Arlington, VA

Construction is progressing at the new Lubber Run Community Center & Park (300 N. Park Drive), with crews currently working to widen the sidewalk in front of the property.

As a result, a lane closure will start next week along S. George Mason Drive. One lane along N. George Mason Drive between the Carlin Springs Road bridge and Park Drive will close starting Monday, November 11, per the project website.

The lane will reopen in mid-December, depending on construction progress. Barriers will be installed in the meantime to allow for safe pedestrian travel.

The approximately $48 million project will result in a new gymnasium, walking track, fitness center, and multi-purpose rooms, according to project manager Peter Lusk.

“It is still on-schedule for a late 2020 opening,” Lusk said.

The original community center was built in 1956. When the county closed the old building last year, they gave people a change to decorate its walls with art ahead of the demolition.

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(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Last week’s torrential rainstorm flooded thousands of homes and businesses — but something mysterious happened, too.

Just upstream from where it meets Four Mile Run, the Lubber Run stream disappeared.

Earlier this week the stream appeared to be miraculously vanishing around a tree stump, according to a video posted online and on a local listserv. The water was a trickle of its usual flow when a resident shot the video, and the stream left a dry bed of round rocks exposed after the water appeared to disappear.

At first, when contacted by ARLnow, all the Department of Environmental Services (DES) could say for sure was that the stream hadn’t been “rerouted intentionally.”

Jessica Baxter, a DES spokeswoman initially it could take days to find the reason for the phenomenon as storm clean-up continues county-wide and crews work on the damage the storm wrought to public areas.

Raging flood waters washed away at least six pedestrian bridges in the county, including two over Lubber Run.

The department sent crews out Wednesday and Thursday to investigate the steam on a hunch the water could have somehow flowed into an underground pipe.

“There were a few trees that fell over the stream, including a stump that fell and possibly damaged our sewer main,” Baxter said on Thursday after crews visited the stream. “However, given the water entering the main, we are having challenges determining where the damage is.”

The crews then worked to divert the water — which had begun to swell again since its post-storm lull the resident captured in his video. Then the county crews used CCTV technology to inspect the pipe.

On Friday morning at 7 a.m., Baxter reached out to ARLnow to say crews had made a breakthrough.

“Crews got the tree stump removed from the area and we did observe a broken pipe,”she said. “We have our emergency contractor on-site to make repairs today.”

After the repairs to the pipe were completed later this afternoon, Baxter said crews are expected to return early next week for additional repair work, including inserting a liner into the pipe.

A 2011 assessment of all streams and their ability to prevent floods noted that many parts of Lubber Run were considered “stable,” but also noted that the stream had “poor utility elements” at the time.

Lubber Run is not just a feeder for Four Mile Run, it’s also a perfect habitat for underwater critters like crayfish and fly larvae, and snakes, snails, and worms make their home in the stream, which is lined by shaggy water elms.

ARLnow could not locate the mysterious tree dropping-off point after an hour of bushwhacking along the stream banks Tuesday afternoon. However, it was clear that the storm had left its mark in the area.

Bits of broken bridges were beached along the banks as far as Four Mile Run, and picnic tables were covered in silt after being swallowed by the rising water. The stream itself was brown with sediment and fallen tree limbs still littered the walking paths. A golden retriever could be seen jumping in and out of the stream with one of the thicker limbs in his mouth.

