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County Buying House for Expansion of Fort Scott Park

(Updated 10:35 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is acquiring a pair of properties in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood to expand Fort Scott Park.

The Board approved the purchase of the properties — including a home at 705 31st Street S. and an adjacent vacant lot — for just over $1.4 million at its Saturday meeting. The county plans to tear down the house, which is being sold by a trustee after its owner recently passed away.

“Recently, County Real Estate Bureau staff was contacted by the owner of the properties, who inquired whether the County would be interested in purchasing the properties because they abut Fort Scott Park,” wrote county staff in a report to the Board.

The lots are a combined 14,305 square feet and are just south of the park, which officials are planning to expand while updating pedestrian and bicycle paths, per the staff report.

Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development determined that the house, which was built in 1948, has no historical or architectural merit.

The expansion is considered part of the county’s Public Spaces Master Plan, which was updated in April and includes a goal to add a minimum of 30 acres of land to the county’s public spaces over the next 10 years.

Fort Scott Park was once a Civil War-era fort named after Winfield Scott, the General-in-Chief of the Union Army General, according to a county press release.

The full press release is after the jump.

The Arlington County Board today approved the $1.404 million purchase of two south Arlington residential lots to expand Fort Scott Park, in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood. The two lots are next door to the park’s southern entrance.

“This is the first acquisition of parkland since the Board adopted the Public Spaces Master Plan update earlier this year,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “The PSMP provides a road map for the County’s strategic acquisition of parkland over the next decade to help meet the needs of our growing community for open space and recreational opportunities. These two properties were specifically identified for acquisition to expand this very popular park. We are fortunate that the owners have offered these properties to us, and that we have the resources to acquire them for future generations to enjoy.”

The Board voted unanimously to approve the acquisition.

The 2019 Public Spaces Master Plan calls for adding at least 30 acres of new public space over the next decade to help meet the needs of Arlington’s growing population. The two properties that the County plans to buy include a lot with a house at 705 31st Street South. and a vacant lot next door. The land is immediately adjacent to the park’s natural resource area and an informal footpath that connects the neighborhood to the park. The County plans to demolish the modest split-level house at 705 31st Street South.

The lots are bounded on the north by the park, on the east by South Grant Street, on the south by 31st Street South and on the west by a single-family home. Combined, they will add 0.32 acres of land to the 12-acre park at the corner of 31st Street South and South Grant Street.

Fort Scott Park, at 2800 Fort Scott Drive, has a large natural resource area with nature trails and paths. It has a picnic shelter; playground; diamond field; two lighted tennis courts; practice wall and a lighted basketball court. Its name derives from the civil war-era fort, named for then General-in-Chief of the Union Army General Winfield Scott, that was built on the site to guard Washington D.C.’s southern flank.

Photos and map (1, 2, 4) via Google Maps. Photo (3) via Arlington County.

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