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Nauck Residents Blast County’s Handling of Four Mile Run Valley Planning, Feel ‘Ignored’ and Excluded

As Arlington officials continue to chart out the future of the Four Mile Run valley, some community leaders in Nauck feel their concerns are being ignored by the county and are demanding a louder voice in the proceedings.

The county’s worked since 2016 to craft new planning documents for the area, primarily located in Nauck but touching Shirlington and other South Arlington neighborhoods as well, in a bid to guide the gradual transformation of the valley’s parks and business district. The County Board passed a “policy framework” to provide a roadmap for that process in May, and is set to sign off on a “parks master plan” for the area at its meeting this weekend.

But even with a slew of community meetings on the subject and a working group dedicated to the valley, some Nauck leaders remain frustrated by how the county’s handled their input. While they have gripes with some policy specifics — the re-design of Jennie Dean Park, in particular — their broader concern is that residents are being left out of the process of determining their own neighborhood’s long-term outlook.

“It is confounding when the community that’s most impacted by the Four Mile Run valley is blocked from county communication,” Robin Stombler, a Nauck resident and vice chair of the Four Mile Run working group, told ARLnow. “There’s been a history of exclusion and marginalization of this community, and the county’s current actions don’t correct that history.”

As Stombler points out, the community’s roots as a historically black neighborhood add an extra level of tension to any discussion of how the county engages with people in Nauck. Even with the Board’s frequent commitments to remedying historic inequities in the community as part of the planning process, some residents can’t help but feel suspicious that Nauck’s past is still influencing its future.

“This community has been ignored repeatedly by the Arlington County Board while the requests and desires of several other, predominantly white, Arlington neighborhoods are being placed ahead of those of the people who live here,” Nauck resident Renee Greenwell wrote in an email. “It takes a lot for a historically marginalized community to speak its mind, [and] for Arlington County leaders and staff to patronize us and ignore our opinions is despicable.”

Arlington officials dispute that they’ve ignored any community involved in the planning, let alone Nauck. For his part, Board member John Vihstadt, the Board’s liaison to the Four Mile Run working group, says he’s done his best to “understand and appreciate the sometimes varied perspectives of all stakeholders in our planning process, especially those from Nauck.”

County parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish also touted the “enormous amount of community outreach” involved in the process, noting that the county has held a total of 65 meetings on the valley as well as creating “an online forum for those who could not attend” those gatherings.

Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark, however, says the county’s “engagement process was lousy from the beginning.” While she says the county has indeed held plenty of meetings, it’s the quality of those meetings that concern her.

For instance, Clark says she invited parks officials to a civic association meeting last Monday (Sept. 10) to have a broader conversation about the parks master plan. Despite repeated requests, Clark and Stombler both say the county ultimately only sent one representative to the meeting, who couldn’t discuss the plan in the detail they were looking for.

“Where were the other county folks behind the parks plan?” Clark said.

Kalish acknowledges that the county was invited to that gathering, but noted that other officials had just held an “open house” on the parks plan on Sept. 5, calling it “robust and distributive.”

“We heard from a variety of people, including residents from Nauck and the surrounding communities,” Kalish said.

But Clark claims the meeting was sparsely attended, coming so soon after Labor Day, with county officials outnumbering community members by a hefty margin.

“How engaging is that?” Clark said. “We recommended from the beginning that they contact every household… It just went on deaf ears, because they weren’t listening.”

Clark feels that the county instead came into the process with “certain things in mind that they wanted,” and then refused to change based on community input.

Among her biggest concerns are the plans to revamp Jennie Dean Park. Eventually, the county envisions acquiring the WETA building next to the park, relocating a baseball field and adding new tennis courts to the area.

The Board ultimately endorsed a plan to move the field closer to the intersection of 27th Street S. and S. Nelson Street, even though Clark’s civic association and the county’s Park and Recreation Commission backed an option that would’ve left a bit more open space at the front of the park by locating the field elsewhere. But county staff endorsed the former alternative, reasoning it would be easier to build and maintain, and the Board is set to formalize that selection when it votes on the park master plan Saturday (Sept. 22).

