An ambitious plan to add amenities to Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 N Marcey Road) has been scaled back as a result of negative feedback from residents.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has released a “Version 2.0” of its Potomac Overlook improvement plan. Officials say they made changes to the plan after receiving concerns and criticism at a community meeting last week and in the comments section of an ARLnow.com article.
The new plan removes a proposed zip line, rock wall and paved parking lot from “near-term consideration.” It also establishes a “Natural Resources Advisory Committee” to study some elements of the original plan prior to any implementation. Plan elements selected for further study are the signature “tree house overlook,” a small urban farm, and any removal of healthy trees.
Elements of the plan that the park authority intends to move forward with over the next few years include:
- New programming and interpretive signage
- Tearing down an aging performance stage and replacing it with a new stage/shelter
- Renovating the Bird of Prey structure
- New kiosk/signage at park entrance
- New scout camping area near a fire circle in the back of the park
- Historic Donaldson barn site interpretation
- Adding more wood chips to trails
“We are calling this Potomac Overlook Improvement Plan Version 2.0, and I think it will please many who have shared their views with us,” said Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Executive Director Paul Gilbert.
Improvements have been proposed for Potomac Overlook Regional Park, and one of the suggestions is to add the park’s first actual “overlook.”
The park land is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA), which held a meeting last night (Monday) to present the proposed improvement plans.
One of the ideas is to construct an overlook in the tree canopy where visitors could rent equipment and participate in educational programs. The site could also potentially be rented out for events.
Some of the other proposed improvements are:
- Create bus drop off plaza/welcome area with information kiosk and covered area for up to 75 persons.
- Relocate and/or improve park signage.
- Move gate further down entrance road and add parking — can add approximately 20 head-in spaces in clearings on each side of road with minimal tree loss.
- Add new asphalt cap to park roadway.
- Expand area of amphitheater to hold larger events by trimming back the vegetation on the upper side of the bowl.
- Add rock climbing, zip lines or large swings or similar features to attract groups, and help rent shelters.
- Replace existing stage with a shelter that could be rented, or used as a stage when needed. This new shelter would use the existing solar panels on its roof. Improve the interpretation of the solar shelter.
- Implement a small 2-acre urban farm or community garden, and develop interpretation of Donaldson farm and the historic foundations located near center of park, just off the paved path.
- Renovate and expand the aging birds of prey facility — an extremely popular destination for school groups visiting the park.
- Remove outdated and dilapidated elements such as “simple pleasures trellis,” solar fan bench and toddler terrace.
- Add scout camping area in cleared area behind the Indian Garden.
- Consider reestablishing a healthy orchard area to do a “pick your own” program.
- Request long-term lease or gift of Marcey Park from Arlington County.
- Expand the number of weeks summer camps are offered.
- Drop camps for older kids that do not fill.
- Expand camps for younger kids that are in demand.
- Offer half day camps.
- Institute on-line registration process.
- Use more summer seasonal staff, and reduce distance of field trips.
- Offer merit badge programs with scout camping for a value-added experience.
- Do fewer concerts with bigger names to improve returns.
- “Yappy Hour” events using tennis courts on scheduled evenings.
- Explore after school nature programs for area elementary schools.
- Partner with external organization to operate the Urban Agriculture area.
Funding for the project would come from the NVRPA, with the possibility of some assistance from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Foundation.
So far no start date has been set for the beginning the work because the plans are preliminary. NVRPA is currently focusing on soliciting comments and suggestions from the community, which can be emailed to Potomac@NVRPA.Org. NVRPA will hold at least one more meeting with community members regarding finalized plans before renovations begin.
Although the overdue project to revamp the Clarendon Metro Plaza is expected to be completed this month, there’s a request for the County Board to approve funding for additional improvements.
In May, the Board approved a contract worth more than $760,000 to the Fort Myer Construction Company. The project involved improving the area around the Clarendon Metro station and part of the nearby park with new landscaping, irrigation, seating and ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps. The construction was originally estimated to be finished before Clarendon Day in September, but the expected completion is now sometime this month.
The already approved upgrades end near the center of Clarendon Central Park near the Metro elevator. The new funding request is for more than $197,000 to allow Fort Myer Construction to begin improvements on the western part of the plaza. The county staff report states that not continuing westward with the construction “would create a disjointed appearance to the park.” It further states the contract extension “will allow the entire Clarendon Central Park to be visually unified while bringing the west end of the park into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.”
The main improvements to the west end would be to replace existing pavers with ADA-compliant, smooth rolling concrete surface pavers that will match those on the east end. The war monument at the far west end would not be affected, but the area surrounding it would be re-worked. The paved area approaching the monument would be flattened to improve accessibility, and a mulched bed would be installed around two existing trees. Additionally, the proposed project would replace existing curb ramps and benches, and upgrade the irrigation system.
County staff said approving the additional funding now would allow Fort Myer Construction to begin the next phase of improvements immediately after completing the improvements already underway. That would cut down on costs due to the contractor’s materials and equipment already being on site.
Staff members recommend the County Board approves the funding and contract extension at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The National Park Service will be installing a series of safety improvements along the George Washington Parkway, intended to make Memorial Circle and several Mt. Vernon Trail crossings across the parkway less dangerous.
