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]
This Saturday, Arlington residents can make their way to Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive) to celebrate Independence Day and score fantastic views of the fireworks show just across the Potomac River.
The food, games and live music being offered at the park from 5-10 p.m. should keep attendees busy as they wait for the fireworks at the National Mall. The schedule of free activities includes moon bounces, face painting, hula hoop contests, drop-in kickball and cornhole.
Three local bands will play at the park leading up to the fireworks display. The lineup kicks off with DJ Freedom at 5:15 p.m., self-styled “Caribbean musical powerhouse” The Image Band is scheduled to go on at 6:20 and cover band ForTheWin will take the stage at 8.
Several local food vendors will be at the park offering good ol’ American fare, including Carolina Q, Bada Bing Cheesesteaks and Spiedies, DC Slices and a Chick-Fil-A truck.
According to the National Park Service, the fireworks at the National Mall will start at 9:09 p.m. and last around 17 minutes.
Other recommended firework viewing sites in the area include:
- Whipple Field, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (Stewart Rd, Fort Myer)
- Air Force Memorial (1 Air Force Memorial Dr)
- Gateway Park (1300 Lee Hwy)
- Gravelly Point Park (off the George Washington Parkway just before Memorial Bridge)
- Iwo Jima Memorial (.2 miles from the Rosslyn metro, near the intersection of Route 50 and N. Meade Street)
- Sidewalks on Key Bridge (.5 miles from the Rosslyn metro; walk along N. Lynn Street towards Georgetown)
- Pentagon Reservation (all visiting the Pentagon Reservation to park or view fireworks are subject to Pentagon guidelines).
The Arlington County Police Department will also be closing roads (below) to accommodate the large crowds expected to turn out for the fireworks.
From 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle.
From 1 to 11 p.m.: Marshall Drive from Route 110 to N. Meade Street, and N. Meade Street from N. 14th Street to Marshall Drive.
From 3 to 11 p.m.: N. Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Route 50 (access to Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood from Rhodes Street bridge), exit ramp from westbound Route 50 to N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn exit), exit ramp from eastbound Route 50 to N. Meade Street (Rosslyn exit) and Long Bridge Drive from Boundary Channel Drive to S. 10th Street.
From 8:30 to 11 p.m.: Eastbound Route 50 at N. Pershing Drive (detour at N. Barton Street or Washington Blvd.), Eastbound N. Fairfax Drive from N. Pierce Street to N. Fort Myer Drive, Columbia Pike between S. Orme Street and S. Joyce Street and S. Joyce Street between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike.
ACPD has warned that street parking around the Iwo Jima Memorial, Long Bridge Park and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted, and all are strongly encouraged to take advantage of public transportation.
Finally, visitors are reminded that alcoholic beverages, grills, and fireworks are prohibited on county and federal parkland during Independence Day events, and coolers and backpacks will be searched upon entry to both Iwo Jima Memorial and Long Bridge Park.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Long Bridge Park playground will be located at the south end of the park by 6th Street. If approved, it is expected to cost just under $1.1 million to construct. All told, with design and project management costs factored in, it comes with a $1,324,300 price tag.
The proposed playground will offer an area for children ages two to five and one for ages five to 12. The play area for preschool children will include a shade structure, according to the County Board’s report.
The new playground will also have:
- a cooling “fog” system
- sculpted play forms
- tunnels and bridges
- fencing where the park meets the street
According to the planned layout of the park, kids can expect new play structures like a play tube, a play cocoon, tube slide and a double slide.
The playground was included in the already-approved master plan for the park, and the playground’s conceptual design fits in with the current aesthetic of the park, the report said. The county also gathered input from children on what should be included at the new playground.
“The sessions were lively and produced interesting feedback,” according to the report.
The County Board will also vote to approve a playground project at Tyrol Hills Park expected to cost $878,635. The project will replace current playground structures with new equipment.
The new improvements will include new equipment, new porus pavement, a new picnic shelter and accessible playground surfacing.
The Tyron Hills Park playground will also have a play area for children ages two to five and one for children ages five to 12.
On Tuesday the Arlington County Board charged County Manager Barbara Donnellan — and, after June, interim County Manager Mark Schwartz — with undertaking a broad public input process and coming back with recommendations for the aquatics center and the second phase of the Long Bridge Park project in January 2016.
