Arlington County is asking for public input on a possible partnership with Alexandria to build the proposed Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility in Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City.
The county will reach out to residents this fall to see what they would like to see in an aquatic and fitness facility. Alexandria will also be surveying its residents.
If interests in both counties line up, the two will start to discuss costs and responsibility for the development of the pools and fitness area. The border between Alexandria and Arlington is roughly three miles from Long Bridge Park.
The possible partnership is the county’s latest plan to find the funds it needs to complete the second phase of the Long Bridge Park Project Plan.
“If the synergy is there, and both communities are interested, we will explore this further,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Partnerships are just one of the many creative ways we are approaching the development of our facilities and programs.”
Phase Two includes building the aquatic and fitness facility, connecting an esplanade in Long Bridge Park to the building and the creation of public areas, trails, public art, walkways and signs for the park, according to the 2013 Long Bridge Park Master Plan.
The county has been planning a redesign of Long Bridge Park for more than 10 years, with the first phase completed in 2011. Higher-than-expected construction bids and operating costs prevented the county from choosing a contractor to complete phase two, pausing the project in 2014.
Once completed, the aquatic and fitness facility is planned to have a 50-meter pool for recreational, fitness and competitive swimming. There will also be a smaller pool for exercise and recreational program, a small hot-water therapy pool and a free-form water play area that will include a lazy river and slides, according to a 2013 design plan for the facility.
In addition to the aquatic elements, the facility will have a large fitness area and a community room, according to the plan. A “Multiple Activity Center,” which will have a climbing wall, a large indoor fitness space and an elevated track, is also planned.
The plans may change based on feedback from residents, Hynes said. The County Manager is scheduled to present recommendations to the County Board in January 2016.
“A lot has changed since that building was designed,” Hynes said. “The economy has changed. Many things in the region are different.”
While the county is waiting on the aquatic and fitness facility, it will continue to make improvements to the park. In June, the County Board unanimously approved the construction of playgrounds on the south end of the park. The $1.082 million contract includes play areas with cooling “fog” systems, tunnels, play structures, bridges, benches and fencing.
Photos via Arlington County
Gun Store Owner Blames Bloomberg — James Gates, the Marine Corps veteran who tried to open a gun store in Cherrydale, said that the cancellation of its lease after a neighborhood outcry was the fault of the former mayor of New York City. “When news of our planned location in Arlington became public, there were some local critics; however they enjoyed outsized influence when anti-civil rights campaigns backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg picked up their cause,” Gates said in a statement. [Washington Times]
Bee Swarm at Arlington Home — Hundreds, maybe thousands of honey bees have taken up residence in the chimney of an Arlington home. The homeowner called ABC 7 On Your Side after beekeepers wouldn’t help her out, because the chimney was too high, and after learning that it’s against the law to kill the bees with pesticides. “It seems as a homeowner the bees have more of a right to live in my home than I do,” said Alex Casiano. “While I understand honey bees are important to our environment, honey bees don’t pay my rent.” [WJLA]
Salary Boost for Acting County Manager — Three weeks into the job, Acting County County Manager Mark Schwartz is getting a modest raise. The County Board agreed to boost his $204,000 salary as a Deputy County Manager by 10 percent during his time as Acting County Manager. His predecessor, Barbara Donnellan, earned $269,742 per year. [Arlington County]
Alexandria Wants Citywide Residential Fiber — Alexandria is seeking a partner to build a citywide fiber optic network to serve homes and businesses. Alexandria’s request for fiber after Verizon abandoned plans to build out FiOS service in the city. Arlington County has built its own municipal fiber network, but it so far is only available to county government, schools and businesses. [Ars Technica]