To Clark, the dispute represents the perfect example of the county not listening to Nauck’s input, even though the neighborhood hosts the park itself.

“We’re concerned it will be a border to the community, and about the noise levels, what will project out into the neighborhood,” Clark said. “We just have to live with that now.”

Vihstadt noted that “Board members and staff are in continued communication with a variety of communities as we approach our Saturday vote,” and said the county is working to “build as much consensus and mutual understanding as possible” on the plan.

But Stombler is already looking a bit beyond the parks plan to what she thinks the county can take away from this whole dust-up moving forward.

“I think we need an assessment of how this process has proceeded, so future engagements are more collaborative and understanding of the community,” she said.

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BREAKING: Rescue Underway After Vehicle Runs Down Four Mile Run Embankment

Update at 3:10 p.m. — The victim has been successfully rescued from the vehicle. Tow crews will now start the process of removing the SUV from the embankment.

Earlier: Firefighters are currently working to rescue the driver of an SUV that ran down an embankment along Four Mile Run.

The incident happened just before 2 p.m. along 10th Street S., just south of Columbia Pike on the west bank of Four Mile Run. Initial reports suggest that one man is trapped in the vehicle but is in the process of being extricated by firefighters.

The victim’s injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.

The crash happened on a busy Sunday afternoon for the fire department. It is unrelated to the body recovery further down Four Mile Run.

Photos via Arlington County Fire Department and Google Maps

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BREAKING: Body Found in Four Mile Run

A body has been found in rain-swollen Four Mile Run near where it runs into the Potomac River.

First responders from Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. all responded to a report of a person in the water along the 3600 block of Potomac Avenue. The incident is currently being described as a recovery operation and investigation.

“ACPD is responding to investigate,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com early Sunday afternoon. “No details to report at this time.”

Photo courtesy Tatton Oliver

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Sewer Bypass Work Closes Four Mile Run Trail Tomorrow

A sanitary sewer realigning along S. Four Mile Run Drive will close the Four Mile Run Trail on Wednesday (Aug. 15).

Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Four Mile Run Trail will be closed between S. Troy St. and S. Joyce St. But the bypass is just the beginning of the sewer repair impact — when construction begins on a fix for the main sewer line in September, the impact will spread to the surrounding roads.

A 2015 inspection of the sanitary sewer pipes in the area found substantial degradation, including roots lodged in sewer joints and small holes in the pipes. The closures on the Four Mile Run Trail are not related to the fixing of the actual pipes, but to install a bypass that will allow work on the damage pipe to occur without interrupting service to the area.

In September, work will begin on replacing a 60-inch section of pipe on S. Glebe Rd. between S Arlington Ridge Road and S. Joyce St. The right eastbound lane of S. Glebe will be closed during this time. Jersey barriers will be erected around the site with at least one lane of travel active in each direction.

The sidewalk on the south side of the affected stretch of S. Glebe Road will be closed during this time as well.

The S Glebe Road pipe replacement is tentatively scheduled to take 24 weeks, finishing in early 2019.

Photos via Arlington County

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Improvements Underway on S. Walter Reed Drive, With More Changes to Come

S. Walter Reed Drive is slated for several changes that, among other alterations, are designed to make the roadway more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

Construction kicked off last month (July) between 11th Street S. and 13th Street S. That work is scheduled to be completed later this year and primarily targets S. Walter Reed Drive’s intersection with 12th Street S., improving crosswalks and building curb extensions and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.

Also included in the project is the reconstruction of three raised medians to run along that portion of the roadway and alterations to an existing bike boulevard, which will be moved from 12th Street S. to 11th Street S. between S. Highland and S. Cleveland Streets.

Drivers should expect one travel lane to be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate construction. Pedestrians will see sidewalk detours and temporary crosswalks, and on-street parking will be restricted.

long-awaited set of changes to a different portion of S. Walter Reed Drive — from S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive — is set to get underway in mid-September.

