Groundbreaking for New Lee District Park Playground on Saturday
Chessie's Big Backyard is named for "Chessie," a Chesapeake Bay sea monster
At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, the first shovels full of dirt will be moved to make way for Chessie, the Chesapeake Bay cousin of Scotland’s famed Loch Ness Monster. He's getting his own space at Lee District Park: Chessie’s Big Backyard.
The groundbreaking ceremony is the first step in the expansion of the park’s Family Recreation Area, which is rapidly becoming a destination in southern Fairfax County thanks to this summer’s opening of the fully-accessible Our Special Harbor sprayground and the tree house. Chessie’s Big Backyard will sit between the two.
Several area officials will be on hand for Saturday’s ceremony, including Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay; Edward Batten, Sr., Lee District representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board; and former Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman. Kauffman is chairman of the fundraising committee for this part of the playground.
Fairfax County Park Foundation Executive Director Roberta “Bobbi” Longworth will also participate. The foundation is a key player in fundraising efforts for Chessie’s Big Backyard, working closely with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Park Authority.
“This playground is going to be part of a recreation area that is truly going to be a unique destination for people, not only in Lee District but throughout the region,” Longworth said.
Fairfax County Park Authority Public Information Officer Judy Pedersen said the county has long been committed to accessible recreation.
“When it comes to [the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990], we have traditionally led the pack,” Pedersen said. “We use every one of our ADA dollars that are given to us every single year. This agency has made tremendous strides in terms of not just facilities, but in the programming, adapted aquatics, many programs that are adapted. So, it’s not really unique to us. We made this commitment long ago. This is just a greater scale, if you will.”
Pedersen also said that next month the Fairfax County Park Foundation will receive the National Recreation and Park Association’s 2011 National Humanitarian Award for its support of park authority facilities and programs. She said, “One of the programs that was so influential was Clemyjontri,” a fully-accessible playground in McLean.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Longworth. “The reason that the foundation exists is to really pick up where the tax dollars leave off, because they’re of course limited. A project like this would not be possible without private contributions from individuals and organizations. So that’s our task right now, to raise the funds for the remaining areas of the Chessie’s Big Backyard project.”
Lee District Park RECenter, 6601 Telegraph Rd., Alexandria, VA 22310, 703-922-9841 (at the intersection with Rose Hill Dr.)