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Budget Cuts Keep Water Park Closed on Scorching Day

by ARLnow.com July 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm 4,125 42 Comments

With temperatures hitting 102 degrees in Arlington this afternoon, it would be a perfect day for kids to cool down at the spray park in Shirlington’s Drew Park. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts that took effect last week, the park is now closed on Tuesdays.

Tomorrow, as temperatures again climb toward the triple digit mark, the water will be shut off at Hayes Park, on North Lincoln Street near Clarendon. On Thursday, the county’s third spray park — Lyon Village Park — will go dry.

“Our FY2011 budget cuts included closing each spray park one day a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” Parks Department spokesperson Susan Kalish said in an email. “The good news is that there are at least two spraygrounds open in the County on any given day.”

In addition to cutting three days from the spray park schedule, the budget also included a reduction in hours. Formerly, each park was open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the summer. Now, the parks are open from noon to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 8:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Some people question the wisdom of cutting morning hours.

“Now parents who wanted to take their kids at 10:00 a.m. before the heat of the day will be forced to take their kids during the hottest parts of the day,” one parent told us.

The cuts will collectively save the county $20,000 in water costs per year.

Arlington County photo.

  • Steven

    Don’t worry. Welfare programs for illegal immigrants haven’t been touched so everything is a-ok in Arlington.

  • Jim Breiling

    What would residents cut from the budget to restore the previous park hours and use of water?

    What would a restoration of services add to the tax rate?

    Thnkking a bit “outside the box”:

    — Might the enjoyment of the water in the parks be essentially the same if flow restrictors were used to reduce water consumption? This works for showers.

    — Sell the water for some or all the hours the parks are open using an adaptation of parking meter technology.

  • Greg

    Those hours are a shame. 10 AM – Noon was prime spray park time before lunch/nap. It would be better to alternate closing the Hayes and Lyon Village parks (which are very close to each other) on Monday and Friday and keep morning hours at all parks on the weekends. The numbers work out about the same.

    • Marty

      Greg, I had similar thoughts, though your proposal sounds even better.

    • Greg

      I forwarded the suggestion to the County and got this reply:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding the sprayground hours (and
      our budget cuts).

      We thought staggering the closed day was a good idea, but you are right
      that the hours we put out negatively affected kids who nap in the
      afternoon and working parents who want to take their kids to the park in
      the evening after work.

      We have come up with a new schedule that will allow the spraygrounds
      availability in the morning two weekdays and evenings two weekdays (and
      still a staggered closing). Hopefully this will work both sides of the
      fence. We are checking with camps and community now to be sure and then
      hope to make an announcement next week.

      We are also looking into timing the water to be available for 15 minutes
      on the hour and half hour. If this works we could keep the spraygrounds
      open all day and parent would just have to time the visits to top and
      bottom on the hour.

      I’m sharing your suggestion with our staff as well. Please continue to
      help us find ways to better serve the community. We appreciate your
      input.

      • Greg

        I should add, it’s nice to get a quick, thoughtful reply.

      • WBR

        Greg, thanks for contacting the county on that. The 15 minute limit would work well for all – but if they don’t go that route, I hope they consider opening the water parks at 10:00 a.m. on the weekends – wife and I both work, and that is the time we take the kids before their naps.

  • Marty

    It’s interesting to note that the Hayes and Lyon Park facilities are less than a mile from each other. It would make more sense to shutter one of those two spray parks for the season, and then operate the other two for their originally scheduled days and times.

  • Let’s Be Free

    I mean heck, when it comes to funding pet performing arts project versus sprayparks for the kids, why of course, the hoi polloi must stand first in line, go to the head of the class.

  • I have to admit – I have always wondered about the cost of these things. They are a tad on the elaborate side. You want water to play in? There are two northern virginia regional park excellent pools on either side of Arlington. Both are excellent and have even better water features. One has a wave pool!

    • Claire

      barlington-the sprayparks are free and basic compared to those I’ve seen in other areas. The NVRPA pools you are mentioning are very expensive. Arlington county doesn’t have any municipal outdoor pools, unlike almost everywhere else. (In DC, all the public pools are free.) Also, the sprayparks are designed to be toddler-friendly and toddlers really can’t enjoy the wave pool you are mentioning. Which, by the way, is all the way down in Alexandria and not close by at all.

