Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Alexandria and Arlington Consider Aquatics and Fitness Center Partnership

Arlington, Alexandria to Gauge Community Interest in Long Bridge Park Partnership

In a press release this morning, Arlington County announced that it is considering a partnership with the City of Alexandria in order to seek "creative solutions for aquatics and fitness facilities in the region" while Arlington continues to improve Long Bridge Park. 

The unique partnership would help advance desires in both communities to solve their recreational facility needs. Both jurisdictions have faced challenges recently. Arlington's planned facility at Long Bridge Park was halted by unforeseen rises in construction cost estimates, while Alexandria has shuttered neighborhood pools due to maintenance problems. Alexandria's goal of creating a 50-pool could be met with such a partnership in a joint facility in nearby Crystal City. 

Here's the rest of the press release from Arlington County:

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria plan to ask their residents if their governments should explore the possibility of a partnership to develop an aquatics, health and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park to meet the recreation interests of both communities.

“If the synergy is there, and both communities are interested, we will explore this further,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes. “Partnerships are just one of the many creative ways we are approaching the development of our facilities and programs.”

Both jurisdictions to survey their residents

Both jurisdictions will survey residents as part of needs assessments for their respective park and recreation systems. Alexandria is asking residents this summer about their interest in collaborating with Arlington to develop an aquatics, health and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park. Arlington will do the same this fall as part of its community discussions to update its Public Spaces Master Plan.

A question included in the Alexandria survey asks about community interest in “a proposal to partner with Arlington County on development of a 50-meter pool at Long Bridge Park. This would be done instead of the expansion of the facility at Chinquapin Park.”

Arlington’s fall survey will ask a similar question. If both communities show an interest, the next step will be to consider cost and operational questions, and report to respective leadership.

Arlington Board interested in partners for Long Bridge Park
In March, the Arlington County Board asked the County Manager to seek broad public input to review Phase 2 of the 2013 Long Bridge Park Master Plan. The fall survey will be the Department of Parks and Recreation’s broadest outreach effort. Phase 2 includes the aquatics, health and fitness facility; 10 acres of parkland; continuation of the esplanade; and more environmental remediation. The County Board further instructed the County Manager to continue to seek partners for the project.

Park improvements continue

Meanwhile, the County continues to improve Long Bridge Park. The County Board voted unanimously in June to begin construction of playgrounds on three lawn areas at the south end of Long Bridge Park between 6th Street South and the sports fields. The $1.082 million contract — including $90,000 for contingencies — will provide play equipment for children ranging in age from two to 12 years.

Children helped design the new playgrounds, which will include a cooling “fog” system, sculpted play forms, a tunnel, bridges, a shade structure covering the pre-school area, accessible paths, benches and fencing. The playgrounds complete the southern portion of the park with a much-needed, family-friendly amenity; these should open in the third quarter of 2016.

Background

Long Bridge Park is an approximately 30-acre park in Crystal City, overlooking the Potomac River. Close to 10,000 people celebrated July 4 at the park this year. Long Bridge, once a brownfield and industrial wasteland, is now a sustainable park that offers stunning views of the Capital monuments, together with three full-size, multi-sport, lighted, rectangular synthetic-turf fields (home of Marymount University soccer and lacrosse teams); a network of walkways with an esplanade; and a striking public art feature, Wave Arbor.
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