Potomac News Online | Manassas Park Thinks Big

For a small community, Manassas Park likes to think big.

With a land area of only 2 square miles, the city, located just north of Manassas, is the second smallest in Virginia.

And yet skyrocketing real estate values have provided the city government with the funds needed to take responsibility for large projects.

In the past 10 years, Manassas Park, acting as its own developer, has built a new high school, a new elementary school, the 980-home subdivision of Blooms Crossing, a regional water theme park, an 18-hole golf course and more.

Growth has meant incredible changes for the community, which saw its population increase by a whopping 51.4 percent during the 1990s.

The city projects its population, counted at 10,290 in the 2000 Census, to grow to 11,500 by the end of 2003.

Expansion has created a marked contrast between the city’s west side, made up of post-World War II cookie-cutter houses, and the more affluent town houses and expansive homes on its newer east side.

The western part of the city is now home to a rapidly growing Hispanic community, which represented 15 percent of the city’s population in 2000.

Even with houses still under construction in the city’s Blooms Crossing subdivision, more building projects are already in the works The city hopes to have a new $1.8 million fire station constructed near City Hall by July 2004. And work is expected to finish by August 2004 on a $7 million expansion of Manassas Park High School, raising the school’s capacity from 650 to 1,025 students.

Fairfield Apartments of Manassas Park, a 350-unit apartment complex next to the city’s Virginia Railway Express station, is but one of a number of privately run developments under construction. Near the entrance to Blooms Crossing, a 148-unit apartment complex for senior citizens is being built, with 24 apartments expected to be occupied by the end of July. The city’s west side is also seeing some development, with the building of the 96-unit Mosby II.

Manassas Park’s most ambitious endeavor, however, is its quest to build Park Center, envisioned as a tree-lined “Main Street” across Manassas Drive from City Hall. The area will include shopping, an amphitheater, several restaurants and office space.

The project will be comprised of 285,400 square feet of building space on city land and 424,000 square feet on private land. At this time, the city is looking nationwide for a developer willing to take on the project. Proposals are due by the end of August.

The city’s do-it-yourself attitude has been a characteristic of the community since its founding in 1955, when a group of Korean War veterans moved into a small Prince William County subdivision north of Manassas.

Within two years, the community had petitioned local courts and won status as a town. Just before incorporating as an independent city in 1975, the last community in Virginia allowed to do so, Manassas Park expanded east of Va. 28, annexing 600 acres.

The city further expanded east in 1990, buying the 463 acres needed to build Blooms Crossing.

? City Hall: Manassas Park City Hall, 1 Park Center Ct., is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (703) 335-8800.

? Schools: The Manassas Park school system is made up of Cougar Elementary School, opened in January 2001, which serves grades kindergarten through three; the newly remodeled Manassas Park Elementary School, which serves grades four and five; Manassas Park Middle School, which serves grades six through eight; and Manassas Park High School, opened in February 1999, which serves grades nine through 12.

For more information, call the School Board office at (703) 335-8850.

? Parks and Recreation: The city’s two main parks are Costello Park, located in the western part of the city, and Signal Hill Park, an island of territory located southeast of the city.

Up to 70 programs per year are offered by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Costello Park has a recreation facility, free to all city residents and their guests, that includes a gym, a meeting/activity room and classrooms. The park includes seven ball fields and a playground.

Admission to Costello Park Pool is $2.50 for children, $3 for adults.

Signal Hill Park has four multi-use playing fields, as well as a mile-and-a-half of paved walking trails.

Its biggest attraction is its Signal Bay Water Park, geared toward children under 12. Admission is $4.50 for children and $5 for adults.

For more information, call (703) 335-8872.

? Travel: Manassas Park is located 26 miles from Washington, D.C.

Manassas Drive provides the main access off of Va. 28 to both sides of the city.

The city’s Virginia Railway Express Station is located off Manassas Drive, east of Va. 28. Call VRE at (703) 490-4811.

? Taxes: Manassas Park’s real estate is taxed at $1.33 per $100 of assessed value. Its personal property tax is $3.50 per $100 assessed value. Decals for vehicles may be purchased at City Hall.

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