Trash Free Initiative at Sully Highlands Park

The Fairfax County Park Authority is kicking off a "Trash Free Parks Budget Initiative". 

A trash free program has many benefits, including:

  • Fostering a partnership between the visitors and the park by encouraging people to take an active role in maintaining the park.
  • Encouraging people to adopt a carry in, carry out.
  • Encouraging people to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Increasing visitor safety by reducing the number of stinging insects, rodents, and other wildlife in the park.
  • Reducing the amount of litter in the park.
  • Establish a commitment towards park sustainability and responsible park use that will carry on to future generations.

Sully Highlands Park opened in July 2014.  This new turn-key proffered park provides five (5) athletic fields that includes two (2) synthetic turf fields that will be utilized year round as well as a 175 space parking lot.  The Park Authority is working with the local community sports organization, Chantilly Youth Association (CYA), to provide additional park amenities including a playground, batting cages, pitching bull pens, picnic shelter, concessions, and public restrooms. 

The Park Authority received no additional funds dedicated to the operations and maintenance of this park.  The annual expenses and/or additional burden to existing funding are estimated to be about $150-170K for this park (utilities, labor, materials, contracted services, etc.).  In the interest of trying to contain/eliminate many of the unfunded costs, staff is partnering with the community on a couple cost saving strategies. One strategy involves CYA fully adopting the natural grass athletic fields after the one year warranty period on the fields has concluded. In addition, CYA has agreed to support a “pilot” Trash Free Park initiative to help further curb expenses at the park.

The Trash Free Park initiative is estimated to “save” $15,000 in currently unfunded annual expenses: 

1.      Staff expenses for trash collection- $10,500

2.      Supplies/materials for trash collection- $500

3.      County Solid Waste charges for trash pick-up- $4,000

Based on the above background and a successful pilot Trash Free Park initiative program at Sully Highlands Park, staff could identify seven (7) comparable parks to expand this program to, which could save an estimated $28K in Solid Waste collection charges, $3,500 in supplies and materials associated with trash collection, and approximately $73,500 of staff expenses, all of which could be reallocated to deferred maintenance work.

Todd Johnson, CPRP
Director, Park Operations Division
Fairfax County Park Authority