That plan has been in the works for years, and the county awarded a $1.8 million contract for it in May. Construction aims to add ADA-compliant bus stops, new crosswalks and curb ramps, more street lighting and improved signals for drivers and pedestrians.

The project also intends to make travel between the Four Mile Run Trail and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail safer and to realign westbound S. Arlington Mill Drive in an effort to make the crossing more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The county has been piloting the realignment at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive with a temporary installation since June 2017.

Additional changes to the designated portion of the roadway will include a slight widening of travel lanes and resurfacing.

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County Looking for Four Mile Run Valley Planning Feedback

With a key bit of planning work on the Four Mile Run valley in Nauck wrapped up, the county is pushing ahead with the development of additional design guidelines for parks and other features in the area.

Arlington is currently soliciting feedback on both a park master plan and an area plan to guide the valley’s future, and will accept comments on both through Aug. 20.

The County Board approved a “policy framework” for the area in May, sketching out general goals for the remainder of the planning process. Chiefly, the work is focused on the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park, the evolution of pedestrian and cycling options along roads like S. Four Mile Run Drive and the promotion of the arts industry in the area.

In the framework, the Board endorsed one plan for the redesign of Jennie Dean to account for the county’s plans to someday acquire WETA’s building in the area (3620 27th Street S.).

The Board expects to approve a plan calling for two planned baseball and softball fields to be aligned closer to S. Nelson Street, with new basketball and tennis courts on the site of the WETA building, even though it attracted some fierce pushback from some in the Nauck community. Now, the public will get another chance to weigh in on the design, including the county’s plans to add a new “gateway” to the park near the Weenie Beanie on S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The plans also include details on how the county might manage stormwater in the area moving forward, and future tweaks to features throughout Shirlington Park. The area’s dog park, however, won’t see big changes under the proposed plans, after the Board declined to move forward with any reduction in size for the park.

The Board expects to vote on a final parks plan in September, and could sign off on the area plan in November.

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Berkeley Affordable Housing Redevelopment Earns Key Loan Changes

A new affordable housing complex along Four Mile Run is moving closer to becoming a reality, now that county officials have signed off on additional financing plans for the development.

The County Board gave its final approval to more than $20 million in loans this week for the redevelopment of the Berkeley Apartments (2900 S. Glebe Road), in addition to a few policy changes that will help the project’s backers secure additional financing and kick off construction in earnest.

“We’re looking forward to the project continuing to take shape,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol.

The nonprofit AHC Inc., which is backing the development, started to tear down the existing apartment complex this summer, and plans to eventually construct two buildings on the property, located just across the county’s border with Alexandria. In all, the two five-story buildings will offer 256 apartments, all of which will be “committed affordable units” with rent prices tamped down to help people afford the homes.

Last year, the Board sent roughly $20.9 million in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to spur the project’s construction, with $7.4 million dedicated to one building and $13.5 million on the other

But as the project’s plans have developed, AHC asked the Board to shift about $1.5 million away from one building to the other, in order to cope with some unexpected construction costs. The developer also told the Board that it wouldn’t need roughly $333,000 of the previously approved AHIF loan, which it will redirect to help existing Berkeley tenants find new homes as the construction starts up — AHC started telling residents they’d need to leave around this time last year.

With those changes approved, AHC can set about securing the rest of the financing it needs for the two buildings, one with a final price tag of just over $51.5 million and the other at $47.7 million, according to a county staff report.

The developer plans to use a mix of bank loans and financing from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to afford the project, the report lays out.

Sara Pizzo with the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development told the Board that AHC hopes to ramp up demolition work once it closes on this financing.

Ultimately, the developer hopes to open one building by “the spring or summer of 2020,” and the next one by the fall of that same year, Pizzo said.

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More Than 100 Cyclists Flood Columbia Pike to Advocate for Better Bike Routes

More than 100 bicyclists hit Columbia Pike on Saturday (June 23) to draw attention to a new push to improve bike routes along the road.

