Lake Manassas Public Access Update

According to today’s News & Messenger, City of Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish supports opening Lake Manassas BUT only after the City “resolves a lawsuit” aimed at opening the Lake to public access. This position begs the question… if the City does in fact support opening the Lake, why invest significant funds fighting a lawsuit aimed at doing just that?

Here’s what we know. At the City Council’s June 30 meeting, most Councilmen strongly appeared poised to close the door on discussions aimed at opening Lake Manassas to the public, despite significant support offered by partners.

The Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has committed $100,000 to build a boat ramp, parking lot and finger pier. They would also monitor the Lake and contribute an operations stipend to offset costs for a concession stand.

The developer of the Saranac community on Lake Manassas wants to donate land for a public access point. They have been working diligently but without success to gain access to the Lake for their development, as allowed in the property deed. Their offer to donate land confirms their preference to open the Lake through partnerships, not litigation.

However, after two years with no forward movement, the developer is tired of waiting. They have now signaled their intent to move forward with a lawsuit to gain access to Lake Manassas for their community IF the City does not accelerate their efforts to open the Lake.

George Mason University is interested in operating the concession stand required by the City Council, but their business plan for the first year shows expected revenues of $40,600 and operating expenses of $57,000, a gap of $16,400.

The City Council says $16,400 is too much money to invest in opening the Lake… but they’re ready to spend considerably more for a lawsuit to keep the Lake closed?

Councilmen are not convinced that opening Lake Manassas would be an asset to their community, saying very few City residents would benefit. Forgetting tourism goals, they question why Manassas should incur expenses that would benefit nonresidents.

In the meantime, everyone must travel to the Occoquan Reservoir or one of the many other Virginia reservoirs that are open to the public with no restrictions.

Lake Manassas is a significant Virginia recreational amenity. According to the Virginia Outdoors Plan, Northern Virginia residents say access to water is a top recreational priority. The Plan specifically encourages partnerships to make additional waterfront resources available for public use.

At Lake Manassas, all partners are committed… except for the Manassas City Council. Will Councilmen take advantage of this golden opportunity to provide public access or will they instead chose a costly lawsuit to keep the Lake closed?

You can share your views with the Manassas City Council by emailing CityClerk@ci.manassas.va.us.

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