The four possible designs for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center have been released.
The revamped center at 475 Long Bridge Drive will have a 50-meter pool; diving platforms from one, three and five meters up; a family pool; and health and fitness spaces. The contractor can then add extra features from a “menu” of potential options, so long as it stays within budget.
That “menu” could include advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and more spectator seats, among other enhancements.
The project, plagued by a years-long delay caused by anticipated cost overruns has a scaled-down aquatics and fitness center from previous plans. The county will be using a design-build approach, which keeps costs down by establishing a budget at the start that the contractor must not exceed.
“We are incredibly excited about these designs,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We’ve got four nationally recognized design and construction firms who are putting together their best ideas, based on their creativity and knowledge, for project options for Arlington. By using the Design-Build method, we can focus on the community’s needs while completing the project within budget.”
Links to videos showcasing the designs of the four bidders are below.
Members of the public can give feedback on the four design concepts in several ways between now and October 29:
- Attend a public event on Thursday, October 19 from 7-10 p.m. at 2011 Crystal Drive, 11th Floor. Watch the presentations, ask the firms questions and share feedback.
- Visit the Courthouse Plaza lobby (2100 Clarendon Blvd.) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays (from October 19 to 29) to watch the videos of the designs, view schematic drawings and share feedback.
- Starting today, go online to watch the videos of the designs and share feedback.
Following community feedback, the park’s Selection Advisory Committee will recommend the contract award based on written proposals, interviews, review of concepts, public feedback and negotiations.
The firm that is awarded the contract will complete its design and construction documents next year, with construction set to start as early as next July.
The designs will be unveiled at an event on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 7-10 p.m. at 2011 Crystal Drive, on the 11th floor.
Visitors can watch presentations, ask questions and give feedback about the concepts. Refreshments will be served and free underground parking is available.
Anyone who can’t attend the unveiling event can give feedback online or at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd.) from Oct. 19-27.
Earlier this year, the county announced it would move forward with the $63+ million aquatic center and park expansion project after years of delays, which were largely caused by cost concerns. Phase one of the Long Bridge Park project was completed in 2011.
Disclosure: Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The free event will run for 5 to 10 p.m. and features games, activities, music and fireworks watching.
From 5-8:30 p.m., the Department of Parks and Recreation will host free moonbounces, face painting and balloon art.
The department will host family games from 5-7:45 p.m. D.C. Fray, formerly United Social Sports, will provide free games like giant Jenga and giant Connect Four.
The fireworks on the National Mall are scheduled to start at 9:09 p.m. and last for 17 minutes.
On-site parking will not be available for attendees. Free shuttles are available from 4:30-10:30 p.m. between the park and the Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations.
In addition to Long Bridge, several communities in the county will have their own celebrations that day, including:
- Albemarle parade and celebration
- Barcroft parade
- Bell ringing in the Bluemont neighborhood
- Douglas Park parade and picnic
- Fairlington Villages parade
- Lee Heights parade and celebration
- Lyon Village parade and celebration
Other places to watch the fireworks in Arlington include:
- Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
- U.S. Air Force Memorial
- Gateway Park in Rosslyn
- Gravelly Point
- Iwo Jima Memorial
- Key Bridge
- Pentagon Reservation
After a years-long delay caused by anticipated cost overruns, Arlington County says it’s finally ready to move forward with the second phase of the Long Bridge Park project, including a scaled-down aquatics and fitness center.
The county will be using a design-build approach to keep costs down, according to a press release. Contractors bidding on the project will be able to propose designs incorporating some portion of a “menu” of desired features, provided that the bid stay within budget and retain a number of core elements.
“The new facility will include the core programs that have been the mainstay of the planned aquatics facility and surrounding park improvements,” the county said. “A menu of potential options recommended by the Long Bridge Park Advisory Committee… include advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and more spectator seats, among other enhancements.”
“We’ve selected design/build as the best way to fulfill the vision for this unique park in the most cost-effective manner,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a press release. “We are eager to move forward and develop conceptual designs that the public will have an opportunity to weigh-in on this fall.”
More from the press release:
Through its design competition, the County plans to narrow the field of firms competing for the contract to three or four finalists. Each will be paid a stipend to submit a proposed concept for the park and facility. The concepts then will be evaluated against the County’s requirements. The public will be able to review the concepts and share feedback. The County Board will approve the final concept.
