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Arlington County is in the early stages of designing a multi-use trail facility along Long Bridge Drive.

Now through mid-October, the county is gathering input on how people currently use this corridor, which will inform designs set for public review next spring.

The trail would connect a bike network through Crystal City to the future Long Bridge Rail Project: a planned $2.3 billion bridge over the Potomac River set to double rail capacity and provide an adjacent bike and pedestrian bridge between Crystal City and the Southwest Waterfront area of D.C.

This trail, expected to cost $7.8 million, will be a better connection to the entrance of the proposed bridge, behind the Long Bridge Aquatic Center, than the existing bike lanes along Long Bridge Drive and Long Bridge Park Esplanade, according to the county.

“Preliminary planning work has identified a need for a minimum 12′-wide multi-use trail between the new bridge and Crystal City, as this route is expected to become a major multimodal commuter route between Arlington and D.C.,” per the project webpage.

“Without this project, most commuters will likely attempt to navigate the Long Bridge Park Esplanade and walking trail, which is not intended for use as a commuter cycling route,” the site continues.

Proposed Long Bridge Drive trail (via Arlington County)

The proposed trail will link to a half-mile shared-use path on Boundary Channel Drive, being built by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, connecting the Mount Vernon Trail to the Pentagon and Long Bridge Park.

Headed toward Crystal City, the trail will connect with a planned multi-use trail at 12th Street S. and forthcoming cycle track along Army Navy Drive.

When complete, Long Bridge Drive trail will help meet demand for more active transportation connections amid current and expected growth in Crystal City and Pentagon City, the county says. These areas are seeing significant redevelopment — largely residential — in part spurred by Amazon’s second headquarters.

“A direct link from Long Bridge Park to the Mt. Vernon Trail will dramatically improve multi-modal connections both for the immediate vicinity and for links between the regional activity centers of Crystal City, Pentagon City, [the] Pentagon, Potomac Yard and the regional trail network,” it says.

The county has set aside $7.8 million in local funds designated for infrastructure improvements in Crystal City. The project was identified for funding in the adopted 2023-32 Capital Improvement Program.

Arlington County says the trail would advance its goals to improve connections to public spaces, neighborhoods, schools and transit stations and improve safety for all road users.

“Providing a multi-use trail that fully separates people walking and biking is an essential safety tool for a corridor that provides motor vehicle access to a major interstate, especially when we anticipate a significant increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic along the corridor in the coming years,” the county says.

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Pink in the Park promotional image (photo courtesy National Landing BID)

A big event postponed due to the April 1 wind storm has been rescheduled.

Pink in the Park, organized by the National Landing Business Improvement District, will now be held from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. Tickets, available for free online, are required.

“Located at the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center, Pink in the Park will feature an exciting musical lineup of DJ Chan Don, Crush Funk Brass, Umami House, Footwerk, Reesa Renee, and headliner Black Alley,” a BID spokesperson wrote. “With a cashless beverage garden, food trucks, immersive, cherry blossom-inspired art installations, Instagrammable moments and more, Pink in the Park is the can’t-miss finale to cherry blossom season!”

The event will be hosted by Orlando Jones of MADtv and 7Up spokesman fame.

More below, from a press release.

Pink isn’t just a color, it’s a vibe. Celebrate the end of cherry blossom season and pump up the pink at Pink in the Park, presented by Amazon and produced by the National Landing Business Improvement District at the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center in National Landing.

From 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, adults can enjoy unforgettable music and entertainment with special guest and celebrity host Orlando Jones, and performances by DJ Chan Don, Crush Funk Brass, Umami House, Footwerk, Reesa Renee, and headliner Black Alley. Enjoy a  spring-themed cashless beverage garden, food trucks, immersive, cherry blossom-inspired art installations, Instagrammable moments, and much more.

Full performance lineup includes:

Adult beverages, including beer and wine, will be provided by #FrayLife Bar, Crystal City Wine Shop, Beauty Champagne and Sugar Boutique, Drunk Fruit, Lost Boy Cider and more. Guests can also sample flavors of National Landing restaurants and food trucks including:

“We are excited to announce a new date for Pink in Park and to bring all the pink energy across the river in National Landing on Sunday, April 30 as we close out the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, President and Executive Director of the National Landing BID. “We’re proud to highlight the festival in our neighborhood’s signature park in collaboration with our sponsors and vibrant National Landing businesses and look forward to being part of our region’s storied cherry blossom celebration.”

“Amazon is thrilled to partner with the National Landing BID and the National Cherry Blossom Festival to bring the joy of the cherry blossoms to National Landing,” said Patrick Phillippi, Senior Manager of Community Engagement for Amazon. “Pink in the Park will be one of the largest National Cherry Blossom Festival events ever in Virginia and we are excited to celebrate spring with our community.”