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Morning Notes

Lubber Run Project Budget Boosted — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 22 agreed to add about $1.4 million to the budget for rebuilding Lubber Run Community Center, which will push the construction cost to $41.14 million and the management fees to $4.11 million.” [InsideNova]

Clarendon Circle Construction Begins — “Things will start looking different in Clarendon and not because of too many cosmos at Don Tito’s. The long-awaited Circle intersection improvements project kicks off today.” [Twitter]

Neighborhoods Want in on W-L Name Discussion — “The president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association thinks Arlington school leaders may need some remedial work in geography. Bernie Berne used the Sept. 20 School Board meeting to complain that his community had been shut out of the committee set up to suggest new names for Washington-Lee High School, even though it is closer to the school than another civic association that has been included on the panel.” [InsideNova]

Fire at Columbia Pike Building — On the 5100 block of Columbia Pike: “First arriving units found a fire contained to an appliance. The fire was extinguished. All occupants are safe & accounted for.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Tree Advocates Increase Pressure — “Another month has brought another round in the ongoing dispute between tree activists and the Arlington County Board – and much of the give and take on both sides is beginning to sound familiar to the point of repetitious. Activists in support of expanding the county’s tree canopy were among a number of advocacy groups that descended on the Sept. 22 County Board meeting. Among their chief complaints: The county government hasn’t done anything to prevent the removal of trees during an upcoming expansion project at Upton Hill Regional Park.” [InsideNova, Twitter]

Fox News Highlights Lucky Dog — Arlington’s Lucky Dog Rescue continues to get national attention for its work rescuing dogs from areas flooded by Hurricane Florence. Over the weekend Fox News broadcast from Shirlington to bring attention to the dogs that are now available for adoption. [Yahoo]

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Construction work on the new Lubber Run Community Center is now set to start in just a few days, kicking off a years-long, nearly $48 million project.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation says construction should start in “early September,” with fencing going up to close the area to park visitors. The county closed down the old rec center, located at 300 N. Park Drive, early last month, then gave people a chance to decorate its walls with art ahead of its impending demolition.

The County Board agreed to move ahead with construction of the project last September, though Arlington officials have eyed a replacement for the Lubber Run facility for years now. The original community center was built back in 1956, and the two-story facility will provide anywhere from 45,000 to 55,000 square feet of new space at the site.

Construction is set to wrap up on the project sometime in 2020, prompting the relocation of a variety of community programs in the meantime. County parks staff have relocated to several locations around the county, while the Office of Senior Adult Programs moved to the Madison Community Center.

Meanwhile, the Lubber Run Creative Preschool has shifted over to the Langston-Brown Community Center, as have the “tot summer camps” held at the facility.

The “Kids-in-Action” Afterschool Program moved over to the Barrett Elementary Extended Day Program, and the county plans “to determine if the program will be revitalized in the new Lubber Run Community Center” moving forward.

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A bridge for walkers and cyclists in Lubber Run Park is now closed, at least temporarily.

An alert on the county’s website says the bridge, closest to N. George Mason Drive as a trail runs over Lubber Run itself, will be closed “until further notice.”

A tipster first notified ARLnow about the closure on Friday (Aug. 3). County parks spokeswoman Susan Kalish says workers checked on the bridge while doing some park maintenance, and subsequently decided to close it.

“Our crew was concerned with the bridge but they aren’t bridge experts,” Kalish wrote in an email. “They closed the bridge and have scheduled a bridge expert to check it out.”

Kalish expects the county is “erring on the side of caution” with the closure, but she stressed that “safety is our number one concern.”

The county’s posted detour signs for anyone using the trail, and is directing walkers and bicyclists away from the bridge while work continues.

The park, located at 200 N. Columbus Street, was recently the site of a community gathering to pay tribute to the soon-to-be torn down Lubber Run Community Center.

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Arlington’s first purpose-built community center will receive an art-heavy send-off from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive), built in 1956, will be demolished to pave the way for an updated facility.

But before all that, community members will have the chance to say goodbye with art activities like paint bombs, life-size silhouette painting and a group mural, paired with a live DJ and food trucks, at an event dubbed “Art Attack.”