Falls Church Paper Throws Shade at Arlington — McLean residents are stymying the City of Falls Church’s plan to renovate a city elementary that’s located in Fairfax County. That, however, is being used by a newspaper to make some serious insinuations about Arlington. “The main way the City of Falls Church pisses off its much bigger neighbors is by being successful,” writes the Falls Church News-Press in an editorial. “It really frustrates those who imagine that there could be a lot of money to be made by someone, not in Falls Church, if the City threw its hands in the air and abandoned its independence, becoming a drop-in-the-bucket neighborhood of either Fairfax or Arlington instead. People with big money who’ve spent a lot of it on cultivating political appointees or elected officials to do their bidding in the neighboring jurisdictions are angered by the fact they don’t own Falls Church officials in the same way.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
Fire Victim Identified — The victim of Thursday’s fatal house fire on S. Randolph Street has been identified. Family and friends said 73-year-old Dennis Lee was a retired contractor, a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan and a member of the local American Legion post. He died from smoke inhalation. In the wake of his death, firefighters plan to canvass Lee’s neighborhood to test and distribute smoke detectors. [NBC Washington – Warning: Auto-play video]
Preserving H-B’s Walls — The walls of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program are covered with more than 2,000 inscriptions from past graduating classes. School officials are considering ways to digitally preserve the painted walls when the program moves to Rosslyn in five years. [Falls Church News-Press]
Historic Designation for Wilson School? — Despite opposition from school officials, the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend a local historic district designation for the Wilson School in Rosslyn. The Wilson School is the second-oldest school in Arlington and preservationists are trying to save it from being razed to make way for a larger building that will house the H-B Woodlawn program. [InsideNova]
Alexandria Has School Issues, Too — Like Arlington, neighboring Alexandria is also facing a school budget deficit and rising enrollment. Another issue facing Alexandria: competing with Arlington for teachers. Arlington’s average teacher salary is $76,892, compared to $73,612 in Alexandria. [Alexandria Times]
Arlington Named Top ‘Intelligent Community’ — For the third time, Arlington has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world. “It is gratifying to have the Intelligent Community Forum recognize Arlington’s commitment to economic sustainability,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, in a statement. [Arlington Economic Development]
Destroyed N.J. Apartment Has Arlington Connection — The New Jersey apartment complex that burned to the ground, leaving hundreds homeless, is owned by Arlington-based AvalonBay Communities. The $80 million apartment complex was made from wood construction, which caused it to burn too quickly for firefighters to get it under control. [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Get a jumpstart on your New Year’s resolutions at Sand & Steel™ Fitness, a state-of-the-art training facility that opened last week at 109 S. Alfred Street in Alexandria.
A fresh take on the conventional gym model, Sand and Steel™ offers redefined personalized training, nutrition guidance, and unique group classes unparalleled in the industry.
A functional strength training gym, its memberships offer the best of plyometrics, bodybuilding, high intensity training, and gymnastic movements to name a few of its advanced functions. Its team focuses first and foremost on being teachers before trainers, educating clients to get stronger and live healthier sustainable lives.
The 2,400 square foot facility located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, Va.(entrance located on Alfred Street), is scheduled to officially opened Saturday, January 3, 2015 with an open house Friday, January 2. Guests received complimentary: consultations, fitness assessments and mini-nutrition evaluations; along with treats, networking and raffle prizes.
Sand & Steel™ hosts a team of trainers that are led by founders Dawn Anderson and Paul Roberts, both of whom are CrossFit Level 1 Instructors, TRX STC Qualified, and Hard Style Kettlebell Certified (HKC). Safety is prioritized in all training movements, with trainers teaching only correct form to minimize any risk of injuries. Sand & Steel™ was founded on the belief that training (like health) should be all encompassing, so naturally custom nutrition programming is offered. Its Jump Start Package includes a customized food journal, instruction and macronutrient training and glycemic index review.
“We are pleased to have the gym open and initial feedback from the members has been fantastic! More importantly we look forward to providing the people of Alexandria first class tailored training at a reasonable value” said Paul Roberts, co-owner and head trainer at Sand & Steel™ Fitness. “Everyone has an athlete hidden deep down, Sand & Steel™ will help you find it.”
