Lake Manassas: One Step Closer to Opening a “Premier” Public Asset to… the Public

Last night, the Manassas City Council reviewed the status of Lake Manassas in a work session.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has proposed to acquire public access and build a boat ramp at the lake, using Federal Sport Fish Restoration grant money.

Lake Manassas has been closed to public use for 10 years after the city ended a franchise agreement with a private marina.  For about 30 years before the closure, the lake was one of the most popular fishing spots in Northern Virginia.   (There have gotta to be some big fish in there now… and city police do issue trespass warnings and some citations each year to the anglers who ignore the No Trespassing signs.)

At the end, acting on a motion by Marc Aveni, City Council voted unanimously to direct the Utilities Commission to continue negotiations with DGIF to open Lake Manassas to public use.  No deadlines were set, and city officials still have concerns regarding water quality, access control, and costs – but as Mayor Parrish note, “It’s a turning point.”

During the work session, the room was filled with anglers who are looking forward to fishing again on Lake Manassas.   Biologist John Odenkirk predicted that the lake “will be one of the most popular waters in Northern Virginia.”  Based on concern about potential over-use, the work session even included discussion about how to limit use to a maximum of 75-100 boats at a time.  That’s about 1 boat per 10 acres – an interesting parallel to the housing density permitted by the county’s A-1 zoning in the Rural Area.

Opening Lake Manassas helps to implement the Virginia Outdoors Plan, and will bring positive attention to the City of Manassas.   The Federal grants are funded primarily from taxes on fishing equipment and gas for motorboats, so there’s still money for opening up the public lake to public use despite the state’s current budget challenges.

Working through the DGIF will offer the city access to grant funding, and also a “more streamlined” process for building a gravel road, boat ramp, fishing pier, and other support facilities at Lake Manassas, compared to previous proposals that had been blocked by Prince William County.  The county’s Park Authority has already expressed interest in managing the proposed concession operation, renting boats and selling bait at the lake.

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5 comments so far

  1. Matthew Renner on

    I have lived in Gainesville for 8 years now. As an angler it has been most frustrating to live so close to an excellent fishery yet all I can do is listen to all the fishing stories of “how it was” 10 years ago. The City and the County have an excellent opportunity that will benefit the community. This lake will not only be used by fisherman but kayakers, conoers alike will be able to enjoy the body of water.

    The comments in this article are straight and to the point. It is long overdue and I cross my fingers with hopes that I too will be able to enjoy Lake Manassas in the near future. Great article – Thank you!

  2. Philip on

    I live in Fredericksburg and drive to the Manassas Battlefield area to work and I’ve heard great things about the lake. A nice body of water like this one is an opportunity for the many outdoor sportmans to take advantage of and appreciate. I’d be will to drive up from Fredericksburg to fish this big, very deep hole of water.I say bring it on and hope for the best sooner then later for 2010. Thank you!

  3. Clayton Arthurs on

    Just surfing around and came upon your site. Very nice post. Will be adding you to my RSS reader.

  4. […] update follows the Council’s December 7 work session, where the Council voted unanimously to direct the Utilities Commission to continue negotiations […]


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