Strategic Master Plan

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Phase 1  Phase 1 FAQs Survey Promotionals
Workshop Results Workshop #1  Workshop #2 Workshop #3
Workshop #4 Workshop #5 Phase 2 Phase 2 FAQs


It is with great pleasure that we can tell you that City Council unanimously approved the resolution to accept the first ever Strategic Master Plan for Parks, Recreation, Trails, Open Space, Cultural Arts, and Events.  We could not have gotten to this point without our partners and the community support and engagement through the process. 

To watch the acceptance, click here

 Strategic Master Plan 2




Approved 2014 Strategic Master Plan 

The documents listed below are the tangible products produced from the Strategic Master Plan process.  These documents contain the findings from the surveys, demographic data from the City of Fairfax, and the consultants findings to help us move forward to better our parks and our future.  The main body document will work as our road map for the next ten years. 

Fairfax Strategic Master Plan - MAIN BODY

Appendix A - Planning Context

Appendix B - Public Engagement with Surveys

Appendix C - Parks and Recreation Resources

Appendix D - Existing Programs & Services Analysis

Appendix E - Benchmarking Comparisons

Appendix F - Trails Plan

Appendix G - Letters of Support


An interactive website,, has also been developed so that people can participate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the entire Phase One process. The website will be multilingual. It will allow you to post ideas, comment on ideas or just see what’s happening in 65 different languages.



Phase 1



The first phase of the Strategic Master Plan moved along with great success thanks to the help the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Steering Committee, City Staff, and the tremendous citizen’s involvement in both the Public Workshops and with the online portion at There have been five Public Workshop, twenty one Stakeholder Meetings, and a presentation to City Council. 

As Phase I is wrapping up it is still important that the community stay involved during the Phase II process.  We’d like for you to review the survey findings and the presentation to presented to Council, and let us know what you think.  You can still log-on at to leave your comments. 

Watch the consultants present the Phase I findings to Council in the video below.



Phase 1 FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Strategic Plan?

Answer: A Strategic Master Plan is a clear, concise and measurable set of goals, policies and objectives that will provide direction to the City Council, Staff, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and Commission on the Arts for future development, re-development, and enhancement of the City’s parks system, open space, trails, recreation facilities, recreation and cultural activities, events and services.

The Strategic Master Plan will be incorporated into the City of Fairfax Comprehensive Plan and will require the approval of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Commission on the Arts and the City Council.

This process is to include developing a comprehensive inventory, an analysis of current and forecasted needs and implementation of strategies. Specific items to include in the study, but not limited to, are:

Parks System, Open Space and Trails
Identify appropriate parks, open space and trails development standards, identify opportunities and deficiencies in the park system and open space, and create a park system, trails and open space renovation program. Particular emphasis should be placed on the connectivity with parks, trails and vibrancy in general park design considerations.
Recreation Facilities
Identify appropriate recreation standards; identify opportunities and deficiencies for recreation facilities.
Recreation/Cultural Activities, Events and Services
Examine and evaluate the current recreation programs, events and services, to identify opportunities and deficiencies for future recreation, cultural activities and services.
Capital Development
Identify important capital issues to consider incorporating into a five year (and beyond) capital improvement program.
Costs and Funding Sources
Identify probable costs, potential funding sources and mechanisms to maximize financial resources and provide sustainable financial resources.
Is the plan just for parks?
Answer: The plan slogan is “Our Parks, Our Future” but the plan will evaluate and involve so much more. We want a comprehensive approach that integrates all aspects of the parks and recreation department. To do this, we must look at all parks and their amenities within them; we must look at our facilities such as Green Acres, Sherwood and how we utilize our schools; we must look at open space parcels and preservation; we must look at environmental issues; we must look at our trails; we must look at the recreation services and programs from preschool classes to the Senior Center; we must look at special events big and small; and we must look at our cultural activities for the arts and even the integration of historic properties.

Why does the city need a Strategic Plan?

Answer: The City has changed over the years and so have the needs of our users, the way people recreate and the requirements and impact to our natural environment. Along with these changes, the City has to determine the best way to fund recreation services and capital maintenance needs for the park system. Tough economic times locally and nationally have forced capital maintenance and replacement to be deferred. This deferred capital has built up and needs a more comprehensive and objective evaluation to determine the priorities of funding and what is sustainable for our community.
A Strategic Plan will help to identify the trends and needs in our community and our community will meet these needs.

