Last week, County government added an item to the County Board’s agenda for its October 21 meeting.
This item seeks Board approval of a resolution authorizing:
- an offer to purchase certain properties on Shirlington Road
- the transmittal of an agreement of sale to the owner
- the acquisition of the properties for public purposes and by eminent domain, if purchase negotiations are ineffectual or unsuccessful
A subsequent notice from the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) stated that the Shirlington properties “would be used for public transit facilities and related uses.”
Acquiring the Shirlington properties outright is a much better choice than swapping those properties for a portion of the more valuable land at the “Buck” site on N. Quincy Street.
Abandon Arcland’s land swap proposal
For far too long, the County has been considering a proposal from an entity called Arcland to swap properties Arcland owns on Shirlington Road in exchange for a portion of the Buck property. Arcland wants the right to use a portion of the Buck property to build and operate a private, self-storage facility. My June 1 column sharply criticized this proposal.
It has been apparent for months that adopting Arcland’s proposal would severely restrict the County’s potential uses of the Buck property. It would:
- result in the permanent loss of 38% of the Buck property’s acreage
- limit short and long-term flexibility in County use of the property
- diminish the potential to expand adjacent park space
The Buck property’s central location, size and flexibility are too unique and valuable to be compromised by a swap with Arcland for low-lying land that may contain hazardous waste.
Decide how best to use Shirlington Road properties
Arlington should organize an open, transparent public process to identify the best uses for the Shirlington Road parcels to be acquired.
JFAC has received a briefing (pp. 18-19) regarding storage issues related to ART and APS buses. The briefing specifically cited the Shirlington Road properties. However, JFAC must promptly turn its attention to long-term,
countywide facilities planning. The detailed public review of alternative uses of these Shirlington Road properties ought not to be assigned to JFAC.
I understand that County staff previously presented possible development options for these Shirlington Road parcels at a meeting of the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) Working Group. Because Arlington has been “temporarily” parking vehicles/buses at Jennie Dean Park, a 4MRV Working Group member suggested using the Shirlington Road land to build a structured parking garage for County vehicles and APS buses. However, staff countered that it would be “too expensive.”
Staff also claimed that there is a federal security prohibition against co-locating buses and certain other uses too close to each other. Staff should be required to document the precise terms of any such prohibition during the public hearing process.
The County Board should declare publicly that it has abandoned the Arcland land swap in favor of acquiring the Shirlington Road properties outright. Hopefully, this acquisition will be the start of a new commitment to close a serious gap in available public land for critical County services.
Any development of the Shirlington properties will be expensive — and the County is already renting space there to park buses. Therefore, the costs vs. benefits of the structured parking garage option should be fully evaluated rather than rejected out of hand.
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Good Monday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.