  • Mike

    So instead of spending money on things the public wants, what do the snobs on the CB decide to fund? Fartisphere, bath houses & choo choo trains.

    • Skeptical

      I’m as puzzled as you are about the trolley and the Artifartium, Mike, but what is this “bath house” gripe? You mean the pool at North Tract which I kind of don’t expect to see actually open in my lifetime? I don’t see why that kind of water recreation facility deserves any more scorn than a spray park.

      The siting is terrible (“hey, there’s some land here, let’s use it, never mind that it’s pratically outside the County”). And the planning has been abysmal (“OK, we’ve sunk money in to the idea, now can we actually build on this land or not?”) But I know a lot of people, not rich, who could use access to a pool for simple exercise, and good luck dodging around the school activities and people who use the pools as a babysitter. The thought, at least, was nice. 🙁

  • North Arlington Common Sense

    I don’t care about the North Lincoln Street facility or, certainly, the one down in South Arlington. The County can do what it wants with those ones. But people don’t realize that the Lyon Village sprayground is really a neighborhood facility, rather than a “County” one. Many people have been coming there who really don’t belong and take away from the aesthetic of the neighborhood. The Village has already suffered enough, with the Human Services building bordering their neighborhood and the awful First Baptist housing project going up there.

    With the Human Services building being relocated, the County seems to realize that Lyon Village has been persecuted far too long. As far as the sprayground, Lyon Village residents could be given an access code to employ so they could run the playground itself. That would save far more money than this “open” system currently in place, and would allow the Village community to use the sprayground “on demand”. It might also save enough to allow the one in South Arlington to stay open and keep those people in their element.

    • Matt

      Wow! Now if that isn’t a “North Arlington Elitist” mentality I don’t know what is!

      • Greg

        I think it’s a fake. Too over the top.

        • Arlingtonian

          I don’t know … I’ve heard a lot of people talk like that in real life, I’m afraid!

        • CJR

          I agree, definitely a fake post made to make Lyon Village residents look bad by someone with a chip on their shoulder.

    • MB

      This isn’t trolling *at all* . . .

      How about you sign your name, North Arlington Common Sense?

    • Jim Breiling

      Poor Lyon Village. Next time I go through it I will have to look and listen more carefully for the signs of grevious persecution. I’ve completely missed them to date.

      Would the Village like a gate around it with controlled access entrances? Perhaps the preference would be for elevation of the Village above the presecutory shade of new apartments at the church site and beyond those – most of Arlington County — who are said not to belong near or within the Village. From its elevated position, the Village trash can be dropped down for those who don’t belong there to clean up. Village residents can receive supplies and come and go by air — woops, the noise of helicopter blades would be presecutory.

      • Fat Kid.

        Wow. Lot’s of stupidity here.

        For a community that pays way more than it’s share of tax dollars, Lyon Village has gotten pretty hosed by the county board on a consistent basis. Argue elitism all you want… there is a rational basis to the ‘fair share’ argument. To use a more macro example, do you think it’s fair states like Idaho get 3x the return on federal tax dollars that Virginia does? That being said, creating an “access code” system is an incredibly stupid idea on many levels.

        The Human Services building referenced wasn’t moved because of “persecution” it was moved because the county was stupid and built a facility to serve the poor in an area that was difficult to access by the poor. County board members have proven their consistently poor judgement by arguing “oh it’s near the metro”… Yes, well if you know anything about Arlington, you know that for the most part the metro serves middle to upper income families. There is no metro stop in barcroft, on Columbia Pike or South Glebe. It requires taking at least two transfers and over an hour for a majority of South Arlington to get to Clarendon via Metro. It was a stupid decision to place it there in the first place, and they finally realized that and moved it.

        Now, while closing the water park might save some money, the county has decided to dump $13,000,000 into a church building that will tower above the community – spending more than the county’s median home price per unit of ‘affordable’ housing.

        I’m also pretty sure every commenter here could have thought of better way to spend tax dollars of than putting in a 2,000 SqFt kitchen w/ stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops for the “emergency operations center.”

        Despite wasting millions on stupid things, every year the board comes up with some gimmick to say they don’t have enough money to provide services to some of the wealthier neighborhoods… Whether it’s the lyon village water park, the cherrydale library or the gulf branch nature center – these are all stupid gimmicks used to ignore honest and rational budgeting.

