ig Chimneys Park, which encompasses 1.7 acres between Gibson Street and West Annandale Road, is turning 20 and is in great need of a makeover. A meeting was held on June 21 to get input about the upcoming project to beautify and improve the park. The main problems to resolve are a broken playground, swampy areas due to stormwater drainage problems, some inaccessible trails, the park’s functionality, and a park sign with grammar errors.
The proposed improvements will rectify the wear and tear and will help the park serve the ever-changing needs of the community. For example, there has been neighborhood expansion and commercial growth in the Falls Church community which creates a need for more trails and points of entry to the park.
Improvements To Be Made
In addition to new equipment, efforts will be made to beautify the park with new landscaping. There is an extensive list of specific changes to be made, but here are the major points summarized:
- A Bigger & Better Playground-As trends evolve for children’s safety in parks, the current playground equipment needs to be replaced while new play areas need to be created to accommodate more kids. In addition, a new rubber mat will be placed under the playground equipment for safety reasons.
- More Access Options-There will be new ADA access granted from Gundry Drive and new access points from Shirley Street and the Winter Hill neighborhood.
- Improved Mobility-Not only will new trails will be created to access the park, but the current hiking trail will be removed in favor of a circular trail that goes around the park. This is intended to improve foot traffic and make the park more functional.
- New Landscaping-Throughout the park, new shrubs and greenery will be added to make it more attractive. There will also be efforts to remove invasive and dangerous plants like poison ivy so that nobody gets a rash if they go off the beaten path.
- Better Signage-The old, grammatically incorrect, sign that says “Old Chimney Park” will be replaced with a sign that has the park’s correct name. New lighting will also be placed around all the park’s signs to increase visibility.
- Noise Control-To ensure privacy for park visitors and to manage noise levels, landscape buffers will be placed between areas of the park and current or upcoming residential/commercial areas. The park’s west and south end will have most of the buffers.
- Storm Water Management-The swampy conditions that plague the park are finally going to be dealt with properly. There will be new grading and drainage solutions applied to the park that will direct rainwater properly in the future.
- More Seating-New park furniture like benches and tables will be added to allow comfortable seating for more patrons.
- Entertainment-A designated performance area in a sloped part of the park can host local musicians and shows.
- New Lighting-Illuminating paths, signage, and entryways will increase the park’s safety and visibility.
- Plans to Improve the “Open Space”-For now, they’ll maintain the small open space in the park to allow activities like frisbee and other games. If the opportunity comes to expand it by acquiring adjacent land, the open space will grow to allow more open space.
- Historic Preservation-They’ll give more spotlight to the historic Big Chimneys Cabin through signage, a monument, or by building a footprint of the cabin similar the one currently in the park.
- New Water Fountains-Because hydration is key, especially in hot Virginia summers!
Another nice touch is that any trees that are removed or damaged during construction will be replaced by planting new native trees. There will also be an archeological dig during the grading process to find anything interesting from Falls Church’s past.
We look forward to when these improvements and new additions will make Big Chimneys Park a more pleasant and functional public space for the community.