Please stay tuned for updates and more community programming by visiting nationallanding.org or following the BID on Instagram @nationallanding.

WHEN: Sunday, April 30 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center; 333 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington, Virginia

HOW: FREE festival tickets are available at NationalLanding.org/Pink. Tickets are required.

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Rain drops on a cherry blossom in Freedom Park in Rosslyn (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

You won’t have to go across the Potomac to enjoy cherry blossom festivities this year.

The National Landing BID is hosting Pink in the Park, a celebration of the region’s cherry blossoms sans D.C. tourist crowds.

Pink in the Park is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, from 3-7 p.m. The festival will be held outside the Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center, at 333 Long Bridge Drive.

Current predictions say the Pink in the Park festival might miss peak bloom by about a week, thanks to warmer temperatures this winter.

The event will be emceed by comedian and American Gods actor Orlando Jones, with rock band Black Alley headlining. Black Alley is scheduled to take the stage at 5:45 p.m.

Other scheduled performers include DJ Chan DonCrush Funk BrassUmami HouseReesa Renee, and Footwerk. The National Landing BID website said the event will feature several food trucks as well as beer and wine vendors, including food trucks from Health Pub, Kona Ice, Pho Wheels, Peruvian Brothers, and The Grease Wagon.

Beauty Champagne and Sugar Boutique, Crystal City Wine Shop, DC Brau, District Fray, Drunkfruit and Lost Boy Cider are listed as beer and wine partners.

Pets are allowed at the event but must be leashed at all time, and it’s not recommended for pets that are sensitive to loud music and crowds.

The event will also have “Instagrammable moments,” “immersive art installations” and giveaways, organizers say. It will be preceded by Pink in the Pool, a family-friendly event from 9 a.m.-noon in the Long Bridge Aquatics Center.

Tickets to the event, of which Amazon is the marquee sponsor, are free and available online.

Pink in the Park graphic (via National Landing BID)
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An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Arlington County Board will be considering whether to allow alcohol sales during special events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square next month.

On Saturday, the Board approved public hearings on the change at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and along Columbia Pike.

“These sites were selected for this expansion because both are designed as event venues, which is referenced in their master plans, and both already host a variety of successful special events,” per a county report. “Additionally, it is anticipated that Penrose Square will be expanded in the near future, which will enhance its ability to host special events.”

The proposal has support from a majority of people who responded to a county survey this fall, although many respondents articulated public safety concerns.

“Many supported this change, and some felt the County should explore further expansion of the sale and consumption of alcohol and other concessions in County parks than what is currently proposed,” the report said. “Commenters opposed to the change cited concerns regarding the increased noise, potential damage to park property, unruly behavior, and a negative impact to the public’s safety and ability to enjoy parks.”

The county says much of the negative feedback had to do with issues that the process for hosting a special event is designed to mitigate.

If approved, alcohol will be limited to sales at special events only during designated dates and times. Special events already require a permit, and organizers would need a separate ABC permit that provides “a controlled and delineated area for the sale and consumption of alcohol.”

Some wanted to see alcohol sales in more parks, such as Virginia Highlands Park and Lubber Run Park, provided that the rules were properly enforced. Others wanted more non-alcoholic options at events where alcohol is allowed.

Alcohol sales during approved special events are allowed at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn.

The Board is expected to vote on adopting the changes during its meeting on Saturday, Jan. 21.

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An outdoor concert in Long Bridge Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Events at Long Bridge Park and Penrose Square could get boozier.

Arlington County is considering amending ordinances to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during special events at these two public parks located, respectively, near Crystal City and on Columbia Pike.

Currently, county code allows alcohol at approved special events at Fort C. F. Smith Park in the Woodmont neighborhood, Clarendon Central Park and Gateway Park in Rosslyn. But amid support from some residents and the National Landing Business Improvement District to expand approved locations, the county is conducting a public outreach effort.

Locals can share if they think allowing drinking during special events at these parks is “a great idea, a bad idea or something in the middle.” The survey, originally set to close last week, is now open through Sunday, Nov. 6.

“Both of these sites were designed to be event venues and currently host a variety of events where alcohol would be a complement, including concerts, movie nights and festivals. In fact, both locations have closed off streets or easements nearby for their events to include alcohol,” says county staff member Adam Segel-Moss, in a video (below)explaining the proposed policy change.

The survey — which has been advertised online and on at least one sandwich board sign on Columbia Pike — asks respondents if there are any other locations staff should consider in the future. People can also share their experiences at special events they have attended at the three parks where alcohol sales are allowed.