Earlier this year, The Club Industry Show, the fitness industry’s premiere expo awarded Sand & Steel™ Fitness co-owner and master trainer Dawn Anderson with a yearlong mentorship from Joe Cirulli, owner of Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers in Gainesville, Fla. As part of the mentorship, Anderson will visit Cirulli’s club over the course of the next year for personalized instruction.
The facility is designed to meet the needs of people of all ages, interests and fitness goals featuring the following amenities, all of which are included in its monthly membership fee:
- Cardio Areas
- Advanced Strength Training Equipment
- Personal Training
- Nutrition Evaluation
- Open Gym Time
- Body Composition and Health Assessment
- Active Recovery & Stretch Clinics
- Group Fitness Classes – schedule
Sand & Steel™ Fitness’ mission is to provide a targeted motivating fitness experience for all of its members and guests; its goal: to promote the physical and emotional wellbeing of the community it serves. A vibrant, no judgment atmosphere, Sand & Steel™ offers community based events and member to member camaraderie.
Monthly memberships and drop in classes available. No sales pitches, the gym and its members do the talking. There is fit, and then there’s is Sand & Steel™ Fit. Get Steel Strong™.
For more information, or memberships please visit www.SandandSteelFitness.com.
The preceding was a promoted post sponsored by Sand & Steel™ Fitness
Connect113, Alexandria’s original co-working space, is celebrating a busy fall full of new tenants, awards, and successful networking events.
Many ask, what is coworking and who uses these spaces? Coworking spaces, like Connect113, are popular with freelancers, contractors, entrepreneurs and startups alike. Co-working, a trend now on the rise, has already proven majorly successful with the number of general co-working spaces jumping 83% since 2013. With freelancers and independent contractors expected to make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, the need for co-working spaces has grown. (CBS News)
The allure of working in a shared space is the ability to make connections and bounce ideas off of other entrepreneurs and small businesses. Being at Connect113, Beth Lawton of Canoe Media, is able to hold free monthly office hours to discuss the ins-and-outs of digital media and marketing. This also serves as an opportunity for Beth to grow her network and potentially help many other start-ups like her own. “Connect113 has been great about opening their doors and letting me run my free office hours…It is very helpful to be able to connect with public and local small business,” added Lawton.
“It speaks volumes about who the young professionals are these days…the embodiment of the younger business perspective is entrepreneurship and creating rather than just managing,” explains Arthur Tamayo. Tamayo and his team are current members of Connect113 who’s start-up business, Guest House Events LLC, was just nominated for Best New Business by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.
“Connect113 is great for young businesses since they are always changing. You have the foundation of an office space but also the versatility to adjust to the ever changing business world.”
Multiple members explain how they have been able to truly bounce ideas off other members and get great feedback, which is very important in an entrepreneurial business, ‘since [entrepreneurs] live off ideas and need to bounce them off key leaders.’ Connect113 radiates a sense of community, bringing in both business leaders and start-up gurus. The space gives members not only a home, but also a family.
Originally launched in 2010, Connect113 now offers: 24-hour access, conference rooms, guest hours, kitchen, shower (yes, even a shower), a dedicated address/mailbox as well as building directory listing(s) and discounted rates for every additional team member of your growing business. Members receive all the essential amenities (wifi, supplies and coffee, of course) you would expect to find in a corporate setting along with the creative energy and camaraderie of a startup.
Furthermore, Connect113 offers monthly events geared toward networking with notable leaders such as professors, business experts, authors and successful entrepreneurs aimed at inspiring and educating its tenants and community as a whole.
Some of the most successful companies began with one desk, one chair and one idea. Utilize Connect113 to jump start your business, along-side some of the D.C. area’s brightest entrepreneurs.
This sponsored post was submitted by the advertiser.