What will it cost the city?

 Answer: Phase One will cost $25,000 and has been approved by City Council. The funding for this plan came from proffer funds earmarked for planning in parks and recreation.

What’s the difference between a Strategic Plan and the City’s Comprehensive Plan?

Answer: The Comprehensive Plan is the City's official policy guide for future development-related decisions. It is general and long-range in nature and provides a picture of how the community wishes to develop over the next 15 to 20 years. As a policy document, the plan provides a framework for residents and decision makers to conceptualize how the city should look and function.
A Strategic Plan takes into account a long term vision but usually focuses on objectives to be achieved in a three to five year period. The Strategic Plan is the specific methods and strategies to achieve the overall goals of the Comprehensive Plan but from the City user side. A comprehensive plan is generally used for overall development and by developers and becomes the guiding document for Planning Commission and City Council when evaluating land use issues.

Who will be involved in the planning process?

Answer: Everyone from our community. This will not only include our citizens but also county residents since almost 50 to 60% of our users in programs, events and activities come from outside the city. The intent of the plan is to get a better understanding from all those participants, patrons and users along with the non-participants, patrons and non-users on what they like, dislike, need, want and would like to see from the city when it comes to parks, recreation, trails, open space, events and cultural activities.

How do I get involved and share my opinion?

Answer: We invite everyone to comment on any idea, concern and/or need they may have related to the plan in a variety of ways. People can send letters and emails to the Parks and Recreation Department. We welcome phone calls as well.
An interactive website,, has also been developed that people can participate in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the entire Phase One process. The website will be multilingual and will allow you to post ideas, comment on ideas or just see what’s happening.
We also encourage you and your families to attend one of the four workshops throughout the process. This will be a great way to participate with neighbors and other similar users generating new, creative and much needed feedback to shape how our future of parks and recreation should look in the City.

Who is leading this process?

Answer: The process is being led by the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) and staff of the Park and Recreation Department in cooperation with a Strategic Plan Steering Committee. The Steering Committee, with guidance from PRAB leadership and staff, will assist with all facets of the Phase One process to ensure a comprehensive final product. The Steering Committee is truly a “sounding board” for the entire City. It is the group that will: set the pace of the work program; debate potential issues and seek resolution; participate and assist in stakeholder outreach and community input facilitation; direct formulation of policies; and make interim and final decisions about the content and thrust of the Strategic Plan before forwarding recommendations to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) for approval prior to presentation to Planning Commission and City Council.
Overall, City Council will have final decisions on the process and outcomes of the Strategic Plan 
Phase One of the Plan:

How long will Phase One take?

Answer: Nine months

What will Phase One of the Strategic Master Plan do?

Communicate and illustrate the City’s vision for Parks and Recreation
Portray and represent a plan that meets the needs of all people in our community through a comprehensive approach of fun, interactive, intuitive citizen engagement
Assist City Council, staff and citizens in understanding the parameters for future development and redevelopment of the City’s park system
Identify and prioritize public capital projects in support of revitalization and improvement efforts
Provide guidance on future activities, events and services that attract residents as new users of facilities and new participants in programs
Involve the public through a series of fun and visioning facilitated meetings that target a broad audience and engage hard to reach portions of the population

What are the deliverables in a Phase One?

4 Open community workshops
20 Stakeholder meetings
3 Reports
Online Civic Engagement
Statistically valid survey
Preliminary Park Classification definitions
Preliminary Levels of Service identification
Review and refinement of mission, vision, goals and objectives
Short and long term goals
What will be accomplished by the completion of a Phase One plan?
Answer: Three reports detailing short and long term goals related to parks, recreation, trail, open space, events and cultural activities will be developed, some of which may need to be formalized in a phase two of the Strategic Plan. These reports will summarize the results from the four workshops, stakeholder meetings and the statistically valid survey. The Phase One plan will also develop some preliminary guidelines for levels of service, priorities, refinement of mission and vision and outline the steps for the phase two of the plan development.


Why the need for a Strategic Master Plan

Has a strategic master plan ever been done for parks and recreation?

