52°Rain

by ARLnow.com March 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm 0

Arlington County will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at Virginia Highlands Park on Sunday, marking the completion of a nearly $2 million renovation project.

The renovations include new basketball courts, tennis courts, tennis practice courts, drinking fountains, water bottle fillers and site furnishings. There’s also new “dark sky” lighting and parking and accessibility improvements.

“Join the community in celebrating this newly renovated space!” said the invitation to the ceremony, which is scheduled to run from 1-2:30 p.m.

“The ribbon cutting ceremony will include fun activities for kids and adults including a tennis drill clinic for kids and adults hosted by FirstServe Tennis Academy and a basketball clinic for kids with shooting and dribbling instructions that will culminate into fun group games hosted by Tiptop Sports.”

The park is located at 1600 S. Hayes Street, near Pentagon City.

by Ethan Rothstein July 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,554 0

Scenes from Virginia Highlands Park on Sun., March 7, 2010(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The Arlington County Board could approve nearly $2 million worth of renovations to Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City at its meeting this weekend.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending the Board approves a $1.83 million contract, with a $183,000 contingency, to replace the park’s six tennis courts, two tennis practice courts and two basketball courts. The money will also fund a new, junior half basketball court, new fencing, new “dark sky” lights for the courts and accessible parking improvements.

The improvements are part of the county’s ongoing effort to completely renovate the recreation facilities at Virginia Highlands (1600 S. Hayes Street), which are some of the busiest recreation areas in the county. Within the last 10 years, the synthetic turf field, playground, restrooms, athletic field lighting and spraygrounds have all been either renovated or constructed.

In addition to new tennis courts — which will replace existing courts that were recently resurfaced — the renovations call for new covered waiting areas outside the courts, along with a drinking fountain and an “information kiosk.”

Virginia Highlands Park renovation rendering (Image via Arlington County)

The junior basketball court will replace the tennis practice courts to the south of the six tennis courts. The court was requested during public input meetings last fall. The community lamented that there was no basketball space to be used specifically by young children.

The basketball courts will be relocated to the north of the current courts.

“Several community members expressed concerns about the proximity of the existing basketball courts relative to the playground area,” county staff said in a report, explaining the relocation.

The remaining park features — the diamond field turf, picnic shelter, gazebo, petanque courts, and front plaza area — are proposed for renovation in 2016.

File photo (top). Image (bottom) via Arlington County. 

by ARLnow.com December 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm 5,307 43 Comments

A man was reportedly robbed at gunpoint in Virginia Highlands Park last night.

The male victim told police that a man pointed a gun at him and demanded his wallet around 7:00 Wednesday night. After taking the wallet, the perpetrator fled the scene with an accomplice who was serving as a lookout, according to police.

The park, at 1600 S. Hayes Street, is one block from the Pentagon City mall and Metro station.

From today’s daily crime report:

ROBBERY, 12/19/12, 1600 block of S. Hayes Street. At 7:00 pm on December 19, a male victim was approached by a male subject in Highlands Park. The subject allegedly pulled out a black handgun and pointed it at the victim, demanding that the victim give him his wallet. The subject took the victim’s wallet and fled the scene with another subject that had been the lookout. The first suspect is described as a black male in his 20’s, about 6’0”, wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans, and white sneakers. The second suspect was described as a black male in his 30’s, long braided hair, and wearing a dark colored puffy jacket, jeans and tan Timberland boots.

by ARLnow.com December 9, 2010 at 8:15 am 4,974 55 Comments

Update on 3/23/12 — This project has been delayed, according to Arlington County.

Virginia Highlands Park is in line to get the county’s most elaborate sprayground park yet.

The spiral-shaped park takes elements of Arlington’s existing sprayground parks, as well as elements from other water parks around the country. It will be located in a corner of the park, near the volleyball and basketball courts.

As planned right now, the park will feature water cannons, buckets that fill and dump water on anyone below them, mini waterfalls, small pools of water for play, bubblers, interactive locks and dams, jumping water jets and a boulder wall dividing the active and passive play areas in the park. The boulder wall will also provide a place to sit during the off-season.

