Now, however, the ongoing costs of the center are projected to be even higher than anticipated.
“What had been an expected annual operating deficit of $1 million to $1.3 million has now ballooned to more than $4 million, according to projections included in County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s updated budget forecast,” the Sun Gazette reported on Monday.
This news comes at a time when the county is facing a potential $24 million budget gap. Local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki, who previously declared that the aquatics center could turn out to be “Artisphere on steroids,” said that the county would be better served to use its funds for other priorities.
Still, the aquatics center has its supporters, like the group Friends of Long Bridge Park, which has said it’s needed because “the large demand for aquatic activities can’t be met by… high school pools, which have limited public hours and space, and were designed for instruction, not a wide range of community needs.”
The Friends of Long Bridge Park also argue that other aquatics centers can cover most of their operating costs through memberships and rentals. The county itself, meanwhile, cautions that the latest projects are preliminary in nature.
Projected Subsidy Soars for Aquatics Center — The planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center could require more than $4 million per year in subsidies from the county government, according to new projections. That’s up from projections as low at $1 million per year. “Certainly there are other priorities that arguably should come before building a luxury pools facility,” said local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki. Construction contracts for the aquatics center are expected to be awarded early next year. [Sun Gazette]
County May Allow Less Office Parking, For a Fee — Arlington County is considering a system that would allow office developers to build less than the currently-required amount of parking, in exchange for a per-parking-space fee. The fee would then be used for public improvements in the area around the building, or for Transportation Demand Management Services for the building’s tenants. [Greater Greater Washington]
Memorial Bridge Could Have Looked Like Tower Bridge — The Arlington Memorial Bridge was originally proposed as a memorial to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, complete with a series of “medieval”-looking towers and turrets. [Ghosts of DC]
Arlington Carpenter’s Intricately-Carved Birds — Arlington carpenter Jeff Jacobs, 59, carves intricate wooden hummingbirds out of a single block of wood. He sells the birds at Eastern Market and the Clarendon farmers market. [Washington Post]
Flickr photo by Eschweik
(Update at 1:20 p.m.) Construction on the new Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, originally slated to begin this fall, has been pushed back.
Work on the approximately $80 million facility, located just north of Crystal City near I-395, is now not expected to begin until early 2014, according to Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“To ensure that we have quality general contractors bidding… we decided to undertake an extensive pre-qualification process,” Kalish explained. “That process is now complete and we have our selected pool of contractors. The bidding process will take place over the next several months. We anticipate that construction will begin in early 2014.”
The authorized bidders on the project are: Manhattan Construction Company, Hess Construction + Engineering Services, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Christman/Apex LLC, A Joint Venture Partnership, Balfour Beatty Construction and Gilbane Building Company.
The project’s budget has not changed, Kalish said, but the expected opening date has been pushed back to early 2016. We were earlier told that the opening date had not changed, which is incorrect.
The aquatics center will include a 50 meter by 25 yard fitness and competition pool, a family leisure pool, a hot water therapy pool, a “teaching pool,” and a “free-form water play area that will… have a lazy river, slides, play features and a zero-depth ‘beach’ entry.” The facility will also have amenities like a gym, an exercise center, a climbing wall, an indoor track, racquetball courts and meeting rooms.
It could have competed against Arlington County’s planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, but instead a proposal to build a massive sports and entertainment complex in Alexandria has been withdrawn.
It was announced in June that a company had submitted an unsolicited proposal to transform Alexandria’s Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. The proposed complex included features like an Olympic-sized pool and water play area; basketball, volleyball, baseball and gymnastics centers; ice rinks; indoor tennis and squash courts; a climbing wall; and a driving range.
A pool, water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts are all also part of Arlington’s plan for the Long Bridge Park facility. (County Board Chair Walter Tejada said in June that he did not expect the Alexandria proposal to impact the county’s plans.)
The St. James Group LLC announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it was withdrawing its unsolicited proposal after discovering that Hensley Park was acquired by Alexandria, in part, via a small federal grant. The grant prohibits development of the park.
The company says it will now seek other D.C. area locations for the complex.
“SJG remains committed to developing the premier sports and entertainment complex in the region,” the company said in a press release. Read the full press release, after the jump.
