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Board to Consider Permit to Expand Lyon Park Community House

by Katie Pyzyk March 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm 3,798 15 Comments

After more than a decade of working to make it a reality, the Lyon Park Citizens Association may finally get its community house renovated. The Arlington County Board is scheduled to take up the issue at Saturday morning’s meeting.

The association has requested a permit to expand and renovate the community house, which was built in 1925 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If approved, the permit would allow for the addition of more than 1,000 square feet. Among the changes would be an update to the kitchen and the addition of a sunroom. The plan also includes various updates to make the house handicap accessible.

Typically, an expansion of this kind would also require the addition of parking spaces; In this particular case, 13 extra. However, the building was constructed before a zoning ordinance regarding parking was put in place. Therefore, county staff has recommended that the expansion be allowed without the addition of parking spaces. The permit would require the association provide handouts with off-site parking information to anyone who applies to rent the facility.

Because the house and park are owned by the Lyon Park Citizens Association, county money will not be used for the renovations. The association has been fundraising to finance the project.

If the County Board follows the staff recommendation to approve the permit, the association hopes to begin construction sometime this year.

  • Zelora

    Ever talked to any of the proponents of this crazy plan? I was advised that every household in the area should give $1000 — the sunroom is planned for young mothers and kids, and was described to me as a selling point. This is CRAZY. Why should I support a gold-plated sunroom for those uppity buppity yuppies? There certainly wasn’t one for me when my kids were little, and my grandchildren are a thousand miles away. I’m too old for a job and too young for a pension (sounds strange; is true) and any extra money goes to my struggling kids, NOT the neighborhood yuppie palace!
    Not everyone in Lyon Park feel socially comfortable/included…..or gives a darn.

    • Blandersnatch

      Jeez… Curmudgeon much?

      So. Don’t. Give. Them. Money.

    • John Fontain

      I agree with you that the plan is crazy. The proposed budget even more so.

      The well-intentioned folks driving this project are planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess of what this project could be completed for. This is a classic case of being willing to recklessly spend other peoples’ money.

      For the projected cost of adding on a sunroom and doing the interior renovations, the entire building could be demolished and a completely new and larger structure could be built.

      As I’ve described this project before: boon doggle.

      • Josh S

        But isn’t this like complaining about your neighbor spending too much money to renovate his house? It’s their money, their property, who cares?

        • John Fontain

          They collected money from me and lots of other folks years ago when the plan was a simple and affordable upgrade to the bathrooms to make them ADA compliant. After the money was donated, a group of very vocal residents stepped in and pushed to change the plan to completely renovate and expand the facility (at a ridiculous pricetag). Years later, the bathrooms haven’t been upgraded and all that money has either been collecting dust or has been used on architects fees for the “new and improved” plans.

  • Marie

    The County Manager’s report on this project states:

    “If parking was to be provided for the existing building, approximately 38
    spaces would be required. With the proposed expansion, an additional 13 spaces would be required.”

    So a building of this size would technically require 51 parking spots.

    I have to agree that the project is strange. It seems unrealistic that it will ever be realized–hard to imagine they will ever come close to raising the funds.

    • AH

      I think they’ve already raised the funds.

      • John Fontain

        No, not even close.

  • OldTimer

    The voting experience at this polling place will be greatly enhanced by this addition.

  • Jaded

    I hope they’ve applied for their permits already, or they can kiss a start date of this year goodbye.

  • Let’s invite Banksy to Arlington to ‘besmirch’ the Community House. Might I propose removing the ‘No Dogs’ signage on the park signs. Oh wait, I’m a scofflaw and so is my dog. Catch me if you can Lyon Park Community Association!

  • Overlee Pool

    What goes on with the County Board? For the Overlee Pool renovation, we were confined with our design because the county wanted more parking if we replaced an out-of-date structure. Lyon Park gets a free pass! The same thing with my church. The church had to be careful not to trigger more parking. Yes, I have read the County Manager’s report and it yields little information about why Lyon Park could not add 13 parking spaces. The only obstacle is that they do not want to do so. A secretary at the County Board told me that many people support the project, but I could write a letter or send an email. I will. Everyone should be treated the same. Now if the business down the street does not feel like providing parking, the County Board can say that is okay because you are our friend.

    • Runaway Train

      It just goes to show, when the Board wants to look the other way on something they can. If they want to take a hard line on an issue and need a “ordinance” to back it, they have an out.
      A perfect example of this is the ongoing sign ordinance. As a neighbor of Wagmore dogs, it’s been great looking at deteriorating blue tarp covering a mural while the Board and business owner engage in back and forth bickering contest. Nice gets nice, having interacted with the business owner, can’t say I would go out of my way to make an exception, that aside, it is a fun mural of dogs situated on a dog park. The owner shouldn’t be mandated to add Shirlington canine area or whatever the county has proposed to bring it in compliance.

    • Marie

      In order for the Community Center to come into compliance with the zoning ordinance, 51 parking spaces would be required. The County is looking the other way on 51 parking spaces, not the 13 as Overlee Pool suggests. Any other structure in the County would have to comply with the parking regulations of the zoning ordinance–maybe they could get a small reduction? But a 100% reduction in parking requirements seems unlikely. Approving this would create a slippery slope/ precedent for the county with regard to future projects.

      • John Fontain

        Part of the consideration by the county may be the fact that requiring parking would take away from park property that, while not publicly owned, is open to the public. I don’t think Overlee is open to the public.


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