The sprayground will be partially bordered by a rain garden, which will benefit from the park’s runoff. Other excess water would be directed to a large underground tank, which could then be used for irrigation or for the park’s toilets.

Funding for the park is still in question. An official who gave a presentation to the Aurora Highlands Civic Association last night suggested that the construction could be paid for with Neighborhood Conservation funds while the county tries to secure other funding.

If all goes according to plan, the park will be open in time for Memorial Day 2012. (Sprayground parks are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Recently park hours were reduced, but it sounds like the county is confident that normal hours will be restored by 2012.)

(more…)

by ARLnow.com June 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm 3,099 0

Completing today’s Pentagon City news trifecta, the county is fixing “major cracks” on the basketball and tennis courts at Virginia Highlands Park.

The cracks, which developed over the winter, were causing safety concerns on three of the six tennis courts and on the basketball courts. The work is expected to wrap up by the end of the month, a Parks Department spokesperson says.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Where is it? Most people would consider Aurora Highlands to be Crystal City and Pentagon City because to the north, it contains the Pentagon City mall, borders S. Eads Street to the east, Virginia Highlands Park/S. Joyce Street to the west, and the southern tip of Arlington along S. Glebe Road to the south.

It’s a diverse neighborhood with everything from large apartment buildings to residential streets lined with cape cods and brand new Craftsman homes, mixed in with the mall, office space, dining and retail.

Unlike most neighborhoods with single family homes, Aurora Highlands has easy access to two Metro stations and you can’t live closer to Reagan National Airport! Students living in Aurora Highlands attend Oakridge Elementary, Gunston Middle and Wakefield High Schools.

About the interviewee: Lisa Curtin moved from the Chicago suburbs to her apartment at Crystal House in 2015 when she was relocated for her career in Student Tourism. Shortly after the move, she became the COO of an Accounting firm in Bethesda, but loves the neighborhood so much that she’d rather commute every day to Bethesda than move closer to work.

She picked Crystal House because she’d never lived in a city before, loved the larger, renovated apartments, and was located close to the Crystal City Underground. Lisa is strongly considering buying nearby once she’s done renting.

What do you love about Aurora Highlands?

Where do I start? The accessibility to the Metro and major roads for commuting and going out couldn’t be better; we’re a few quick stops to downtown D.C. Within a few blocks there are parks, family-owned bars and restaurants, shopping and trails.

Where do you shop, eat, and hang out?

I love Tortoise & Hare (have to try the loaded tater tots), Crystal City Sports Pub and Freddie’s Beach Bar. I do most of my grocery shopping at the Harris Teeter or Aldi and work out at the new Orange Theory.

I also walk on the Four Mile Run and Mount Vernon Trails, and hang out at Long Branch Park when the weather is nice. I suggest everybody check out Fridays at the Foundation (pictured), if they haven’t already.

Do you have any experience with the school system?

I don’t personally, but my neighbors considered sending their kids to private school and decided to stick with the local public schools and are very happy with their experience at Oakridge Elementary School. They intend for their kids to use the public school system serving our neighborhood through high school!

What sort of identity does Aurora Highlands have?

I don’t think most people understand that Aurora Highlands is its own neighborhood, adjacent to Crystal City and Pentagon City, so we’re doing a lot to identify ourselves with new signage and a strong Civic Association. It’s such a unique pocket of Arlington because it has traditional single family neighborhoods alongside condos, apartments, office space and retail.

It gives the neighborhood a vibrancy that’s hard to match and there’s a great mood walking around because people take care of themselves and the community. You get all of these city-like benefits but at a much more affordable price than other parts of Arlington and D.C.

Thank you so much for your interview Lisa! I’m sure this will help people considering a move into or within Arlington who are looking for the type of community you described.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by Chris Teale June 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) Neighbors of Virginia Highlands Park are accusing Arlington County of ignoring a proposal they put together for the park’s future.

