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Construction Expected Soon on New Clarendon Park

by ARLnow.com September 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm 9,307 81 Comments

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) What is now a muddy, run-down dog park in Clarendon will soon be transformed into an attractive, modern park serving both people and pets.

James Hunter Park (the new name for the previously unnamed “Community Canine Area” at N. Herndon and 13th Street) will feature picnic and seating areas, a demonstration garden, water feature, comfort station, kiosk, decomposed granite dog play area, grass lawn, public art and permeable paved walkways. Trees will line the park, which is located about two blocks northwest of the Clarendon Metro station.

Today, the park features a picnic bench and a couple of old plastic lawn chairs amid an open grass-and-dirt field.

Construction on the park is expected to begin in late fall/early winter and wrap up during the summer of 2012, according to project manager Scott McPartlin. That’s a couple of months behind a preliminary schedule announced last fall.

The project’s $1.85 million cost will be paid primarily with funds from a park bond approved by voters last year.

  • drax

    Who is/was James Hunter?

    • G Clifford Prout

      Jim was a prince of a man and a dedicated public servant. Antithesis of Barbara Favola. Wish he was still alive.

  • AllenB

    Great news… better late than never.

  • ArlingtonSouth

    I’m glad that Arlington continues to provide more green space to their residents.

    But I’m still concerned about the off-road rally course that is Columbia Pike between Four Mile Run and George Mason Blvd.

    Perhaps we need a North Arlington BMW to break their suspension on that stretch of road to warrant some actual repairs.

    • G

      Haha, you’re probably right.

  • Clarendon


    “James Hunter was an Arlington County Board member from 1990-1997. He was a human rights activist and advocated for providing government service to those with limited access. Shortly after retiring from the County Board, Mr. Hunter passed away. The Arlington County Human Rights Commission established the Human Rights Award program in honor of Mr. Hunter for his human rights devotion and leadership for the Arlington community. Mr. Hunter lived a short distance from the park that is now named in his honor.”

    • drax


  • Cakes

    Looks like we found the last resting spot of the victims of last month’s earthquake….

    • Josh S

      Props to you…good one.

    • Novanglus


  • Josh S

    What is “decomposed granite?”
    Is “comfort station” the latest euphamism for toilet?

      • Greg

        So, dirt….

      • Josh S

        I love ARLnow, you’re doing a great job.

        But if it was me, I would have just said gravel. I realize the press release said “decomposed granite” but if you’re sitting at the bar with your friends I think you pretty quickly agree that “decomposed granite” is stupid, especially when you can just say gravel.

    • Novanglus

      It’s either a toilet or a Japanese military brothel. I’ll go with toilet.

      • HA!!

        That’s some wit there. I chuckled silently.

  • JimPB

    A lavish park whose cost to be paid by taxpayers will include the interest on the bonds.

    What will be the per user cost (the current setting up cost + maintenance and repairs) over the life of the park?
    Estimating the total costs at $2.5 million and the “life” at 40 yrs. that’s $62,500/yr. To get the cost per user down to $1, an average of 170+ persons/day would need to use the park each and every day of the year, including rain days, snow days, arctic cold days, boiling hot days.

    • Novanglus

      Wow, a synthetic turf dog park. Wow. Speechless.

    • Chris

      I see your pseudo statistical argument of anti-government services combined with a subtext hatred of your tax money being spent on anything that isn’t you and counter with this picture of a puppy. Your argument is hereby render invalid sir. Good day to you.

      • Thes

        Every single American is spending about $6 per day (not including interest, which will make it about $10 per day) on national defense, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To daily users of the dog park, this seems like a bargain in comparison.

        It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, by the way, to find that this dog park averaged well in excess of 200 visitors per day once it opens.

        • Zoning Victim

          And for that, all I get is the most powerful and technologically superior defense of any nation in the world.

          And for the dog park, I get nothing. Even if I had a dog, I don’t live anywhere near there and wouldn’t use it anyway. Even if I did live there, I probably still wouldn’t use it, and even if I did want to use it, I’d find a $1.5M dog playground and toilet to be way overpriced. Furthermore, I would (and do) find deficit spending the wrong way to pay for it (or anything else for that matter).

