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With Funding in Place, Lubber Run Meeting Planned

by ARLnow.com May 10, 2011 at 11:05 am 2,843 51 Comments

Outspoken supporters of Arlington’s Lubber Run Amphitheatre managed to convince the county to include nearly $150,000 worth of funding for the aging amphitheatre in the FY 2012 budget. Now, with the funding in place, the Lubber Run Amphitheatre Foundation is helping to organize a meeting regarding the facility’s future.

The public meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on May 16, at the Lubber Run Recreation Center (300 North Park Drive) Barrett Elementary School library (4401 N. Henderson Road). Among those expected to be in attendance is County Manager Barbara Donnellan. This is the second such meeting organized by the foundation.

The county is providing up to $45,000 for programming at Lubber Run this summer. Another $100,000 is going to “study capital needs toward restoration of the Lubber Run Amphitheatre.”

  • Narlington

    So if you complain enough the county they will bow down so they can get re-elected and spend a ton of money on a park. that a great use of county funds. If the people in that area what the park then the civic assoc should have to put in some money for the upkeep. a park is nice with just trees and grass. I am going to start complaining about the loise from the amphitheatre and see what happens

    • dynaroo

      Um, yes, elected representatives are supposed to do what their constituents want, or else the don’t get re-elected. You weren’t aware of this basic principle of democracy?

      The park is open to all, not just that civic association. Just like any other park. If you think all parks are a waste of money, by all means don’t ever visit one, but I’ll bet you have.

  • PhilL

    Good. The decision to contract county-wide arts programming and put all their eggs in one basket has turned out to be a bad idea. Unfortunately it will take a while to recoup what the Artisphere has squandered from the budget, but at least they are beginning to partially re-fund venues that county residents have asked them to support.

    We’re going to pay an unnecessary premium at Lubber Run because it was essentially abandoned and some deterioration occurred, but that is for the lessons-learned file.

  • John Fontain

    $100,000 just to study how much needs to be spent to fix up the amphitheatre? Seems like spending the $100,000 on actual repairs would be a lot more beneficial.

    • Politicians need to have consultants tell them their needs.

      • PhilL

        Considering they have already paid for a facility assessment report that documented the conditions and established a hierarchy for the things that need attention, they’re going to have a hard time justifying funding another study.

        • dynaroo

          That report was by a contractor who said it needed something like $1.5 million in improvements. Many were disputed. If a new report says it actually needs alot less improvements or prioritizes them, it could end up saving more than $100,000.

          • PhilL

            The report was done by an architect who also hired an engineering firm to assist. The report was commissioned by the county to inform them as to the condition and prescriptive courses of action to rehabilitate the facility. Which is exactly what it did.

            Are you challenging the findings of two professional firms? I mean, it’s one thing to question the professional opinion of two licensed entities, it’s another to go shopping around for somebody who will give you the answer you want, not necessarily the accurate answer.

          • dynaroo

            I’m not challenging them, but the civic association did. I agree with them that some of the recommendations looked unnecessary. It looked like a wish list of every possible improvement. Now someone needs to decide which are necessary and which aren’t.

          • dynaroo

            FYI, here’s the ArlNow story about the study and the civic association’s questions about it:

            http://www.arlnow.com/2011/03/30/lubber-run-amphitheatre-supporters-question-county-study/

          • PhilL

            Right, but I think the county staff should have the ability to define a desired scope of work from the architect’s report, without going out to yet another consultant to do that for them. That’s why the report is broken out into different priority items.

            If you write an RFP to get a report like that, and then you have to go out to yet another consultant to get a final scope of work, then you did not write the initial RFP correctly. Or the architect did not fulfill their requirements. One or the other.

            Also remember, those are just cost estimates, and architects and engineers are notoriously bad a construction cost estimating. When it comes time to bid out the job, they will get accurate pricing on a competitive basis from the real construction trades.

          • dynaroo

            Don’t see anything I disagree with in your post, PhilL.

            I think the main reason the original report was a problem was that the cost estimate came in high enough that many people feared it would cause the Board to give up on Lubber Run entirely and tear it down. This new report is an attempt to keep that from happening.

          • PhilL

            There’s no new report needed. What they need is a cost estimate based on more detailed information. What they will probably do next is decide what renovations they want to make and start designing those options in more detail so they can get better cost estimating done. That could approach the $100K number. I doubt they are going to recommission another study just hoping to get a different answer. That is wasteful.

          • dynaroo

            I think that’s what the new report will do – prioritize.

          • PhilL

            The report is already prioritized. You should read it.

          • dynaroo

            RE-prioritize, I mean.

          • me

            @Phil. The Report you are referring to did not address ADA and flood zone issues. That is the purpose of the new studies.

            It likely was an oversight not to include these issues originally, but they need to be addressed by law. This isn’t just repeating work that was already done.

          • PhilL

            The report mentions numerous ADA deficiencies.

        • South Arlington

          I’m guessing the need for a 2nd opinion via contractor/consultant is being done exactly because of the required “oversight” and liability issues that everyone must operate under these days. It’s just CYA policy to get a consultant to tell them what they already know, cost of doing business in case someone sues or someone complains.

          • Rosslynite

            I think the county needs to commission a study and report on whether the county needs to proceed with the $100,000 study on how to fix Lubber Run. Then, they need to commission a study that results in a report that itemizes the costs of all the studies commissioned and compares those costs with the money actually spent to achieve the objective originally studied.

          • dynaroo

            Let’s study that idea.

          • Tre

            #circular error

      • dynaroo

        The objections never cease, do they?

        Yes, most politicians are not experts in construction, nor do they have time to go spend hours studying a project to figure out what’s needed.

