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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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‘Highly Intoxicated’ Man Leads Police On Chase Into Four Mile Run

A suspect, alternately described as “highly intoxicated” or “possibly on drugs,” led police on a brief foot chase that ended in the frigid waters of Four Mile Run Friday night.

The man, who was acting erratically but not suspected of a crime, ran from officers — near the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive — and into the creek, but then was too intoxicated to get out, according to scanner traffic.

Firefighters arrived and used a rescue basket to remove the suspect from the water and then up a steep embankment. He was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for medical treatment.

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Letter to the Editor: Arlington Has An Arts District

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Mac McCreery, David Peete, Tom Prewitt, Robin Stombler and Jeff Zeeman. McCreery, Peete, Prewitt and Zeeman are all members of the Arts District Committee. Stombler serves as Chair of the Committee.

We didn’t always agree at first. As representatives of business, arts, industry, and community interests, we were bound to have divergent ideas, but we came together as members of the Arts District Committee, a component of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group. Let us share with you what we found.

Arlington already has a burgeoning arts district. Along South Four Mile Run Drive, between South Nelson Street and Walter Reed Drive, there is an 85-seat black box theater, studios for dance classes and recitals, gallery space, a costume and property shop for a Tony-award winning regional theater, and a private recording studio where the country’s most widely recognized and acclaimed bands lay down tracks. Over 30 arts-related organizations already call this area home, including multi-ethnic heritage arts groups.

In this neighborhood, we also have the last vestiges of light industrial space in Arlington. It is a relatively affordable place for small businesses to operate, such as a new distribution brewery and multiple family owned mechanic shops that have operated through generations. We quickly determined that an arts district must embrace both the cultural arts and the industrial nature of the area. This melding of uses is important for sustainability and long-term economic viability.

For a revitalized arts and industry quarter, we define arts broadly. Imagine theaters, rehearsal halls, visual art galleries and craft spaces. But also fuse the arts with light industry to include culinary arts, metalworking, furniture making shops, and technological innovation/maker spaces. These examples are meant not to limit, but rather to highlight some of the uses envisioned. Using one scenario, the Arlington Food Assistance Center could be combined with culinary arts classes and catering and a rooftop garden could support those endeavors. The quarter should espouse innovation, creativity, skill and talent.

A sound infrastructure is necessary for this quarter to thrive. We researched and expounded on five elements: Mission, Physical, Financial, Development, and Arts Specific. Within these elements is a call to embrace the industrial roots of the area with a thriving mix of arts, culture, business and industry. We have the opportunity to expand on a unique area of Arlington, leverage existing institutions and buildings, and stop the cookie cutter development from settling in. While this area already provides value with its arts and industrial uses, our report outlines how it can offer so much more as a branded, place-making center for Arlington.

Unanimous in our support for the recommendations in our Committee report on an arts and industry quarter, we find that working in collaboration – business, arts and community – we have a strong opportunity ahead of us.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

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Morning Notes

Pentagon City Metro Tunnel Now Open — At long last, the pedestrian tunnel from the corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. to the Pentagon City Metro station has opened. [Twitter]

Firefighters Push for RaiseIAFF Local 2800, which represents Arlington firefighters and paramedics, is pushing for a raise in this year’s county budget process. The group says Arlington’s compensation for public safety employees “is at the bottom of the DMV.” [Twitter]

Chamber Concerned With 4MRV Initiative — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the County Board expressing concerns with the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative and possible changes to or acquisition of the light industrial properties along Four Mile Run Drive. [Arlington Chamber]

Growing Up Black in Arlington — From 1950 to 1962, growing up black in Arlington meant facing segregation and racism at every turn, and not feeling safe venturing out of the largely self-contained confines of a historically African-American neighborhood like Hall’s Hill. [Falls Church News-Press]

Arlington Startup Raises $3 Million — What started as a way for the owner of conveyor belt sushi chain Wasabi Sushi to streamline his accounting is now a venture-funded startup. Arlington-based MarginEdge has raised $3 million to go national with its restaurant management software. [Washington Business Journal]

Axios Makes ‘Most Innovative’ List Fast-growing Clarendon-based media startup Axios has been named one of the top 10 most innovative media companies of 2018. [Fast Company]

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Letter to the Editor: Proposed Jennie Dean Park Plan Is a Significant Improvement

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Edith Wilson, president of the Shirlington Civic Association and a member of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, regarding plans for Jennie Dean Park.