          • Josh S

            Who said anything about deficit spending? In what way will this park be paid for by deficit spending?

            On the other hand, your “most powerful and technologically superior defense” is most definitely paid for by deficit spending. Including sending that “defense” force halfway around the world to attack people living in mud huts.

          • John Fontain

            “Who said anything about deficit spending? In what way will this park be paid for by deficit spending?”

            From the article above: “The project’s $1.85 million cost will be paid primarily with funds from a park bond approved by voters last year.”

            ‘Park bond’ is an intentionally misleading euphemism for debt.

          • John Fontain

            And just to be clear, my reference to “intentional misleading” is not directed at ARLnow, but to Arlington County which purposefully uses this euphemism in the wording of each of it’s debt issuance referendums to help ensure their passage.

          • Josh S

            Yes, John, bonds equal debt. Not sure why you would say that is intentionally misleading, I think it is fairly common knowledge.

            But debt does not equal deficit spending.

          • John Fontain

            “But debt does not equal deficit spending.”

            Sure it does. You are going in the hole and spending money you are not currently bringing in in revenue. You are financing deficit spending.

          • Zoning Victim

            John, it’s good to know that somebody else gets the fact that selling bonds is deficit spending.

          • Zoning Victim

            Yeah, you should tell Obama to live up to his promise to stop doing that, and then we could spend a lot less on “defense” instead of attacking yet another country while still fighting two other useless wars.

            Part of everything this country spends money on is paid for by deficit spending thanks to the fact that the Democrats refuse to support a balanced budget amendment of any kind. I don’t find that to be a valid reason for any other government entity to operate in the red regardless of the more politically palatable name they give it.

            How do you think deficit spending takes place? Other countries and businesses don’t just hand the US $1.6 trillion dollars a year to cover our deficit on a handshake deal; they buy bonds from the federal government. It’s exactly the same thing as Arlington County selling bonds to spend money they don’t have on a park.

      • Smilla

        Bravo, Chris! Bravo!

      • Josh S


    • Thes

      Is that $62,000/year in constant dollars or current dollars? In 25 years, $62,500 will only buy you what $26,000 will buy today.

      • JimPB

        Thes — Good question. Thank you. For simplicity, I used current dollars. If inflation is factored in, the costs of maintenance and repairs will steadily climb.

        Chris — I believe in an active role for government in addressing the needs and wants of the citizens. But that doesn’t preclude thinking smart and acting smart in the use of tax dollars. I suggest that that the recreational benefits of the James Hunter Park do not require such a large expenditure of county funds, and that there are other uses that would offer as much if not more benefits to more citizens. With county funds, I would provide “basic, simple” facilities at the James Hunter Park targeted at serving the most citizens. If residents in the immediate area would like a more lavishly equipped Park, I would allow them to contribute their personal and/or community association funds to that end, so long as their additions did not preclude or reduce the public use of the park.

        • RosRes

          “If residents in the immediate area would like a more lavishly equipped Park, I would allow them to contribute their personal and/or community association funds to that end, so long as their additions did not preclude or reduce the public use of the park.”

          How lavishly generous of you to allow people to contribute their personal money.

          • GC

            Be careful, if you make it too nice, it may encourage residents from South Arlington to visit :-), or worse, Donaldson Run! Seriously, most of the people it would serve would be mostly office workers and people in the condos – and I doubt they intend to voluntarily invest in long term projects in the area, since they mostly move away once they start having kids – and may be priced out of the single family homes in the area.

        • John Fontain

          “If residents in the immediate area would like a more lavishly equipped Park, I would allow them to contribute their personal and/or community association funds to that end”

          That would never work. Oh wait…what?…that did work for the planetarium? Oh, nevermind.

          • AllenB

            I could say the same for every facility that I don’t use… schools, parks, community centers, libraries… but that would be just as silly as your original suggestion.