        The county has more than enough money to suspend these temporary closures and should do so immediately.

    • Mike

      Awesome troll & response. *golf clap*

    • Highland St.

      That is a fabulous idea – a way to provide a national spotlight on Lyon Village when all the privliged kids are inside the splashpark playing, and the not so privilged children (portrayed in the press as minorities) are excluded from the county park. I know it has to be a fake email, but if not, you my friend are an idiot.

  • Bill

    I think alternating days between Lyon and Hayes Park is very reasonable, since they are close by. I really think Drew should stay open every day–even if just for a few hours– since there are many low-income children in that neighborhood who don’t have air conditioning or access to swimming pools. Noon is too late to open, especially on the weekends. Hundreds of small children use these parks every day–I’m sure there are programs used by less constituents that could be examined more closely.

  • Dan

    Interesting that the county board thinks that refurbishing dressing rooms in the Artisphere has a higher priority than providing outdoor cooling for children……

    • Thes

      They are not refurbishing a dressing room. They are creating a dressing room. It would be idiotic to build a theater without a dressing room. If the Board did that, you can be sure “Fat Kid” would complain about the County Board’s failure to make every public investment perfect in every way.

      • Mike

        It’s idiotic to build the theater in the first place.

      • Dan

        Fine…..the C.B. still values dressing rooms more highly than providing a way for children to cool off.
        Happy now ??

        • Thes

          Not happy until your statement is accurate. The County Board cares more about having its first real public indoor arts theater (which will run children’s programs, too, by the way), for which a dressing room is essential, than having its third water park in operation at any given off-peak moment. Surely you don’t want performers at the Artisphere change their clothes in front of the audience?

  • CJR

    Does Arlington plan to cut down any more shade trees at these parks to highlight their reduced water hours?

  • Thes

    Two of the five County Board members live in Lyon Village, and yet according to many comments here it has “suffered” and been “hosed” as a community. One wonders how poorly they will fare if the Republicans succeed in changing Arlington to a ward system and Lyon Village is reduced to only one county board member. In addition to outside children and the poor visiting their neighborhood… one wonders what else will be visited upon them.

    • Fat Kid.

      First off, Favola is clearly a gypsy…She represents Lyon Village about as faithfully as Maury Ballstein represented Derek Zoolander as his agent.

      Second, you seem to enjoy my posts having cited them twice, but fail to understand them. I haven’t said one thing against funding for the arts, tho you say i’m against that.

      Honestly, a ward system might do a better job representing the neighborhoods, regardless of which party is supporting the measure. Favola does not vote in favor of the interests of Lyon Village, the people there do not like her and once again, she is a gypsy who shoots dogs for sport.

      • North Arlington Common Sense

        I completely agree with Fat Kid. Favola is an absolute turncoat against her neighborhood. What I hate is how she turned against the neighborhood with the whole “bonus density” thing on the First Baptist Church housing project.

        The neighbors had a brilliant idea to undermine this thing. They said that they wanted five floors with 100% affordable units. Now obviously the financing would break down if you tried such a stunt, as you need the extra density to achieve the affordable housing.

        But that’s not the point. With the five story idea, you let Favola (and Hynes) tell the ASPAN and APAH whiners that they cast a vote “for affordble housing”. Let this play out as the financing breaks down, then be “forced” to go with 5 stories of luxury condos or apartments. If they had done this back in 2004, or 4 lawsuits ago, they could have blamed “the economy” while saving the plaintiffs a fortune in legal fees. But no, they decided they needed to be heroes to the “VOICE” and “BRAVO” crowds. And yet another oppotunity to become Great Falls, well, falls by the wayside.

        Thanks Barbara. You too, Mary. You had the right idea the first time, testifying against First Baptist as a neighbor. But then you got drunk on power. That’s why we need districts.

    • Skeptical

      Thes, there are plenty of people who are *not* Republicans who favor the change of government petition, despite the potential for complications.

      And just for grins, here’s what a local Democratic committee elsewhere thought of at-large representation:
      http://bengrosser.com/noatlarge.org/news/democrats-resolution.pdf
      The parent site
      http://bengrosser.com/noatlarge.org/home/
      was created as a record of the contest because of the strong sentiments local Democrats had about at-large representation generally.