The newly-formed advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County organized the roughly two-mile-long “Bike for the Pike” protest ride, which ran down Columbia Pike from the Penrose Square Park to the intersection with with S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The group is lobbying county leaders to consider a slew of improvements to make the Pike corridor easier on cyclists, arguing that large sections of the road remain unsafe. County Board members Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall attended Saturday to lend their support to the effort.

“Despite budgeting over $100 million in the current adopted capital plan to make Columbia Pike a complete street, the county’s current plans wouldn’t even provide a complete bike facility that runs the full length of the Pike, let alone one that is safe, direct and low-stress,” Chris Slatt, the group’s founder and a transit-focused blogger, wrote in a statement. “#Bike4ThePike was a chance to say ‘We’re here, we ride, we pay taxes, we deserve safe, direct, low-stress routes.'”

The county has indeed made efforts to improving transit options along the Pike, with long-awaited changes to Metrobus service along the corridor starting yesterday (June 24). But Slatt’s organization is pressing for a variety of new roadway improvements and policy revisions to make the Pike even more hospitable to cyclists.

In the near term, Slatt wants to see the county conduct a “comprehensive safety review” of the Pike’s intersection with Washington Blvd. In a news release, the group notes that the area “has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes” since VDOT finished a major overhaul of the interchange a few years ago, and Slatt wants to see the county commission a study of the area within the next year.

His group is also advocating for the construction of a parallel bike and pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run in the next three years, arguing that the current bridge is “dangerously narrow and lacks any sort of buffer from speeding traffic.”

They’re also pushing for traffic signal changes to make 9th Street S. friendlier for bicyclists as it intersects with both S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive, as well as the construction of an access road connecting the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive within the next five years — the county likely won’t start work on the latter project until 2027.

Slatt’s group plans to hold additional advocacy events focused on bicycling, walking and public transit around the county in the coming weeks.

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County Board Approves Four Mile Run Valley Policies, Including Contested Jennie Dean Park Changes

The Arlington County Board has signed off on a new policy framework to guide the redevelopment of the Four Mile Run valley in Nauck, a long-awaited step in the lengthy planning process for the area.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the planning document Saturday (May 19), highlighted by a recommended redesign of Jennie Dean Park (3630 27th Street S.) that’s prompted fierce debate among community groups working on the issue.

Broadly, the policy framework is designed to guide the Board as it works in the coming months to develop a final area plan and parks master plan for the area. Most of the focus of the document is on plans for green space in the area — including Shirlington Park, Shirlington Dog Park and portions of both the Four Mile Run stream and trail — in addition to future pedestrian and cycling options along nearby roads like S. Four Mile Run Drive.

The framework is also designed to help the county promote the arts alongside the industrial buildings that have long dominated the area.

“It is not a rigid codification,” said Board member John Vihstadt. “It’s a scaffolding, a framework so we can work out the details together.”

The Board is hoping that the document helps county officials as they plan around a potential acquisition of PBS member station WETA’s building in the area (3620 27th Street S.), a possibility the county has long discussed with WETA without any resolution in sight.

Currently, the building sits adjacent to Jennie Dean Park and its athletic fields and tennis courts. The new policy framework assumes that the county will eventually buy the property and use it to expand some of the park’s amenities — County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Board that WETA’s hired a consultant to evaluate its future in Arlington, and that firm will deliver a report to WETA leaders by the end of the year.

The County Board had to choose between two options for redeveloping the park, and taking advantage of the hypothetical acquisition of WETA’s space. One called for two planned baseball and softball fields to be aligned closer to S. Nelson Street, with new basketball and tennis courts on the site of the WETA building; the other involved putting those courts closer to S. Nelson Street and one of the athletic fields near the WETA building site instead.

The second option won the support of some community groups examining the issue, as they expressed concern about having the baseball fields so close to S. Nelson Street and 27th Street S. The county’s Park and Recreation Commission voted overwhelmingly to support that concept, as did the Nauck community’s representative on a working group convened on the issue. The Nauck Civic Association unanimously endorsed the second option, writing that it better provides “a gateway for the community to enter the park” by leaving some additional green space near the neighborhood along S. Four Mile Run Drive.

