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Kids on a car ride at the county fair (staff photo)

The Arlington County Fair will be returning to Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds in 2022, the county parks department tells ARLnow.

The decision comes after the Arlington County Fair Board deliberated a change of scenery for the event for more than a year. Thomas Jefferson’s fields and community center space at 3501 2nd Street S. has been home to the fair for 45 years.

After hearing that a majority of folks did not support relocating the fair, and taking a closer look at the fair board’s preferred alternate location — Long Bridge Park — board members decided Thomas Jefferson is the best location.

“The 2022 Arlington County Fair will be held at Thomas Jefferson Community Center and Park (TJ),” said Laura Barragan, a Department of Parks and Recreation special events manager and spokeswoman. “Contributing factors for the site selection include that the community has enjoyed the fair at TJ for 45 years [and] 60% of the nearly 1,600 respondents of the site location public engagement preferred keeping the Fair at TJ.”

She added that “further review of the Long Bridge Park location indicated that it would not be able to accommodate the number and variety of rides the County Fair Board desires.”

Barragan directed further questions to the fair board, which was not immediately available to comment on the decision and whether it will remain at TJ beyond 2022.

In addition to Long Bridge, Arlington County considered multiple sites — including Virginia Highlands Park near Crystal City and Quincy Park near Ballston — but the board only expressed interest in Long Bridge.

One reason we’re told the fair board mulled the move was that fixing damage to the grass fields, which become muddy and rutted in the rain, is a problem for the county. The community center’s suburban location, meanwhile, is fairly central, but lacks Metro accessibility and has limited parking.

After County Board approval in September, a project is currently underway to replace the upper field at the TJ site with artificial turf. The field is expected to remain closed until mid-2022, but should reopen in time for the fair’s return.

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Arlington’s parks department is identifying tennis and basketball courts that could also accommodate the increasingly popular sport of pickleball.

The department is surveying residents to gauge court usage and the need for pickleball courts, and see where they think pickleball lines can be added. The Department of Parks and Recreation currently maintains 18 multi-use courts that allow pickleball and 1 single-use pickleball court.

But that’s not enough to meet the demand.

“Arlington has seen a significant growth in pickleball with increase in requests for single-use and multi-use courts,” DPR Associate Planner and Project Manager Bethany Heim said in a presentation. “While Arlington has 19 outdoor pickleball courts, players are using tape or chalk to create more pickleball courts on existing tennis and basketball courts.”

More and more Arlingtonians have picked up pickleball, especially during the pandemic. The YMCA Arlington Tennis & Squash Center in Virginia Square repainted three tennis courts to make room for six pickleball courts earlier this year, and one local player says membership in the local Facebook group Pickleball Friends of Arlington, Virginia has surged.

Noted local ultramarathoner Michael Wardian has also taken up the sport, and the parks department now offers pickleball classes for all ages and abilities.

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is played on a court that is smaller than a tennis court, using a modified tennis net, Heim said. It sometimes brings upwards of 40-50 players to a court at one time.

DPR has relied on adding pickleball lines to existing courts, and that’s still the plan in the short term. Arlington has 87 full tennis courts and five half-courts, as well as 76 full basketball courts and 12 half-courts — some allow pickleball, volleyball and futsal, a soccer-like game played on a hard court.

“A growing trend in parks is to have a multi-use facilities so that a wider variety of activities can be enjoyed at one place,” Heim said. “The [Public Spaces Master Plan] references… using multi-use courts to accommodate the growing interest in pickleball.”

The department striped its first tennis court to allow pickleball in 2015, and in 2017 it piloted a basketball-pickleball court at Walter Reed Community Center. Today, there are multi-use courts at Glebe Road Park, Gunston Park, Fort Scott Park, Lubber Run Park and Walter Reed.

Eventually, the Public Spaces Master Plan recommends establishing a dedicated pickleball facility to meet the demand.

“While multi-use courts are effective, Arlington does not have a dedicated pickleball facility with more than one court,” Heim said.

The survey is open through Friday, Nov. 19. DPR plans to use the information to determine how to make sure the changes are done equitably and to identify potential conflicts with making single-use courts multi use.

After the survey closes, DPR will develop draft criteria for converting single-use courts to multi-use courts and identify eligible sites. There will be another public engagement opportunity in January. Finalized criteria and a list of identified sites will later be published online.