          • John Fontain

            I am a frequent user of the park and would be willing to pay for some of the work, but nobody has asked. Therefore, your referencing a facility I don’t use = fail. Sorry.

          • Josh S

            The fact that you do use the park doesn’t change the original silliness of the suggestion. It’s not practical to pay for publicly provided goods only through the donations of individual citizens. Here’s the suggestion played out elsewhere – fire station – county pays for one truck, but nearby residents must chip in to buy the second one. School – county pays for classrooms and will hire teachers with high school diplomas but if you want a teacher with a college degree, you gotta chip in a pay for it yourself. Etc. Etc. Etc.

          • Zoning Victim

            Josh, Allen, you can’t seriously be comparing fire stations and schools with dog parks and calling someone else’s post “silly.”

          • John Fontain

            Josh S. said: “It’s not practical to pay for publicly provided goods only through the donations of individual citizens.”

            See the planetarium.

          • Josh S

            Ah yes, the planetarium. Gotta sieze on those thin reeds when you can.

            The county was more than prepared to let the thing go. It took a voluntary, proactive effort by those who truly wanted it to raise the money. So, yes, this kind of thing can happen but it’s no way to run a lemonade stand.

            Yes, quite seriously referencing a park and fire station in the same argument. Don’t see why not. Both are county provided goods. I would argue that parks are not luxuries, especially in more urban neighborhoods like Clarendon.

          • Burger


            you need to get out more. Lots of government institutions charge citizens for services. Many government entities charge their citizenry specifically for fire department services and if they don’t pay they don’t get the service.

            Also, in Pa where my parents live, people pay a fee to enter the dog park

            In Falls church, they charge you for each bag of leaves you produce.

            so lots of governments charge their citizenry by the services they use.

          • Zoning Victim

            Are parks a necessity, or are $1.85M parks a necessity? Stop trying to reframe the discussion to mean that you either have to have one or the other. In my book, a bunch of grass is a park suitable for both the dogs and their humans, and it doesn’t cost $1.85M for a nice patch of grass and some benches.

            Trying to claim that any park is as necessary as an FD or decent school system is definitely silly. Not that it even makes enough sense to argue with, but FD’s and school systems are not goods, they’re services; lifesaving services. No education equals a bad life of poverty, which in almost all cases leads to premature death. No FD means small house fires burn down entire neighborhoods leaving people broke, homeless and in some cases dead. No dog park means dog servants have to drive/walk Fido a little further to watch Fido poop so they can pick it up. I don’t see the congruency in the necessity department.

        • Josh S

          Well, here’s another consideration. If the county is well equipped with nice parks, good infrastructure, and other generous county-provided facilities then might these two things happen –

          1. more people want to live here and are happy to live here, thus resulting in increased citizen satisfaction
          2. more businesses would also be attracted to this location as opposed to others, recognizing that their employees will be happy to be here and that the county in general is doing a good job in providing services?

          Perhaps there is an assumption that provision of public parks is a basic service that local governments should provide?

          • Zoning Victim

            1. I’ve never seen any proof that parks add to the overall satisfaction of citizens.
            2. Businesses go where their taxes are the lowest or they can make the most money. $1.5M parks built on deficit spending aren’t a good indicator that taxes in the area will stay low.

          • Josh S

            You’ve never seen any proof? What the heck does that mean? Do you want “proof” that people prefer warm sunny weather to cold and rainy? What a weird thing to say.

            I believe that taxes would be only part of the decision about where to locate. Perhaps a big part and maybe even bigger than the quality and quantity of locally provided infrastructure, but not the end of the story.

            What is this obsession with deficit spending? I’m not actually aware that it is even possible for local governments to use deficit spending. Are you confusing bonds with deficit spending? They’re not the same thing. You know that, right?

          • Burger

            Simple, he is saying you can’t “value” satisfaction as you try to do.

            Umm…using a bond is deficit spending and is simple economics. If the government had the money to outright buy the park it wouldn’t need the bond to pay for it. I am not against using bonds for paying for government infrastructure because it is similar to a mortgage but we can question the issue of 1.5 million bond payment for a dog park.