Last year the Aurora Highlands Civic Association submitted a plan for the permit-only softball fields on the west side of the park at 1600 S. Hayes Street to be converted into open space, without any set programming.

“The fields are significantly underused relative to other facilities and especially to open space,” the proposal says, noting that use of the fields is seasonal. “Each field is used for approximately 600 hours per year out of a potential of 4,380 hours (12 hours a day), a total of less than 14% of the time.”

The county is at the beginning of what it says is a “community-wide conversation” about the park’s future and developing a comprehensive plan.

But some residents are critical of staff at the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, saying that staff has not adequately considered their proposal nor communicated with them, despite an “extraordinary effort” on the part of community leaders “to ensure that there was little to no miscommunication in this process.”

“Attempting to develop a long-term plan for the park that fails to openly and honestly consider the needs of all park goers over existing facilities and their usage, as well intentioned as it may be, will just reshuffle that poor planning with some prettying around the edges,” the group Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks said in its latest newsletter.

ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot wrote in a recent opinion piece that a member of DPR staff said the softball fields “are needed” and would not be removed.

A county spokeswoman, however, said that while there is no set timeline for planning for the park’s revamp, the civic association’s proposal is still on the table.

“The Aurora Highland Civic Association did provide a plan for the neighborhood’s vision for the park,” the spokeswoman said. “When the county begins the framework plan for the park, the civic association’s plan as well as other community-wide inputs will be considered. County staff is now working with the County Board to determine next steps.”

The softball fields at Virginia Highlands Park are used by a variety of leagues across age groups, from youth to adult.

The D.C. Fray adult league — formerly known as United Social Sports — begins a new eight-week season on July 7 at the fields. Founder and CEO Robert Kinsler said the league “strongly supports maintaining and expanding the fields available for organized sports in Arlington and specifically at Virginia Highlands.”

“We permit and use the parks as much as availability and DPR allows and often have to turn away players due to lack of field space in the area,” Kinsler said. “Any loss of the softball fields would be a huge lost for the activity community that lives in the area.”

by Peter Rousselot May 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Peter Rousselot

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.

As Arlington grows and urbanizes rapidly, conflicts are increasing among different users of our parks.

Arlington should give higher priority to open, un-programmed and natural parkland

The county government continues to demonstrate that it is not giving fair, transparent and due weight to the wishes of those who desire access to multi-use, un-programmed, open or natural spaces.

Instead, the percentage of open green space in existing parks is declining, while:

  • dedicated, programmed space is increasing despite usage data not being publicly available for a transparent analysis
  • uses of existing programmed space are intensifying through paving, turf, lighting, fencing, expansion, pay-per-use only and access restrictions
  • not enough parkland is being acquired to accommodate residents’ needs

Some examples of prioritizing organized recreational use over other needs include:

  • refusal even to consider community proposals to convert existing softball fields to un-programmed space at Virginia Highlands Park
  • initial proposal to fence off entirely the diamond at Bluemont Park
  • more dedicated playground space at Nelly Custis Park
  • proposals to install new lights at Discovery Elementary School/Williamsburg Middle School
  • a request to buy more land for open green space in Alcova Heights denied because the proposed acquisition in part was too small “which limits recreational opportunities”

These decisions are at odds with the results of the county’s 2015 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey. That survey established that natural areas and wildlife habitats — as well as hiking trails — were two of the three most important outdoor facilities that Arlington residents want.

Best practices elsewhere do give higher priority to open green space

The best city park planning is based on the principle of the most uses for most of the community. Travel and Leisure magazine listed the World’s Most Beautiful City Parks where “for city dwellers and tourists alike, an urban park becomes a shared backyard.”

In New York City, many playgrounds and basketball courts are designed into urban space, e.g. on rooftops or located between buildings, and not into natural parkland.

New York is enormously more populated and denser than Arlington, but the principles of giving sufficient priority to natural, un-programmed spaces can and should be similar. Current efforts in Arlington appear to be designed to provide enough paved sports courts, playgrounds, and playing fields to accommodate every league, paying user and sports type – all occupying a larger percentage of our limited public parks.