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Fairgoers get food, drinks and treats from vendors at the county fair (staff photo)

The board of the Arlington County Fair has its sights set on moving the annual event to Long Bridge Park.

But many residents who’ve weighed in say they’d rather see it stay at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds.

This potential relocation has been under consideration since at last year, when the fair board first notified the county of its interest in the park, home to the recently finished aquatics center. Last fall, the county convened a committee to study whether Long Bridge Park or six other locations could meet the fair’s needs.

In all, committee members considered Thomas Jefferson, Long Bridge Park, Quincy Park, Virginia Highlands Park, the county’s large surface parking lot in Courthouse, Drew Elementary School and Gunston and Kenmore middle schools. The fair board, meanwhile, has only expressed interest in Long Bridge Park.

“The work of the site review committee was just exploratory,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. “While the Fair asked to move to Long Bridge, we wanted to see what all the options were on public land.”

Arlington County Fair leaders did not respond to requests for comment about the decision to move, the location it has chosen and whether it considered other locations.

Earlier this year, Kalish said the fair’s current location or Long Bridge Park — but not inside the aquatics facility — were the most feasible options in terms of location size, parking and community impact.

Here’s how a few options stack up to the preferred alternatives, per an internal planning document shared with ARLnow.

At 20 acres, Virginia Highlands Park could accommodate all the rides, games, vendors and competitive exhibits outdoors, and it would have auxiliary parking at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and space for storage and performers at the Aurora Hills Community Center. In addition to Long Bridge Park and Thomas Jefferson, this park was the only additional location that came recommended by DPR.

Centrally located in Virginia Square, Quincy Park has four acres of park space, is well-served by transit and backs up to — and could make use of — Washington-Liberty High School and Central Library facilities for competitive exhibits, performer changing areas and storage. Like Virginia Highlands Park, Quincy Park is easily Metro-accessible and adjacent to a major commercial corricor.

Committee members also noted that Kenmore — near the county’s western border, along Route 50 — would be a “good alternative to TJ” because of its similar size and layout.

But after walking through each site’s amenities, the committee noted the following reasons the other locations may not work.

Quincy Park “will get pushback from W-L [High School] — it will be hard to access the facilities the last couple weeks of August,” before school starts, the planning document notes.

Additionally, the fair would have to “work with Libraries to use their indoor space and parking” for the weekend, it says.

Meanwhile, members said Virginia Highlands is “difficult for emergency resource[s] to get access,” despite being adjacent to a fire station, and noted that the park itself only has 60 parking spaces, though the expansive mall parking garage is across the street.

Located near the Fairfax County border, Kenmore is less accessible, the committee noted. It would cause traffic issues on S. Carlin Springs Road and comes with security concerns, as there’s woods nearby, members said.

Having narrowed down the options to Thomas Jefferson and Long Bridge as the preferred options, Arlington County and the fair board are still reviewing feedback from the community engagement earlier this year, Kalish said.

An online feedback form generated more than 1,500 responses “that yielded a lot of interest in the [current] Thomas Jefferson Park and Community Center location,” she added.

“This information will help inform the location decision, with the final decision also considering the needs of the Arlington County Fair Board, public safety and the Fair’s impact to the community at large,” she said.

DPR should have more information after mid-November, she said.

“Once the Fair gets back to us we can dig deeper into the options for more data to support a thoughtful determination,” she said.

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Dropping nearly 40 feet from a platform above, a climber cut the ribbon on the “finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Located at Upton Hill Regional Park on Wilson Blvd in Arlington, Climb UPton was formally opened this morning at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by local officials as well as those from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority which operates the course.

“We gather to celebrate this magnificent cutting edge recreational ropes course… and one of the finest examples of regional and local collaboration,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, chair of NOVA Parks board. “This is the finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic. That’s what you have given back to the citizens.”

Officials are touting this ropes course as the biggest and best in the area. With 90 elements and reaching nearly 40 feet high, the course is intended for beginners and those more advanced alike. It features three zip lines, a 40-foot controlled freefall, tunnels, an Everest ladder, and an observation deck.

The course also has a “parks theme,” hence the suspended picnic table that climbers can ostensibly sit and eat lunch at.