Arlington County is preparing to complete the long-awaited reconstruction of Long Bridge Drive, but first the County Board needs to approve a request for an additional $750,000 for the project.
The transformation of the former Old Jefferson Davis Highway involves converting approximately 2,750 feet of pockmarked roadway — from 12th Street S. to just south of Boundary Channel Drive — into what’s described as a safe, efficient multimodal transportation corridor. Improvements include bicycle lanes, sidewalks, bus shelters, landscaped medians, new gutters and a drainage system.
Despite the fact that Long Bridge Park opened in November 2011, Long Bridge Drive remains a major construction zone.
A county staff report points to trouble with utility companies as the cause for delays. A few years ago the utilities were informed of the need to move utility lines into a common duct bank, mostly at their own expenses. The duct bank was deemed necessary in order to make room for a storm drainage system because no such system had previously existed there. Utility work began in September 2010 and didn’t wrap up until spring of this year.
The county’s contractor, Donohoe Construction Company, has had to stop and re-start work on the storm drainage system a number of times while waiting for the other parties involved to complete their portions of the project. The county staff report says the utility companies caused further delays by making placement errors during installation of the duct, requiring adjustments.
The additional $750,000 in funding is necessary, according to the staff report, “due to the increased time to complete the road reconstruction and due to the County’s mitigation measures to resolve conflicts from incorrect utility installations and lastly,
due to cost escalation caused by the delays and the increased time to complete the roadway.”
If the County Board approves the funding at its meeting on Saturday (July 13), it will bring the cost of the road construction portion of Donohoe’s contract to about $7.5 million. (Factoring in various costs associated with construction of the park itself, Donohoe’s total contract award will be $27.8 million.)
County staff recommends the Board approve the funding request.
An unsolicited proposal from a private entity has been submitted to the City of Alexandria to transform Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. Although parts of the proposal appear strikingly similar to Arlington County’s plans for the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, so far the County Board is not concerned.
The Alexandria City Council discussed the proposal it received from The St. James Group LLC during its meeting on Tuesday. The plan involves a long term lease of the 15 acre city owned property currently occupied by Hensley Park.
The Alexandria proposal includes amenities such as an Olympic sized pool and water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts. Those features had already been included in Arlington’s long term plan for Long Bridge Park.
Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada said although there may be similarities, he doesn’t anticipate that a private facility in the southwest part of Alexandria would impact Arlington’s plans.
“I wouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions. I think our approach is much different,” he said. “We have a public facility we are creating, but this is private proposal. The context is so different.”
In fact, Tejada believes it could be considered a compliment that other jurisdictions may be interested in creating facilities similar to Arlington’s.
“The best flattery or compliment is duplication,” he said. “It’s flattering that someone would want to copy or do something we’re already doing.”
Tejada noted that because Arlington’s complex is publicly funded, residents from all walks of life will be welcome to use it. Because that may or may not be the case with the private proposal for Alexandria, Tejada said “we aren’t concerned” about the threat of competition.
“For our project we are looking to be inclusive, so people of all incomes and backgrounds will have access to our facilities,” said Tejada. “Whereas in a private facility it’s for profit and the purpose is whatever the personal group sets forth, so that’s a different matter.”
Kendrick Ashton, Jr., Co-founder and Managing Partner of The St. James Group, agreed that the intent was not to create competition between the two jurisdictions. He said Northern Virginia has a great need for sports facilities that isn’t being addressed.
“There’s certainly a tremendous need in this area for enhanced aquatics facilities,” said Ashton. “I think given the dearth of high quality aquatic facilities at this point, the region needs more of them. It’s not competitive at this point.”
The group looked for potential locations for the complex in Arlington, Fairfax and other localities, but no options appeared as feasible as the Henley Park land. Ashton reiterated that although the Alexandria complex would likely draw visitors from around Northern Virginia, it isn’t expected to create competition for Arlington’s $80 million Long Bridge Park facility.
The City of Alexandria’s website assures the public that it has not gone forward with any plans, it has simply heard the proposal from The St. James Group. The website reads: “All that has happened is that an outside party has made an unsolicited proposal to the City about a potential use of City-owned land. Neither City Council nor City staff have reached any conclusion about the merits of the proposal, nor have made any decisions other than the decision to evaluate it.”
