(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) The industrial stretch of Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington could one day house more arts or recreational facilities. Or at least, that’s what some local residents have asked for.
Last June, Arlington County began holding public working groups for its Four Mile Run Valley initiative. The goal of those working groups has been to gather ideas from the public to “help guide public and private investment in the area over the long term,” according to the county.
The Four Mile Run Valley area as defined includes Four Mile Run Drive, the Nauck Town Square area, Shirlington Road, Shirlington Park, Jennie Dean Park and Nelson Street. Many of the businesses along Four Mile Run Drive are car-oriented: body shops, towing lots, service centers, gas stations, car washes and the Virginia DMV office, which was set to reopen this week following renovations.
So far, members of the public have asked for additional pedestrian crossings and bridges, more access for cyclists and an “arts walk” with public art and studio, theater or rehearsal and “maker” spaces. Meeting attendees have asked the county to preserve the area’s industrial character, citing Yaletown in downtown Vancouver, Canada as an example. There has also been discussion of designated artist housing.
Other requests include upgrades for nearby dog parks (including the heavily-used Shirlington dog park), an indoor “field house” sport facility for local little league baseball teams and the construction of a multi-use activity center for cultural, art, recreation and community events.
How all of these improvements might look, however, is still up in the air. The plan is currently in its “very early stages,” according to Chikwe Njoku, the county staffer leading the project.
“We’re in the process of taking that information and developing concepts and alternatives,” said Njoku. “We’re not at a point where we’re ready to make a recommendation on what that might look like.”
Arlington County will continue to hold about two working groups a month throughout the year, Njoku said. Next month, officials will begin to share designs and ideas.
The next working group meeting is scheduled to be held at the Parks and Natural Resources Operations Building at 2700 S Taylor St. next Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Photos via Arlington County’s Four Mile Run Valley Dec. 6 presentation