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Construction of Aquatics Center to Start This Fall

by ARLnow.com January 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm 104 Comments

Renderings of the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health & Fitness FacilityConstruction on the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility is expected to begin this fall.

The $80 million facility is to be built just north of Crystal City in Long Bridge Park. IT will feature a 50 meter by 25 yard fitness and competition pool, a family leisure pool, a hot water therapy pool, a “teaching pool,” and a “free-form water play area that will… have a lazy river, slides, play features, and a zero-depth ‘beach’ entry.”

“It is expected that the design will be completed in late spring with construction bids being sought in the early summer,” Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com on Friday. “It is anticipated that the County Board will award a construction contract in the early fall with construction starting in late fall. After two years of construction the opening of the Facility and park is expected in the fall of 2015.”

Renderings of the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health & Fitness FacilityThe operating costs of the facility are estimated to be $3.2 million per year, some $2 million to $2.8 million of which will be offset by revenue generated by usage fees, memberships and snack sales.

A second phase of construction on the facility is also planned. That phase will result in an addition to the facility, featuring amenities like a gym, an exercise facility, a climbing wall, an indoor track, racquetball courts, and meeting rooms.

The second phase of the Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility has yet to be included in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, and is likely more than a decade away.

“A time frame for design or construction is not projected prior to calendar year 2023,” said parks department Planning Supervisor Erik Beach. So far, there’s no cost estimate for the second phase of the facility.

  • craig


  • Buckley


  • KalashniKEV


    When does the Athlete’s Foot Fungus arrive?

  • Clarendon Expatriate

    So it won’t even pay for itself from year to year? What kind of business could be run like this?

    • Buckley

      Only the government-run kind.

      • Columbia Pique

        Government is not a business.

      • JohnB

        Correction: It won’t generate enough revenue from user fees and concessions to pay for its operating expenses. Guess what. Neither do roads. Should we get rid of them as well?

        • IG candidate

          Roads do not produce revenue or have operating expenses. Your question is moot.

          • Standish

            roads definitely have operating expenses

          • Tim

            Roads do not have operating expenses? Are you kidding me?

            Initial construction. Repair. Maintenance. Snow plowing. Enforcement. Permitting. Licensing. Etc.

          • drax

            Roads most certainly have operating expenses.

            Some produce revenue too.

            Still, like pools, they aren’t businesses. You have no point.

          • Scarlet Knight

            Some roads produce revenue. All roads have operating expenses.

          • JohnB

            Gas Tax = User Fee
            Toll = User Fee
            Patching Pothole = operating expense
            Monitoring Traffic Cameras = operating expense.

            Your comment is like a cow’s opinion: Moo

          • DCBuff

            Roads produce revenue–don’t forget those red light cameras! And some (attn drax) can be businesses (see toll road/hot lane operators).

          • BBMS

            If you think about it, the revenue from roads in incalculable. Imagine the drop in commerce without roads. I would say they more than “pay for themselves”, the problem is the government does not put enough of that indirect revenue back into maintenance.

          • Bob

            Take away roads, watch the GDP fall off the cliff. Take away public pools, and watch GDP stay the same.

          • Al Gore

            Technically only a revenue generating road could have operating expenses. i.e. an expense directly related to the production of a good or service. In this case, a service.

            Come on guys… Accounting 101.

          • drax

            Not that simple, Bob.

            Yes, some government spending contributes to GDP more than others, but people want amenities too. They want more than just what they need to make money – parks, trails, etc. And in the long run, that attracts more people, and more productive people.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      That’s only the operating costs. The debt service, as high as $6 million/year, is over/above the operating subsidy.

      • thanks

        An important bit of reporting not mentioned in the article.

  • Scarlet Knight

    Sorely needed.

    • Douglas Park Resident

      I agree. It is about time that Arlington invested in some multi-use recreation centers. Other places, like Montgomery County are also figuring out that the way to save money and maximize revenue generation is to consolidate such county recreation services under one roof, instead of building several smaller neighborhood based single purpose facilities (see: Washington Examiner, http://washingtonexaminer.com/montgomery-county-plans-recreational-mega-centers/article/2513041). And Fairfax County has long known this which is why they have invested in several such multi-use recreational centers that actually do a very good job a recovering their costs. It’s about time the Arlington caught up with the times…and their neighboring jurisdictions.

