road with parking for a kayak launch next to the Potomac River, and build additional “improvements.”  

My family and I have lived on Smith Circle adjacent to Bles Park since it was set aside as a county park in the late 1990s. It is one of only two natural parks in Loudoun County and is home to varied wildlife and plants, many of which are not found elsewhere in the county. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy its natural state and peaceful beauty. 

Bles Park is largely within the Potomac River floodplain, has natural surface walking trails that follow the river and go through woods and fields, has a small wetlands area, has four soccer fields, and about 50 paved parking spaces. The wetlands, park, and flood plain serve as an important buffer and filter to runoff from developments in the surrounding area before it reaches the Potomac River. 

The proposed changes would increase paved surface parking 5x, build paved walking paths, surround 90% of the small wetlands area with boardwalks and an improved gravel road with parking for a kayak launch next to the river, build an open recreational field, build pavilions, and build other “improvements.”  

The Loudoun County Planning Commission has been reviewing the proposed changes and working with the parks and recreation department over the past year to reduce the impact of the proposed changes to Bles Park. They identified that the proposed changes, even after several revisions to the site plan, were not in keeping with the Loudoun County General Plan policies calling for the protection of natural, environmental, and heritage resources. The Planning Commission identified that the proposed changes to Bles Park will destroy habitats for rare and sensitive plant and animal species. The Planning Commission considered the Loudoun County staff report recommending approval of the special exception permits but ultimately felt the proposed changes were too destructive to the park and voted to deny the proposal as is. The Planning Commission identified many alternatives to the increased paved surfaces for parking, boardwalks, location of the kayak access area, and other intrusive changes to Bles Park. 

I sincerely hope, with public outcry and support for the park, that the Board of Supervisors recognizes the value that Bles Park has to county residents and votes to deny the application or to send it back to the Planning Commission for rework and adoption of the commission’s proposed changes.

John Hentschel, Ashburn

5 thoughts on “Letter: John Hentschel, Ashburn

  • 2022-01-05 at 6:04 pm
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    I echo the writer’s sentiments. Please leave Bles Park alone. There’s really no need to disturb its natural beauty. Let the wonderful foliage & wildlife coexist peacefully with humans. When development is necessary, I’m all for it. In this case, I’m not convinced it is. As the saying goes, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Happy New Year Loudoun!

  • 2022-01-05 at 6:23 pm
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    Roger Vance was absent when the planning commission voted to deny this proposal. Since then, he has said he would support denying this 100%. Remember when we were told Juli was part of the green wave, she ain’t proving it.

  • 2022-01-06 at 6:01 am
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    Too much money, too little talent and no priority list to work from all equals spending on member submitted projects instead of community needs. Having a tax rate already 39% higher than the rest oof Virginia should be viewed as a problem not an opportunity to play around! 🙂

    • 2022-01-07 at 3:55 pm
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      I’d like to see your data on the tax rates. Comparing Loudoun to rural counties would be ridiculous. Attempting to mislead?

  • 2022-01-07 at 7:35 pm
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    Juli threatens us with building houses on the property that isn’t floodplain, nice! In essence the only good open space is land that can’t be built on see what she did the Regal next up the Staples center then the Hidden Lane Landfill. She will not stop cause money comes from contractors she sold your green wishes out to the highest bidder, now you know her price.

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