Arlington, VA

Next week, county officials will present details and ask for feedback on a long-awaited project to restore a pond along the W&OD Trail.

On Tuesday, October 1, Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services will present a draft plan for digging the Swallow Pond in Glencarlyn Park deeper, and restoring some of the wild habitat in and around the pond.

People interested in learning more about the designs can attend the meeting at the Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Officials are also welcoming feedback from community members.

“The project goal is to restore the pond to the original depth by removing sediment, add a sediment collection forebay to allow easier maintenance and sediment removal, maximize water quality benefits, and restore habitat,” the county wrote on the project webpage.

Officials hope that clearing sediment means clearer water will flow from the pond to Four Mile Run — making this project one of several the county is hoping can cut down on pollution and clouding downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.

Sparrow Pond was man made in 2001 and has been slowly filling up with sediment ever since.

Sparrow Pond in 2018 after years of sediment build up, filling in the manmade waterway (Image via Arlington County)

Sediment was first cleared out of the pond 2007, per a county presentation. The pond was due for another clean-up in 2012, but the work was delayed. Several studies later, the pond is now slated for a full restoration project.

During a March community meeting, residents expressed concerns that construction could introduce invasive plants like Japanese knotweed via machinery that’s worked in places already seeded with the fast-growing shrub. Residents also requested crews do the work outside of the sparrow breeding cycle (roughly March to August) to protect the pond’s namesake avian inhabitants.

Image 1 via Flickr Pool/Dennis Dimick, others via Arlington County

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Some long-awaited improvements could finally be on the way for the Ballston Pond, which could help keep trash out of the waterway and help better manage stormwater in the area.

County officials are planning a community meeting to discuss the project tomorrow (Wednesday) at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street). The gathering is set to start at 7:30 p.m.

The meeting is the first on the pond improvements since 2012, and the county has been eyeing some work on the small body of water since early 2011.

The pond, located near the intersection of I-66 and Fairfax Drive, was originally designed as a way to collect stormwater runoff from the highway back when it was first built decades ago. But sediment from the water built up in the pond over the years, and a combination of invasive plants and trash have also plagued the area.

Accordingly, the county has long sought to install new trash control devices and other new vegetation buffers around the pond. Officials have also decided to replace a walkway around its perimeter, particularly as it nears the CACI office building and AVA Ballston apartments, and add a new “boardwalk” along a section the pond as well.

The county drained the pond to clean it up a bit back in 2013, then spent the next few years removing unwanted plants growing nearby and securing the necessary easements to let the project go forward.

But with all that work finally completed, the county is now finalizing designs for the project and hopes to get work started later this summer.

So long as the community signs off on the designs, the County Board could vote to send the project out for bid this spring.

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Morning Notes

Sunset over Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County Gets $500k for Beaver Pond Project — Arlington County has received a $500,000 state grant for a project to improve the Ballston beaver pond. “The $2.7 million improvement project, paid for mostly from stormwater funds, includes changing the flow pattern to keep water in the pond longer, allowing wetland plants to remove nutrients and other pollutants before it flows out,” the county said in a press release. “Construction is expected to begin in the summer 2014.” [Arlington County]

Fisette’s Disclosure Doesn’t Include Husband — County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s annual financial disclosure did not include the finances of his husband. Fisette was married in D.C. this past September, but Fisette says he’s not required to include his spouse in the disclosure since their marriage is not recognized under Virginia law. [Washington Post]

Howze Tops Fundraising Battle — Democratic County Board hopeful Alan Howze has raised the most money of any County Board candidate, with $16,245. Fellow Democrat Cord Thomas appears to be completely self-funding his campaign, while independent candidate John Vihstadt’s donors include a number of local Republicans. [Blue Virginia]

Congressional Primary Date Set — A date has been set for the crowded Democratic primary in the race to succeed the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The primary will be held on June 10. [Twitter]

APS Budget Forum Dates Set — Arlington Public Schools will hold three community forums on the upcoming FY 2015 budget. The forums will be held on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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An oasis of wetlands and wildlife, tucked between the office towers of Ballston and the traffic of I-66, is safe from highway construction impacts, the county’s Department of Environmental Services says.

The Ballston Beaver Pond, as it’s called, was initially designed to collect stormwater runoff from I-66. But that started to change in the 1990s when beavers moved in and dammed up the drainage system, creating a pond and wetlands to form. The Beaver Pond is now a habitat frequented by muskrat, geese, ducks, heron, egrets, redwing blackbirds, fish, turtles and the occasional beaver.

The Beaver Pond is located next to a bike trail that connects Ballston and the Custis Trail, just north of the ramp from Fairfax Drive to I-66.

Residents of the nearby Waycroft Woodlawn neighborhood have become fond of the pond and became worried when a bulldozer arrived in the area as part of the I-66 widening project. But not to fear says Aileen Winquist, of the county’s Environmental Management Bureau.

“The Beaver Pond is not in danger from the current I-66 spot improvement project and widening of westbound I-66,” Winquist said in an email.

Winquist noted that the design work on a planned restoration of the Beaver Pond will begin this fall. The restoration will clean up trash and sediment from the pond and provide better water quality treatment. There will be several public meetings held to educate residents about the project.

Although the Beaver Pond will be largely unaffected by the I-66 widening, a VDOT-owned stormwater retention pond across the street will be impacted. Construction is planned for the facility, but details about the exact nature of the work were not immediately available.

More photos after the jump.

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