Alexandria Murder Suspect in Arlington Jail — Charles Severance, who’s charged in the murders of three Alexandria residents, has been transferred to the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The transfer is intended “to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” since Severance is charged in the murder of the wife of a former Alexandria sheriff. [Washington Post]
Roadside Sunflowers Chopped Down — A patch of sunflowers planted at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Powhatan Street has been cut down by VDOT after someone complained to say the flowers blocked her view while turning. The resident who has been planting the sunflowers for the past seven years mounted a sign in the flowers’ place saying “hope you are happy!” [Falls Church News-Press]
Bocce Produces Outcry in Reston, Too — Remember the neighborhood kerfuffle over a single proposed bocce court in Bluemont? Well, it turns out Arlington isn’t the only place where people get steamed about the sport. In Reston, residents are complaining about potential traffic, parking woes, drinking and the loss of green space after a bocce court was proposed. [Reston Now]
County Seeking ‘Human Rights Heroes’ — Arlington County is seeking nominees for the 16th annual James B. Hunter Human Rights Awards. The awards are intended to honor residents, community groups, non-profits or businesses that have made significant human rights achievements. [Arlington County]
Enjoy a brunch on Saturday, May 31, on the rooftop of 1111 Belle Pre Apartments, a former bottle factory that is now a luxury rental apartment in the heart of Old Town. The meal will be prepared by award-winning chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux of the wine bar and bistro Bastille. The chefs specialize in contemporary French fare using seasonal, locally sourced, and farm-fresh ingredients. Chef Christophe will also be on hand for an exclusive meet-and-greet during the brunch.
If the food doesn’t sound tempting enough, consider the setting. The Belle Pre rooftop lounge is a sprawling outdoor space with lounge chairs, a fire pit and a pool deck. You’ll eat French fare and sip cocktails poolside. Specialty cocktails include a Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail and a White Wine and Rosemary Infused Sangria. Music will be provided by DJ Damon, and there will be gifts for the first 100 brunchers.
Visitors are invited to take a tour of model apartments at 1111 Belle Pre before the complimentary brunch begins. The one- and two-bedroom units boast expansive windows, hardwood floors, and open gourmet kitchens with granite countertops, tile backsplashes and stainless steel appliances. Building amenities include the rooftop deck, a lounge with a theater, private dining room, and a fitness center with a yoga studio. Come and see what all the fuss is about: the building is already over 70% leased.
The rooftop brunch takes place on Saturday, May 31 from 12 to 3 pm — RSVP now!
After Arlington Public Schools received word of the shooting, on the 2400 block of Ridge Road in Alexandria, Gunston Middle School, Oakridge Elementary and Abingdon Elementary were placed in a secured state, which generally means exterior doors were locked. That’s different than a “lockdown,” in which all classroom doors are locked.
The shooting happened in a residential Alexandria neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. A 59-year-old woman was killed and another woman was injured. Police are still looking for the suspect, described as an older white male, according to the Washington Post.
Gunston, Oakridge and Abingdon were secured for about 20 minutes, according to APS spokeswoman Jennifer Harris. The schools are all near the border with Alexandria, but are 2+ miles away from the shooting itself. Arlington school officials sent the following message to parents during the incident.
APS is sending this message to notify you that Gunston Middle School, Oakridge Elementary School and Abingdon Elementary School buildings are currently secured, due to an ongoing Alexandria Police investigation in the immediate area. All students, staff, and visitors to the school are safe. APS will update you when we are able to resume normal operations. We are grateful for everyone’s cooperation.
Renovations for Crystal City Sheraton — The Crystal City Sheraton hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) will close in mid-April and undergo renovations.. The 218-room hotel will reopen as a Westin. Nearly 100 workers will be laid off during renovations. [Washington Business Journal]
New Signage for WJLA Building Approved — A divided Arlington County Board has approved new rooftop signage for the office building at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, also known as the WJLA building. The board split its vote 3-2 after residents expressed concern that the new signage would “be detrimental to their neighborhoods” and local monuments. The potential signage is for an unnamed prospective client. [Sun Gazette]
Board Approves New Transportation Funding — The County Board on Tuesday gave the okay to Arlington’s share of a new regional transportation funding stream. The county will receive $11.4 million in the first year, which will go to support projects like the Columbia Pike streetcar, a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station, local transit service and “complete streets” improvements. [Arlington County]
Galaxy Hut Named Top Karaoke Spot — DCist has dubbed Clarendon’s Galaxy Hut (2711 Wilson Blvd) “Arlington’s favorite dive” and one of the “best places for karaoke in the D.C. area.” [DCist]
Alexandria is Poised for Growth — Arlington’s neighbor to the south, Alexandria, is poised to begin booming with new development. The city expects a new Potomac Yard Metro station and the impending move of the National Science Foundation to the Eisenhower Valley area to further spur development. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Arlington Sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson was convicted in Alexandria court today of voluntary manslaughter in the May shooting death of 22-year-old Julian Dawkins.