The Board that hears the recommendations and moves forward with the park’s second phase of construction will lack the current chair and vice chair, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, who are retiring at the end of the year.
“A lot has changed in Arlington in the years since we began plans to develop Long Bridge Park,” Donnellan said in a press release. “Given budget realities and the changing needs of our community, it makes sense to broadly engage the community in a thoughtful look at options to determine the best path forward.”
The new proposal figures to be significantly scaled down from the previous plans, which were put on hold when construction bids came in well over the project’s $79.2 million budget. Arlington had hoped it could receive funding if the aquatics center were used in the D.C. Olympics in 2024, but the city lost the bid to Boston last year.
With a community facilities study fully under way, reshaping the transit future of Columbia Pike and Crystal City and other efforts, County Board member Vihstadt said “we have a lot on our plate this year” and asked Donnellan if she feels county staff can manage taking on another initiative.
“I think it would irresponsible not to give it one more shot this year,” Donnellan said. “This is a brownfield we have the opportunity to bring forward into a wonderful asset for the community, and I don’t want to lose this opportunity.”
The Board asked if Donnellan could bring forward recommendations by November or December, but Donnellan pushed for January as a timetable.
“I hope it doesn’t drag on forever,” Tejada said.
While it may be scaling back its ambitions, Arlington still has $64 million earmarked for Long Bridge Park. County voters approved $44 million in bond funding toward the park, and developers have chipped in another $20 million as community benefits.
Phase I of the park’s construction is already finished, with turf fields, parking, an esplanade and a rain garden. Arlington has to date spent about $15 million of its $79.2 million budget for Phase II on various work, including rebuilding Long Bridge Drive, engineering services, utilities and soil work.
The outreach process for the park will begin next month, with a “reconstituted” Long Bridge Park Advisory Committee, public surveys and community meetings. The county is also seeking partnerships and/or sponsorships, hoping business interests or other entities can inject more funds into the project.
Arlington’s support of the bid appears based largely around its currently-stalled plans to build an Olympic-quality aquatics facility at Long Bridge Park, which Arlington expects to be a candidate for the location of the swimming and diving events if D.C. is chosen as the host city.
“Back in June, when we suspended construction plans for Phase 2 of Long Bridge Park, which will include the Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, we noted that we expected the park to be part of the plan for bringing the Olympics to the Washington Region,” Fisette said in a press release. “That is still our hope. We believe that Long Bridge could be a great venue for Olympic swimming events.”
The group that will be leading D.C.’s bid to host the Olympics was also announced this morning. The group, called Washington 2024 will be led by Chairman and CEO Russ Ramsey, an investment banker and former board chairman of George Washington. The board includes Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who will serve as vice chairman, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, chef José Andrés, former National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.
“This is about bringing the world to Washington and bringing Washington to the world,” Leonsis said in a press release. “The idea of fostering unity could leave, for the whole of mankind, the greatest Olympics legacy ever. Only Washington could do this.”
D.C. is under consideration by the United States Olympic Committee to be its chosen city for the International Olympics Committee. D.C. is one of four American finalist cities, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. The United States has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 games in Atlanta. The 2016 games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2020 games will be held in Tokyo.
“I speak for the County Board when I say that the Olympics could be a great thing for this region and for Arlington,” Fisette said. “We agree with Washington 2024 that this is an historic opportunity for our region to be part of the Olympic Movement.”
Several roads in Arlington, including some major arteries, will be closed to drivers for Independence Day celebrations tomorrow.
Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle will be closed all day, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. From 1:00 to 11:00 p.m., Marshall Drive will be closed from Route 110 to N. Meade Street, and Meade Street will be closed from Marshall Drive to 14th Street N.
The following closures are also planned in Arlington.
From 3:00 to 11:00 p.m.:
- N. Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Route 50
- Eastbound N. Fairfax Drive from N. Pierce Street to N. Fort Myer Drive
- The exit ramps from Route 50 to N. Lynn and Meade Streets in Rosslyn
- Long Bridge Drive from Boundary Channel Drive to 10th Street S.