The improvements were announced this morning by Rep. Jim Moran (D). Work on the improvements will start next week and will wrap up by the fall. Among the planned changes, according to Moran’s office:
- “Replacing many of the directional and regulatory signs in the Circle and on Memorial Bridge”
- “Installing rumble strips bumps to alert drivers before each of several specific crosswalk areas”
- “Painting directional arrows, information, and symbols directly onto the pavement to help drivers select proper lanes early”
- “Moving one crosswalk area from where there are two lanes to where it is only one lane wide”
The announcement comes just three days after a cyclist was struck by a car and injured at a trail crossing just south of Memorial Circle. Several other accidents and close calls have been reported at GW Parkway trail crossings over the past two years.
“It’s a confusing area and unfortunately we have a lot of accidents involving bicyclists and motorists and joggers,” U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks acknowledged earlier this week.
Moran says the changes should help make things safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
“The health and safety of those commuting to work or simply exercising along the Potomac River should never be threatened due to poor infrastructure planning,” the congressman said in a statement. “I am pleased the National Park Service has agreed to put needed fixes into the trails and roads surrounding Memorial Circle. With the scheduled improvements, tourists, commuters, pedestrians, and cyclists will be able to truly share the road.”
Arlington County is preparing to move forward with utility undergrounding and street improvements along Columbia Pike.
The County Board is expected to approve a contract for work along a section of the Pike at its meeting this Saturday, May 19. The $5.7 million contract would go to Sagres Construction Corporation, and includes work from S. Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run.
Utility underground is the first phase of the project, to be followed by a variety of additions and upgrades. Some of the improvements include new bus shelters, traffic signals, bike racks, ADA compliant ramps, street lights, trees and wider sidewalks. That stretch of Columbia Pike will also be resurfaced with a new layer of asphalt.
County staff has been working to ensure customers have access to all the buildings along the affected stretch of road, as well as to public transportation. Lane closures and traffic disruptions should be expected during construction, but will be during non-rush times. Night work is also possible, which could create some construction noise.
A Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman said assuming the board approves the contract on Saturday, work should begin in July. It will take about 15 months to complete. Project updates will be posted on the county’s website.
After 21 years in business, Rosslyn Renaissance (RR) will cease to exist and its urban design work will be taken over by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID).
RR was created by the Arlington County Board in 1991, and lists its mission as “to work with residential, commercial, cultural, and government communities to realize Rosslyn’s potential as a distinctive urban environment through a focus on urban design and development.”
“Rosslyn Renaissance has helped to lay the foundation for Rosslyn’s future growth,” said Board President Jeffrey L. Kovach in a press release. “The BID will build upon and continue RR’s work, planning for Rosslyn today and in the future.”
RR’s work has helped with accomplishments such as securing a donated space for Artisphere, adding 98 additional affordable housing units and installing a pedestrian esplanade to Key Bridge.
“RR board members were the drivers to create the BID in 2003, and that is among the greatest of RR’s accomplishments,” said BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy. “The new organizational structure will bring us full circle. It is a graduation of sorts for the two groups – to Rosslyn’s benefit.”
The BID board has created an Urban Design Committee, which will incorporate all members of the Rosslyn Renaissance committee.
The two organizations will host a tribute event tonight in the main ballroom of the Key Bridge Marriott. The event is scheduled to include remarks from Rep. Jim Moran, Del. Patrick Hope and County Board Chair Mary Hynes. Board members and founders of Rosslyn Renaissance will also be recognized during the tribute.
The Columbia Pike Branch Library will be closing for a few weeks due to building improvements.
Structural upgrades at the Arlington Career Center, where the library branch is located, have been on-going for nearly a year. The library has been able to stay open during renovations up until this point, but soon work to replace the ceiling tiles and heating and cooling ducts will create enough dust that it will be forced to close.
The closure is expected to start on May 15 and end after June 4.
“As tenants of the Career Center facility, the library appreciates all the planning and work Arlington Public Schools has put into this project and the entire community will benefit for years to come,” said Arlington Public Library spokesman Peter Golkin. “In the meantime, the library’s other seven locations will do all they can to make Columbia Pike patrons feel welcome.”
The following measures will be in place at the Columbia Pike branch until it reopens:
- As of now, all non-DVD items checked out from this location will be due June 13.
- Beginning May 8, all DVDs checked out from this location will be due on June 13.
- An external book drop will be maintained outside the library. Returns can also be made at any of the other Arlington Public Library locations.
- Holds will continue to be processed until May 4 at 5:00 p.m. After May 4, holds will be made available on the Central Library holds shelf. They can also be designated for delivery to any other Arlington public library.
During its meeting on Saturday, the County Board voted unanimously to award the $1.9 million contract to Ardent Company, LLC. In addition to the street conversion, the three phase project will improve intersections along Crystal Drive with new traffic signals and ADA compliant ramps and crosswalks. A southbound bicycle lane will also be added.
The new design is expected to make the street safer and easier to navigate, as well as preparing the area for future development and a streetcar.
Construction for phase one is supposed to begin in June and is scheduled to finish by the end of this year. That covers the portion from 12th Street South to 15th Street South. Two other construction phases will follow — one from 23rd Street South to 26th Street South, and another from 26th Street South to 27th Street South.
The county will post notices about periodic lane closures before they happen. The goal is to only close down one lane at a time to minimize the impact to drivers.
Funding for the project was previously approved and appropriated in the Transportation Capital Fund.