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Fall Tree Giveaway Kicks Off

As part of an effort to expand Arlington’s tree canopy, the Department of Parks and Recreation will be giving away 400 trees for free this fall.

Arlington Residents can apply through the Parks and Recreation website to receive a “whip”; trees in two gallon containers ranging from two to four feet in size.

There are currently nine different types of trees available for pick up. There is a limit of one tree per residential property. Multi-family properties can contact the Tree Stewards organization to acquire more than one.

There will be two distribution days to pick up your trees.

  • Sat., Oct. 20, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Arlington County Nursery – 4240 S Four Mile Run Dr. 22206.
  • Wed., Oct. 24, 3-6 p.m. Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden Parking Lot – 850 N Lexington St. 22205.

Photo courtesy Arlington County

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Tyrol Hill Park Celebrates Grand Reopening

After two years of design and one year of construction, Tyrol Hill Park has finished the last phase of its construction and is open to the public.

Tyrol Hill Park is a two-acre park adjoining the Forest Glen and Arlington Mill Neighborhoods, with connections branching out into the nature trails of Glencarlyn Park.

Phase Four of the project finalized the park with a new restroom, picnic shelter, and paved plaza. Phase Four also added several furnishings to the site and added accessibility and stormwater management improvements. Earlier phases relocated and upgraded the Basketball and Volleyball Courts on the site, added a new gateway entrance, installed a new playground and added a picnic shelter.

The Tyrol Hill Master Plan was adopted by the County Board in 2003, but after years of inactivity the project was revisited in 2016 when a community survey conducted by Arlington County staff showed there was still support for adding a unisex bathroom to the site and that renovating the paths around the site was a top priority.

Photo via Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation

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Construction Set to Start on New Lubber Run Community Center

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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Arlington’s Park Amenities Earn More High Marks

Arlington is earning more high marks for its high-quality parks, this time winning the spotlight for its large number of amenities like playgrounds and nature centers.

A new report from the Trust for Public Land released today (Wednesday) ranked the county eighth in the country among large localities when it comes to park acreage per 1,000 residents. With 1,767 acres of parks in the county’s 26 square miles, Arlington has about 7.75 acres of parks for every 1,000 people, better than major cities like San Francisco and New York.

Those high marks mirror previous studies by the California-based group, which is leading an advocacy effort to ensure that everyone living in a city is within a 10-minute walk of a park. The Trust for Public Land previously ranked Arlington fourth in the country for its park system by evaluating a variety of different metrics.

But this time around, the group also studied the number of recreational amenities available in the county’s parks to provide an even more granular view of where Arlington stands. In all, the researchers awarded the county six top 10 marks for its distribution of various amenities.

With a total of three nature centers to serve its roughly 228,000 residents, the county ranked fourth in the nation. Arlington’s 99 playgrounds, good for 4.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents, was also good enough to tie the county for sixth overall.

The county’s 87 tennis courts ranked seventh nationally, while its 12 pickleball courts placed ninth. Similarly, Arlington’s eight community gardens and 301 garden plots also ranked ninth.

Finally, the county picked up a 10th place ranking for its number of dog parks, with eight in total.

D.C. also ranked quite highly in the group’s rankings once more — the District placed first in the nation in park acreage per 1,000 residents, and earned five other top 10 marks.

File photo

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‘Extreme’ Bike Ride Planned Through North Arlington Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning (Aug. 11), Arlington residents can participate in an “Extreme Champion Trees Bike Ride,” put on by the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation.

This ride will be more challenging than other Champion Trees Bike Rides, taking participants through “some of the hilliest, most calorie-burning, bike-safe roads of North Arlington,” per an event description.

Riders should bring their own bike, water, snacks and repair kit and plan to meet in Fort C.F. Smith Park‘s parking lot for a 9 a.m. start. The ride will go until noon.

Those interested can register for this free event online or by calling 703-228-4747. The bike ride is open to adults or teenagers 16 and up if they come with a registered adult.

Photo via Arlington County

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Construction on McCoy Park Upgrades Set to Get Started

County workers now have the green light they need to kick off an overhaul of McCoy Park near Rosslyn and Courthouse.