The center closed to the public on July 6, but will reopen for this evening’s festivities. The county projects that construction on the new center begin later this year and be wrapped up by 2020.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

County Board Approves Construction Contracts — At its meeting Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of contracts: a $2.5 million contract to build phase two of the Washington Blvd Trail project and a $6.6 million contract to remove an elevated roadway through part of Crystal City. [Arlington County]

Firefighters Save Kittens — “A passerby heard the kittens crying from a compost box and saw one of them with its neck stuck between the posts. The Good Samaritan flagged down a nearby firetruck and the firefighters were able to free the kittens. Animal Control was then called to the scene to help locate all of the kittens and bring them to safety.” [WJLA]

Lubber Run Community Center Design OKed — The County Board has given its approval to the conceptual design for the new Lubber Run Community Center and park, which will replace the original community center, built in 1956. The next steps in the $48 million project are for the design to be completed and the facility to be built. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Arlington Company Raises $42 Million — Ballston-based Federated Wireless, which creates shared spectrum technology for the wireless industry, has raised $42 million in Series B investment. [VC News Daily]

‘Kayaktivists’ Protest Near Pentagon — A group of ‘kayaktivist’ protesters raised banners that said “Stop War on Planet” and “No Wars for Oil” in the Pentagon Lagoon, near the Pentagon and Columbia Marina, yesterday. [Facebook]

Victories for Yorktown, Wakefield — The Yorktown (3-0) and Wakefield (2-1) varsity football teams both won at home this weekend. Washington-Lee (0-3) lost and remains winless. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster

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The Arlington County Board deferred a vote Tuesday on the design of the new Lubber Run Community Center after confusion over the timing of meetings on the project.

But the Board did agree, by a 3-2 vote, to a $37 million contract to replace the center, out of a total project budget of $47.8 million.

The new center will replace the one built in 1956 at 300 N. Park Drive, Arlington’s first purpose-built community center.

The building will provide programs for youth, adults and seniors including a preschool, senior center, gymnasium and fitness center and several multipurpose rooms. It also will house about 70 employees in the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Construction could begin as early as next fall.

A meeting is scheduled for today (July 19) at Barrett Elementary School for residents to give feedback on the new building’s design. That meeting coming a day after the Board’s scheduled design vote left some members perturbed, as they wanted to see the community engagement process play out before taking action.

Before the start of deliberations, County Manager Mark Schwartz apologized for any communications that caused “confusion or anxiety” in the community.

A timeline in May provided by local resident Michael Thomas had the Board likely voting on the design in September. But Jane Rudolph, director of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the plan was moved up after staff found they could have the construction contract ready for July’s meeting and advertised on July 7. She also apologized for any confusion

“This is really, I think, close to a smoking gun,” said Board member John Vihstadt. “I don’t understand why we couldn’t defer to September to realize and fulfill the original intention of staff to have the board meeting after the next concept presentation and another PFRC meeting as well.”

Vihstadt was joined in voting to defer, while simultaneously approving the construction contract, by chair Jay Fisette and Christian Dorsey. The trio emphasized that no “fundamental changes” should be made to the plan during the review.

Board member Libby Garvey and vice chair Katie Cristol voted against the plan. Cristol said that the consensus on the Board that no major changes should be made, coupled with the support of many in the community for the new center, should be enough to proceed.

Of those who testified on the project, many had concerns around the project’s impact on the environment, including the need to cut down some trees and possible erosion. Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement, reading remarks on behalf of local activist Suzanne Smith Sundburg, said people wanted more open green space and more trees, rather than more pavement and buildings.

“Staff’s perception of the community’s feedback on this project continues to be at odds with the public’s perception of what it has asked for,” Clement said.

Community engagement for the project took a more modern approach than similar efforts in the past. The engagement used more technology like online surveys and looked to reach out to previously under-represented communities like the Spanish-speaking population in the county.

While Board members and staff recognized the foul-up with the timeline, some residents said the majority of community outreach was done well.

“This is textbook on how to do community engagement,” said Nathan Zee, an Arlington Forest resident. “You went above and beyond what would be reasonably expected, and should be commended. The outstanding design reflects this hard work.”