The St. James Group will hold a public meeting to further explain the proposal on July 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Eisenhower Avenue. The City of Alexandria stresses that the meeting will not be led by or sponsored by the city, so residents should not consider it an official public hearing.
According to the timeline offered in the proposal, the hope is to have a recommendation from Alexandria by October regarding whether or not to move forward. If the City Council determines that a sports and entertainment complex is a feasible option, it will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to allow any interested party to make a bid. If the City Council decides such a facility is unnecessary, the process will end without any further action.
“We have to wait and see what becomes of it. They’re evaluating it, like anyone would,” Tejada said. “We’ll see what happens. For us, we’re focusing on our own project.”
Meanwhile, there has been no change announced to the schedule for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park project. In January, Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com that construction on the project is expected to begin this fall.
Despite some resident concerns over the cost of the facility, Tejada said the county will continue on with it and make all efforts to keep the project on budget.
“I think that we certainly will continue to practice our best fiscal management qualities that have earned us a AAA bond rating from all the bond rating agencies,” said Tejada. “It’s important to remember that we have a sound fiscal management record. I know sometimes that may get lost when one or two projects may be in the news.”
Revelers can listen to The Verve Pipe while waiting to watch the fireworks display on the National Mall, which is expected to begin at 9:10 p.m. The band is known for its 90s hit “The Freshmen.”
The event runs from 3:00-10:00 p.m. next Thursday. Live entertainment kicks off at 3:30 p.m. with WAMMIE award winning band “The Grandsons,” followed by the Army Voices ensemble from the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and then D.C. area party band “Jeff from Accounting.”
More details about the bands and all of the activities offered at the celebration can be found online.
Two other popular places to watch the fireworks from Arlington include the Marine Corps Memorial and the Air Force Memorial. Police will be working traffic control in those areas in addition to helping near Long Bridge Park. ACPD has not yet announced a list of road closures.
Anyone heading out to celebrate is reminded that grills, fireworks and alcoholic beverages are prohibited on county and federal park lands.
Disclosure: Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Flickr pool photo by Clint Farrell
It’s the First Day of Spring — At 7:02 this morning, astronomical winter ended and spring officially began. Spring also means longer days. Currently, we’re gaining about two and a half minutes of daylight per day. [Capital Weather Gang]
EFC Has Fullest Metro Parking Lot — East Falls Church has the fullest parking lot in the Metro system, with a 120 percent usage rate. Demand for the lot is only expected to increase when the Silver Line opens. [Washington Examiner]
Playground Coming to Long Bridge Park — The Arlington County Board yesterday approved $186,000 in funding for a new playground at Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City. [Sun Gazette]
La Tagliatella to Open in Shirlington — La Tagliatella, which is starting to wrap up work on its new restaurant in Clarendon, will be opening a second Arlington restaurant in the former Extra Virgin space in Shirlington. La Tagliatella is a global, European-based Italian restaurant chain. The Arlington restaurants will be the company’s third and fourth locations in the U.S. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Board Approves Neighborhood Projects — As expected, the County Board yesterday approved $2.5 million in funding for five Neighborhood Conservation projects. The funds will come from bonds approved by Arlington voters. [Arlington County]
BMW in Fatal Crash Was Symbol of Father’s Success — The 2008 BMW M5 that 22-year-old Sami Ullah was driving the night of the crash in Rosslyn that killed him was a gift from his father, who had emigrated from Pakistan and worked as a dishwasher before eventually amassing a fortune from real estate investment. Police said Ullah was driving 90 miles per hour over the Key Bridge before the crash, something his family can’t quite comprehend. “He’d only drive fast on straightaways,” Ullah’s 27-year-old brother said. [Washington Post]
Board Reaffirms Plan for Long Bridge Park — The Arlington County Board reaffirmed its plan for Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City, at its meeting on Saturday. The plan includes the new Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health & Fitness Facility, the construction of which is expected to begin late this year. “Our actions today move us closer to realizing the dream of transforming a former brown field into one of the region’s most dynamic parks, recreation and athletic facilities in one of its most beautiful natural settings,” said County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. [Arlington County]
Win for Wakefield ‘It’s Academic’ Team – Wakefield High School’s “It’s Academic” team picked up and will advance to a playoff match. The televised academic competition aired this past Saturday, March 16. [Sun Gazette]
Front Page Under New Management – The Front Page restaurant in Ballston is under new management. “We have been working hard to get the FPA back to the glory it’s longstanding tradition deserves,” the restaurant said on Facebook. “Please don’t judge us on past performance. Except for the loyal and exceptional bar and service staff all management is new.” [Facebook]
County: We’re Not Stopping Harris Teeter — Arlington County officials acknowledged on Saturday that they’ve been in private settlement talks with Harris Teeter over the incident that resulted in raw sewage flooding the S. Glebe Road store last year, forcing it to close indefinitely. Responding to a letters from residents, the county says they’re not preventing the still-closed store from reopening and are willing to help expedite the regulatory process, if Harris Teeter decides to reopen. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Changes have been approved for parking regulations at the county’s schools and recreational facilities.
