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Greening up the Heart of Annandale

The Annandale Greenway was designed to connect six parks in the Annandale area - running from Green Spring Gardens westward through the heart of the town, ending in the Annandale Community Park. As of October 21, a new park, the Eileen Garnett Civic Park, was inaugurated on Columbia Pile, adding a seventh park to the Greenway’s list.

An exciting and well-attended opening of the new park showcased some new features to our community - a small community garden, outdoor play space, and brand-new native plantings. Located between the ACCA Child Care Center and the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department facility, the park extends between street frontage on Columbia Pike and Daniels Avenue. Exciting for Greenway fans, the trail goes through the park itself, establishing this new community space as the physical heart of the Greenway. The park will also (eventually) have a kiosk denoting the trail and providing a map for users.

Development of the Greenway continues methodically, providing a great lesson for proponents of the nature of working with many stakeholders in a highly complicated physical environment. Last year, the Annandale Greenway was put on Fairfax County’s formal list of trails through the leadership of retiring Supervisor Penny Gross. Supervisor Gross has been a steadfast proponent of trails and sidewalks that connect and serve her community. This year, the sign plan for the Greenway was also approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, again through the intercession of Supervisor Gross. So where do we stand?

We now have a designated, 4.5-mile trail through the Annandale community, a trail that by-and-large uses existing sidewalks, asphalt- and natural-surface trails, and streets in its journey. With one minor (although challenging) interruption, residents can presently walk the extent of the trail from end to end. With the eventual approval of the Active Fairfax plan (the amendment to the Fairfax Comprehensive Plan currently in the works), the Greenway will start showing up in real life!

There are a number of next-steps that we are working on right now. The Greenway exists almost entirely on both Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) lands and rights-of-way. For any physical improvements (signs, posts, trail construction) one of these two bodies must give formal approval. For example, we are working steadily with the FCPA to identify and formally designate locations for Greenway signage, a process that requires some site evaluation and surveying, in the six (now seven) segments of the trail that touch FCPA parks. VDOT approval (working through the Fairfax County Department of Transportation) is more complicated, as locations and surveying must go through those bodies and the distance on VDOT property is more extensive than on FCPA property.

Moving forward, the Annandale Greenway Alliance will need to secure complete funding for actual sign purchase and installation and, soon thereafter, funds for new kiosks and website information for the trail (we will need to partner with an existing non-profit organization for this support). In addition, public awareness through publication and events is a necessity to make our community aware of the existence of the trail.

While a lot of community and individual effort has gone into planning, designing and (soon!) implementing the trail, we still have a ways to go. We are hoping to have a Greenway inauguration event in the spring of 2024, so please stay tuned!

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