Answer: Yes and No. A volunteer effort to develop a basic master plan was drafted in March of 2000 by the PRAB but was never completed nor adopted by the City Council. It did gather some initial data on the park system at the time but neglected to look at other aspects such as open space, events, facilities and recreation services. Over 13 years old, this draft also didn’t involve the community and didn’t look at aligning all resources and sources of parks and recreation providers.
Much has changed in our world and City since 2000 and this new Strategic Plan process will take into account these changes, the items omitted from the 2000 draft plan and ultimately receive endorsement by the City Council.

Will it be integrated with other City plans like the Comprehensive Plan, Mason to Metro Bike Plan and Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan?

Answer: The Strategic Plan will take into account all existing plans and objectives of those plans when developing final recommendations. It’s important that any plan for parks, recreation, trails, open space, events and cultural activities be aligned with needs for development along Fairfax Boulevard, commuter biking through the Mason to Metro plan and any development that would or could include George Mason University.

Who is the consultant assisting with the development of this plan?

Answer: Brandstetter Carroll, Inc from Lexington, Kentucky

Why does the City need a consultant to assist with this process?

Answer: The City has limited staff resources to be able to effectively and efficiently compile the necessary resources and information for a Phase One Strategic Plan.
A consultant brings extensive expertise with the development of numerous Strategic Plans in many communities and has a skill set equipped to more efficiently facilitate the process.
A consultant also allows for a more honest approach, even if perceived, to gather information from the public and unique ability to honestly and impartially disseminate that information/recommendations to political leaders.

Is the City partnering with other agencies to accomplish this plan?

Answer: Yes. The City is partnering with George Mason University, Fairfax County Park Authority and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to ensure the best and most comprehensive look a parks and recreation services and facilities. These organizations will also help develop some of the tools, outreach methods and integration of their priorities for their service.

Will there be a survey and will it be statistically valid?

Answer: Yes, there will be a statistically valid survey that will be mailed to a random sampling of City residents. The survey will have similar questions to the 2007 Attitudes and Interest Survey that the Parks and Recreation Department conducted with additional overall planning questions related to parks, recreation, trails, open space, events and cultural activities.
The survey will geo-coded to ensure that we know where our responses are coming from. Around 2000 surveys will be sent out and the hope is to achieve a 30% return of responses.





In partnership with George Mason University, a random, statistically valid, survey was sent to 2,500 homes in the City. The data collected from this survey helped to narrow down how we should proceed in maintaining a balanced and sustainable parks system through our mission, vision, and goals which are still being reviewed during the Phase II process. 

Thank you to those that received and completed the survey.  If you are not familiar with the survey you can find a copy in the link below.  To find out what others said in the survey the Executive Summary is provided below. 

Strategic Master Plan Survey


 Executive Summary - Survey





One of the reasons we feel Phase I was so successful is due in part to our many promotionals.  Without getting the word out to the community we wouldn't have attracted the attention needed to successfully help shape our parks and our future.  We put in a lot of time and effort to make sure everyone had a chance to find out and stay up-to-date with the Phase I project.  Below you will find videos, flyers, brochures, a post card that all helped us to ensure we were successful in making the community aware of this important project. 



Workshop Results



During Phase I five workshops were held.  The first four focused on gathering participant's visions and ideas on shaping our parks and our future for the next five years.  The fifth workshop provided the summary of all the information gathered during the stakeholder meetings, public workshops, and survey. 


Visit each workshop page to download the presentations given and view the results. 



Workshop #1

The first public workshop was held at Providence Elementary School on May 2, 2013.  Participants listened to a presentation about what a strategic master plan is, and then they offered their visions and ideas on shaping our parks and our future.  They had a chance to visit the parks, recreation, trails, open space, cultural arts, events and facilities stations and fill out comment cards.  Those comment cards have all been recording and the data is presented in the final report. 

Click the link below to download the summary from Workshop #1.

Workshop Summary



Workshop #2


The second workshop, held in Old Town Fairfax, offered a family friendly event complete with touch a truck stations and live music in the park.  Participants first visited the main workshop area where they could visit the parks, recreation, trails, open space, cultural arts, and events stations. Each station had either a staff member or a member of the Steering Committee where participants could ask questions and leave ideas and comments. 