Patterson was found not guilty of possession of a use of a firearm in commission of a murder. The jury spent more than a day deliberating over the verdict, which was handed down just after 1:00 p.m. Friday. The jury later recommended that Patterson be sentenced to 6 years in prison, according to a tweet from NBC4’s David Culver. A judge will decide on the sentencing in February.
Patterson, 45, was off-duty in May when he shot and killed Dawkins, an Alexandria resident and driver for PBS NewsHour in Shirlington. Patterson claimed the shooting was in self defense, while prosecutors argued he was shooting in rage after an argument.
From the Washington Post:
Patterson was forced to shoot, defense attorney Megan Thomas said in closing arguments, when charged by “an angry, drunk, belligerent man, armed with a deadly weapon.” The knife was found folded in Dawkins’ pocket; Thomas speculated that what Patterson saw was a cellphone.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in closing arguments that if Patterson meant to uphold the law, “the proper thing to do was to call the police . . .but he chose not to.”
Dawkins’ family and friends were in attendance to hear the verdict, and the scene in Alexandria Circuit Court became emotional after it was announced, according to WJLA’s Keff Goldberg.
Mother of Julian Dawkins, Gwen Pratt Miller, on stand at beginning of sentencing phase, sobbing, “he was my only son. He was all I had”.
— Jeff Goldberg (@jgoldbergABC7) December 13, 2013
Gwen Pratt Miller could not go on as her sobbing intensified. Several members of jury crying as well. Judge stopped process for recess.
— Jeff Goldberg (@jgoldbergABC7) December 13, 2013
Patterson has been on unpaid administrative leave since he was charged. Prosecutors were hoping for a first degree murder conviction, but jurors elected to convict Patterson of the lesser charge.
Arlington County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Maj. Susie Doyel released a statement Friday afternoon on the conviction.
“At this time, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will resume our internal investigation that was suspended upon the arrest of Deputy Patterson,” she wrote in an email. “Deputy Craig Patterson continues to be on leave without pay awaiting the outcome of the internal investigation.”
Photo via Alexandria Police Department
Favola: Streamline Development Approval — State Senator and former County Board member Barbara Favola (D) is urging Arlington County to streamline its development approval process in order to make it easier for affordable housing projects to be built. At a fundraiser for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing this week, Favola and others said red tape and community resistance is making it more expensive to build affordable housing in Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington will hold is biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event allows Arlington residents to safely dispose of household hazardous materials and to recycle items like bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing, bed frames, etc. [Arlington County]
NSF Buyers Remorse in Alexandria? — Alexandria officials are thrilled to be taking the National Science Foundation and its more than 4,000 associated jobs from Arlington. But some are now voicing displeasure with a part of the incentive package for NSF that relieved the developer of the agency’s new headquarters from paying what would have been more than $1 million to the city’s affordable housing fund. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
It could have competed against Arlington County’s planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, but instead a proposal to build a massive sports and entertainment complex in Alexandria has been withdrawn.
It was announced in June that a company had submitted an unsolicited proposal to transform Alexandria’s Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. The proposed complex included features like an Olympic-sized pool and water play area; basketball, volleyball, baseball and gymnastics centers; ice rinks; indoor tennis and squash courts; a climbing wall; and a driving range.
A pool, water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts are all also part of Arlington’s plan for the Long Bridge Park facility. (County Board Chair Walter Tejada said in June that he did not expect the Alexandria proposal to impact the county’s plans.)