In contrast, cities around the world place a high priority on their parks’ function as natural spaces interspersed and accessible throughout city landscapes: e.g., Atlanta’s BeltLine project and an excellent report from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority on sustainability and parks planning.

Conclusion

The POPS Update Advisory Group is currently working on an update to the Public Spaces Master Plan. The Parks and Recreation Commission should propose, and the POPS Group should be directed now, to develop principles giving due weight to open green space based on best practices elsewhere.

Pending adoption of such principles, the County Board should direct the Manager to report how to prevent open green space from being short-changed.

Continued shoehorning of single-use sports fields into our limited park space guarantees increasing conflict. Applying reasonable principles of equitable expectations of use, while simultaneously expanding our parkland to keep pace with population growth, are the correct solutions for a rapidly growing county.

by Peter Rousselot April 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter Rousselot

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.

A grudging admission by a representative of the county’s department of parks and recreation at a civic association meeting last week underscores that DPR still has a very long way to go to improve its civic engagement practices.

Background

In February 2016, the Aurora Highlands Civic Association developed a proposal to restore the west end of Virginia Highlands Park. The proposal was designed “to replace the exclusive softball fields on the west side with a different sort of community park.”

The 16-page AHCA proposal identified a problem and proposed a solution:

Problem: VHP is a popular and heavily used recreational facility that today is dominated by athletic space. The Pentagon City area, including Aurora Highlands, has insufficient park space to accommodate the broad constituency represented in our diverse and rapidly growing population.

Solution: To restore a balance to VHP by transforming the west side into a vibrant public park with creatively designed open green space that complements the existing recreational facilities on the east side.

The full proposal contains a detailed explanation why the softball fields should be eliminated.

Later that month, AHCA voted 35-0 to send a letter to the County Board requesting in part that the Board:

Direct DPR to begin a community-wide planning process to update the west side of VHP with the objective of achieving multi-use open green space that serves a broad cross section of Arlington County residents and a goal of updating the west side of VHP to include multi-use open green space within the next five years.

AHCA and Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks, which submitted a comparable redesign proposal, requested follow-up information earlier this year about the “scope, constraints, limitations, and any charges.” No DPR replies included any charge or limitation mentioning the softball fields.

Fourteen months after AHCA’s Proposal submission — on April 12, 2017 — DPR made a presentation to AHCA about elaborate (and apparently costly) plans DPR had to engage with the community about a VHP redesign. DPR representative Scott McPartlin repeatedly acknowledged that various community groups requested “civic lawns, green space, gardens, more trees…” He then asserted that was all very possible through the “transparent,” informative grand envisioning process he had just described.

After the presentation, Natasha Atkins, AHCA President, asked if the softball fields were then removable.

McPartlin’s response: “No. That is not our intention…The facilities are needed.”

Discussion

Regardless of the merits of DPR’s just-revealed conclusion that the softball fields could not be eliminated, DPR’s fourteen-month delay in responding to AHCA’s proposal to eliminate those fields, particularly with the off-hand acknowledgement finally extracted, is an inexcusable failure of civic engagement.

The centerpiece of AHCA’s 2016 proposal was the softball fields’ elimination and their transformation largely into open green space. AHCA reasonably expected a timely, open, and transparent public process in which:

  • AHCA could make its case,
  • Softball field proponents and any other interests could make their cases,
  • Sufficient data would be made available for informed discussion, and then
  • DPR would reach a transparent conclusion for or against retaining the softball fields with a reasoned explanation.

Conclusion

If DPR thought that the softball fields could not be eliminated, it should have responded to that effect within 30 to 60 days of receiving AHCA’s 2016 proposal. Otherwise, DPR should have launched a transparent public process specifically including the possible elimination of those fields.

by Peter Rousselot January 12, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Peter Rousselot

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. 

As I explained last year, Arlington has set aside too little parkland to adequately meet current demand, no less a projected 29% population increase of 63,000 people by 2040.