The budget for the total Phase 2 project, as approved by the County Board in the FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan, is $63 to $67 million, the amount of funding originally approved in 2012. The final total will depend on decisions made during the design process. The budget includes, in addition to the aquatics facility, an extension of the esplanade, rain gardens, public gathering spaces, parking, public art and additional environmental remediation.
The next step is for the County to give firms the opportunity to submit their technical qualifications, which will be evaluated against established criteria. Firms that qualify will be invited to submit a proposal this summer. Three or four firms who submit design concepts will be invited to participate in the design competition. The public will review the concepts in November 2017, with the Board then selecting the final design. Construction is expected to begin in late 2018.
The first phase of Long Bridge Park was completed in 2011. The park is located at 475 Long Bridge Drive, just north of Crystal City.
(Updated at 7:10 p.m) Jack Posobiec, the Security and Special Projects Director for a group called Citizens for Trump, took to Twitter today to complain about Arlington County’s parks department.
The department, he said, told him he would not be able to hold a pro-Trump rally next month at Long Bridge Park.
The Arlington County Parks Dept just told me I was not allowed to hold a Rally to Support the President
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) December 6, 2016
I said, so no one holds events on Saturdays? And they said, "We are not issuing you a permit."
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) December 6, 2016
While Posobiec implied that politics may have played a role (see below for more of his tweets), Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said it was simply a matter of when he wanted to hold the event.
“The staff person he talked to said he was looking at Long Bridge Park for the inauguration,” Kalish said. “The park is closed on the 20th, but she said it was open on the 19th.”
Inauguration Day — Friday, Jan. 20 — is a county holiday and Parks and Recreation staffers have the day off.
“Our outdoor parks are open during their normal hours” on holidays, Kalish clarified, but “generally we don’t allow rentals on holidays as the staff that would support/monitor the facility are off.”
Following his phone call to the county on Monday, Posobiec has not yet followed up to file a permit application for another day, according to Kalish.
“He never submitted a formal request,” Kalish said. “We tried to call him back today but his voice mailbox was full. We reached back to [him] to contact us so we can see if space is available at the time and location he is interested in.”
“We can’t deny a permit for something we don’t have an permit application for,” she added.
Should Citizens for Trump successfully apply for a facility rental, an hourly rental fee would apply, as it does for any other person or group. The group may also need a Special Event Permit, Kalish told ARLnow.com.
“After we see what he needs we will try to accommodate it,” she said. “This sounds like a special event, and thus will also require a Special Event Permit. There is no cost for the Special Event Permit, however, this application helps us share the event information with all our County services (trash, public safety, street closures) so that we can better support the event organizer with his needs.”
Responding to an earlier request for comment, Posobiec said the parks department’s account of his call was “incorrect.”
“When I heard there was no way to apply for a permit on the 20th, it was I who suggested holding it on the 19th,” he told ARLnow.com in an email just before 7 p.m. “They asked what sort of event it was, and I told them it was a small rally of about 50 people to support the president. She then immediately told me that those types of events would not be allowed. I asked to speak with the director, but was only allowed to leave a message. Call was not returned.”
Posobiec said the event he wants to hold would be dubbed a “Rally to Support the President,” would take place at Long Bridge Park and would involve “a small stage for Citizens for Trump speakers.” He reiterated that he still would like to apply for a permit for the event.
(Posobiec says he is holding a separate event called the “Deploraball” on Jan. 19 at a private venue. Deploraball is not the name of the proposed Arlington event, as earlier reported.)
More of Posobiec’s tweets, after the jump.
Yorktown Neighborhood Profiled — Schools and a sense of community are two of the biggest attraction to the north Arlington neighborhood of Yorktown. Safety is another plus: there were no burglaries or robberies reported in the neighborhood in the past 12 years. [Washington Post]
County Still Seeking Private Money for Aquatics Center — Arlington County is still looking for private partners and sponsorships before moving forward on construction of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. It’s unclear if additional private money would be used to expand the center or reduce the estimated $40-44 million in taxpayer funding. Even without additional money, park bonds already approved by voters are expected to fully fund construction. [InsideNova]
Rosslyn Metro Express Guy Featured — The Express newspaper distributor who works at the Rosslyn Metro station was featured in a “happy news” video on the Facebook page of Seattle television station KING. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The free celebration, which also is slated to include drop-in kickball games, moon bounces and balloon art, is scheduled to run from 5-10 p.m. The Hollies guitarist Steve Lauri and West Virginia cover band Cazhmiere are scheduled to perform.
