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Proposed Aquatics Center to Be Discussed Tonight

by Katie Pyzyk — May 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm 3,896 39 Comments

An open house will be held tonight to discuss the next big step in the development of Long Bridge Park: a planned aquatics and fitness center.

County staff, members of the project’s design team and the Long Bridge Park Design Advisory Committee will be on hand to give information and take questions from residents. Feedback is also welcome.

The Aquatics, Health and Fitness facility is expected to be built in two phases. A concept plan posted on the county’s website lists features of the proposed facility like cardiovascular and weight training equipment, an Olympic sized pool, a hot water therapy pool, a play area with slides and a lazy river.

Building the first phase of Long Bridge Park cost $31 million, and the aquatics facility is anticipated to cost around $50 $70 million. If bond funding is approved this year, construction on the aquatics and fitness center could begin as soon as next year and the facility could open by 2015.

The open house is tonight from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).

  • Bandersnatch

    Since the comments have been cleared I’ll take the opportunity to start this off on a positive note-

    As a swimmer, biker and parent I’m super excited about this pool- Arlington DOES NOT have an excess of publicly accessible pools, particularly 12-month pools. The HS pools (WF & YT) are OK but not so great for kids. Upton Hill is a total zoo for the few months that it’s open. The private pools have multi-year waiting lists and lots of politics.

    It will be a great family outing to ride the Custis to Mt Vernon trails and go for a swim. Yea! Arlington finally is catching up to Loudoun on this sort of family-friendly facility!

    Curmudgeon on AlrNow Trolls.

    • Josh S

      First – in general I agree and am happy that the county will build this facility, which will undoubtedly get a lot of use.

      But W&L and Yorktown not good for kids? I actually haven’t been to Yorktown since it reopened but I’ve heard it is similar to W&L. Both prominently feature kids pools and in fact are popular destinations for kids’ pool parties. Maybe you don’t like them because they are indoors?

      • Bandersnatch

        Don’t get me wrong- W&L is pretty nice (and I’m glad that we have it) but the kids pool is tiny without a decent wading area for the little guys. And it’s freezing in there in the winter (I admit, the new center probably will be too)

        Out here in Loudoun (where I work) they have jaw-dropping Rec centers enjoyed by all sorts of folks. W&L is a far cry…

        http://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=1259

  • LNE

    This project is a luxury for Arlington, not a necessity. Until Arlington addresses its school space shortage and makes the necessary expansions of its schools (or conversions of other facilities into new schools), projects such as this need to be put on the backburner. Once all of our kids are out of trailers, then maybe we could talk about a project like this.

    • Bandersnatch

      LNE (aka the first curmudgeon of the thread),

      Arlington IS addressing the schools issue (which is less about funding than it is about planning and timing) this isn’t explicitly a question of scarce resources or choosing one over the other.

      Yes, APS needs to be fixed (and should have been fixed years ago) but the planning has to be completed first followed by building. Throwing money at it isn’t going to just make the trailers go away, in fact it will probably multiply them.

      • LNE

        The schools issue IS about funding – if they are going to expand several schools and/or convert other county facilities to new schools, that’s going to cost tens of millions of dollars, and I haven’t heard how they plan to pay for that yet. Until we’ve paid for that, I don’t think we should be paying $50 million (!) for a new pool, especially given that there are multiple adequate ones at the high schools, including a new one at Wakefield within the next year or so.

        ps. Ad hominem attacks are always an effective way to make an argument.

        • Bandersnatch

          Ad hominem? Where exactly is that? Had I merely called you a curmudgeon and moved on with my merry day it would have been such. Instead I responded to your argument, asserting that they are separate issues. As a resident, I feel that both are important (yes, schools more so) but it’s not necessarily an either-or question. Arlington is actually in pretty good financial health and is not permitted to run a deficit. Even with the expanded schools project we are within our 10% debt limit (albeit pushing it).

          Actually having just attended one of the APS planning sessions- it will cost upwards of $100 mil to fix the schools which will be proposed in a bond issue in 2013. They have zero doubt that the issue will pass and they are right. So, no it’s not really about funding- they know how they are going to fund it, they just need to think out what “it” is.