At its meeting on Saturday (February 23), the County Board voted unanimously to amend the Zoning Ordinance, which was necessary in order to modify parking regulations for elementary and middle schools and noncommercial recreational facilities. The amendments allow the Board to change the number of required parking spaces at the facilities, which it previously was not permitted to do.
The approved revisions reduce the number of spaces needed at elementary and middle schools. Additionally, the Board now has the ability to alter requirements at individual sites and to locate a portion of the parking spaces off-site.
County staff members have been looking into parking requirements since the issue arose during the public review process for the addition to Ashlawn Elementary School, the new school to be built on the Williamsburg Middle School campus and the planned aquatics facility at Long Bridge Park. Parking demand at all the sites in question was deemed less than what was required by the Zoning Ordinance.
“With APS expanding some facilities and adding new ones to keep up with growing enrollment, we needed to come up with a new approach to parking for our schools and public facilities,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “The changes the Board is making in the Zoning Ordinance will ensure that our schools provide for adequate, but not excessive, parking and have plans in place to reduce parking demand.”
All schools and public facilities must also submit a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to ensure the sites do not build excessive amounts of parking, and that strategies to reduce the demand for parking are examined.
Construction on the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility is expected to begin this fall.
The $80 million facility is to be built just north of Crystal City in Long Bridge Park. IT will feature a 50 meter by 25 yard fitness and competition pool, a family leisure pool, a hot water therapy pool, a “teaching pool,” and a “free-form water play area that will… have a lazy river, slides, play features, and a zero-depth ‘beach’ entry.”
“It is expected that the design will be completed in late spring with construction bids being sought in the early summer,” Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com on Friday. “It is anticipated that the County Board will award a construction contract in the early fall with construction starting in late fall. After two years of construction the opening of the Facility and park is expected in the fall of 2015.”
The operating costs of the facility are estimated to be $3.2 million per year, some $2 million to $2.8 million of which will be offset by revenue generated by usage fees, memberships and snack sales.
A second phase of construction on the facility is also planned. That phase will result in an addition to the facility, featuring amenities like a gym, an exercise facility, a climbing wall, an indoor track, racquetball courts, and meeting rooms.
The second phase of the Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility has yet to be included in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, and is likely more than a decade away.
“A time frame for design or construction is not projected prior to calendar year 2023,” said parks department Planning Supervisor Erik Beach. So far, there’s no cost estimate for the second phase of the facility.
Silver Line Could Shift Economic Development — As Metro’s Silver Line nears completion, there’s speculation it could prompt an economic development competition between Arlington and Fairfax County. Fairfax officials are already crediting the new line with bringing in at least one new business — Intelsat, an international satellite system provider. Gerald Gordon, the head of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said the transformation of Tysons Corner will put it on a level playing field with the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as far as attracting businesses. [Sun Gazette]
Polar Bear Sports Registration — United Social Sports is expanding its typical offerings of “bar sports” — such as cornhole, shuffleboard and skeeball — to include Polar Bear soccer leagues this winter. The leagues are for die hard players who wish to continue playing outdoors throughout the winter on a soccer field at Long Bridge Park. Registration is available online for the league, which offers weekly games on Sundays or Tuesdays. Games start the week of January 13. [United Social Sports]
McDonnell Offers Budget Amendments — Governor Bob McDonnell appeared before Virginia’s General Assembly on Monday to pitch a series of both cuts and spending increases for the state’s two-year, $85 billion budget. The increases would ease the burden on cities and counties that have been dealing with substantial funding cuts in recent years, by about $45 million. McDonnell is still cautious due to Virginia’s potential to take a hit if Congress can’t come to an agreement to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff. [Associated Press]
(Updated on 11/19/12) With partial bond funding for the planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility approved by Arlington voters, the county is continuing to move forward with the design — and ultimately the construction — of the center.