      • Bob

        So you think it’s OK to use the threat of the tax gunpoint against human beings (putting them in cages if they refuse to pay these taxes) so that you can have a closer pool, that others are forced to pay for? You are disgusting.

        • drax

          Oh, give it a rest, Bob.

        • speonjosh

          Bob, Bob, Bob – first of all, let’s quote Sgt. Hulka – Lighten up, Francis. Second of all, Thomas Hobbes. Third of all, the voters approved bond measures designed, in part, to pay for this facility. You are not being coerced via “tax gunpoint.”

  • G Clifford Prout

    Hope there will be a trolley stop.

  • Boon Doggle

    Atlantis on the Potomac. Why travel to Nassau to enjoy the Lazy River Rapids and water slides. Now cruise ships can anchor in the Potomac and send tourists to the Aquatic Center. A near endless revenue source

  • Crystal Resident

    At last! Can’t wait for it to be finished.

    • T

      Thank YOU! Finally, a positive comment. I too can’t wait for this to be finished. It’s a great public facility in a location that needs it, and wonderful contribution to the community–an alternative to the pricey Sport and Health. I live and work in the area, as do many of my coworkers, and we are all pretty excited about this.

      • John Fontain

        This will be many, many times more pricy than going to a Sport and Health club. No doubt about that.

        • DCBuff

          Pricy, yes, but John, you and I will be subsidizing their “memberships” so less expensive than a S&H to them.

      • Ricardo

        And the best part is, you get to force other people to pay for your fun!

        • Bob

          Force other to pay at the threat of the tax gunpoint. And if you don’t pay at the threat of the tax gunpoint, they’ll put you in a cage like an animal.

          • speonjosh

            You do realize you are edging towards making a mockery of yourself?

          • malaka

            He must be one of those “sovereign citizen” types. Blimey!

      • Bob

        Cheaper because you are forcing others to subsidize your membership at the threat of the tax gunpoint (and non-compliers will be thrown into a cage). How nice of you to support this.

        • T

          Haha. I guess some grumpy people would prefer another condo establishment? Another fro-yo/pizza/chain eatery strip? Another coffee place? An empty field where junk will collect? The pool facility will improve the appeal of the area and boost property values in the long run, and provide for better community sport programs for those of the younger generation.

  • John

    The building is so ugly. This is unfortunate since the site is very prominent. To think we could’ve had a Zaha Hadid or Herzog & De Meuron designed Aquatic Centre.

  • tomcat

    I don’t know if it is the weather lately or today in particular but I really want to go down that water slide. Like right now. When does the Cameron Run water park re-open? (shuffles off and starts looking at Price-Line for deals to warm locals with giant water slides.)

  • TJLinBallston

    The sleek structure will made a handsome, low-slung landmark at the gateway to Virginia. They can’t build it fast enough!

    • ARL-VA


  • Really?

    According to the artist’s rendering, this will be for the sole enjoyment of white people.

    • South of 50

      Who all drive Mustangs, Saabs, and Chrysler 300’s.

      • drax

        Well, yeah, it’s in Arlington after all. We’re all white and we all drive Saabs.

        I don’t know about the Mustang thing though. Somebody screwed up.

  • Becoming Indifferent

    Hooray! More crap we can’t and afford and don’t need!

    • DCBuff

      Could it be converted into a Trolley Barn?

    • WL95


      • drax

        Creative. You are awarded 1/2 FREDTERP.

  • South Side Chris

    South Side will have to make do with swimming in broken water mains. Oh well.

    Also, are we certain that it will be exactly 50 meters by 25 yards? Why not both yards or both meters? Outside of the ocassional mars bound space probing lawn dart, you just don’t see unit mixing like that.

    • ARL’er

      They chose 50 meters by 25 yards because those are the two common distances for competition pools. This means that the facility can be used to host competitive events such as national high school, college or professional swim meets. If and when they host these events, that will bring in hotel, restaurant and other tourist revenue.

      Long Bridge Park has already hosted some national youth soccer tournaments. These events won’t take place too often, so they won’t crowd out local use. But a few of them a year will bring in extra revenue (not just for the park but for the hotels and restaurants in Arlington). The events will also serve as tourism promotion.