Discussion

The gap between demand and available parkland has resulted in conflicts among users and between users and adjacent communities negatively impacted by intensified use. Examples include controversial conversion of “multi-use” green areas at Virginia Highlands Park to sports uses, limitations on multi-use of a baseball field at Bluemont Park and plans to install new lighting on fields at Discovery ES/Williamsburg MS.

The current approach to resolving these conflicts seems ad hoc, with at least the appearance that those users who are best organized and advocate the longest will prevail.  As I noted last month, County staff may not always be serving as neutral facilitators in proposing changes in use and then resolving ensuing conflicts.

The POPS Update Advisory Group is currently working on an update to the Public Spaces Master Plan, and has recognized the importance of responding to the wide range of park and recreation needs in the community.

Current parkland uses

Although there are many uses of our parkland, one possibly useful perspective is that there are four overall “use” categories:

  • (1) natural areas and wildlife habitats,
  • (2) designated sports fields and court areas,
  • (3) “multi-use” green areas, and
  • (4) other use-specific facilities, e.g., dog parks, playgrounds and pavilions.

Staff has undertaken mapping current natural areas, sports fields and other uses in our parks. Completion of this project could provide a baseline against which to assess proposed new uses or changes in current uses.

Guidance as to desired uses

The County has published the results of its statistically valid 2015 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey which indicated that natural areas and wildlife habitats–as well as hiking trails–were two of the three most important outdoor facilities to respondents.

Possible framework principles

Therefore, one core principle for approaching conflicts in use is that we must preserve and enhance our remaining natural areas. Once lost they are unlikely to be replaced. Other core principles are ensuring continued adequate availability of multi-use green areas as well as distributed and equitable access to all park amenities. Finally, with limited park resources, not every possible use can have its own allocated, exclusive space, nor should it.

Longer term approaches

The primary driver of these conflicts remains the demand/park resources gap. The best way for the County to minimize these conflicts is to undertake an aggressive parkland acquisition program, including the Board adopting the goal set forth in last year’s Civic Federation resolution for the County to acquire on average 3 acres of new parkland per year. The Board must then authorize sufficient ongoing funding to support this goal through both planned and opportunistic acquisitions.

Even aggressive land acquisition will not by itself adequately close the demand/resources gap, and the County needs to also “create” new space, especially for sports activities, e.g., basketball and tennis courts and soccer fields in high rises and on top of buildings.

Conclusion

With 63,000 more residents by 2040, people will need parks more than ever. Committing to and funding the aggressive land and space acquisition goals discussed above, and implementing a conflict resolution framework, can convert too limited parkland into diverse and accessible parkland.

by ARLnow.com May 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Virginia Highlands ParkArlington has the fourth-ranked park system in the United States, according to new rankings from the Trust for Public Land.

Arlington ranked just below No. 3 Washington, D.C. and the top two cities for parks: Minneapolis (No. 1) and Saint Paul (No. 2). The county received high marks for having parks within easy waking distance of the vast majority of residents.

“Arlington scored even better for park access, with 98% of residents living with a 10-minute walk of a park,” noted a press release. “However, its overall score was hurt because Arlington reserves only 11.2% of city area for parks. That is still above the national ParkScore average of 8.9%, but considerably behind the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C.”

An excerpt from the press release from the Trust for Public Land, including the top 10 ranked jurisdictions, is below.

Washington, DC, earned 5 “park benches” on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index, ranking 3rd among the 100 largest U.S. cities. Washington also placed 3rd in 2015. Neighboring Arlington ranked 4th, earning 4.5 park benches and finishing as the highest-ranking debut city in 2016, as the ParkScore index expanded to 100 cities, up from 75 last year.

“Every American deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and ParkScore helps us measure which cities are meeting that mark,” said Will Rogers, President of the Trust for Public Land.

ParkScores are based on three factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile); Park Size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Facilities and Investment, which combines park spending per resident with the availability of four popular park amenities: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, and recreation & senior centers.