From 8:30 to 11:00 p.m.:
- Eastbound Route 50 at N. Pershing Drive, with a detour at N. Barton Street or Washington Boulevard
- Columbia Pike between S. Orme Street and S. Joyce Street
- S. Joyce Street between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike
Sites in Arlington to view the National Mall fireworks include Long Bridge Park, the Air Force Memorial, Gateway Park, Gravelly Point, the Key Bridge, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the Pentagon Reservation and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Whipple Field.
Tomorrow at noon, at Whipple Field, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment Presidential Salute Battery will fire its ceremonial 50-gun salute in honor of the country’s independence. The salute will involve a cannon firing every five seconds for five minutes.
Arlington County officials urge attendees to use public transportation. The Orange Line’s Rosslyn Metro stop is approximately 5 blocks north of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, and the Pentagon City Metro station is near the Air Force Memorial. Shuttle buses to Long Bridge Park from the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be available.
ART buses 41 and 51 will run on Sunday schedules, but all other ART buses will not be running. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, courts, community centers and libraries will be closed Friday. Trash and recycling collection will occur as scheduled, but parking across the county will not be enforced.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The event will run from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. and it includes more than just a great view across the Potomac River for the fireworks on the National Mall.
From 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., there will be free drop-in kickball, where players can jump in a game and play, and there will be a kickball home run derby at 7:00 p.m., all on Field 1. Other activities include face painting, balloon art, a moon bounce, cornhole, bocce ball, ring toss, ladder golf and duckpin bowling.
There will also be food trucks that should be familiar to Arlington diners, like Willie’s Po’Boy, The Big Cheese, DC Slices, Lemongrass and a Chick-Fil-A truck.
The fireworks will begin at 9:10 p.m., according to the National Park Service, and last for 17 minutes.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Arlington will not award a contract for construction of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, delaying the project for at least a year, the county announced this afternoon.
The decision to cancel the bids for the facility follows an effort by County Manager Barbara Donnellan and her staff to work with construction companies to “value engineer” the project and lower costs. The bids initially came in well above the level necessary to keep the aquatics center within its original $79 million projected cost. Even with cheaper furnishings and other cut corners, however, we’re told the revised cost estimate “got close but not close enough.”
With $42.5 million in bond funding and a $15 million developer contribution already in place, that puts the County Board in a position in which it must approve additional taxpayer funds, scale back the design of the facility, or seek private funding. For now, the county will seek private funds.
County Board Chair Jay Fisette said the aquatic’s center design resulted from an extensive community outreach process that took into account its location near the Potomac River, within view of I-395 and major D.C. monuments.
“This facility resulted from [a community needs assessment] and then took several years to design,” he said. “I still think that to fulfill that plan is the right way to go. But I understand that staying within the previous budget is also appropriate.”
Fisette said the county will now seek funding from a private entity. Possibilities include a corporate sponsorship and naming rights, working with a for-profit operator, or partnering with a university or other institution.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston is one such facility built by the county but operated by a rent-paying, for-profit entity. The fields at Long Bridge Park and Barcroft Baseball Field #6 are partially paid for under partnerships with Marymount University and George Washington University, respectively.
A corporate sponsor may be interested in the naming rights to the facility, especially given its high-visibility location. Fisette said he’d be open to having the facility known as the Under Armor or the Nike Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, among other potential sponsors.
“The goal is to identify any balance of funding beyond those already approved by the voters,” Fisette said. “This is an unusual and exceptional opportunity for someone who would like to have that visibility.”
What might make the opportunity more exceptional, according to county officials, is D.C’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Later this month, the United States Olympic Committee is expected to narrow down the list of U.S. cities being considered as an Olympic host. Should D.C. be on that list, it could give a boost to the effort to attract sponsorships, given that the new aquatics center is likely to be one of the facilities used for the games.
“We are under the impression that as they move forward with their bid, that this site is included in their plans,” according to Fisette.
The county will “aggressively pursue private funding support” over the next 6-8 months, Fisette said. Donnellan plans to report back to the County Board in mid-2015, prior to any additional bonds being sold. Should attempts to find private funds prove unsuccessful, the next steps for the facility are “yet to be determined.”
The county press release on the announcement, after the jump.