On February 6, the Parks & Recreation Department provided the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) Working Group with the staff policy framework for Jennie Dean Park over the next 20 years. Here’s a different view of the situation faced by decision-makers.

This park concept is vastly improved over initial proposals, reflecting many compromises where there is no perfect solution, Markedly responsive to a wide range of sharply competing interests and community input, it does right by the environment by respecting the flood plain and resource conservation area (RPA) and planting many more trees. It increases total recreation facilities by creating a new rectangular field where soccer and other casual sports can be played. A brand new playground would be located in the center of the park amid greenery and away from noisy trucks and buses from County facilities and the cement plant. It leaves the majority of new parkland along S. Four Mile Run Drive for landscaping and open space.

There is a lot of history to our valley, but part of that history is the new elements too. Take us for example. Over the last 40 years, residential multi-unit housing was built along the south side of the stream from the Village westward to S. Walter Reed Drive. Twenty years ago Arlington County worked hard to create the Village of Shirlington, a landmark mixed-use urban village with a population that celebrates its diversity. The Shirlington neighborhood now has over 2,200 households with tens of thousands of regular visitors to its business areas. How can this work, though, since there is no park, playground, not even a school or church with open space, in this area? What was the County thinking?

The answer is that literally across the street, though not within the boundaries of the Shirlington neighborhood, are the parks our community depends on: the long landscaped strip along S. Arlington Mill Drive, the dog park, and Jennie Dean Park. Arlington residents from all over come here with their families and pets. Shirlington residents are out there every single day, often several times.

What makes the valley between Shirlington and Nauck special is our beautiful section of Four Mile Run stream. This is presided over by Marvin, the elegant Great Blue heron who lives on a small rocky island in the lower stream, a stretch few visit because it is blocked by a large softball field fence. The Great Blue heron is the largest of all the North America herons, If you are lucky, you can see Marvin gliding down the center of the stream at dusk, dipping like a trick pilot under the pedestrian bridge. There are raccoons, turtles, ducks, geese, snakes, fish and lots of other birds too. Providing public access to the stream and wildlife such as this was the guiding principle of the enormously successful 20-year-old stream restoration project from Shirlington Road eastward to the Potomac River. Now it’s time to extend that principle westward.

This area has a high risk of flooding. – why do you think WETA needs to leave its old production center in the middle of the park? Environmental rules and common sense mandate addressing these conditions but the current softball field location stands in the way. The proposal shifts this field away from the stream, leaving a large open space for many more water-absorbing trees, traditional picnic areas, a nature overlook and a riparian pathway. Moving this field, in turn, also creates space for a new rectangular playing field lying across the back of two slightly repositioned diamond fields. Again, two-thirds of the frontage along Four Mile Run Drive would still be turned into casual space with landscaping and room for an impressive park entrance.

As Arlington’s population and density increases, demand for park and recreation space is shooting up. No one neighborhood owns any of these parks, not even those of us close by. Let’s absolutely respect and honor the important history of this particular neighborhood – including the baseball and softball leagues that have been played here for decades — but let’s focus on the future we need to build together. Let’s share.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

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Letter to the Editor: Jennie Dean Park Plan Is ‘Non-Starter’ for Nauck

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by long-time Nauck resident Portia Clark, the current president of the Nauck Civic Association.

My family has lived in Arlington for more than a century. I was raised in Arlington, and my children and grandchildren live here too. Some of my ancestors from the 1800’s are buried in the cemetery next to Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church, which was established in 1866. Lomax falls within the Four Mile Run Valley Study Area.