The course actually has been open for climbers since July, but the admissions building wasn’t finished until now due to “supply chain issues,” NOVA Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert told ARLnow.

The ropes course is the major addition of the $4 million, at times contentious, renovation of Upton Hill Regional Park that was first presented to the Arlington County Board in late 2017.

There’s also a new playground at the bottom of the hill, parking improvements (including ADA-accessible parking on Wilson Blvd), more walking trails, a large underground cistern to capture stormwater as well as soon-to-be opened bathrooms and a picnic shelter next to the playground. The renovations were paid for with revenue bonds from the Virginia Resources Authority.

These additions join slow and fast pitch batting cages, Ocean Dunes Waterpark (which is currently closed for the season), and a 18-hole mini-golf course already at Upton Hill Regional Park.

A big reason that some residents and conservationists initially disapproved of the project was the plan to cut down more than a hundred trees to make room for the ropes course and parking lot improvements. Not only were some of those trees saved, but a new native hickory and oak forest was planted in the park, officials said.

“We brought in the right trees, the right shrubs, the right grasses to create the ultimate succession of forest to kind of jumpstart [the growth process],” Gilbert told ARLnow. “We don’t have to wait a hundred years for it to get there. We can grow it from the ground up.”

Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association during much of the project’s development, said in remarks that this was a “testament” of how government, non-profits, and the community can come together to build something that works for all.

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Arlington officials are asking residents to keep an eye on the Bon Air Rose Garden in Bluemont after a brazen bush burglary.

“Last Thursday, about a dozen rose bushes were removed from Bon Air Rose Garden,” Susan Kalish, the Public Relations Director for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, told neighborhood leaders in an email yesterday. “It’s sad enough when someone cuts a bloom or two, but this act of vandalism is very disheartening.”

“As you know, Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden is a cherished Arlington institution with more than 120 rose varieties,” Kalish added. “Can you help us by asking everyone to report suspicious activity to the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency number 703-558-2222 or call us at 703-228-6525. This sort of vandalism should not be tolerated in Arlington.”

One civically-involved Arlingtonian who forwarded the email, which was then forwarded to ARLnow, called the caper “more criminal craziness.”

“Probably a good idea to keep an eye out for plants in other Arlington parks,” she wrote. “These looters may not yet be done.”

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A local park with a popular playground keeps getting vandalized, this time with obscene language and drawings.

As of this article’s publication Rocky Run Park, along N. Barton Street in the Courthouse area, has graffiti featuring anti-police slogans and crude drawings of male genitalia. It’s been there, near the soccer field, since at least Friday.

(A not-safe-for-work video gives an uncensored look at the graffiti.)

The graffiti follows other reports of vandalism over the past few months, and an incident on Tuesday in which a dispute between two teenagers led one to draw a gun and make threats. It turned out to be a BB gun, police determined after taking the teen into custody.

“At approximately 5:32 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The investigation revealed that the juvenile victim and the juvenile subject had been involved in an ongoing dispute when the subject allegedly brandished a BB gun from his bag and made threats to the victim. The subject was located in the area and released to his guardian. The investigation is ongoing.”

Between the BB gun incident and the graffiti, neighbors are unnerved.

“There has been an increase in graffiti and vandalism at Rocky Run Park over the past several months,” the Clarendon Courthouse Civic Association said in a statement to ARLnow this morning. “The field was vandalized over the summer, and this past week, someone added a lot of crude graffiti throughout the park.”

“This is a family park and parents should let their kids know this is not the place for graffiti or vandalism,” the statement continued. “There was also a fight between two teenagers on Sept. 23 and one brandished a BB gun, which looked like a firearm. It will be helpful if the County/ACPD act with an awareness campaign to prevent these issues from happening in the future.”

An ACPD cruiser was parked outside the park this afternoon.

An Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman said the park has been vandalized multiple times over the past couple of weeks. The most recent graffiti could not be removed using standard methods, meaning the concrete seating area that was vandalized will need to be repainted.

“About a week and a half ago we were notified of the presence of graffiti by a member of the public and removed it,” said DPR spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “That same day the park was vandalized with graffiti two more times. Unfortunately, a few days later there was even more graffiti only this time the paint used is particularly difficult to remove and required that three staff using a powerwasher, graffiti remover and hand brushes remove it. However, it was to no avail and so today we scheduled a team to repaint it.”