          • Zoning Victim

            No, they are not different at all. See my earlier post on this same subject for the explanation.

    • Not


    • Smoke_Jaguar4

      Let’s see:
      It’s across the street from a church
      There’s a K-8 school two blocks away.
      It’s adjacent to SHF’s, with condos and townhomes within walking distance.

      I somehow doubt this space will suffer from lack of use. Expect neighbors to start petitioning for a playground the moment it’s opened. Please, Think About The Children!…

    • Suburban Not Urban

      I think you’re being ultra-generous with your routine costs

  • Andrew

    If we get snow like we did last winter, I would expect this project to be significantly delayed.

    • Josh S

      Did we have significant snow last winter? I thought it was actually normal or maybe even light.

  • Zimdel2

    What was on this spot before the dog park?

    • charlie

      single family homes that had been converted into businesses or torn down to be parking lots.
      several pre-WW II trees, maybe, if you squint just right.

  • Joey

    Is it only going to have one entrance to the dog park? That’s a little annoying, over the current arrangement of three entrances.

    • Burger

      Reading the plat, it looks like there is one entry to the “park” but no designation of doors to the dog park. I’d going with the view that the lima bean coloring in the center is the park and things like the garden demonstration area aka waste of space but a throw away to people that will ask for something like this but never use it is outside the dog park.

  • CW

    Despite my general dislike of the behaviors of most dog owners around here, I’m all for the dog park. It’s going to look nice; well, at least at first it will.

    What is a “demonstration garden”? Will the dogs demonstrate their pooping technique and then be judged on style?

  • Sgt. Hartman

    Once completed, this site will be an ideal location for some school trailers .

  • KF

    Does anyone know whether at least a portion of the existing “Community Canine Area” will remain open for dog owners and dogs during the construction process, or will the whole site be closed during construction?

    • ros

      I had the same (huge) question. There isn’t really another area close to the immediate area to take dogs to do their business…except people’s front yards.

      • ros

        ok, found the answer on the project “site”

        CCA Resources
        During construction, PRCR will install signs at the park asking dog owners to use one of the County’s other Community Canine Areas.

        (http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ParksRecreation/scripts/projects/13thHerndon/JamesHunterParkOverview.aspx )

        This is a huge blow for all the dog owners in the area. Anyone want to start up a petition for the construction to be done in phases, so that portions of the park can be kept open for our dogs? The other “Community Canine Areas” are not exactly what I’d call nearby, and definitely not within walking distance of Clarendon.

        • KF

          Given all the dogs along the Wilson-Clarendon corridor, and their need to burn energy off-leash during the estimated 6 plus months of construction, there should be another option (other than causing everyone to drive to other dog parks on a regular basis)!

        • John Fontain

          “Anyone want to start up a petition for the construction to be done in phases, so that portions of the park can be kept open for our dogs?”

          No. It’s simply not practical for construction purposes and would result in the entire project taking twice as long to complete and at a much higher cost. Take your dog down to the always empty park on Kirkwood.

  • Me ke

    1.85 millione for a DOG park? Really?? They are Dogs!! How about more cops and teachers and let dog do what comes naturally no matter how attractive the landscaping?

    • Josh S

      Knee. Jerk.

      A casual perusal of the design plan above reveals that the dog park portion of the park occupies about 1/3 of the space. Also, the first line of the story indicates that the park will serve “both people and pets.”

      So, $1.85m for a park that includes space for dogs as well as space for people.

      • Zoning Victim

        How is complaining about spending $1.85M on a park when our schools don’t have the capacity they need (and provide a substandard education) a knee-jerk reaction?

      • Burger

        Of course, the dog park was a 100% of the current use so maybe dog owners have other issues beyond the price.

        And, I’ll guess dog owners will be the only people that use the spot.

  • MC

    I don’t have a dog, and really don’t relate to them. But this is a happy corner, where people can socialize with their dogs. Improving it makes it a nice investment in community. It’s the kind of public “3rd place” that makes Arlington different than developer-land.