The Arlington County Board agreed to rezone the park at its meeting Saturday (June 16), allowing work on a series of improvements to the 1.1-acre property at 2121 21st Street N. to move forward. Parks officials have been working on plans for a renovation to McCoy since 2016, after the company behind the mixed-use development that’s home to the nearby MOM’s Organic Market (2145 Lee Highway) agreed to help fund the project.

The county has not made major changes to the park since it opened in 1985.

“Changes to the park will include a re-aligned sidewalk, a seating deck with furnishings, a shade canopy, and interactive chalk art plaza, new landscape vegetation, trash/recycling receptacles, and a new park entry sign,” county staff wrote in a report for the Board.

The county is also hoping to add a dog waste bag dispenser and “Little Free Library” to the park, if it can find sponsors to help build and maintain either amenity.

County staff note in their report that their next step is to submit construction documents for permitting, now that they earned the County Board’s sign off. They’re hoping to complete the improvements by the end of the year.

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County Hoping to Start Work on Mosaic Park Overhaul in Ballston Next Year

Arlington County is now hoping to kick off construction work on an overhaul of Ballston’s Mosaic Park early next year, following years of delays prompted in part by cost overruns.

County officials are planning to finish renovations at the park, located at 538 N. Pollard Street just behind the Gold’s Gym parking lot, by the end of 2019. Planners unveiled an updated timeline for the park’s renovations at a community meeting last Wednesday (May 30), along with detailed designs for new features like a playground, plaza and athletic courts.

The county’s eyed upgrades at the park back in 2008, and initially hoped that construction could begin in 2013. But planning work stretched on for years, particularly after its estimated construction costs overran the project’s budget.

That forced the county to re-tool the project slightly to bring costs down, in part by eliminating some planned solar panels at the site that would’ve powered the park’s lighting and reducing the number of trees and plants to be installed around the park.

The Shooshan Company, which owns some nearby developments, agreed to fund the first phase of the $6.6 million project. The county is also hoping to add a basketball half-court to the site, but that work will come in a second phase of the project.

The county plans to award a construction contract next spring, and start work soon afterward. Officials hope to wrap things up by winter 2019.

Graphic via Arlington County

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Arlington Parks Ranked Fourth Nationally, Just Behind D.C. in Third

Arlington has the fourth-best park system in the entire country, just behind our neighbors across the Potomac, according to a new set of rankings from the Trust for Public Land.

The county climbed two spots in the California-based group’s rankings from a year ago, earning a “ParkScore” of 81.6 out of 100. D.C. was just slightly ahead of Arlington at 81.6. Minneapolis took the top spot nationally with a score of 84.2, with its twin city St. Paul, Minnesota placing second with 82.4.

The Trust for Public Land compiles the rankings based on four factors: the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, the percentage of a locality’s total area dedicated to parks, park spending per resident and the availability of popular park features.

Arlington scored well on all of those factors, according to Ali Hiple, program coordinator at the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence. She noted that the county ranked fourth overall two years ago as well, and she believes Arlington’s parks system should be a “point of pride” for the county.

“Parks contribute so much to a great quality of life,” Hiple told ARLnow. “They both help a city overall in beautifying the city and managing its stormwater, but they also offer chances for recreation. It’s about neighbors getting to spend time together.”

Hiple’s group found that 98 percent of Arlington residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, compared to the 70 percent average nationally. Hiple noted that researchers use mapping software to study distances not simply “as the crow flies,” but they take into account potential obstacles between people and nearby parks as well.

“We’re measuring if it’s 10 minutes on foot, so that means it’s about walkability as well, which Arlington is certainly doing well on,” Hiple said.

Arlington also performed particularly well in the group’s survey of access to park amenities, with lots of restrooms and playgrounds available for residents, she added. The county also earned full marks from Hiple’s group for its spending on parks; the trust found that Arlington spends about $240 per resident on the park system.

Yet where the county fell the most behind D.C. is in the sheer acreage of park land available. The group found that 22 percent of D.C.’s land is reserved for parks, compared to 11 percent for Arlington.

“Arlington has semi-small parks well distributed throughout the county, but not those big chunks of park land,” Hiple said. “D.C. has things like Rock Creek Park that contribute to the acreage.”

But Hiple said the county has nothing to be ashamed of in falling behind D.C., another frequent top performer in the group’s annual rankings.

