The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has approved moving forward with planned enhancements to Bles Park that are designed to improve safety and access and provide additional recreational opportunities for residents while maintaining the park’s natural attributes.
The 132-acre park is located north of Route 7 in Loudoun’s Algonkian District and is adjacent to the Potomac River. It includes a portion of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. The Eastern Loudoun Adult Day Center is also located on the property, which also currently includes four sports fields, paved and natural trails, wetlands/natural areas, a playground and limited parking.
Over the last year, the county has modified plans for the park, based on community input. The revised plan represents the minimum necessary to provide the required parking and facility upgrades to meet the needs of park users, while limiting the effects on the natural habitat.
“The new amenities, most of which will be built next to existing recreational uses, will further help aggregate the park’s active recreation near the park entrance and leave the natural areas much as they are,” said Algonkian District Supervisor Juli E. Briskman. “This is not development in the traditional sense, and it is not an expansion. It improves safety and access, and provides amenities the Algonkian community has been requesting for years, such as a dog park and more pickleball courts. I am proud that we are finally building them, and I know Bles Park will continue to be an eastern Loudoun gem that families can enjoy for years to come.”
During its January 18, 2022, meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved a legislative application that will allow the planned improvements to move forward. The phase 1 plan includes the following improvements and amenities:
- Adequate and safe parking for the use of the existing sports fields
- Canoe and kayak launch
- Multi-generation playgrounds
- Skate spots
- Off-leash dog area
The plan will provide access to the park’s new canoe and kayak launch via an existing gravel drive, which will also allow public safety vehicles to access the launch area in case of emergency.
The Board also approved a future phase 2 proposal, which currently is not funded. The phase 2 plan includes the following improvements and amenities:
- Tennis and pickleball courts
- Overlook areas
- Observation tower
The various park improvements will enhance the safety and accessibility of the park as well as the recreation opportunities by means of inter-connected open spaces that provide diverse activities for all ages, interests and abilities. The Loudoun County 2019 Comprehensive Plan encourages the development of these spaces in eastern Loudoun.
The thorough scrutiny given to the plan by the Board, the Planning Commission and county staff assure that the natural setting of the non-developed sections of the park will be maintained and that the adopted enhancements reflect the best possible options for a park that was built nearly 30 years ago with both active and passive recreation opportunities in mind.
For more information about the planned park enhancements, and to sign up for email and text project updates, visit loudoun.gov/blesparkimprovements.
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