    • tj

      Excuse me but the new, world-class aquatic center and public swimming facility is most definitely in south Arlington.

  • Sim City

    While Arlington Schools does an admirable job of hosting the community in its three high school pools (in addition to using them for the entire school system during the day and swim meets on weeknights/weekends) these facilities are stretched to the max, such that teen swimming groups need to arrive at 5:30 a.m at Wakefield, for example, or there are only 2 lanes available for the general public in the evenings because of usage by groups and others. If public health is a priority, you provide public health facilities. I was in the Yukon this summer, where the population of the entire sprawling province is only about 35,000, and they had built a facility in White Horse similar to the one Arlington is building. It was very popular with all the runners there for the Klondike 100, and wel gladly paid the $10 admission fee to soak in the hot tub after the race.

    • John

      The pools [as well as the ball fields] at the schools are owned and run by the parks dept. not APS. Though the school teams have priority on their use.

      • Sim City

        wrong. pools are run by aps — and you pay aps

      • Sim City

        wrong — the pools are run by the schools, and you pay the schools. If you attend a parks-run activity at a school pool — such as masters swimming — you have to pay the parks people again. They won’t accept the swim card from aps that you use on a daily basis

        • Sim City

          sorry for the repeat post — thought it hadn’t gone thru~

          • speonjosh

            Yeah, the comment posting system is defiintely struggling quite a bit these days…..

      • Sim City

        wrong — schools run the pool

    • John Fontain

      “public health is a priority, you provide public health facilities.”

      Almost all agree a pool would be nice. It’s the pricetag on this project that is the problem. As discussed in previous threads on this topic, the County could build many “regular” swimming pool facilities around the county for the amount they want to spend on this one.

  • Tom

    Finally. Too late for our family but wonderful for the community!

  • Clarendon Skank

    More Serbian lifeguards!! Can’t wait!!

    • Serbian lifeguard

      I get in pool, water level go up 3 inches.

  • Andy

    This is a great addition to the county. I can’t wait to take my kids here and will also use this for my regular swimming workouts.

    • Crystal Resident

      Yes! It is going to be great to have a public pool that is for the general public.

  • Peacemagnet

    Here’s a reason to find out what’s on the ballot before voting. I met one Arlingtonian voter who admitted “skipping” voting on this pool for lack of understanding. To me, it seems extravagant and I certainly hope they hire people from ARLINGTON to do the work and staff the facility. I wish them well, hope they have an amazing gift shop and concierge, for we’ve certainly tossed in our penny.

    • ARL-VA

      It’s not like the park and the aquatic center were secretly planned. If someone is relying on reading only the ballot to learn about all the details of an initiative, that’s just being lazy. There were multiple articles about the park and the aquatic facility, on ARLnow and in other local media. If someone chooses to ignore local news for 11 months and 29 days of the year, that’s their problem.

    • drax

      Yeah, most voters go find out information about who, or what, they’re voting for before voting.

  • Alex

    How about making sure the project pays for itself year to year. Is that really so hard? The schools and after school programs for “at risk” youth are underfunded and we have to sink 7 figures in to this palace yearly?

  • MissKittenCat

    You know you live in North Arlington when all the lifeguards are Serbian. South Arlington has all the H.S. Students as lifeguards

    • Glenn Quagmire


  • drownding in debt

    Cha-Ching !

  • fedworker

    yeah gross

  • David M

    I don’t understand how the county is allowed to compete with private businesses. What is next, county-run pizza shops that subsidize pizza for everyone? I’d like to see fitness clubs file a law suit. And theaters, art galleries, and other banquet/event venues should file suit against artisphere.

    • Douglas Park Resident

      I have not seen any private health clubs build 50 meter pools lately in the DC area. Come to think of it, I can’t recall a private leisure pool having been built anywhere in Arlington either. Somehow, I don’t think there is a lot of interest in the private sector in doing that. This is exactly the type of public facility that I am happy to see the county building and definitely something I and my entire family will use and appreciate. Others are certainly entitled to their opinions, but I think this is a good investment of county tax dollars.