Yet the county staff endorsed the first option, reasoning it would be better to have those fields closer together for maintenance and construction purposes. (The Shirlington and Douglas Park civic associations also supported option one.)

The Board agreed to the framework with little debate, but some members made sure to highlight that the plan was very much a compromise, particularly after the working group was bogged down by persistent disagreements.

“We have two options here; one that meets the threshold question for the Nauck community and one that does not,” said Board member Erik Gutshall. “I am asking the Nauck community to make a further compromise on this. I know it’s not what you’d prefer to do.”

Yet others on the Board urged community members to take a step back and see the forest for the trees, noting that this section of south Arlington has often been neglected over the years. For instance, Jennie Dean Park is named for a former slave and was once in a segregated neighborhood, facts some Board members were quick to highlight.

“We’re arguing about baseball fields and fences here, and that doesn’t feel to me like the best way to have a conversation about redress for this inequity in our community,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol.

But Gutshall did want to stress that simply developing this policy framework is no guarantee that the county will turn its full attention to the area. While the county is hoping to finalize an area plan for the valley this fall, and plans to start construction work on the first phase of Jennie Dean Park improvements next year, Gutshall urged his fellow Board members to remember the commitment they made to funding improvements in the area down the line.

“What I feel this Board owes to this community is a firm pledge that the county will follow up on what happens here,” Gutshall said. “The community has been waiting for decades.”

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County Board Poised to Approve Construction of Shirlington Road Improvements

Some long-awaited improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians on S. Walter Reed Drive in Shirlington could soon move forward.

Arlington County has been hoping for years to add a series of new features to the road as it runs between S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive, and the County Board is poised to award a roughly $1.8 million contract for the construction this weekend.

County planners are looking to improve access to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail along the road, and the county is aiming to add new crosswalks and curb ramps, ADA-compliant bus stops, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals and additional street lighting in the area.

The plans also call for a slight widening and resurfacing of S. Walter Reed Drive, and the elimination of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive to improve the crossing for walkers and cyclists. County officials started testing the latter change last summer, briefly prompting a few traffic back-ups in the area. According to a report by county staff, transportation planners managed to resolve those problems by tweaking the timing of traffic signals around the end of 2017.

The Shirlington Civic Association is supportive of the project. Its president said in a letter that the association hopes, among other things, that the project will improve access to the western end of the Shirlington dog park.

The county is hoping to start construction sometime this spring or summer, pending the Board’s approval of the contract. The Board is set to vote to vote on the matter on Saturday (May 19), as part of its “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items that are approved all at once.

The total cost of all phases of the project, including the current contract, is listed as $2.8 million.

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UPDATED: Body Found Along Potomac

Update at 10:45 a.m. — The body of a deceased adult male was found in the Potomac River near Daingerfield Island just before 6.30 p.m. last night, according to D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

“MPD Harbor Patrol units were dispatched to the area of Daingerfield Island on the Potomac River to assist in the search for an alleged missing person,” Sternbeck said. “Upon arrival, we were notified that an Arlington County Fire [water rescue unit] located a deceased adult male in the water. The District’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner recovered the individual and is working to correctly identify the decedent.”

Sternbeck said he was unable to confirm whether the deceased individual is someone sought in a missing person case in Arlington until the body has been identified and next of kin notified.

Earlier: A search operation was underway Tuesday evening for a missing person along Four Mile Run.

An Arlington County Fire Department spokesman said that the department is assisting police in a search for a “possible missing person” and confirmed that water rescue equipment was used in the search.

According to scanner traffic, a police helicopter provided assistance from the air.

A tipster characterized the search as a “body recovery” along Four Mile Run near the intersection of S. Glebe Road and S. Arlington Ridge Road, but there is no official word yet about what, if anything, was found.