When I was young, I went to Arlington public schools. Yet, my mother growing up in Nauck, was not allowed to play in most Arlington County parks because of the color of her skin.

The the only park open to her and her siblings was Jennie Dean Park. Arlington County’s then- Department of Recreation noted in its 1949 report that Jennie Dean Park was the county’s “sole recreation area for colored citizens.” In the Park’s historical markers, there are photos of my family members, friends and neighbors.

After decades of waiting, Arlington County is now focused on revitalizing Jennie Dean Park and the surrounding area in Nauck. I have seen the draft plans for Jennie Dean Park put forth by Arlington County staff. The plans are astoundingly tone-deaf.

The Nauck community hasn’t asked for much with regard to Jennie Dean Park, other than to revitalize it and to minimize the impacts on our community. We certainly have ideas for what amenities we would like to see in the Park, but we understand – maybe better than anyone else – that parks should be for the entire community. So, when the County told us that they wanted the same amenities to stay in the park – no more, no less – we understood that everything we discussed at numerous meetings could not go into the park.

We did insist, however, that respect be paid to the Nauck community. This means that the front of Jennie Dean Park, the portion fronting the neighborhood at Four Mile Run Drive, be left open for casual use. We want this area to be a gateway for the community to enter the Park. We want it to be green. We want it to be landscaped. We want it to have flowers and trees and open space.

Instead, the County has drafted plans to place a baseball field in that spot, instead of another part of the Park. A baseball field, especially one with fencing and stadium lights, is not welcoming. The County’s draft plan also hides a playground and shelter area away from the community it would serve. This County plan offers no connection to the neighborhood and its cultural heritage, except for a historical marker with some friendly faces on it. This plan will negatively impact our community in a number of ways.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, the County drew up plans, which it insisted were viable, that accepts the placement we requested and the honor we deserve.

The Nauck Civic Association has already voted – unanimously – that this draft plan from the County on Jennie Dean Park is a non-starter. We hope others will join us in expressing this concern.

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Four Mile Run Valley Draft Framework Available for Public Comment

The draft framework for the proposed Four Mile Run Valley area is now open for public comment. 

The county is setting out to reshape the Four Mile Run Valley area — centered around the Shirlington and Nauck neighborhoods — while balancing the commercial, residential, historic, environmental and industrial needs of the community. This is the latest step in a process which began June 2016.

The plan includes the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park, with the goal of maximizing the park’s open green space. It also includes the potential establishment of an arts district — with a clustering of studios, theaters and maker spaces — though the idea has received some criticism from groups that want more green space or playing fields.

Proposed park amenities include educational stream overlooks, improved access to the stream, and commissioned public art pieces or sculptures, per the framework.

Changes to the Shirlington Dog Park seem to be limited to minor changes to improve erosion and water quality issues. That follows a public outcry about a potential reduction of the dog park’s size.

Among environmental considerations, the document states that the “area’s history of [industrial] development suggests that there may be soil contamination in soil locations.” Further sections note that excrement from the dog park is another significant soil and water contaminant in the area. The need for “an eye toward environmental remediation, stormwater management, and stream protection” is cited in numerous sections of the draft.

Residents have until Friday, Feb. 16 to comment online. The plan is expected to be presented to the Arlington County Board this spring.

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Plastic Pipes from I-395 Bridge Washed Away into Four Mile Run

Several plastic pipes washed away from a construction project on the I-395 bridge into Four Mile Run after a downpour of rain Sunday.

The I-395 project between the Shirlington interchange and Glebe Road currently uses 35 plastic pipes to redirect water in Four Mile Run away from the work area. The rain’s movement of the pipes did not harm the construction project, said Jennifer McCord, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson.

Workers are currently moving the pipes out of the creek by hand and should be done with the removal sometime today or tomorrow, McCord said. She added that she is unsure if the pipes will be put back into place as they may no longer be needed for the project.

The project costing $7.2 million should be complete by November 2018, she said.

Photos by Mark Wigfield

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