Located north of Crystal City, just off of I-395, the facility will feature a 50 meter by 25 yard fitness and competition pool, a family leisure pool, a hot water therapy pool, a “teaching pool,” and a “free-form water play area that will… have a lazy river, slides, play features, and a zero-depth ‘beach’ entry.” There will also be an indoor cardiovascular and weight training fitness center, a community use space, child care, locker rooms and, in a planned second phase of construction, an “indoor track, large multi-activity center and various court spaces.”
Renderings, above and below, show the current designs for the facility, which will have its own surface parking lot, accessible via Long Bridge Drive.
The design of the Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility is expected to be completed in April 2013, according to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation planner Erik Beach. The county will then put the project out for bid, with the goal of beginning construction in the early fall of 2013.
All told, the design and construction of the first phase of the center is expected to cost around $80 million, based on figures in the latest Capital Improvement Plan. There is no cost estimate for the second phase of the center, Beach said. Earlier, Beach erroneously quoted a figure of $115.6 million for the design and construction of both phases of the aquatics center, but said on Nov. 19 that his quote included the cost of building Long Bridge Park itself instead of the the second phase of the aquatics center.
Funding for the aquatics center is expected to come from public and private sources, including $42.5 million from this year’s park bond and $20 million from anticipated developer contributions.
No Sandbag Distribution in Arlington — Contrary to some rumors, Arlington County is not distributing sandbags to residents concerned about flooding. “Arlington County, fortunately, does not have significant river front areas that are subject to flooding (e.g., Georgetown, Old Town),” Arlington County Director of Communications Diana Sun told ARLnow.com this morning.” She said that county staff is “focused on the highest priorities.”
Long Bridge Drive Flooded — Long Bridge Drive, near Crystal City, has flooded as a result of rain overnight and is being closed to traffic by police. The flood-prone road is the only street that leads to the parking lots for Long Bridge Park.
Pentagon City Mall Closed — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will be closed today (Monday) due to Hurricane Sandy. Ballston Common Mall will be closing at 2:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Artisphere’s Per-Visitor Subsidy — Based on its new Fiscal Year 2012 year-end report, Artisphere required a taxpayer subsidy equivalent to $41.85 for each of the cultural center’s 55,607 visitors over the course of a year. [Sun Gazette]
Cuccinelli May Investigate Moran Video — The State Board of Elections has asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate a video of Rep. Jim Moran’s son discussing possible voter fraud. Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger, said “we need to know that [our electoral process] has not been corrupted.” He also called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the video. The Arlington County Police Department is currently investigating the video, as well. [Washington Post, Murray for Congress]
High School Football Update — Yorktown High School remains undefeated (9-0) following this weekend’s high school football action. Wakefield High School remains winless (0-9). Washington-Lee chalked up a victory over the weekend and is now 5-4. [Sun Gazette]
Committee Debates Aquatics Center — Arlington’s Committee of 100 debated the merits of the planned $79 million Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center last night. A park bond that would help fund the center is on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
Marymount University and Diversity — WUSA 9′s Peggy Fox profiles Marymount University, which she says is one of the “most diverse regional universities” despite a “race blind” admissions process. Instead of considering race during the admissions process, the university instead actively encourages minority students to apply. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider a case that challenges the legality of affirmative action, which allows race and ethnicity to be considered in school admissions processes. [WUSA 9]
Construction at Hayes Park — Due to construction behind the tennis courts at Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street), the park’s parking lot will be closed from 7:00 a.m. today to about 2:00 p.m. [Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association]