An Arlington police spokeswoman deferred to D.C. police for comment, saying that the Metropolitan Police Department was the primary law enforcement agency handling the search. ARLnow.com is waiting to hear back from an MPD spokesman.

Last night firefighters rescued a person stranded in high water along Four Mile Run near today’s search site.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Arlington Named Fittest ‘City’ in U.S. — “Arlington has been named the fittest city in America, according to the 2018 American Fitness Index ranking from the American College of Sports Medicine. The Northern Virginia jurisdiction eeked out a win over last year’s champ, Minneapolis, by just a half point, with an overall score of 77.7. Minneapolis came in second with a score of 77.2.” [Washingtonian, USA Today]

Person Rescued from High Water — Firefighters rescued someone trapped under a bridge by high water following last night’s storms. Around 9:30 p.m., firefighters responded to the 2800 block of S. Glebe Road for a possible water rescue along Four Mile Run. The victim was removed from the high water and evaluated by paramedics. [Twitter, Twitter]

Airport Noise Battle Rages On — “Residents in several Northwest Washington neighborhoods aren’t giving up their fight against airplane noise from flights at Reagan National Airport. They are asking for a rehearing of their case against the Federal Aviation Administration from a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.” [Washington Post]

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]

The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]

Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]

More ART Arrival Info IssuesOnce again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]

Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]

Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Two Public Hearings Scheduled For Four Mile Run Valley Concept

The public will get a chance to give feedback on the draft Four Mile Run Valley policy framework at two upcoming hearings.

The two park concepts detail proposed outlines for redeveloping the area. Both propose two different developmental phases, and at first glance are quite similar. They concepts initially maintain PBS member station WETA’s building, but both anticipate eventually acquiring the space for redevelopment.

The main difference between the concepts is the location of a small baseball field. In concept two, the field ends up where the WETA building currently stands. In concept one, it’s closer to Four Mile Run Drive. The basketball and tennis courts are in different locations in both concepts, and the second concept shows a large shelter in a more southerly spot than in the first concept.

The study aims to codify a long term plan for the area, and its focus includes Jennie Dean Park, Shirlington Park, Shirlington Dog Park, and portions of both the Four Mile Run stream and trail.

According to the county staff document, Jennie Dean Park already has two lighted athletic fields, two lighted tennis courts, a lighted basketball court, a picnic shelter and restroom area, a playground, open space, and natural areas.

The first concept would flip the diamond fields so that the smaller field is closer to Four Mile Run Drive, with a new fenced-in playground and restrooms along Four Mile Run Drive.

The Four Mile Run Valley working group has suffered several setbacks as park stakeholders have weighed in with drastically different viewpoints about how the area should be developed.

During work on the latest two concepts, there was still division. Representatives with the Jennie Dean Park Committee were concerned that the first concept situated the small baseball field’s third baseline is 70-80 feet from Four Mile Run Drive. Nauck’s working group representative “voiced that breaking up [this] open space… along Four Mile Run Drive was undesirable to the community.”

The JDPC also had several concerns with the second concept, according to the county document, including that the overall design had “particularly fewer opportunities for connected casual use… along the riparian area.”

The first public hearing will take place before the Planning Commission on May 7, and the County Board hearing will be on May 19.

Photos via Arlington County

Reporting contributions from Anna Merod

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Bluemont Park 5K Slated This Weekend for ‘Opening Day for Trails’

A 5K fun run starting in Bluemont Park is scheduled for Saturday (April 7) to celebrate the Opening Day for Trails.

Organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, it’s the sixth annual 5K celebration for the trails’ opening day. Registration for the run is free.

The event is meant to encourage people to explore the region’s trails while promoting the Capital Trails Coalition’s goal of creating a trail network throughout the D.C. region.

The 5K will begin at the Bluemont Park Picnic Pavilion and continue along the W&OD and Four Mile Run trails. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the run itself begins an hour later at 10 a.m. After the race, live music and face painting, among other activities, will last through 1 p.m.

Parking will be available in the lots near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Manchester Street and the intersection of 4th Street N. and N. Manchester Street.

File photo

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