“They’re basically neck and neck, so we’re giving kudos to both systems,” Hiple said.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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County Board to Put Oakgrove vs. Oak Grove Park Debate to Rest

The County Board is set to consider formally changing Oakgrove Park’s name to Oak Grove Park, after Cherrydale residents fought to resurrect the park’s older spelling.

Arlington’s Park and Recreation Commission and the County Manager’s office is recommending the naming clarification, which Harry Specter, a Cherrydale resident who argued in favor of the change, called “a typographical error that was never corrected.”

Per a County Board agenda item, the park was created at the same time that I-66 was in the 1970s. At the time, the park was known by the two word “Oak Grove” Park.

At some point in the 1990s, signage was installed that seems to have mischaracterized the park’s name, omitting the space and calling it “Oakgrove Park.”

The agenda item stated that staff had “not found an official record of a formal park naming process for either the two-word spelling or the one-word spelling” of the park.

However, there has been some inconsistency in how the park was referred to in planning documents, according to the agenda item:

The current Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP) from 2005 details this park as “Oakgrove” Park. The current General Land Use Plan (GLUP) (2011) and previous versions have identified this park as “Oak Grove” Park. Other County Board adopted documents which characterize this park as “Oak Grove” Park include the Cherrydale Neighborhood Conservation Plan (originally adopted in 1987 with updates in 2005 and 2014) and the Lee Highway-Cherrydale Revitalization Plan (1994).

The Oakgrove Park playground improvements project, slated to wrap up this May, already included “two new metal panels (custom entrance sign)” that would “be installed and will cost about $550 each (approximately $1,100 total)” in the plan.

The “new” name will be on the new signs, so no dedicated costs will be incurred regarding the park’s formal renaming.

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Non-Native Plants Removed Near Quincy Park

A small patch of trees and shrubs have been cut down on a traffic island near Washington-Lee High School but replacement plantings are planned.

The spot alongside the intersection at Washington Boulevard and N. Quincy Street previously had several trees, including an older tree and several shrubs.

Susan Kalish, an Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson, told ARLnow that the greenery there was primarily non-native species, and “about 75 percent were diseased or dying.”

“Slowly but surely, as projects arise we look to enhance areas with native plants that will support our native species,” Kalish wrote.

County landscapers “looked at the space and decided to turn it into a forested grassy knoll,” and are in the process of replanting 15 flowering native trees and grass.

The tree removal and reinstatement at the plot directly across from Quincy Park comes weeks after Arlington officials cited stats that Arlington’s level of tree canopy coverage had slightly increased, although at least one local environmental activist has disputed that finding.

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Video: Chainsaw Artist at Work at Oakgrove Park

When a grand old oak tree died just prior to construction on an improvement project at Oakgrove Park, landscape architect Kathy von Bredow knew what she had to do.

She got in touch with prolific chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon, who’s responsible for a number of intriguing tree sculptures around Arlington, and asked him to do his magic. Now, as seen in the video above, that tree is a whimsical carving of forest animals having fun around a little house.

The carving is now a centerpiece at Oakgrove Park — or is it Oak Grove Park? — that all can enjoy. Other upgrades to the park include a new tot lot, play equipment for school-age children, picnic shelter and site furnishings.

Video via Arlington County

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APS Opening on Two Hour Delay Due to Icing Concerns

`(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Very spotty frozen precipitation fell overnight in Arlington, leading to some slick spots but no serious issues.

Concerns about an icy commute, however, led Arlington Public Schools to delay the start of school.

More from APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.

The school system’s decision, in turn, prompted Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation to also delay or cancel some of its programs.

From DPR:

Due to an Arlington Public School two-hour delayed opening, DPR will proceed as follows:

  • All congregate meal programs are cancelled.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-ops) are cancelled.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities scheduled to start prior to 11:59 a.m. are cancelled in all buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities with scheduled start times of NOON or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All evening Enjoy Arlington classes, sports league activities and nature center programs will proceed as scheduled.
  • All Community Centers (including the five joint use centers at Langston, TJ, Gunston, Carver and Drew will open on time as schedule.
  • APS Pools are open on time.

Arlington County government is expected to open on time.