Some of the food trucks scheduled to participate in the event’s “food truck rally” include: Bada Bing Cheesesteaks and Spiedies, The Big Cheese, The Farm Effect, Grapevine Restaurant, Lemongrass Food Truck, Mac’s Donuts, Rod’s Oasis Shaved Ice, Salou Kaba, Tapas Truck, Tortoise & Hare Food Truck, Union Dog Food Truck.
If you can’t make it to Long Bridge Park, you also can see the fireworks in Arlington from:
- Key Bridge
- Air Force Memorial
- Iwo Jima Memorial
- Gravelly Point Park
- Gateway Park
The fireworks are expected to begin at 9:09 p.m., lasting about 17 minutes.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Many early mornings I would have to take my two time Olympic Gold Medalist son Tom to 50 meter pools either in the District, Fairfax or Montgomery County to train or swim in local and regional meets. I resented seeing these facilities getting revenues from food concessions, t-shirts and pool fees.
Why couldn’t Arlington share in this revenue?
The aquatics center at Long Bridge Park gives us this opportunity.
Will Arlington need additional indoor and outdoor recreational facilities in the future?
Existing county recreational facilities are not adequate to meet the full range of current and future community recreational, fitness and aquatics needs of the growing youth, adult and senior populations. A report by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Demographic Research Group showed that Arlington County’s population grew by 9.4 percent from the 2010 Census through July 2013 alone. By 2040, Arlington’s overall population is expected to grow by over 65,000 people.
Many of the aquatic classes I try to enroll in as a 55+ citizen in the high school pools through the parks and recreation department are closed due to over enrollment. As much of the Arlington population ages, we seek affordable places to recreate to continue productive lives in the county.
As a mom who has sat in pools all over the country, I have seen the benefits of a multi-purpose training facility.
Existing county recreational facilities are not adequate to meet the full range of current and future community recreational, fitness and aquatics needs of the growing youth, adult and senior populations. We need to have an Oak-Mar Fairfax facility in our community.
Sixty-three percent of our citizens responded favorably to this in a recent survey posted on ARLnow.com.
The money is there. Let’s coalesce as a community to build this facility.
I look forward to seeing many youth teams and swim for safety programs delight in this amenity in Arlington County.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
The following op-ed was written by Tobin Smith, Chair of the Long Bridge Park Citizen Advisory Committee. Smith is also a past chair of the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission.
Earlier this week, the Long Bridge Park Citizen Advisory Committee, which I chair, recommended that the County proceed with designing a new aquatics, health and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park.
This is not an attempt to revive the large aquatics center that was shelved by the County in 2014 after construction bids far exceeded the bond funds authorized by Arlington voters in 2004 and 2012. We have learned many lessons from that. The current proposal is one-third smaller and more modest. It should have a more sustainable design and less ambitious energy-saving systems. It should be bid and built with much stronger controls on costs. And perhaps most importantly, not a dime more should be spent for this project than what voters already approved. Additional features should only be added if they meet a clearly identified community need and if an outside sponsor/partner is willing to bear the costs.
The scaled-down facility would feature two pools: a 50-meter pool for lap swimming, fitness and competition and a multipurpose leisure/training pool for family fun and swim lessons/classes. It would also include ample space for exercise equipment and fitness activities, which generate revenue to offset costs. The facility our committee envisions is comparable to those enjoyed by residents of many neighboring jurisdictions, including the District and Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Loudoun and Anne Arundel Counties.
Besides the aquatics and fitness facility, the project known as Phase 2 of Long Bridge Park includes 10 more acres of parkland for informal recreation and community gatherings; extension of the esplanade, rain gardens, public art, and parking. The authorized, available county funds for all this totals $64 million. Based on staff estimates, the hard costs for construction of the facility we are recommending should be about $44 million of that.
Our committee’s recommendations were based on extensive community engagement. Several hundred Arlingtonians provided input at the County Fair and other events. Over 1900 responded to an online survey. A statistically valid, countywide recreational needs survey found that aquatics resources ranked as the highest indoor recreational need for over 60 percent of Arlington households. Additional indoor fitness and exercise spaces also got substantial support.