“The county is going to take this change slowly, and in stages,” Segel-Moss said. “To be clear, we are not proposing alcohol in all parks every day at any time.”

If the change were to go through, special events organizers would have to request a permit to serve alcohol. Police review is required for special event permits requesting to serve alcohol, and the county can choose to require a police presence at the event, per the video.

The National Landing BID expressed its enthusiastic support for the change in a recent email promoting the survey.

“Having the ability to serve beer and wine during County-approved special events at Long Bridge Park (just like Gateway Park does currently in Rosslyn) is critical to our success in bringing diverse entertainment options to our district,” the BID said.

This ability would help the BID “bring world-class programming and major events to Long Bridge Park, including a signature event for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” the email said.

A few years ago, Arlington asked locals what they thought of alcohol sales in public spaces, in general, when the county was updating its Public Spaces Master Plan.

“Nearly 60% of survey respondents indicated that they would be supportive of the sale of food and beverages, at least on a temporary basis, in parks and public spaces,” according to the plan. “This rises to over 60% when asked about the sale of food and beverages in the County’s high-density corridors or certain designated parks and plazas.”

Given the support, the updated parks plan recommends the allowing alcohol sales at more parks.

This change to county code could go to the Arlington County Board for review in January, Segel-Moss said.

Survey respondents on allowing concessions in Arlington parks (via Arlington County)
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A proposed bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians between Crystal City and the Southwest Waterfront area of D.C. has received $20 million in federal funding to move forward.

When complete, the 16-foot-wide shared-use path will connect Long Bridge Park and East and West Potomac parks via the Mount Vernon Trail.

On the Virginia side, the bridge will be located behind the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center (333 Long Bridge Drive), which opened last year. It will eventually provide a connection to the expanded and relocated Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station set to open in 2024.

Several local elected officials, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Vice-Mayor Amy Jackson, gathered this morning (Friday) at the aquatics center to hold an oversized $20 million check and celebrate the project, which could be completed by 2030.

“This is going to be a major gateway for Arlington that allows residents and visitors who walk, bike or roll to come to this beautiful facility and the environs around Long Bridge Park, but then be able to move on to Crystal City and National Landing and points beyond via the Mount Vernon Trail and the robust bicycle infrastructure that we are developing that will go all the way through to the City of Alexandria,” Dorsey said. “This helps meet Arlington and our region’s goals of moving more people with less automobile traffic. ”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) secured the funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Warner co-wrote.

“I am thrilled to announce this new funding for the Long Bridge Pedestrian Crossing project. This $20 million investment was made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law I was proud to help write and will help the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VRPA) complete a new span across the Potomac dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians,” Warner said in a statement. “This project is a key component of the broader effort to fix a major rail chokepoint and expand commuter and passenger service over the Potomac River.”

The shared-use bridge serves as environmental mitigation for the Long Bridge Project to add a two-track rail bridge next to the existing two-track 117-year-old Long Bridge, owned by the freight railroad company CSX Transportation. Once completed, the expanded railway is projected to bring an annual $6 billion in benefits to the region by 2040, according to a press release.

“We would never even be in the running [for funding for this project] if it weren’t for the infrastructure bill,” Warner told reporters after the event. “That’s got $58 billion additional dollars for passenger rail. We intend to make sure the District and Virginia get its share and it’s our hope the passenger rail bridge would open before the end of the decade.”

The goal of the $2 billion Long Bridge Project, discussions for which began in 2010, is to alleviate rail congestion on the existing Long Bridge. Annually, up to 1.3 million Amtrak passengers and 4.5 million VRE commuters traverse the bridge, in addition to CSX freight trains, according to a project website.

Officials say that the aging bridge is heavily utilized and frequently experiences bottlenecks, and — as if to prove their point — a freight train and an Amtrak train sped by within five minutes of each other during the media event.

Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross the Potomac at this point have to navigate crossings shared with vehicles and maneuver a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the 14th Street Bridge.

The lead agency on the project will be the VPRA, which the Virginia General Assembly created in 2020 to “promote, sustain and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth,” said VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler.

While elected officials heralded the new pathway over the Potomac, pedestrians and bicyclists in attendance told ARLnow that the 16-foot bridge is still too narrow to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Stadtler told ARLnow that VPRA’s initial 10% complete designs proposed a 14-foot bridge, but in response to feedback, is widening it to 16 feet for the 30% complete designs. The agency has “considered all options” and has determined the current proposal is an appropriate width, he added.

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in next spring.

During the event, Dorsey joked about the bridge width.

“What did you say, a 20-foot bridge?” he said, to cheers from cyclists in attendance.

