Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Begin Planning Four Mile Run Park Expansion Now


I recently spoke to Alexandria's Open Space coordinator, Laura Durham. We discussed Four Mile Run Park Expansion: she said the site of a former dry cleaner should be environmentally certified this month (this site is the hold up on park expansion). I was told that then, and only then, could planning for Four Mile Run Park expansion begin (old post on the subject). I accepted that as just the way things work.

And then Kevin Beekman referred me to a docket item from a City Council meeting last February. I think this area is actually getting snubbed (again). It seems park planning and environmental studies and remediation could be a parallel process, as with Del Ray's pocket park (1 and 7 East Del Ray Ave). The pocket park was acquired in January 2008, and is already in advanced planning stages (November 2008 presentation on pocket park). The planning for Del Ray's pocket park included "any future environmental studies" as a component of the process. The following two excerpts from 05 Feb 08 City Council meeting docket item 6 seem to indicate there are environmental issues with that site as well:
As late as 1987, the property was developed with a furniture stripping business. The buildings on site were demolished, and the owner (at that time) was permitted by the Virginia Department of Health to bury paint remover and other residue from the business on-site as part of the demolition process. The current property owner has provided an environmental assessment of the site’s soil with the contract documents. The City will comply with any environmental regulations involved in the development of this site as apark. (pg 4)
Future Use of the Property:
After the City purchases the property, Staff will initiate the park planning and design process. The public will be invited to participate in this design process, with review from the Park and Recreation Commission. Any required future environmental studies and work will be a component of this plan.
(pg 5)
I think the citizens in the North End (Arlandria, Hume Springs, Lynhaven, Sunnyside, etc.), after 2 years, are getting tired of staring at demolished, weed covered lots that are a blight on the neighborhood. The least we could do is post a graphic of what could be (use something from the Four Mile Run Restoration Project) and begin the planning process. We know and understand that city staff is very busy, but they have to realize that the translation for people in the neighborhoods on the North End is "we're so busy with projects in the rest of Alexandria that we have no time for your area."

Contact the Mayor and City Council and insist they push staff to begin Four Mile Park expansion planning now. Brainstorming, requests for citizen input, and discussion would go a long way towards getting the project more shovel ready when all the environmental concerns are rectified.
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