Our committee also found that despite the recent improvements of Arlington’s three high school-based community pools, the Department of Parks and Recreation is not able to meet Arlington residents’ demand for county-sponsored aquatic programs such as learn to swim classes and senior water aerobics. County staff report that in the last two years, the number of aquatics class participants has grown 24%. Nearly 40% of those who tried to register for these classes have been waitlisted. Arlington’s expected population growth will make the wait lists even longer in the future. Moreover, because our existing pools are used for school instruction, they are unavailable for seniors and other community users during school hours.
The facility we recommend will be able to accommodate a wide variety of aquatics and fitness programs and activities for Arlingtonians of all ages and abilities. Such consolidated, community-run facilities have the added benefit of achieving economies of scale that maximize cost recovery, compared to the performance of much smaller neighborhood or school-based pools.
Some will say that Arlington should not build a new recreational facility right now because other county needs are more pressing. They will say that the recreational needs so clearly identified can wait, or are “wants” rather than “needs.” I disagree. As our population rapidly expands, we have a responsibility to provide ample opportunities within Arlington where our kids can learn to swim, where our county-sponsored swim team and Arlington-based water sports teams don’t have to travel elsewhere to practice and compete, where seniors can get vital exercise, and where families can exercise, recreate and play together when kids are not in school. We need to catch up with our neighbors and provide ample recreational and fitness opportunities for all parts of our population if we are to maintain Arlington as an attractive community in which to live.
This week County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a revised aquatics center plan for Long Bridge Park during a County Board work session.
The aquatics center at Long Bridge had been shelved when the costs continued to balloon. Former County Manager Donnellan ultimately announced they simply could not find a bid to build the pool complex within the allotted budget.
The County it seems was unwilling to go back to the taxpayers again to approve additional bonds for the project which was threatening to top $80 million. Bonds dating back to 2004 have been approved by voters and nearly $17 million have already sold but are yet unused on the project. $30.5 million of bonds have been approved, but not sold.
The new $65 million (approximate) plan seeks to reduce the size of the facility by a little more than one-third and is estimated to save 17% from the old estimate. However, these are only county staff estimates as there has been no final price tag from a construction firm.
Of course, it was not just the construction costs causing heartburn. County estimates pegged the project with an ongoing annual operating deficit of more than $4 million before it was halted. The staff says the new plan will only result in an operating deficit of $1 million.
As the aquatics center discussion moves forward, ongoing operating costs will remain an important issue. How much of a subsidy should we provide to Arlington residents? And will people from surrounding communities who use the facility be required to pay more?
In watching the County Board work session presentation on the new project, two other claims stood out. First, it was stated that the new facility would be designed and built to meet identified community needs. Second, that the previous design was biased toward better architecture and not better energy efficiency. This time around, energy efficiency will be given a higher priority.
It makes one wonder, why was it not done this way the first time?
The updated plan calls for reducing the size of the facility by 37 percent. That will reduce the overall cost of the project — which also includes the development of 10.5 acres of parkland around the facility — by 17 percent. The cost of the smaller facility is estimated at $63-67.5 million.
The goal is to reduce the cost of the project to within the $64 million in financing already obtained, primarily through a bond issue and developer contributions. The project was put on hold after construction bids well exceeded the original $79.2 million budget, as included in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
From a county press release:
The revised plan for Long Bridge Park reduces the size of the facility by 37 percent, to about 73,000 square feet. The reductions are achieved by reducing the number of pools from the three proposed in 2012 to two, reducing the number of lobbies, circulation areas and storage space. The smaller building, fewer pools, and a less expensive HVAC system all contribute to lower construction and operating costs. The family pool and teaching pool would be combined into a single pool under the new proposal, and the therapy pool and three dive towers eliminated. Space for a health and fitness center would be retained.
Estimated base construction cost for the recommended down-sized aquatics health and fitness facility and development of another 10.5-acres of parkland is between $46 million and $50.5 million, Schwartz said, with the possibility of adding options such as advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and 300 more spectator seats if the budget allowed or a partner or sponsor could be found.
With development of the additional 10.5 acres of parkland, a $5 million contingency and project management, design and other “soft costs,” the total project cost is estimated at between $63 million and $67.5 million – a 17 percent reduction from the $79.2 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Budget estimate for the project. The County currently has $64 million earmarked for the project – primarily funded from a combination of voter-approved bonds and Transfer of Development Rights funding.