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Police car speeding to a call at night (staff photo)

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) A carjacker was reportedly foiled by a manual transmission early this morning.

The attempted carjacking happened around 12:20 a.m. at the Boundary Channel Drive and I-395 interchange, between Long Bridge Park and the Pentagon. Arlington police radio traffic suggests that the would-be carjacker might have been flummoxed by the stick shift of the car he was trying to take, though that has not yet been confirmed by police.

Arlington police were assisted by Virginia State Police, Pentagon police, U.S. Park Police and the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter in searching for the suspect, who fled the scene on foot.

No injuries were reported.

Additional information on the carjacking was released by police this afternoon, seemingly confirming the stick shift report.

The ACPD crime report, below, also notes that the suspect allegedly tried to carjack a second victim, who then struck the suspect with his vehicle and drove off before calling police. Despite an extensive search, the suspect was not located and no arrests were made.

More from ACPD:

ATTEMPTED CARJACKING, 2022-09190006, Boundary Channel Drive at I-395. At approximately 12:18 a.m. on September 19, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted carjacking. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was driving on the ramp for northbound I-395 from Boundary Channel Drive when the unknown male suspect approached on foot from the median. The male suspect allegedly began banging on the victim’s windshield and demanded she exit her vehicle while holding an unknown object. The victim exited her vehicle and ran down the ramp. The suspect then entered the victim’s vehicle but was unable to operate it. While officers were on scene, an additional victim contacted the Emergency Communications Center to report an attempted carjacking. The male victim stated he had been travelling on the ramp for northbound I-395 from Boundary Channel Drive when a suspect matching the description given by the first victim jumped in front of his vehicle, banged on the hood and demanded he exit the vehicle. The victim accelerated his vehicle, making contact with the suspect and left the area before contacting police. The suspect was last seen running across I-395 towards the exit for the George Washington Memorial Parkway. A perimeter was established and a lookout was broadcast for the suspect. Police helicopters assisted with a search of the area which yielded negative results. The victims were not injured. The suspect is described as a White male with a slim build, approximately 30 years old, 6’0″, with dark buzzcut hair, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and dark pants. The investigation is ongoing.

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Locals now have a chance to enjoy different coastal-inspired installations and outdoor activities in Crystal City this summer.

The National Landing Business Improvement District launched the NaLa Beach Club on Wednesday (July 27), opening several pop-up installations near Long Bridge Park to the public. The installations include two sandboxes, a cabana and an Airstream caravan.

It’s located at 101 12th Street S., a grassy area near Long Bridge Park known as Gateway Green that’s eventually set for redevelopment.

NaLa Beach Club will be hosting a series of dog- and family-friendly events over the next couple of months, including:

  • Aug. 10: a Yacht Rock dance party between 5-8 p.m. featuring performances by local music groups as well as food and mocktails
  • Aug. 17: Mermaid Landing, a mermaid-themed event between 2-6 p.m. featuring kid-friendly crafts, games and snow cones
  • Aug. 24: Latin Beach Party, a salsa class accompanied by live music, food and mocktails
  • Sep. 7: Bark at the Beach, an event geared towards dogs between 5-7 p.m.
  • Sep. 14: Sunset Hour, the last event of the NaLa Beach Club scheduled between 5-9 p.m., featuring live music, food and giveaways.

All the events are free to attend. However, because of limited space, those interested need to first register for the salsa class online.

The NaLa Beach Club follows the similar Summer House pop-up last year. Last year’s installation at Gateway Green was designed as a beach-themed outdoor work and social space, as well as a venue for weekly events.

The beach club aims to “bring the community together and engage with local and small businesses,” according to a press release.

“With the success of last year’s Summer House installation and events, we wanted to bring that same energy and excitement back to the community this summer,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president of the BID.

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Private electric vehicle charger in a Clarendon parking lot in 2017 (file photo)

(Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 6/16/22) A new ordinance would mean no more free rides for users of county-owned electric vehicle charging stations.

A proposed interim fee of 14.52 cents per kilowatt-hour would reimburse the Arlington County for the cost of providing charging services, according to a report to the County Board, which will be taking up the item at its meeting this weekend. The new fee would go into effect on Monday, July 18, Department of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin said.

Currently, there are seven available charging stations owned by the county, providing a total of 11 charging spaces for the public, at the Arlington Mill Community Center and the Long Bridge Aquatics Center.

If the proposal passes, the interim fee is set to remain in place while the county plans for expanding governmental electric vehicle charging stations.

Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services is hiring a consultant to come up with a “future recommendation on a permanent EV rate structure and charging model,” the board report says. The interim fee is set to serve as a pilot for the future plan.