Images via county presentation

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Thirty performances including big band, blues, soul and orchestral music as well as cabaret acts will come to the Lubber Run Amphitheater this summer.

The acts begin on June 16 with roots rock band The Grandsons, then children’s entertainer The Great Zucchini wraps things up on September 17.

The performances are being organized by Arlington’s Cultural Affairs division, with the cooperation of the Lubber Run Amphitheater Foundation, which funded the four family-friendly shows at the end of the season.

The amphitheater is located near the intersection of N. Columbus Street and 2nd Street N., about a 20-minute walk from Ballston. It is also accessible on Metrobus’ 4B route between Rosslyn and Seven Corners.

It almost closed five years ago but the foundation worked with the county to find a way to keep it open through some cost-effective renovations.

The full performance schedule is below.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman. Kalina Newman contributed reporting.

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Arlington County will host a public meeting Saturday for residents to help the design of the new Lubber Run Community Center evolve.

Saturday’s gathering will be at Barrett Elementary School at 4401 N. Henderson Street from 1 to 3:30 p.m. It comes on the heels of a similar meeting Wednesday.

After a kick-off meeting last month, the next session will present “Big Idea” design schemes, developed from community feedback.

At that kick-off meeting, almost 200 people shared their ideas for the building and park design. Architectural firm VMDO, Inc. has led the process alongside county staff.

The Lubber Run Community Center is the oldest county facility specifically designed as a community center. But a revamp is necessary, said staff, as it is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act due to a lack of elevators.

“We need everyone’s participation from start to end of the work sessions to hone in on the best possible options,” reads a previous announcement. “Together, we’ll share what we like and don’t like about various schemes, and chart a path forward for the new Lubber Run Community Center.”

Ultimately, the new community center will have “a full complement of recreational, social and learning activities for all ages,” according to the county.

In addition to the meetings, other work is being done in the area of Lubber Run.

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. has been hired to do an inventory of all trees, to help guide the design process and reduce its impact on healthy trees. Meanwhile, Toole Design Group is conducting a traffic volume study to determine the number, movements, and classifications of roadway vehicles along the George Mason Drive and Park Drive intersection.

According to a project timeline, the design is expected to be finalized this winter, with construction expected to begin next year.

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Lubber Run Community Center (photo via Arlington County)

Arlington County will hold a “community kick-off meeting” next week where members of the public can help design the new Lubber Run Community Center.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Barrett Elementary School (4401 N Henderson Road) next Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m.

In December, the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center at 300 N. Park Drive. As planned, the new center would include a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking.

More on the upcoming design meeting from Arlington County:

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the Community Kick-Off Meeting to design the new Lubber Run Community Center.

While youth 10 and older, teens, adults and seniors are invited to attend the kick-off, there will be free supervised recreation activities for preschool and elementary age kids at Lubber Run Community Center starting at 6 pm. –  so caregivers can come to the kickoff meeting.  If you will be dropping off a child, please RSVP so we know who to expect.

In the event Arlington County Government is closed on February 8 for inclement weather, the kick-off will be rescheduled for February 15 at the same time and place.

In December 2016, the County Board approved a contract to plan and design the new Lubber Run Community Center.  The community engagement process, led by the architectural firm VMDO, Inc., will include public meetings starting on February 8, community feedback options and other outreach for the building and park design.  All community members are invited to participate!

Over this past summer, the County Board confirmed the scope for the Lubber Run Community Center project and provided guidance as follows:

  • The Lubber Run Community Center is to be built up to four stories along with underground parking to enable more green space.
  • The new center should include a gym and accommodate relocation of the senior program from Culpepper Garden as well as continue the DPR preschool program.
  • Sports and Recreation Division staff currently located at Lubber Run and 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive will be consolidated at the new community center.
  • Office use should remain subservient to the community center use in the form and function of the overall facility.

Please share this information and sign up on the Lubber Run Community Center Project webpage to receive project updates. For more information about the approved contract see the press release here.

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