“Every time our goal is to first notify the police and then remove [the graffiti] within 24-48 hours as best as we are able,” Kalish said. “There are times when we realize that our regular removal methods are not going to be sufficient and have to schedule a time to perform additional work including repainting the area, which is what happened in this particular case.”

Kalish said police and Arlington park rangers typically increase patrols around a park — “targeted around when the activity may occur” — in response to vandalism incidents.

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Two years since Henry Clay Park in Lyon Park closed for renovations, the since-renamed Zitkala-Ša Park is on the verge of reopening.

Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation is aiming to open the park by Friday, more than a year after its initial target reopening date. That will be a relief for neighbors, who have been peppering ARLnow with emails asking when it will finally open back up.

A parks department spokeswoman said the construction delays are related to the pandemic and the supply chain disruptions it has caused.

“Zitkala-Sa in particular has suffered heavily from the pandemic causing fabrication and material delivery delays, specifically we waited an extended duration for playground equipment to be manufactured and shipped and for the playground surfacing materials to be shipped to the site,” DPR’s Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “Once those were in hand progress on addressing many of the smaller details that are not readily apparent to casual observers has progressed steadily. We anticipate the park to open by October 1.”

Earlier this year the parks department also cited weather-related delays. At the time the department was hoping the park would open by July, which would have been one year behind the initial expected completion date of July 2020.

Upgrades to the park at the corner of 7th and N. Highland streets include a new basketball court, play structures, a picnic shelter, and upgraded fencing and landscaping. Last year Henry Clay Park was officially renamed after Zitkala-Ša, an Indigenous rights activist who lived near the park.

Kalish said a grand opening celebration will likely be scheduled for mid-October. There will also be a private ceremony for the family of the late County Board member Erik Gutshall, who lived nearby and for whom a memorial plaque is being placed at the park.

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Three Arlington County parks — Thomas Jefferson Park, Towers Park and Marcey Road Park — could see substantial upgrades over the next year.

Contracts to improve the amenities at these three facilities are teed up for County Board approval this Saturday. The projects were all approved in the summer of 2018 as part of the 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan.

If passed, the natural-grass upper field at the Thomas Jefferson Park (3501 2nd Street S.), which hosts the Arlington County Fair, will be redone with synthetic turf.

As part of the $1.1 million project, the field will get spectator seating, signage, site furnishings and new landscaping, as well as athletic equipment and a long jump area. There will be accessibility and stormwater management improvements. The field’s existing lighting will remain.

“The conversion should not impact the County Fair if it remains at TJ,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. “The County is looking into investing in a turf cover to protect the field at TJ and possibly at other synthetic turf fields.”

But Arlington County Fair organizers are considering moving the event to Long Bridge Park.

During community outreach about the turf project, conducted in the winter of 2019-20, residents indicated “a strong desire to keep the County Fair at Thomas Jefferson Park,” according to a staff report. The county is once more accepting feedback on the potential move.

In the report, the parks department responded to safety concerns about synthetic turf and pointed to Arlington County Public Health’s Synthetic Turf FAQ.

“At this time, all independent studies report that ‘the preponderance of evidence shows no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf,'” the report said.

Construction would take about six months.

Over at Towers Park, at 801 S. Scott Street near Columbia Pike, the existing playground for 2 to 5-year-olds, last replaced in 2000, would be razed. A new playground for 2 to 5-year-olds and another for 5 to 12-year-olds will be installed elsewhere, as the current structure falls in a resource protection area that will be reforested.

If approved, that project could start in the fourth quarter of 2021 and finish in the second quarter of 2022. There will be stormwater management work and new walkways, fencing, signage, site furnishings and landscaping.

The project was delayed by the pandemic and over-budget bids, per a board report. After a first round of bids came back too high, the report said DPR “value-engineered the play equipment selection” and rebid the project this June. All the bids were still over-budget, but the county negotiated the lowest bid to $825,000.

Finally, at Marcey Road Park, located 2722 N. Marcey Road near Military Road, the basketball court, the three tennis courts, the parking lot and picnic shelter will be replaced. The park will get new LED court lighting and furnishings, as well as drainage, stormwater management and landscaping work.