      • Thes

        Skeptical, why do we have to choose? Why not keep the form of government we have and just change it to allow districts? Or why not switch to Fairfax’s County Executive Form (which has districts)?

        And is Arlington really hurting in the minority representation area like Urbana would? Our 10 most recent at-large elections in Arlington have currently resulted in 60% women, 20% Latinos, 10% African-American, 20% gay office-holders, and 20% from zip code 22204 (our poorest) — all in excess of their portion of Arlington’s population. Arlington’s at-large elected school board was *shut down* in the 1950s by Virginia after voting to integrate Arlington’s schools. And over 75% of Arlingtonians just voted for an African-American president. This is a solution in search of a problem.

        • Skeptical

          No, it really isn’t “a solution in search of a problem” — though that has come to describe a steadily increasing number of the current (meaning past decade or so) Board’s undertakings.

          I work my butt off to put a dollar in the bank and it offends the living bejeezus out of me when our current at-large board/County Manager government pulls stunts like blowing six figures to retain an artist for a water-park makeover of the sewage plant — an artist who stomps off with the money, there having been no contract, when engineers point out that her ideas won’t work with the plant’s actual FUNCTION. I posted a link about that episode a while back as a great example of what’s wrong here.

          People who don’t have to own their dealings with contractors can always pass the buck back and forth with county staff who can’t be fired by the voters. Responsibility gets kicked around in the sawdust on the barroom floor until it’s gone.

          The current state leadership kind of MMP (Makes Me Puke), but I’m becoming less and less willing to underwrite what the local leadership does wrong, despite the things it gets right.

          Minorities don’t have to mean simply ethnic or sexual-preference minorities. It seems to me there is a very large minority in Arlington of people who wish their government would run the county like a prudent estate manager, but since the present Democratic Committee persists in scratching one another’s backs while claiming they are the only thing that stands between us and immediate takeover by Sarah Palin, incumbent Board members get away with all kinds of blunders and pretty much get to pick their successors. No wonder so few people turn out at the polls in off years.

  • Pingback: Arlington Spraygrounds reducing hours and days | Metro DC Mom Blog()

  • HP2000

    The Drew waterpark is in a terrible location. Like the traffic lights installed at the intersection of Shirlington Rd & 24th, the waterpark is a bone thrown at the Nauck CC so they feel that are getting some of that County Board largesse. Why else would you place a children’s waterpark within eyeshot of drug slinging going on 24-7? Drive by there when the park is “open.” It is a ghosttown because no one can feel safe there. If we had a district rep, maybe we could get a better answer as to why the drug dealing and loitering are allowed to go on near the Green Valley Pharmacy and that wonderful “lighted” intersection?

    • Thes

      What did the Commonwealth’s Attorney say when you asked him that, HP2000? Has he been invited to speak to concerned neighbors? Not everyone reports to the County Board, you know.

      • HP2000

        Everyone turns a blind eye to what is going there. The Civic Association would be the one to invite someone in… but they don’t seem to care about it. As far as I know, the CB added the traffic light and the water park to that location.

  • Laima

    School’s out, it’s hot and what is Arlington doing? Cutting back on parks designed just for days like this. Come-on Arlington County-no one is going to the spray parks in the winter! Everyone gripes about kids sitting around on the computer and in front of the television instead of exercising and the County reduces the hours of operation for a spray park. Maybe they should have free admission for children some hours during the week at the high school pools. I agree with some of the suggestions above like water flow restrictors for the spray parks. Since Arlington has become very high density, not every child has a backyard with shade trees and a sprinkler to run through like the old days. They have to go to a park to play.

  • Concerned with Enviro

    What has gotten lost in this discussion is the environmental impact of 33,000 gallons of water EACH DAY used in these spray parks — I was told that is the amount of water used each day in the LV park. Here we are facing a drought and water may someday be in limited supply and yet, we are using this incredible amount of water, which evaporates and is not used for a responsible purpose. Most people believe that it is recaptured in some fashion, but alas, it is not. So for a county that is concerned with the environment, this whole spray park idea seems absolutely absurd. I was also told that the work they are doing to completely replace the LV park basketball and tennis courts is as a result of the damage that has been caused by the water. Hmmm’ that does not strike me as a good use of public funds. I am happy to see the hours limited because it is much better for the environment — frankly, I think it would be best to turn off the water and conserve one of our natural resources.

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