        • Not objecting, just stating the obvious. This happens as well with things such as salary studies. Political figures will hire a consulting firm to study employee salaries rather than trust the studies performed by internal staffing. Sometimes this approach pays off (perhaps in construction here), and other times it just costs way too much money. I think the point I’m trying to make is politicians need to have someone tell them what to do so there is someone else to blame should something go wrong. THAT is what is being paid for.

          • dynaroo

            What’s wrong with getting outside opinions? Sometimes the internal staff don’t have the expertise, or the time, to do the work. Or maybe – like with salary – there’s a conflict of interest.

            And considering all the crap politicians take, sometimes undeserved, I don’t blame them.

          • There isn’t anything wrong with it. At some point, on some things, you have to question the cost/benefit ratio.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Ain’t that the truth, Overgrown Bush!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I agree, John Fontain.

  • NomNom

    Hopefully they will fix the men’s room toilets. They over flow every time I have used them.

    • South Arlington

      It sounds like you should save your number 2’s for when you get home if possible.

    • TGEoA

      Get rid of them. We don’t need a refuge for toe-tappers.

      • Rosslynite

        Are you implying that I use a wide stance?

      • AllenB

        But then where would you and I have our “meetings”?

        • TGEoA

          Since you’re into cruising, go try the Columbia Island marina. The police should have shut that den of filth down a long time ago with a blowtorch.

          • Rosslynite

            My, you do seem to know a lot about this subject. Is there something you would like to share with the group?

          • AllenB

            Yes, TGEoA is always inserting gay putdowns whenever he can. And you’re right, it usually is the ones who do the most protesting that are trying to hide something.

  • Tre

    $100k for a study??…. quickly becoming Blubber Run

    • I think we should hire someone to study if we need the study.

    • LeRad

      As suggested above, the $100,000 was originally presented to the community as the amount necessary to fund a flood plain study with the possibility changing Federal 100-year flood boundaries. The LRA structure lies within the current flood plain, so major renovation/rebuilding could trigger certain requirements while more modest repairs would not necessarily trigger that. As currently written in the FY2012 budget, that $100,000 amount could be used for repairs as well as study of flood plain and possibly ADA compliance issues. There is no plan to duplicate the facility options study.

      • PhilL

        Thanks for clearing that up. The flood plain and RPA issues were not addressed in the first report, and that was by design I’m sure. Any other studies are building on the initial report’s results, not going backwards and doing it again.

      • dynaroo

        You ruined all the fun people were having assuming that it was just duplication and waste by politicians! How dare you insert actual facts into this!

        (Thanks).

        • PhilL

          Yeah, good thing they are not spending money to simply re-prioritize.

          • dynaroo

            That would still be part of it.

          • PhilL

            That’s the part where staff comes in to evaluate the report, and they have the community forums. To see what the priorities are in the minds of the citizens. That’s an excellent course of action, rather than spending money on a new report to re-do what the first consultant spent our money doing.

  • Susan Kalish

    I’m County staff and wanted to share a bit more as all your points are well taken based on the information you have.

    For the short-term….the County Board funded $45,000 to support outdoor arts programming for the next two years (not one). We are also trying to make the amphitheater safe and accessible for the next few years and will be using funding we have left over from the money that was budgeted for the Neale Report (that’s the report that outlined the issues with the facility such as it’s not ADA compliant, its in a flood plane and Resource Protrection Area, and there are various structural and electrical problems with the the site).

    On Wednesday we’re meeting with communty members to see what sort of programming is of interest this year and next Monday we’re giving an update on both the facility and the programming.

    The County will hold other community meetings to find out what residents want over the long term. We have lots of aging structures (check out Lubber Run Community Center for example) and the communty can help prioritize where funding and programming can be and go.

    The additional $100,000 is to be used to learn more about the flood zone. Flood zones can be reassed (we did that in Barcroft I think), so it’s possible the zone can be moved a bit. Knowing the status of the flood zone will be one more bit of information that needed to determine costs if the communtiy wanted to renovate or rebuild the theater.

    We are posting updates on what we know and plan on the web at http://www.arlingtonva.us, search Lubber Run status.

    • dynaroo

      Thanks Susan, and thanks for throwing actual facts into our flailing discussion.

      • ArlForester

        The facts are they keep spending money instead of repairing the amphitheater. It looks to me like they’re dropping all this cash to come up with excuses why it isn’t feasible to make the renovations. We’re not one of the chosen neighborhoods for the Board’s pet projects.

        • Civil Servant

          This is simply not the case. The County HAS to spend the money on the flood plane and RPA issues BEFORE repairing LRA. They can’t improve or repair LRA without appropriate waivers and permission. I encourage you to attend the meetings that staff are putting together for your neighborhood before you draw any conclusions like this. I am part of the team that worked on this and staff is bending over backward to make the community happy with LRA while still trying to comply with everything from building code to flood plane and RPA issues.

  • Bert

    Instead of spending 100,000 on studying spend on the theatre !! Counties waste so much on studies and paying consulting firms that could be used actually doing something…

  • Susan Kalish

    Got an update and a correction…

    The community meeting to update everyone on theLubber Run Amphitheater was moved to Barrett Elementary School Libarary (not Lubber Run Community Center). It’s at 6:30pm on Monday, May 16.

    That’s the update…the correction is I got my numbers wrong. The County Board did give PRCR $45,000 to do outdoor programs this year. Earlier I had said it was for two years. I was confused because $45K is a lot more than Lubber Run programming has been given in recent years. The County Board upped the amount because Lubber Run currently isn’t accessible to people with disabilties (not ADA compliant). The extra money was set aside in case we can’t find a way to make it compliant in the coming month. If we can’t make it compliant then by law we have to have similar programs somewhere else in Arlington for people with disabilities (that is in an outdoor venue).

    Sorry for not being clear before….Susan Kalish/Arlington Parks and Recreation

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