  • Landshark

    Oh I can’t tell you all how excited I am to see this news of this pit of a park finally getting the attention it deserves. This was so long in the making and much was sacrificed (50% for non-CCA users for instance) to get to this point. James Hunter Park will be an attractive urban park with a Community Canine Area as a part of it.

    Yes, it will be difficult for the time while it will be under construction, but in the scheme of things (at least 14 years in the making) this will go pretty quickly. Just think of it as an extended illness.

    BTW: “demonstration gardens” refers to native plantings that support wildlife.


  • Burger

    Well, you don’t get to the highest debt level per county resident by thinking small.

    this is needlessly absurd.

  • N. Arilngton

    Maybe I missed it in the plat, but I don’t see a playground section for children. For dogs, sure, but this also borders a neighborhood with single-family homes and, I’m assuming, a child or two. Most of the other neighborhood parks I’ve seen around Arlington have jungle gyms, swings, etc. for children. Must’ve been a cost-saving measure for the synthetic turf dog area… Next thing you know, we’ll have children and dogs playing together, and recent events show that we can’t have that.

    • CW

      Seriously. I’d like to propose a deal…dog owners get the $2 million dog park, but they have to keep their dogs out of the other parks within a given radius. Example being the park behind market common on 11th. Dozens of dogs off leash at any given time. Currently, not all parks get to be human parks but all parks DO get to be covered in dog poop. The regulations here put dogs over people.

      Please explain to me how my proposal is not fair.

    • John Fontain

      There is a multi-million dollar park for kids just down the hill in Lyon Village. Is that not enough?

  • LuvArlington

    Really? $2M on a dog park. A park will be pretty. However, that seems more than the average landscaper will charge for a city block. Do dogs really need more?

    • John Fontain

      No, dogs won’t give a rat’s ass about the improvements. It’s like buying a fancy toy for a kid only to watch them have more fun with the cardboard box it came in.

      What they should do is till the soil and remove rocks from the current soil. Then plant some abuse-resistant ground covering. then put up a new fence and plant a few trees around the perimeter. Maybe install a fresh water line to provide a drinking resource for the dogs. You could do all that for $50 to 100k, easy.

      But somehow the county always finds ways to spend way more money than necessary for stuff that people don’t get maximum use out of. Take a look at Lyon Village’s kids park for example. They put in funky, top of the line playground equipment, but the stuff is so weird that the kids hardly use it (I’m referring to the large piece of playground equipment with the stairs and slide). In this case, the county would have been much better off buying a traditional piece of playground equipment at a much lower cost.

      • CW

        Haven’t “traditional” pieces of playground equipment been deemed too dangerous and a liability? Most of the playgrounds I played on as a child sadly have had the equipment phased out and replaced with this plastic injury-proof stuff.

        • John Fontain

          When I say traditional, I don’t mean metal. The plastic stuff is fine. It’s just that the manufacturer they used for the Lyon Village playground makes this weird stuff that the kids don’t seem to like to use.

          For example, it has a weird twisting slide. While it looks cool, practically speaking the kids hate it because the curves force them to grind to a halt as they go down the slide (you can’t actually ‘slide’ down).


          The back side of the piece of equipment is even worse as it has random metal poles that the kids don’t know what to do with.

          The buyer of this equipment was clearly going for funky style and cool looks over something useful that the kids would actually like.

  • Elspet

    This park is usually packed in the morning and the early evening. Reducing the dog park size dramatically is a bad deal for the current users.

    Also, the upcoming changes to the park area of the Clarendon Metro are horrible (most of the trees have been chopped down, and the entire park is going to be covered in brick pavers), so I have no faith that the James Hunter park will be human-friendly.

  • JimPB

    ArlCo spends too much, too readily. The James Hunter Park is an immediate example. Another recent example: Lubber Run Park Amphitheatre. ArlCo staff wanted to rebuild the amphitheatre at a cost of several million dollars. Residents wisely objected and argued successfully for repairing it, with a cost of only a couple hundred thousand dollars.

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