          If you have an issue with the allocation of resources or tax rates, fine, take it up with the ACB, but don’t make an ill-informed argument about the pool pulling resources from the schools. If we were up against a debt wall or were facing falling property tax revenues (net) that would mandate a choice between schools or pools, then yeah, absolutely fund the schools. But given that we aren’t really against such a wall, I’m all for improving community resources.

          http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ManagementAndFinance/CapitalImprovementProgram/page78529.aspx

          • WeiQiang

            I think LE was referring to “… first curmudgeon of the thread”.

          • Bandersnatch

            No, I got that, I just don’t think that it was actually an ad homenem attack, they rose to my “Curmudgeon on AlrNow Trolls” comment in the first post so I merely qualified them as the first such respondent. Which, they are.

            Had I responded with something like- “Well, you are a curmudgeonly troll, so go away. I want my pool.” I’d deserve the criticism.

          • WeiQiang

            You don’t think that ‘curmudgeon’ qualifies as a potentially negative/unfair characterization of someone or their opinion?

            “: a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man “

  • Daniel

    I’m shocked that a big ticket item in South Arlington isn’t getting a trainload of negative comments.

    • TJLinBallston

      Don’t look now but South Arlington is changing and fast! Soon people here will just be from “Arlington” because it’s all good!

  • Tom

    Totally extravagant and uncalled for. My kid’s high school, W-L, needs 10-20 new classrooms and is getting a $1 million baseball field instead.

    Next phase at Longbridge will be another $50 million for an indoor soccer arena.

    County spending is out of control. No way I will vote for any Democrat.

    • Arlanon

      Speaking as someone without kids (and will never have them) who would like to use this kind of facility (but whose taxes certainly do support the schools) I don’t see why my priorities shouldn’t be included and supprted as well.

  • Julia

    As a young professional living in Arlington, the creation of Long Bridge Park played a large part in my decision to continue to reside in Arlington instead of moving to the District, Alexandria, or Silver Spring. I’d love to see LBP connected to the Mount Vernon Trail and I support the development of the park’s next two phases.

    • True

      The decision to build LBP played a large part in your decision to live in Arlington!? Good grief.

      • Bandersnatch

        Sure- the park has turned the N end of crystal city from a industrial waste-land to a beautiful close-in area with some of the best views of DC and tons of services. What’s not to understand?

      • Julia

        As someone who doesn’t have kids (so schools aren’t exactly a selling point for me right now) and is priced out of the housing market, yes, the presence of a beautiful park did influence my decision to remain in my current apartment building and not find another apartment elsewhere that would have an equally convenient commute. When you don’t have a yard of your own and are interested in recreational opportunities, amenities like this do factor into the decision.

  • bemused bystander

    Seems to me this complex will offer many recreational resources that the school pools don’t — not just more lanes for all the dogged lap swimmers, but also opportunities for classes and exercise groups of all ages at all times of day and evening (when the school pools aren’t always available), plus a small pool for serious therapy, plus all the play space for kids. That together with fitness equipment and programs will make this at least the equal of the Fairfax rec centers several of my friends now pay high non-resident fees to enjoy.

    One other point: this is such a conspicuous site that anything built there has to be gorgeous. This will be a real credit to Arlington.

  • Ken

    What do you mean next phase? Next two phases after the Aquasphere will be an indoor soccer arena and a community-recreation center costing $50 million each.

    County spending is inverted, sports, recreation, and entertainment take priority. Reason why streets are potholed and kids are in trailer classrooms.

  • TJLinBallston

    This is the smartest investment our County can make! Swimmers from the nation will proudly compete in a world-class facility. And it’s architecturally quite beautiful; makes a great statement from 395 North driving into the Capital. I always cursed the downtrodden old railroad yards and motels in so prime a location so am thrilled to see taxpayers money going to a great cause.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      +1

  • Julie

    WORST waste of tax dollars. I have to laugh because last night’s meeting was held in Fairlington, a community with third world streets and 12 swimming pools.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      Apparently you haven’t visited the third world. Try comparing Arlington’s roads to Tegucigalpa’s roads. Then get back to me. And as an Arlington taxpayer I fully support this and look forward to using the facilities.

      • Frank

        Well, now, SOMEbody’s been to Tegucigalpa.

  • WeiQiang

    I’d like to remind everyone that $50M worth of funding was approved in a bond referendum (specifically for the park) in Nov 2004. If I recall correctly, there were separate bond issues that year for schools.

    Kibbitz all you want about the need for LBP or the fungibility of funds with respect to schools. The residents of ArlCo voted $50M for LBP.

