My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Lake Manassas Update

This election access to recreation on Lake Manassas became an issue.  Mr. Aveni has stumped for renewed access to the lake throughout the campaign.  The other candidates were a mixed bag but you could probably summarize their thoughts by saying: "it's not a terrible idea if you can figure out how to do it safely and without more cost to the citizens".  I'm not here to beat up on Mr. Aveni or anyone else but I did want to provide an update on the matter as there was some interest in this on the campaign trail….

There will be a meeting of the Finance committee this coming Wednesday.  5:30 in the second floor conference room at City hall.  Item 4 on the agenda is to allocate $45,000 in city funds to study the re-opening of Lake Manassas.  Here is a link to the agenda.  Just thought all those who were interested might want to know.


  1. $45k would be a good start to a parks and rec plan for the actual citizens of Manassas.  Sounds like my checkbook isn't really all that tightly  controlled.  I thought this wasn't going to cost a bunch of money?  Is anyone else kicking in some bucks?

  2. I am a local rowing coach and fisherman and  went on the lake in 1980's.  I was contacted about 10 years ago by the city water authorityto help come up with a plan  to open the lake.  It failed due to county objections.  We had the support of everyone else including Robert Trent Jones. I tired to forge a plan with the Freedon center in an effort to use an already shared organization to find common ground but it also failed.  I have alot of information that could be helpful in your study. Please feel free to contact me. 

  3. How much is the city spending on police officers and the boat to keep people off the lake? How about a profit sharing with Prince William and let them run it, if they are willing. Just a couple of thoughts, I would love to see it reopened.

  4. andy

    November 7, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Chris – there won't be a profit.  We never made any money the first time around (indeed, we had to put money into the marina every couple of years) and our current City Manager ran two municpal marinas at his previous job.  It's very difficult to make money.  

    Thomas, I appreciate your offer.  I reviewed the GMU proposal at length a couple of years ago and think ti would be tough to get working.  I'm not opposed to opening the lake but I think the City has higher priorities.

    In either event, I won't be on the council if and when this is taken up so…

  5. The reason the lake is not open to the public is clear, certain people don't want it open. The city has spent tens of thousands of dollars to patrol that lake and word is it is all overtime pay to the officers. This is not a money issue. The best fishing lake in the state of Virginia and were letting the bureaucrats hold it hostage. It is time to get this done!  

  6. andy

    November 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Yes, certain people do want it closed.  The Utilities Commission of the City of Manassas and the City Council of Manassas.  These people are responsible to the citizens of Manassas to preserve this asset as, first and foremost, a drinking water resevoir.  If the lake is contaminated the citizens of Manassas will be on the hook to clean it up.  

    Yes, it is also a money issue.  The amount of money we pay to have the lake patrolled will be dwarfed by the operating costs of a marina.  Also recall that the City of Manassas has amongst the youngest demographic in NoVa and no Parks and Rec program.  Is paying for a water attraction 10 miles outside the city a priority for the citizens of Manassas?


    What were the costs then? 

    What would they be now?  Would we have to open a full Marina?   There are plenty of on nearby rivers

    How much money has the Opera house raked in over the years or are we considering it some kind of cultural "loss leader"?  




  8. The fact that it is 10 miles outside the city gives one pause.  Would it be better to improve the parks the city  currently operates? 

  9. Andy, your response is the exact same thing that Democrat-elect Ken Elston said in the debates.  You sure aren't helping to dissuade all those folks that hate politics and say there isn't a whit of difference between a Republican and a Democrat.  

  10. andy

    November 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Gman – good policy is good policy.  It would be patently ridiculous to change the stance I've held over the past 5 years we've wrestled with this issue simply because someone else agrees with me.  If Mr. Elston agreed with a tenet of the Tea Party should they abandon it?  Of course not.  C'mon.

    Hugh – you'll have to search back through the blog.  The information is all there.  I don't have time today to dig it all out.

  11. Ha! Good one, Andy.  The tea party will never have to worry about that.  Show me a respectable Democrat agreeing with the tea party and I'll show you a Muslim that eats bacon!  

  12. As I said at the Weems Town Hall the other month, the unaimously-approved Comp Plan addresses protecting the safety of the water.  It does not have ANY priority related to reopening the lake; however, DOES have as a Council Priority to do a study of existing Parks.

    Also, I mentioned the Occoquan Reservoir for which PWC has 40% of costs.  That is open for recreation; runs at a loss; and also is on the State's "Top Ten" dirty water supplies.

    I can agree to a study to look at the impact of the new Stormwater requirements in terms of the lake, however, I believe our own capable City Staff over at Public Works has looked at it.  Might be wrong about it; but they seem in each of their presentations to have a real grip on the impacts.

  13. I'm not even that big into fishing and I would love to see the lake opened up in a responsible way.  Could certainly see a day or two a year taking my boys out there to fish quietly in a non-motorized boat..  Even if it were 10 miles away it could still be a real asset to the citizens of the City beyond our water reservoir.  Think of how far Burke Lake Park is to some citizens of Fairfax County.  When you go there you notice that the fee depends on where you live.  As a non-resident of Fairfax I have to pay to go there.  What would keep us from preferential pricing for citizens of Manassas City?

    Also, perhaps the reason that it didnt make any money over 10 years ago is because no one lived out there then.  Now take a drive out there and all you see are housing developments with families.

    It's a shame that this has not been done already.  My fear is that some people have such a personal dislike for Mr. Aveni that it clouds their ability to get behind a good idea.  I hope the lake gets opened. On balance it would be a positive for our city.

  14. What we SHOULD do is take that $45k and fund the parks and rec study the council didn't have the guts to fund.  BTW, what happened to all of those CIP projects?  Are they ever going to start?

  15. Curious

    what do folks think about the people who live on the lake?

    lake is 75 feet away from my back door and I can't enjoy the lake. And that is at no cost to anyone?



  16. The Council, as usual, has this ass backwards.  first decide what your recreation priorities are.  If the lake is more important than infrastructure inside the city then you need to decide if you're willing to fund the operating expenses as those don't go away.  Once you open it, closing it will be hell!  

  17. Here's an idea…. create a lottery system with 200 passes available per year to anglers at $250 each. This would generate $50K, probably enough to start funding an electronic gate/ramp access. All anglers would be required to log in and record catches. Don't see much downside to this plan that addresses homeowners' concerns about a free for all on the lake if open to general public as well as angler access issues. Of course opening the lake to all is a goal, but not certain if that is realistic or even desirable?

  18. So, Andy…how the vote go at Finance Committee?

  19. Andy was not present. The vote was 1-2 against. The matter will be in front of the entire Council on Movember 24.  

  20. Thanks, Mark!  Shall be intersting to see how, given an almost $500K hole in the forecast the vote will go on a non-priority item.

  21. Glad to see Mr. Aveni's priorities are helping out people in the county.  Where he works.

  22. Why was it closed in the first place??

  23. Why is it a crime for property owners around the lake to be on it??

  24. Quite disappointing. A real opportunity to expand on the benefits of living in the City was missed.  smh.

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