“The outdoor amenities for this park are past their life expectancy and are in need of replacement,” a county report said. “Community feedback indicated the desire for more seating opportunities and trash receptacles, a larger basketball court, a larger picnic area with shade, improved tennis court practice wall, improved accessibility and preservation of as many trees as possible.”

Every bid was over-budget, and the lowest was a non-negotiable $1.3 million, the report said. That project is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2021 and finish in the third quarter of 2022.

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Ferris wheel at the county fair (staff photo)

Fairgoers last week may have noticed a sign asking for their input on the best location for the Arlington County Fair.

That’s because after holding the event at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds at 3501 2nd Street S. for 45 years, the fair’s leaders are pondering a change of scenery.

The Arlington County Fair Board, an independent non-profit which manages the fair, has informed the county that it would like to move the fair to Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive), Becky Schmitt, the acting deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, tells ARLnow.

“As such an iconic event, a Site Review Committee comprised of subject matter experts from the Special Events Committee reviewed eight possible sites for the County Fair, including the fair’s current location and Long Bridge,” she said. “The most feasible options based on 21 event needs, such as location size, parking, and community impact, were to either remain at Thomas Jefferson Community Center and Park or move to Long Bridge Park (not inside the aquatics facility).”

The long-time location at the community center gives the fair a large grassy area next to an indoor community center space that’s used for exhibitions. This year, the grounds became muddy and rutted due to persistent rain.

Fixing damage to the field after the fair has been a frequent problem for the county, we’re told. The field is also used by nearby Alice West Fleet Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

The community center’s suburban location, meanwhile, is fairly central — near the middle of the county — but lacks Metro accessibility and has limited parking.

Long Bridge Park is not as centrally-located, but would offer more transit options, ample parking nearby, and sweeping views of D.C., the river and the airport — particularly from the ferris wheel, assuming it would be allowed within the DCA flightpath. The location might also draw more visitors from outside of Arlington, helping to bolster the fair’s finances.

Long Bridge Park (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

The fair’s board and the Special Events Committee are soliciting community feedback, Schmitt said. Representatives from the fair could not be reached for comment.

At the fair, people were able to submit their feedback on a slip of paper in a dropbox. Post-fair, people can fill out an online survey asking whether and why they would prefer the fair to remain at Thomas Jefferson Community Center and Park or move to Long Bridge Park, or to another alternative location.

The survey also asks participants to check their top three considerations for choosing a site: such as adequate space, access to public transportation, location, impact on the neighborhood, parking availability, room to grow and access to indoor options.

So far, Schmitt said feedback has not yet been reviewed, but that it will figure into the final decision.

“Community feedback will help inform where the County Fair is held; however, the final decision will also consider the needs of the Arlington County Fair Board, public safety and the Fair’s impact to the community at large,” she said.

Dana Munro contributed to this report

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Fitness buffs, lap swimmers, curious residents and families with kids could be seen trickling into the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center this morning (Monday), on the opening day of the new facility.

A 12-year-old girl from Dorothy Hamm Middle School was the first to jump into the water, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Later, when an ARLnow reporter visited the facility, a five-year-old boy could be heard wondering how tall the diving boards were, while a handful of adults worked out upstairs in an 8,000-square-foot fitness center. More families showed up later in the morning.

The county put $2 million in donations from Boeing toward opening the center at 475 Long Bridge Drive this summer. At one point, a July opening seemed possible, but delays pushed the date back to August.

Four years after the project was approved, the 92,000-square-foot swimming and recreation facility — the second of four phases to redevelop Long Bridge Park — is officially open. It boasts a pool for serious swimmers and one for recreational swimmers, with numerous community amenities, from spas to community rooms.

“We have a full certificate of occupancy, but there is still a punch list” of tasks to complete before the center is fully done, said Peter Lusk, the athletic and facilities services division chief for the county.

Kalish said the parks department will transfer many of its swimming programs to the center, which “will help the community a lot,” as pre-pandemic, swimming classes hosted at pools in Arlington Public Schools filled up quickly.

Parks department classes are due to restart in mid-September, “the first time in 17 months,” Lusk said.

Competitive swimmers, water polo players and synchronized swimmers can use a 79-degree pool that can be configured for either 25-yard laps or 50-meter ones, using moveable starting platforms. There’s also an area for spectators upstairs.

