For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Contact: Mary Curtius 703-228-7943 (voice) 703-228-4611(TTY)
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved a land swap with the federal government that will allow Arlington National Cemetery to expand and provide land for the County to build an Arlington heritage center and black history museum at Columbia Pike’s eastern gateway.
The agreement involves two parcels of land, both 4.3 acres, to be exchanged after 2011. The County will turn over a strip of land that includes Southgate Road, running parallel to the cemetery’s south side. The federal government will give the County the western end of a site currently occupied by the Navy Annex facility. Click here to view a map detailing the swap.
“This agreement clearly works to the benefit of both the federal government and the County,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “The cemetery acquires new ground for much-needed expansion while the County gains a well-situated, historically significant focal point for our community, its past and its legacy.”
The Board noted that this is an important milestone in the effort to building a heritage center and black history museum, but much remains to be done.
The County has for years explored options to create a center to house historical records and materials and to teach Arlington's story through exhibits and public programs. The land swap allows the County to move forward with its museum project.
The County also has supported efforts to find a home for the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, a “museum without walls” that has created traveling and Web exhibits on subjects including Freedman's Village, a community for former slaves on land now part of Arlington National Cemetery's south end and adjacent to the Navy Annex.
The heritage center and black history museum will contribute significantly to the revitalization of the Columbia Pike corridor, the business, transportation and residential core of South Arlington. Several recently approved projects are bringing new energy to the Pike, which is being transformed under the Form Based Code into a mixed-use, more pedestrian-friendly area with enhanced transportation options.
The County and community groups now will explore funding, partnerships, designs and themes to be used for the new center and museum with oversight from the Board-appointed Arlington Heritage Center Task Force.
Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) championed the County’s interest in the land exchange in Congress. Through their efforts, the 2005 Federal Defense Authorization Bill empowered the U.S. Department of Defense to enter into negotiations with Arlington and stipulated that the County will use the land for a heritage center and black history museum.
The County worked with the Pentagon for more than a year to incorporate the swap into the Pentagon Master Plan for the Pentagon reservation.
The Defense Department currently uses the annex site as office “swing space” for Pentagon renovations and for base closure and realignment activities. The eastern end of the Navy Annex parcel is now home to the United States Air Force Memorial.
A 2003 act of Congress had called for the cemetery to expand to the Navy Annex site.
This summer, Arlington signed a Community Covenant with the secretary of the Army, reaffirming the County’s commitment to Fort Myer and its military and civilian families. At a ceremony earlier this month, the County accepted steel from the Pentagon's Sept. 11 crash site, to be placed on permanent display aboard the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Arlington transport ship.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.