The park is being built just north of Crystal City, adjacent to Old Jefferson Davis Highway, on perhaps the largest open, undeveloped parcel of land left in Arlington County.
Speaking before the ceremonial shoveling were Arlington County board chairman Jay Fisette, park Design Advisory Committee chairman Toby Smith, and acting county manager Barbara Donnellan. State delegates Bob Brink, Patrick Hope and Adam Ebbin were in attendance, along with Arlington board members, county staffers, and park planners.
“This has been a long time in coming, and some of us thought it would never come,” joked Smith (see his speech here). The project has faced delays due lead and PCB contamination found on the former industrial site, as well as complications caused by the fact that the site is on a Reagan National Airport flight path.
Just over five years ago, through a bond referendum, Arlington voters approved funding for first phase of the 46-acre park, which includes three lighted turf athletic fields with synthetic turf, a half-mile long raised walkway, a rain garden and a large public event area.
The funding will also pay for the reconstruction of Old Jefferson Davis Highway, a pothole-ridden, flood-prone stretch of back road that’s perhaps the most poorly-maintained road in the county — and the only way to reach the park. The construction will include bike lanes, on-street parking, landscaped medians and street-side tree plantings.
If all goes according to plan, the park will open as early as the summer of 2011.
A second phase of the park, for which the county is seeking private funding, will include a state-of-the-art aquatics and fitness center with a 50 meter pool, a 10 meter diving platform, a therapy pool, exercise rooms, and a child care center.