Some younger recreational swimmers will remain at local school pools, as parents expressed concerns about travel times to Long Bridge Park.

The Aquatics Center “will be the home of the Arlington Aquatic Club,” Kalish said, referencing the county-run competitive swim program that helped to train Olympic medalist Torri Huske. “Younger ones will swim in school pool closer to home.”

Recreational swimmers can use a family pool with a splash pad, a water slide, four 25-yard lap lanes, a lazy river and a spa. The pool is 83-84 degrees for tots, seniors, and those doing therapeutic water activities. The lap lanes can be used for water volleyball and basketball, which Kalish said the department is “hoping this will be a draw for millenials.”

Nearby, “wet” meeting rooms can be used classes and for birthday parties.

Kalish shared grand visions for bringing out the community, from hosting big swim meets and using a large screen for movie nights, renting out open spaces and turning part of the facility’s new parking lot into farmer’s markets and wine tastings.

Prices for passes range by age group, and reductions are available to income-eligible residents. Daily admission ranges from $5-9 per person or $25 for families, and an annual pass ranges from $350-630 per person or $1,750 for families.

Boeing, for whom one pool is named, is making about 5,000 daily passes available to active duty military families in the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore’s service area for free through a lottery system.

The project has been in the works for nearly a decade, attracting some controversy along the way.

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The bridge over Four Mile Run near Glencarlyn Park is closed (via Gillian Burgess/Twitter)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Two years ago, torrential rain caused massive flash flooding in Arlington that washed away six pedestrian bridges.

Fast forward to today and two of the bridges that suffered the worst damage in the July 2019 storm — at Glencarlyn and Lubber Run parks — are set be replaced over the next year, and should be ready by the summer and fall of 2022, respectively.

The work is a long time in coming for cyclists and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which has been asking for regular updates since the flooding. Cycling advocate and former BAC President Gillian Burgess said while roads were quickly repaired for travel, cyclists missing the Glencarlyn bridge have spent the last two years taking long detours or wading through shallow portions of Four Mile Run to reach the other side.

“It’s still not clear to me why all these steps take so much longer for a pedestrian bridge than they would for a street,” Burgess said. She added that of all the bridges destroyed, the Glencarlyn bridge near 301 S. Harrison Street “is by far the most important bridge for connectivity.”

That’s because the bridge provides the most direct access to the Long Branch Nature Center from the W&OD Trail, she said. It also provides cyclists a crossing to get to the Lubber Run trails to the north.

A parks department spokeswoman said the county prioritizes projects based on factors like use and need.

“The County repairs and replaces pedestrian bridges within its park system using a systematic approach, strategically repairing or replacing the most heavily used or most heavily deteriorated bridges until the point is reached that all bridges are in good repair,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said.

According to Burgess, the department has cited finding funding and navigating the permitting and review processes as sources of delays between 2019 and 2021.

Kalish said progress is being made on two bridges, funding for which was included in the county’s 2022-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.

“The County is currently designing a new bridge to replace the one damaged near the dog park at Glencarlyn Park,” she said. The new bridge, in the same location as the last bridge, should be completed by summer 2022, she said.

Location of the pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run (via Google Maps)  

For now, conditions are sub-optimal for trail users, Burgess said. The current detour adds about 20-30 minutes to those on foot. For cyclists, the problem with the detour is not necessarily the added time, but the fact that it’s along a trail that is badly paved with steep sections.

Most cyclists opt to descend into the stream and wade across at one of two fords to the north and south of the bridge. To the north, cyclists ascend near picnic shelters, where the trail is sometimes blocked by park cars. But the biggest problem for crossing via the north or south ford is the terrain.

“It’s a steep hill down and a steep hill up,” Burgess said. As for the trail itself, she said, “I don’t bike with kids on it. When I’m by myself, I worry about the bike not making it because of the blind curves and lots of hills.”

Cyclist and nearby resident Amanda Lowenberger said that for her and her family, “this is nothing more than a daily inconvenience, but one we can afford.”

She said she doesn’t mind occasionally wading through the stream but would like the bridge re-built soon.

“I do volunteer stream water monitoring for the county, and I have a 9-year-old who likes to splash around in the water, so I end up in the stream on a regular basis,” she said. “But still, it would be great to have that bridge as an option again.”

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