The county has put signs up at the two charging stations it operates to inform users that the stations will no longer be free beginning in July, according to the report.

Although the proposed fee is higher than the current fee in neighboring Loudoun County, which charges per session, it is lower than other commercial stations. Those commercial stations charge between 22 cents per kilowatt-hour and 79 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the board report.

Many charging stations operated by EVgo, the largest electric vehicle fast charging company in the U.S., charges around 36 cents per kWh.

The County Board is expected to vote this Saturday (June 18) to advertise the proposed change, before final approval at its Saturday, July 16, meeting.

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A series of outdoor summer concerts is starting tonight (Friday) in Crystal City.

NaLa Fridays at the Park, formerly known as Fridays at the Fountain, is set to be held at Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive). The concert series is set to run through October, according to the event’s website. One concert is scheduled for each Friday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

This year is set to be the first time the concert series is being held at Long Bridge Park instead of Crystal City Water Park, its usual location. The organizer, the National Landing Business Improvement District, changed the venue because the water park is currently under construction, BID spokesperson Ashley Forrester told ARLnow.

Construction on the water park is expected to be completed in 2023.

The concerts are set to feature local bands and musicians, according to the event’s website. It is free to attend. Reesa Renee, a neo-soul and funk singer, is scheduled to perform at tonight’s series kickoff.

Applications for bands and musicians to perform are still open online. Performers are asked to play for 2.5 hours, according to the application survey.

The current lineup is listed below.

Unlike in previous years, no alcohol will be allowed in the concerts, said Forrester. Alcohol is prohibited at Arlington County parks.

Food trucks are still set to serve the crowds, however. Fine Dining to Go, which provides various types of cuisine from around the world, is set to run the food trucks this Friday, said BID marketing manager Colleen Rasa. Participants are welcome to bring their own food to the venue, according to the event’s website.

There is some seating at the venue and organizers say they will be giving out a limited number of picnic blankets each week to audience members. Attendees are also welcome to bring their own chairs.

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The 25-yard lanes, which can be turned into a 50-meter pool, in the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center (staff photo)

This year saw major changes to how Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools run community swim classes, to the surprise of some locals.

In July, Arlington Public Schools launched the APS Aquatics School for students and residents, while the county opened the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center in August.

APS’s new program prompted the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation to relocate most of its classes from local public high schools to the new facility near Crystal City. Since September, Long Bridge has been home to all county classes — save youth swim team practices — which officials say centralizes the county’s program and serves more people.

“Arlington County has long known the community demand for aquatics programs far exceeded the pool capacity in Arlington Public Schools,” said parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “Opening a long-awaited community treasure is hard enough, opening it amidst a pandemic has been amazing. We are happy as to how the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center has been received. And with the opening, there are now more opportunities than ever.”

Until this fall, DPR scheduled all classes, competitive swim team training and public swim time in the pools at Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools. With Long Bridge and the new school program up and running, APS and DPR are hammering out a new policy for sharing facilities. In the meantime, folks are still learning about and adjusting to the changes, per social media and emails to ARLnow.

“This is huge,” one tipster tells us. “The neighborhood school pools are one of the silent gems of Arlington… I don’t think anyone thought the aquatic center would take neighborhood pool classes.”

The school system started its swim class program on July 14 to recover more of the costs to maintain the pools and offer affordable classes, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.

Initially, Kalish says the school system asked DPR to move all programs to Long Bridge, including practice for the youngest members of Arlington Aquatic Club — the county-run competitive swim program that helped train Olympic medalist Torri Huske.

“It became apparent that youth swim teams are more successful when their training base is close to home,” she said. “This school year, per [a School Board policy], APS is allowing five practice groups to train about 15 hours a week at Wakefield and W-L pools.”

DPR decides which groups to schedule at the high school pools and pays APS to use them, Bellavia said.

Today, APS offers drowning prevention and learn-to-swim classes for babies, toddlers, children and adults, and fitness classes for adults and seniors.

Classes are staffed and filling up, Bellavia says, despite difficulties recruiting lifeguards and swimming instructors — another impact of nationwide workforce shortages.

“[The] APS Aquatics School implementation plan is on schedule and both the Summer and Fall term have been fully staffed and the courses, especially PreK School and Swim School, have been fully subscribed with a few experiencing small waitlist,” Bellavia said.

Classes generally fill up within the first week of registration, which opens 30 days before the session starts, he added.

“We have a new teacher who is very good,” said one Facebook user of her experience in W-L’s water aerobics class. “I get a true workout.”

Likewise, Kalish says the Long Bridge aquatics programs are “very popular.”

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