The St. James Group LLC announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it was withdrawing its unsolicited proposal after discovering that Hensley Park was acquired by Alexandria, in part, via a small federal grant. The grant prohibits development of the park.
The company says it will now seek other D.C. area locations for the complex.
“SJG remains committed to developing the premier sports and entertainment complex in the region,” the company said in a press release. Read the full press release, after the jump.
The first degree murder case against Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson from a fatal shooting in Alexandria in May was sent to a grand jury on Tuesday afternoon.
Patterson, 44, is accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Julian Dawkins, an Alexandria resident. Patterson and his attorneys claim Dawkins attacked him with a knife, and he fired on Dawkins in self-defense. After hearing more than two hours of witness testimony, Alexandria General District Court Judge Becky J. Moore ruled there was probable cause to move forward and sent the case to a grand jury.
Alexandria Police Officer Judy Taylor, a crime scene investigator, testified that Dawkins, who drove a shuttle for PBS NewsHour in Shirlington, had a knife clipped to the outer portion of his jeans pocket, but it was folded up.
Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel played in the courtroom the 911 call Patterson made after the shooting. It was the first time many, including Dawkins’ parents, had heard the call.
“I was just involved in a shooting,” Patterson said on the call, made at 12:45 a.m. on May 23. “I just had a young man pull a knife on me and I shot him.”
Dawkins suffered one bullet wound to the upper chest, investigators said. Witnesses testifying gave conflicting reports of the incident. Reginald White, who lives a few doors down from the scene of the incident on Lynhaven Drive, said he saw Patterson leave an argument with Dawkins, then return with a pistol holstered to his hip. Three minutes later, White said, he heard a gunshot.
Willie Sydnor, who lives a few houses down the street from where the shooting occurred, said he saw Dawkins chase Patterson after the initial incident.
Dawkins said “this is my block,” Sydnor testified. “Then I saw Julian jump at [Patterson] and say ‘don’t come back around here.'”
Officer David Chamnaiphol was the first to the scene, and he said he immediately placed Patterson in handcuffs and took away his gun, badge, handcuffs, cell phone and wallet. The Officer of the Medical Examiner reported that Dawkins had a blood alcohol content of 0.15.
The courtroom was filled to the point where members of the community were standing along the back wall to fit inside. Many of Dawkins’ peers were wearing commemorative T-shirts that said “R.I.P. Juju.” Dawkins’ parents took questions outside of the Alexandria courthouse once the decision came down, giving their reaction to hearing the 911 call for the first time.
“After hearing that call, I truly feel that it was premeditated,” Gwen Prattmiller, Dawkins’ mother, said.
“He had no remorse,” said Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’ father. “Right now we’re thankful that a decision was made and it was the proper decision.”
Photo via Alexandria Police Department
A ceremonial swinging of sledgehammers kicked off the demolition of an old bridge over Four Mile Run this morning.
The bridge, located between Potomac Avenue and Route 1 near Potomac Yard, was used by trains until the late 1980s when the railroad was decommissioned. It has since sat out of use, overgrown with vegetation.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette and Alexandria Mayor William Euille were at the bridge Monday morning, sledgehammers in hand, to announce the start of demolition, which will get fully underway in two weeks. The demolition is expected to be completed by April.
The bridge is being taken down to create open space above Four Mile Run, which environmental officials from both jurisdictions say will allow the stream to grow vegetation and develop a healthier ecology. Moran recalled a large flood in the 1970s, after which the local governments decided to pour in concrete. The concrete mitigated flood impacts but wound up damaging the stream’s ecosystem, Moran said.
“The vegetation serves its purpose if you allow it to grow,” Moran said, “and this does.”
The Pulte Group, which owns the Potomac Yards development adjacent to Four Mile Run, will fund the $3.5 million demolition and the stabilization of the stream banks. After the demolition, Alexandria and Arlington will jointly fund a new, urban-style park on another unused bridge, adjacent to Potomac Avenue.
