Arlington, VA

Update on 3/23/12 — This project has been delayed, according to Arlington County.

Virginia Highlands Park is in line to get the county’s most elaborate sprayground park yet.

The spiral-shaped park takes elements of Arlington’s existing sprayground parks, as well as elements from other water parks around the country. It will be located in a corner of the park, near the volleyball and basketball courts.

As planned right now, the park will feature water cannons, buckets that fill and dump water on anyone below them, mini waterfalls, small pools of water for play, bubblers, interactive locks and dams, jumping water jets and a boulder wall dividing the active and passive play areas in the park. The boulder wall will also provide a place to sit during the off-season.

The sprayground will be partially bordered by a rain garden, which will benefit from the park’s runoff. Other excess water would be directed to a large underground tank, which could then be used for irrigation or for the park’s toilets.

Funding for the park is still in question. An official who gave a presentation to the Aurora Highlands Civic Association last night suggested that the construction could be paid for with Neighborhood Conservation funds while the county tries to secure other funding.

If all goes according to plan, the park will be open in time for Memorial Day 2012. (Sprayground parks are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Recently park hours were reduced, but it sounds like the county is confident that normal hours will be restored by 2012.)

At last night’s meeting, a few residents expressed concern about the potential for outsiders from the District or Maryland being attracted to the park due to the new sprayground. Some also questioned whether more parking will be necessary.

The county official acknowledged that the park will likely bring in non-residents, but said that there’s no way to avoid that. Most, it was suggested, would arrive via Metro.

In response to another resident’s question, it was revealed that the park would cost at least $6,000 per year to operate, with operating funds paying for water, power, staff time and cleaning.

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