Dollar Expenditures Voting

Public Workshops

May 2 & 3, 2013

Participants at the two workshops were given $1,000 in play money to distribute how they felt the City should allocate funds for various aspects of parks, recreation, trails, open space, special events, and cultural activities.   The following are the totals for the various categories.  Participants could write specific items they wanted on the money they placed in the “Other” box.  

Develop new or improved senior center facilities -                        $16,200

Improvements/maintenance of existing parks, playgrounds,

game courts and picnic areas -                                                    $15,000

Development of a new outdoor family aquatic center -                  $13,000

Development of new walking and biking trails -                             $10,800

Improvements/construction of new athletic fields -                        $10,000

Development of new indoor recreation facilities -                            $8,400

Acquisition of land for open space/green space/future park land -    $7,850

Development of new outdoor Parks and Recreation Facilities -        $5,550


Bigger skate park -                                                                        $2,150

Dog park -                                                                                    $1,000

Roller/hockey rink -                                                                       $1,000

Blank -                                                                                          $850

Festival center -                                                                             $450

Edible landscape -                                                                          $450

Community garden -                                                                       $400

Programming -                                                                               $350

Improve parking/access to Thaiss Field -                                          $200

More tennis courts -                                                                        $200

Swings for adults -                                                                          $150

Nature Center -                                                                               $150

Good dance floors -                                                                         $100

Golf facility -                                                                                   $100

Cultural events at Sherwood -                                                           $100

I66 Overpass -                                                                                $50

Asphalt track -                                                                                 $50

Space for arts/City band office -                                                         $50

Sidewalks -                                                                                      $50

Control Invasive plants -                                                                    $50



Workshop #3


The third workshop was held at Green Acres on June 22, 2013.  This presentation and workshop focused on the cities facilities.  After a presentation participants broke up into four groups where they had a chance to talk about facility improvements, additions, and the possibility of constructing new facilities.   

Click the link below to download the presentation from this workshop.

City of Fairfax Public Workshop 3 - Green Acres



Workshop #4


The fourth workshop was held June 23, 2013 at The Stacy C. Sherwood Center.  This workshop focused on Van Dyck Park.  After a presentation participants had the opportunity to redesign the park of their dreams.  Maps were presented to each group and various park features were given out. 

Click the link below to view the presentation.

Workshop #4 Presentation

Below are examples of the parks people designed. 



Workshop #5


The fifth and final workshop of Phase I was held October 17, 2013 at Old Town Hall.  The consultants provided a two part presentation.  Part one was a summary of the findings from all the collected data, and the second part laid out the future mission, vision, and goals. 

Click the link below to see the presentation detailing the findings and see the proposed mission, vision, and goals.

Workshop # 5 Presentation



Phase 2


On Tuesday, June 3rd City Council was presented with the DRAFT Strategic Master Plan. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Chairman, The Parks and Recreation Director, and the Consultants of Brandstetter Carroll presented the draft strategies for the Strategic Plan for Parks, Recreation, Trails, Open Space, Events and Cultural Activities to the Mayor and Council during the Work Session. Getting to this point was no easy feat, and we thank you for your help along the way.  Without the tremendous amount of community input in phase I and Phase II, we would not have been able to bring you such a well laid out presentation to present for the Council. 

If you missed the Council presentation the link below is provided for you to view it.  Scroll to the 2:16 mark to start the presentation. 

Strategic Master Plan Presentation during City Council Work Session 

Staff Report

As we enter the final stages of the plan we will keep you updated.  We encourage you to attend the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at City Hall where Council will vote to adopt the plan to show support. 

Please email us at if you have any questions regarding the Strategic Master Plan. 


Phase 2 FAQs


Phase Two of the Plan:

What would be in Phase Two and how much does that cost?

Answer: Phase Two would cost approximately $59,775 and has been requested by Staff and PRAB for funding in the FY2014 budget request. This would allow the immediate follow up to Phase One and the completion of the Strategic Plan. Phase two deliverables would be the following:

Funding and Budget analysis
Capital Project Review
Ordinance and Policy review
Qualitative Facility inventory analysis
Benchmarking analysis with other jurisdictions in region and country of similar size and scope
User Fee analysis
Program analysis
Park and Fee analysis
Levels of service guidelines
Operations cost analysis
Action Plan
Final Plan document

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