According to ParkScore, 97% of District residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Washington’s score was also helped by high marks for spending per resident ($287) and percentage of city area reserved for parks (21.9%). Arlington scored even better for park access, with 98% of residents living with a 10-minute walk of a park. However, its overall score was hurt because Arlington reserves only 11.2% of city area for parks. That is still above the national ParkScore average of 8.9%, but considerably behind the Twin Cities and Washington, DC.

Atop the ParkScore rankings Minneapolis narrowly edged out Saint Paul for first after the cross-town rivals shared the top spot in 2015. Fresno, California, also marked an important achievement for 2016, climbing out of last position for the first time in ParkScore history. The Central California city was buoyed by the opening of several new playgrounds and a dog park.

Nationally, The Trust for Public Land reported a trend toward increased investment in local park systems. Returning ParkScore cities increased spending on parks by an average of $1 per person in 2016, according to the organization.

“Cities are investing in park systems and that’s showing up on the ParkScore index. It is great news for public health, the environment, and local economies,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. “Parks provide places for children and adults to get exercise, and they serve as community meeting places where friendships are built and a sense of community is strengthened,” he added.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking park systems in the United States are:

  1. Minneapolis – 5.0 park benches
  2. Saint Paul – 5.0 park benches
  3. Washington, DC – 5.0 park benches
  4. Arlington, VA – 4.5 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)
  5. San Francisco – 4.5 park benches
  6. Portland, OR – 4.5 park benches
  7. New York – 4.5 park benches
  8. Irvine – 4.5 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)
  9. Boston – 4.5 park benches
  10. Cincinnati (tie) – 4.0 park benches
    Madison, WI (tie) – 4.0 park benches (DEBUT YEAR)

File photo

by Heather Mongilio August 18, 2015 at 11:45 am 1,465 0

Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks(Updated on Sept. 2 at 11:55 a.m.) A new organization of Aurora Highlands neighbors are working to protect the green space in their parks from becoming playgrounds and basketball courts.

The Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks is a group of neighbors who say they’re trying to make parks in the neighborhood enjoyable for all ages. This means that the parks need to have a balance of open fields, athletic courts and playgrounds, said Kari Klaus, the president of the group.

“The perfect park is a balance,” Klaus said.

The two parks in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood are having trouble keeping the balance, Klaus said. Nelly Custis Park (701 S. Grant Street) is may be getting another playground and Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) is under construction to build more courts.

The group was formed after the Aurora Highlands Civic Association (AHCA) began discussing the additional playground for the Nelly Custis Park and and differences arose between some residents and the association’s majority. The new playground would make three in a little over a block, Klaus said.

Nelly Custis ParkThe park already has a playground and creating another one at the expense of open space went against the wishes of many neighbors, Klaus said. Despite the opposition, the civic association went forward with the plans to ask for the playground as a Neighborhood Conservation project.

“The civic association has not budged on the playground from our parks perspective,” Klaus said.

The Aurora Highlands neighborhood is age diverse, meaning there are families with young children, families with grown children, millennials and senior citizens. Adding a new playground would take away from the open space used by many of the neighbors, Klaus said.

“We still have a very adult-related neighborhood,” she said.

The civic association also had trouble communicating with the neighborhood, according to Klaus. There were notices about the plans in the beginning, but the advertisements stopped and neighbors felt left out of the process, she said.

“There was some effort in the beginning but somehow the notices were dropped,” she said.

Joel Nelson, president of AHCA, said he has yet to hear of the Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks and noted that the Nelly Custis Park playground is still being discussed.

“I’m not familiar with the group, but I know that our community greatly values the park as an important local resource,” Nelson said.

“There were two public meetings (March and April) with county staff to collect feedback from the community for improvements to the Nelly Custis Park via the Arlington County Neighborhood Conservation program,” Nelson said via email. “At our June AHCA meeting, we heard a few complaints (about county process and about as-yet-TBD details in the design phase of the project), so the project was put on hold pending additional community input (scheduled for two additional meetings with county staff in September).”