The county also notes that a proposal to share the costs of the facility with Alexandria does not seem to be feasible.
The full press release, after the jump.
District Taco Gets New Neighbor — The new District Taco in Rosslyn will soon have a new neighbor at 1500 Wilson Blvd. A Wells Fargo bank is “coming soon” to a next-door ground floor retail space. There is an existing Wells Fargo branch down the street at 1300 Wilson Blvd. A branch in Courthouse recently closed. A bank spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. [Twitter]
Scaled-Down Long Bridge Aquatics Center Proposed — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz last night proposed a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. The original aquatics center design was shelved before it could be built due to construction estimates and an operating budget that were higher than expected. [InsideNova]
Congressional Delegation Writes to NPS Director — Arlington’s congressional delegation — Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer — has written to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, urging him to make sure NPS applies for a “FASTLANE” grant for reconstruction of the decaying Memorial Bridge, before the April 14 application deadline. However, the Park Service is said to be likely to miss the deadline. [Scribd, Washington Post]
Maker Economy Event in Crystal City — TechShop in Crystal City will be hosting a discussion of the “the maker economy and local manufacturing in the DMV region” next Wednesday, April 20. Early bird registration ends tomorrow. [LERCPA]
Beginning of the End for Metro’s 1000-Series — Metro retired the first of its aging 1000-series rail cars from service yesterday morning, calling it the “end of an era.” [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A newly-released survey on recreational needs in Arlington may help the case for building an aquatics and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park.
Arlington County scrapped plans to build a Long Bridge Aquatics Center in 2014, after construction bids on what was supposed to be a $79 million project came in well over budget. Since then, the county has sought public input on community recreation needs and considered partnering with the City of Alexandria on a facility.
Survey respondents ranked a swimming pool and fitness equipment as the county’s two top indoor recreation needs. That corresponds to the county’s goals for a new indoor “Aquatic, Health and Fitness Facility” at Long Bridge Park.
Furthermore, the survey asked specifically about potential amenities at such a facility. Seventy percent of respondents said they had an interest in amenities at a Long Bridge Park facility, ranking their three “most important” amenities as:
- 50 meter pool,
- Health/fitness space with cardio/strength training
- Leisure pool with water slide, lazy river
County Board member Jay Fisette said he was “hopeful” the county could move forward on the Long Bridge Park facility.
“This seems to suggest to me that it validates the same or more interest in Long Bridge Park than we thought there was before,” he said. Fisette pointed out that in 2012 nearly two-thirds of Arlington residents approved a bond issue that was intended primarily to pay for the aquatics and fitness facility.
John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the Board, took a more restrained view.
“It really boils down to what sort of facilities and at what cost,” Vihstadt said. “I look forward to the discussion.”
Other survey findings include:
- Hiking trails, natural areas and paved multi-use trails are the top outdoor recreation priorities
- Nature, fitness and wellness programs, as well as special events and festivals, are the top parks and rec programming priorities
- Most people would support food and beverage — including, potentially, alcohol — options in local parks and public plazas
The full county press release about the survey results, after the jump.
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
Fire Station Relocation May Go to Voters — A controversial plan to relocate Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway and the Hall’s Hill neighborhood to a locale further north, in order to improve response times, could be put to voters. Opponents may push for a stand-alone bond issue for construction of the new fire station, which would put it on the ballot. The idea was floated during a well-attended community meeting on the fire station relocation plan last night. [InsideNova]
North vs. South Swimming Pool Divide? — Swimming has always been a significant part of life in Arlington, but current pool options are tilted toward north Arlington, says Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. Building the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics center could help alleviate the divide, Clark reasons. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Family Kicked off Flight — An Arlington family was kicked off a JetBlue flight from Boston to Baltimore on Monday, reportedly because of a squirming two year old and FAA regulations. [WUSA 9]
DCA Screeners Find Two Guns in Two Days — Screeners at Reagan National Airport found two guns in carry-on baggage over the course of two days this week. The two men who had the guns in their bags are now facing weapons charges. [WJLA]
I-395 Exit to Close Temporarily — The exit from northbound I-395 to Washington Blvd will close overnight Sunday and Monday for paving and lane striping, VDOT says. [Patch]