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Arlington County Board considers allowing alcohol during events at two parks

An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Arlington County Board will be considering whether to allow alcohol sales during special events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square next month.

On Saturday, the Board approved public hearings on the change at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and along Columbia Pike.

“These sites were selected for this expansion because both are designed as event venues, which is referenced in their master plans, and both already host a variety of successful special events,” per a county report. “Additionally, it is anticipated that Penrose Square will be expanded in the near future, which will enhance its ability to host special events.”

The proposal has support from a majority of people who responded to a county survey this fall, although many respondents articulated public safety concerns.

“Many supported this change, and some felt the County should explore further expansion of the sale and consumption of alcohol and other concessions in County parks than what is currently proposed,” the report said. “Commenters opposed to the change cited concerns regarding the increased noise, potential damage to park property, unruly behavior, and a negative impact to the public’s safety and ability to enjoy parks.”

The county says much of the negative feedback had to do with issues that the process for hosting a special event is designed to mitigate.

If approved, alcohol will be limited to sales at special events only during designated dates and times. Special events already require a permit, and organizers would need a separate ABC permit that provides “a controlled and delineated area for the sale and consumption of alcohol.”

Some wanted to see alcohol sales in more parks, such as Virginia Highlands Park and Lubber Run Park, provided that the rules were properly enforced. Others wanted more non-alcoholic options at events where alcohol is allowed.

Alcohol sales during approved special events are allowed at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn.

The Board is expected to vote on adopting the changes during its meeting on Saturday, Jan. 21.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

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The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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