The plan to transform the area started in 2006 when both jurisdictions passed the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan, and has been helmed by the Arlington/Alexandria Four Mile Run Redesign Task Force.
“We finally are seeing these plans come to fruition,” Moran said. “We’ve been waiting 25 years for a ribbon cutting here, and now we’ve got a sledgehammer smashing.”
An unsolicited proposal from a private entity has been submitted to the City of Alexandria to transform Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. Although parts of the proposal appear strikingly similar to Arlington County’s plans for the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, so far the County Board is not concerned.
The Alexandria City Council discussed the proposal it received from The St. James Group LLC during its meeting on Tuesday. The plan involves a long term lease of the 15 acre city owned property currently occupied by Hensley Park.
The Alexandria proposal includes amenities such as an Olympic sized pool and water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts. Those features had already been included in Arlington’s long term plan for Long Bridge Park.
Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada said although there may be similarities, he doesn’t anticipate that a private facility in the southwest part of Alexandria would impact Arlington’s plans.
“I wouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions. I think our approach is much different,” he said. “We have a public facility we are creating, but this is private proposal. The context is so different.”
In fact, Tejada believes it could be considered a compliment that other jurisdictions may be interested in creating facilities similar to Arlington’s.
“The best flattery or compliment is duplication,” he said. “It’s flattering that someone would want to copy or do something we’re already doing.”
Tejada noted that because Arlington’s complex is publicly funded, residents from all walks of life will be welcome to use it. Because that may or may not be the case with the private proposal for Alexandria, Tejada said “we aren’t concerned” about the threat of competition.
“For our project we are looking to be inclusive, so people of all incomes and backgrounds will have access to our facilities,” said Tejada. “Whereas in a private facility it’s for profit and the purpose is whatever the personal group sets forth, so that’s a different matter.”
Kendrick Ashton, Jr., Co-founder and Managing Partner of The St. James Group, agreed that the intent was not to create competition between the two jurisdictions. He said Northern Virginia has a great need for sports facilities that isn’t being addressed.
“There’s certainly a tremendous need in this area for enhanced aquatics facilities,” said Ashton. “I think given the dearth of high quality aquatic facilities at this point, the region needs more of them. It’s not competitive at this point.”
The group looked for potential locations for the complex in Arlington, Fairfax and other localities, but no options appeared as feasible as the Henley Park land. Ashton reiterated that although the Alexandria complex would likely draw visitors from around Northern Virginia, it isn’t expected to create competition for Arlington’s $80 million Long Bridge Park facility.
The City of Alexandria’s website assures the public that it has not gone forward with any plans, it has simply heard the proposal from The St. James Group. The website reads: “All that has happened is that an outside party has made an unsolicited proposal to the City about a potential use of City-owned land. Neither City Council nor City staff have reached any conclusion about the merits of the proposal, nor have made any decisions other than the decision to evaluate it.”
The St. James Group will hold a public meeting to further explain the proposal on July 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Eisenhower Avenue. The City of Alexandria stresses that the meeting will not be led by or sponsored by the city, so residents should not consider it an official public hearing.
According to the timeline offered in the proposal, the hope is to have a recommendation from Alexandria by October regarding whether or not to move forward. If the City Council determines that a sports and entertainment complex is a feasible option, it will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to allow any interested party to make a bid. If the City Council decides such a facility is unnecessary, the process will end without any further action.
“We have to wait and see what becomes of it. They’re evaluating it, like anyone would,” Tejada said. “We’ll see what happens. For us, we’re focusing on our own project.”
Meanwhile, there has been no change announced to the schedule for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park project. In January, Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com that construction on the project is expected to begin this fall.
Despite some resident concerns over the cost of the facility, Tejada said the county will continue on with it and make all efforts to keep the project on budget.
“I think that we certainly will continue to practice our best fiscal management qualities that have earned us a AAA bond rating from all the bond rating agencies,” said Tejada. “It’s important to remember that we have a sound fiscal management record. I know sometimes that may get lost when one or two projects may be in the news.”