    I do have a couple of residual questions:

    If the Phase 1 of LBR was completed for $31M, where’s the remaining $19M?

    Why didn’t ArlCo negotiate with Boeing to sponsor part of Phase 2 of LBR when the Board ignored the recommendations of the planning board and other county inputs?

    $19M leftover + Boeing sponsorship = not so far to go to fund Phase 2.

    • Bandersnatch

      “Kibbitz all you want about the need for LBP or the fungibility of funds with respect to schools. The residents of ArlCo voted $50M for LBP..”

      Thank you thank you thank you! Don’t want the park? Don’t vote for the friggin’ bond (I voted for it). Think the county spends too much on horrible, wasteful (gasp) recreational facilities? Make your voice heard at the ACB. Frustrated that you chose to live in a pretty dang liberal place that predictably has higher taxes and spending in order to facilitate higher end schools and amenities? Move.

      • WeiQiang

        I voted for it as well. As with Marymount and the futbol fields, I think you could get access to funds from a local university or three if the facility supported competitive swimming.

        … and if you put a streetcar stop at the front door, it would anchor the streetcar project in Crys City/Potomac Yards and we could settle this idiotic bickering.

  • info81

    Even though I have a kid and live in Arlington, I have to admire the gall of some people here to call for more money for schools. Many people in Arlington, especially on condos on the metro lines pay a lot of property taxes and do not have kids and do not use schools. We spend over $18,000 a year per student, what more do you want? Get staff to take a cut in pay, if you want more money.

    I love the idea of a pool, but I think we have enough fitness centers (aka gyms) around here at a reasonable price it is better to have more water activities in there.

  • http://www.negativespace.com Jason

    I’ve heard conflicting reports regarding whether the facility will include racquetball courts. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    • Julia

      Jason – I think you might be the same person I responded to via Facebook, but the Friends of Long Bridge Park website does indicate there will be racquetball/squash courts: http://longbridgepark.org/future.html

      Additional information can be found here on the County’s website:

      http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ParksRecreation/forums/northtract/ParksRecreationForumsNorthtractNorthTractOverview.aspx

      http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/scripts/parks/LongBridgePark.aspx

    • WeiQiang

      Dunno. Changes to the orginal design have been circulating and continue to morph all the time. Go to the County web site.

      Where’s my $19M??

      • cj

        “Your” $19 million — actually, closer to $16 million — remaining from the $50 million bond approved in 2004 is going to be invested in the next phase, including site remediation and another 10 acres of parkland, extension of the esplanade, and the aquatics/fitness facility.

        • WeiQiang

          That’s what I like to hear. Now how much did we [sorry, 'the County', as I only pay taxes and vote] extract from Boeing – beyond $150K in driveways/curbs and a BikeShare stand – to support Phase 2, in exchange for ignoring the recommendation two County departments?

          • cj

            The major benefit from the Boeing site plan approval, in my view, was being able to complete the much-delayed land exchange so the county finally owns the Twin Bridges property on which the rest of the park and the aquatics/fitness facility can be built. Beyond that, I agree that we (Arlington community) didn’t get as many benefits as included in the 2008 plan that was torpedoed by the recession and not built. I especially regret the loss of shared parking and the smaller, less informal and friendly plaza designs along 6th Street.

    • cj

      Racketball courts are proposed in the second phase of the building, the multi-activity center, along with the large space for indoor sports (soccer, tennis, basketball); an indoor track; a climbing wall; more fitness space, and community rooms with a great view that can be rented for events.

  • Julia

    For those that have expressed their support of Long Bridge Park and its future development, please consider signing the Petition to Complete and Connect Long Bridge Park:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/complete-and-connect-long-bridge-park/

    • WeiQiang

      If ALL they did was continue the esplanade over the GW Pkwy, I’d be happy.

      • cj

        The esplanade is an integral part of the site remediation and redesign strategy for the entire park. Besides being a great place to walk and watch the scene, it is a secure containment structure for large amounts of cleaned-up dirt that would otherwise have to be trucked off site at substantial expense. Future extensions of the esplanade will be phased along with the construction of the north end of the park, the aquatics/fitness facility, and the underground parking to come with the proposed multi-activity center later on. If a bridge over the GW Parkway to the Mount Vernon Trail gets approved more quickly than seems likely, there would be a short-term, less elegant connection until the rest of the esplanade comes along.

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