Other delays and closures of note around the region this morning:

  • Federal government: Two hour delay
  • Fairfax County Public Schools: Closed
  • Loudoun County Public Schools: Closed
  • Prince William County Schools: Closed
  • Falls Church City Public Schools: Two Hour Delay
  • Alexandria City Public Schools: Open on time
  • Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools: Closed
  • D.C. Public Schools: Open on time
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Board to Consider ‘Short Bridge Park’ Name for Potomac Yard Park

The Arlington County Board will debate whether to name a park near Potomac Yard “Short Bridge Park,” after it being known informally as “South Park” for over a decade.

The county’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the name for the park between Potomac Ave and U.S. Route 1, along Four Mile Run. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria both own portions of the park.

A county staff report on the naming notes that the park had the informal moniker “South Park” as it is the southernmost park in the Potomac Yard Phased Development Site Plan, which provides a roadmap for development in the area. It was created in October 2000.

The park currently has a publicly accessible playground and a playground exclusively used by a daycare facility, planted shrub/perennial beds, walkways, a large grassy field and a steeply sloped grassy area.

Renovations to the park will improve its connectivity to the Four Mile Run Trail, as well as add facilities like a dog park, an “interpretative plaza,” more pathways, a shade structure and other plazas and a meadow.

In a letter to the Board, Parks and Recreation Commission chair Caroline Haynes said the group supports the plans for the park and its new name, which she said is a “complement to ‘Long Bridge Park‘ both in size and location.”

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn Vying for Amazon HQ2 — Rosslyn is being pitched as a possible destination for Amazon’s second headquarters, alongside Crystal City and other Northern Virginia locales. Rosslyn’s main downside is a lack of space for Amazon’s growth ambitions, but the neighborhood does have a sizable office development pipeline, close proximity to Georgetown and D.C., monumental views and numerous transit options. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Approves Service Guarantee — “Metro’s Board of Directors today approved the Rush Hour Promise program, a first-of-its-kind service guarantee for Metro customers. Beginning with tomorrow morning’s rush hour commute, on Friday, January 26, if a Metrorail or Metrobus customer using a registered SmarTrip card is delayed by 15 minutes or more, Metro will credit the customer’s SmarTrip card for future travel.” [WMATA]

Fire in Cherrydale — Arlington County firefighters extinguished a chimney fire in the Cherrydale neighborhood last night. The fire did not spread and no one was hurt. [Twitter]

Nominations for Park Volunteer Award — Nominations are being accepted through Friday, Feb. 2 for Arlington’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Award. The award “was established to pay tribute to lifelong parks volunteer Bill Thomas and to honor and encourage those residents who also demonstrate a passionate dedication and support for [Arlington parks] programs, natural resources and public open spaces.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Cherrydale Residents Fight for Proper Spelling of Park

Cherrydale residents are seeking to reclaim the original spelling of a neighborhood park as it goes through a second phase of renovations.

In a presentation at an Arlington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting yesterday (Tuesday), neighborhood resident Harry Spector said he wanted to clarify the spelling of Oak Grove Park as two words and not one word.

There are three signs currently in the park that spell it as Oakgrove. However, the original sign in the park spells it as Oak Grove.

“With this being the oldest sign at the park, it’s clear to us that this was the county’s original intended spelling of the park,” Spector said.

Though the Oakgrove spelling is cited in the county’s Parks and Recreation master plan, Spector said there is no record the county intended to change the spelling.

“It’s a typographical error that was never corrected,” he said.

Other official documents since the 1990s that required county approval have also used the two-word spelling, Spector said.

While it seems the change could be made administratively, Spector said he was directed to the Parks and Recreation Commission by county staff, as there is a two-part process for renaming parks. The commission makes recommendations to the Arlington County Board, which has the final say on approval.

“It’s a little time consuming to correct a typo, but it’s probably the only way to do it,” said David Howell, a commission member.

Spector was hoping to fast-track the change, since the county acknowledges the park as Oak Grove while the department references it as Oakgrove. He said he wants the change to happen before the park’s renovation is complete, sometime between February and May.

The renovations include a new playground for 2-5 year-olds and 5-12 year-olds. There will also be new benches and a new gazebo with picnic tables.

All the members of the committee agreed with Cherrydale residents that the name should be changed, and will be holding another meeting on the protocol of name changing and will include another motion to move forward the spelling of the park.

“It’s kind of absurd to have go through such a process for a simple, obvious grammatical error,” Spector said.

Photos via Google Maps

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