      • Ricardo

        You haven’t seen them built because they lose money, and private businesses are not allowed to force people to spend money on things that they do not value.

        • ARL’er

          There are many things that people do value, but that private businesses won’t build or maintain, such as roads, bridges, street lighting, mass transit, parks, trails and yes, recreational facilities.

        • drax

          Ever hear the term “market failure?” It means that some things the private sector doesn’t, or can’t, produce still have value.

          • Ricardo

            I agree that coordination problems exist, but I do not agree that this is an example of one.

      • David M

        Sure. A pool is one thing. I get that. But, the county should not be allowed to compete – to a certain extent – with private business. Not only is this extravagant but also includes racquetball courts, weight rooms, banquet facilities (artisphere) … are all provided by private industry.

      • David M

        I get that local governments can/should provide some recreational facililties. 50 meter pool is a great example, but I think it’s the only example here. Arlington is going too far. I don’t think Artisphere offers anything that private business doesn’t already offer.

    • Bob

      David M: we need more thinkers like you.

    • speonjosh

      I hope you are not a product of Arlington Public Schools.

  • Mailady

    You had me at Lazy River.

  • David A.

    If this was wanted or needed by the public, it would have already been built by the private sector. Gotta love the taxpayers having to subsidize another thing in the People’s Republic of Arlington.

    • CW

      Yeah, yeah! That’s it! The private sector, like the Capitol Building and the Panama Canal and the Eisenhower Interstate System or rural electrification!

      (Note, I am not comparing this swimming pool thing to the Interstate system in a one-to-one manner. I am very, very suspicious about this pool thing. What I am doing, however, is pointing out that your argument is ridiculous).

    • Bob

      David A: You are smart. But you don’t go far enough. Taxpayers are forced to pay, at the threat of the tax gunpoint. Refuse to pay, and you will be locked up in a cage like an animal.

      • CW

        So your solution that we disband the government and flee to the woods to live like…wait for it…animals?

        • KalashniKEV

          The solution is no more taxation without consent, and no more Public Funds for the personal whims and desires of fools.

          • drax

            There’s no taxation without consent happening.

          • CW

            Aren’t you consenting to live here? I’ve heard that there are lots of other countries out there. Or, just buy some land and declare yourself an independent nation within the boundaries of the U.S. I’m sure that will turn out well.

          • drax

            You should move to DC, Kev, where you’d actually have a point.

          • bemused bystander

            So I could not consent to paying taxes for anything that benefits you ?

    • speonjosh

      You, too, are hopefully not a product of APS.

  • Zimmie the Thief

    Thank you all for the comments. One of my employers paid me to support this project (and I threw in my sock-puppet as a bonus), so all the complaining in the world does not matter to me. Off to eat some donuts.

    • KalashniKEV

      Why do we keep electing this cast of Villains???

      • novasteve

        Name + (D) = VOTE

        • drax

          Name + (R) = steve’s vote.

  • Wow! This is really awesome! This aquatic center will be the greatest! Kids will love this for sure!

  • CW

    I’m not willing to go as far as the knee-jerk crazies and say with 100% certainty that this is waste, or that some board member is getting his or her pockets lined. I do think that, just from an order-of-magnitude sense, this seems like a very high price tag for what is being delivered. I think that an itemized schedule of cost breakdown for the project would be something that would either help dispel concerns or would perhaps drive further discussion and inquiry. I’m not an expert on county expenditures and projects – can some people who are in the know and plugged into this sort of thing explain whether or not this level of detail is ever available before or during a project? That is, at what level will the County disclose details of its expenditures beyond just the project level?

  • Shirlington

    And so will adults! We really need better aquatic facilities in this part of the county. Very excited about this!

  • Sarcastic Jane

    So Arlington County is now in the “Bringing E-coli, Ebola and Cholera to Everyone” business?

    “Learning Pool”? Also know as the pee and poop place.

    Congrats on the 80 million dollar raw sewage storage shed!

  • novasteve

    Can it double as a trolley roundhouse?

  • Deadite

    To everyone looking forward to bringing their families here for a nice day at the pool – just wait until it becomes overrun by hoodrats. I guarantee that’s what’s going to happen to this place.

    • speonjosh

      You mean like Upton Hill?


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