Join Club

Peter’s Take: Salt Dome Master Plan Avoids Third Fiasco

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

In September 2018, the County Board appointed a new 15-member task force. The Board charged the task force with developing a Master Plan for a 7.6-acre parcel of County-owned land located at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive.

This parcel is often referred to as the Salt Dome site.

Why the new task force?

The Board’s goal was to avert a third consecutive fiasco related to this site.

The first fiasco involved the failure by County staff to justify shifting the location of Fire Station 8 to this site. The second fiasco involved the failure by County staff to provide enough notice that the old salt storage unit previously located on this site was in imminent danger of collapse.

The new task force submitted its final report to the County Board on April 12. Most other critical documents relating to this task force’s work can be accessed here.

Due to skillful leadership, the task force achieved a remarkable degree of consensus.

After 5 months, multiple meetings, and hundreds of hours of hard work, the task force, led by Chair Noah Simon, was able to forge a remarkable degree of consensus regarding the best possible recommendation to the Board given the information available.

As the Sun-Gazette previously reported: “The task force included representation from four adjacent civic associations — Old Dominion, Yorktown, Donaldson Run and Rock Spring — plus representatives from a number of government advisory commissions. Marymount also was represented on the panel, as was St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.”

County staff attempted to make a case that a substantially increased percentage of the acreage on the site should be paved over and devoted to vehicle parking and staging areas to support snow removal equipment (roughly 100 new parking spaces) and the existing leaf storage operations. But when challenged to present operating and other data to justify why it was necessary to expand snow operations, staff failed to provide sufficient data.

Most important lessons learned

The public cares deeply: instead of simply saying NIMBY, most neighbors came together and said essentially, “if in the future you can compile the necessary operating data to make your case, here is our recommended plan for how the site should be re-configured to support those operations.”

Dozens of members of nearby civic associations joined the discussion, providing creative options that included: arranging to park on nearby paved areas; using existing changing facilities nearby, such as Langston; looking at jurisdictions that stopped mulching leaves in an expensive, energy-intensive way; and exploring other systems of loading salt. Others asked why the shift-change facility needed to be co-located with salt storage?

The positions taken by County staff lack supporting data: staff was unable to provide data concerning the number of snow events/year across time, or what volumes/quantities of road salt or brine they distribute. Other jurisdictions, such as Maryland, measure the number of salt/mile of road/inch of snow, work to reduce dependency on salt (vital because of salt’s toxicity), and accordingly demonstrate percentage reductions in salt use annually.

The County should begin to measure all critical aspects of the “problem” to develop meaningful data to drive management decisions. The County should develop similar metrics for the leaf collection and mulching process. How much is “free” mulch costing its residents?

Conclusion

In our rapidly developing County, proposed changes in the uses of land all come with direct and opportunity costs and must be justified by data that backs up proposed changes.

Despite this site being on a precipitous hill, at the edge of a Resource Protection Area, and at the trailhead of Donaldson Run, County staff too often talk about massive soil disturbance as though it comes at no cost — even in the face of tree removal and other proven environmental damage.

County staff is too narrowly focused on short-term construction of facilities without considering medium- and long-term impacts on erosion, water quality, air quality, flooding, or mitigation of climate change. The County is being paved over at an unsustainable rate, and flooding is a severe problem. Shared use of existing paved areas needs to be a priority.

Peter Rousselot previously served as Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission (FAAC) to the Arlington County Board and as Co-Chair of the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI) to the Arlington School Board. He is also a former Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) and a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). He currently serves as a board member of the Together Virginia PAC-a political action committee dedicated to identifying, helping and advising Democratic candidates in rural Virginia.

Recent Stories

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…

Boutique Luxury at its Finest

In the wake of a recent veto of a Virginia recreational marijuana bill, proponents are still holding out hope for future change — but not for at least a couple…

Little Ambassadors’ Academy is thrilled to announce that we will be entering our fifth school year offering a Kindergarten program at our Overlee Campus! Dedicated to early childhood development, Little Ambassadors’ Academy provides…

Still planning for summer camps? Check out the great variety of art projects and fun teachers at Art House 7 in Arlington. We have morning, midday, and afternoon weekly camps for ages 5-13. Among our themes: Clay Creations; Animals Around the World; Arts & Crafts; Draw, Paint & Sculpt Faces & Animals; Drawing & Printmaking. We’ve recently added PaperPalooza (paper making and bookmaking) and Jewelry camps. You can see all our listings on our website.

Art House 7 has been a haven for artists of all ages since 2015, offering classes, camps, and workshops. We’re located on Langston Blvd. near the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. We have an ample 2-story studio, and plenty of free parking.

Weekly camps at Art House 7
– June 17-Aug. 9
– Camp times: 9-11am, 11am-2pm, 2:30-4:30pm
– Ages 5-13

5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington VA 22207

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Sarah Moore, LPC, is a therapy practice specializing in women’s mental health across various life stages.

We work with women, couples and teens in Virginia and Washington, DC. online and at our office at 1530 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington.

Our specialties include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the Gottman Method for couples and the Path to Wellness for pregnancy and postpartum.

Many of our clients are experiencing major transitions in their lives, either personally or professionally — or at school. A good portion are athletes. And many are caretakers.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Fascination

Goth-Dark Wave Dance Party with Belly Dancing and Drag King Show.

                                         Part of Our

Alternative Thursdays for Alternave People with Alternative Lifestyles

                                      Performances By

Belladonna and the Nightshades

Ya Meena

Drag King - Ken Vegas

DJ Michelle Guided

National Chamber Ensemble – Concerto Celebration

We invite you to join us for an extraordinary evening of music at our Season Finale, “Concerto Celebration”! Enjoy several masterworks as NCE performs two famous concertos in an intimate chamber music setting, opening with a delightful work by Chevalier

×

Subscribe to our mailing list