Virginia Highlands Parks facilities over green spaceThe Friends are also working to protect the open spaces in the Virginia Highlands Park. The Department of Parks and Recreation is adding more courts, which takes away from the green space.

“Even though some neighbors use the recreational facilities it appears that they are primarily used by organized leagues and residents in other parts of Arlington County and even D.C.,” she said.

The group has reached out to the department and are working with the Arlington Parks Coalition to make sure parks stay age-diverse, Klaus said.

The group aims to have more trees added to the park and would like AHCA to help to build a dog park, which is part of the civic association’s master plan for parks, she said.

“Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks will work with the county on acknowledging these valuable park resources and benefits in the hopes of preserving the current limited green and tree covered parkland while working to reverse some of these programmed spaces to fulfill actual neighborhood needs and deficits,” according to the group’s website.

Klaus said the group has heard that Virginia Highlands Park is being considered as a site for a new elementary school, which is concerning because use of the park is only likely to increase with new development planned or under construction on the nearby Riverhouse and Metropolitan Park sites in Pentagon City.

“This area needs more green space to compensate for the density increases and the age-diverse population and we need to make sure that no more facilities or buildings go over our very limited park and green space that we have,” said Klaus.

by ARLnow.com June 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1,490 0

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new sprayground at Virginia Highlands park yesterday evening.

Surrounded by a group of children patiently awaiting the water to be switched back on, Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada thanked those involved in the park’s creation, and touted the water-saving features of the water park. The sprayground saves 82,000 gallons of water per month by employing a water recirculation system, he said.

After his speech, Tejada joined County Board member Chris Zimmerman and neighborhood representatives in cutting a ribbon hastily tied to the sprayground equipment. The ribbon survived earlier attempts by the children to use it as a makeshift backrest — an effort that was repeatedly foiled by a diligent county staffer.

The sprayground, adjacent to a picnic area in the southeast corner of the park, features water jets, showers, dumping buckets and rotating water cannons. It’s scheduled to be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. through Labor Day.

by ARLnow.com May 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm 1,141 0

Lyon Village sprayground park (via Arlington County)Arlington’s three existing sprayground parks will open for the season this weekend.

The three parks — Drew Playground (3514 22nd Street S.), Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street) and Lyon Village Park (1800 N. Highland Street) — will open on Saturday will remain in service until Labor Day weekend. Hours of operation can be found online.

All three parks will be open from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, according to Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. (On holidays, like Memorial Day and July 4, normal hours are preempted and the parks are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)

The new sprayground at Virginia Highlands park is expected to open “in a couple of weeks,” Kalish said.

by ARLnow.com September 13, 2012 at 11:00 am 4,564 14 Comments

The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to vote on contracts for two park projects in south Arlington.

The Board will consider a $573,000 contract to build a new “sprayground” at Virginia Highlands Park, at 1600 S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City. The park was originally scheduled to open this past Memorial Day, but the project has been beset by delays. According to the staff report, the project was finally put out for bid in May, only to have the bids from contractors all came in higher than expected.

The sprayground was redesigned in order to put it within budget. A new water re-circulation system, which should save 113,000 gallons of water per week, was put into place. The sprayground was also reduced in scale, and certain features like a steel fence and a designed rock structure were eliminated.

The Board will vote on whether to award a $521,000 contract contract with a $52,000 contingency to Southern Playground Corporation.

The other contract under consideration is for the tiny 0.6 acre Nauck Park, located at 2551 19th Street S.

Planning for playground upgrades to the park began all the way back in 2004. Construction was finally set to get underway in 2008 — following a plan to enhance amenities at the park while removing an existing restroom — when the Nauck Civic Association request that all work on the project stop, so that the park could be redesigned in a way that would keep the restroom. In order to keep the project within budget, the county scaled down other planned amenities within the park.

On Saturday, the Board is scheduled to consider a $316,000 contract — $287,000 plus a $29,000 contingency — with Avon Corporation. The contract covers renovations to the playground and the bathroom, as well as accessible entrances, an accessible picnic area, benches and bicycle racks.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list