Expanding Arlington County Parks

Published on June 21, 2016


  • Land purchase to grow Benjamin Banneker Park

  • Parkland gift from HITT Construction, Inc.

  • Honoring resident for helping create Chestnut Hills Park


The Arlington County Board approved the purchase of parkland to expand Benjamin Banneker Park and the donation of three parcels from a private company for parkland. In another action, the Board honored a resident whose efforts helped create Chestnut Hills Park.

The Board's actions were in keeping with the results of a 2016 Parks and Recreation Community Needs Assessment, where respondents listed acquiring open space as a top priority, and support Arlington's national ranking as a top park system by the Trust for Public Land. The Board's actions were in keeping with the results of a 2016 Parks and Recreation Community Needs Assessment, where respondents listed acquiring open space as a top priority, and support Arlington's national ranking as a top park system by the Trust for Public Land. Over the last ten years, the County has acquired more than 20 acres of park land.

"The Board will continue to look for opportunities to expand our parkland, whether through purchase, other means — such as undergrounding parking and creating a field on top — using found space for a pop-up park, or in the happy event of a civic-minded company or individual donating land," County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "Parks and open space are important to the health and well-being of our entire community."

Arlington is a largely built-out community, which makes adding green space a challenge. The County has capitalized on creative ways to expand and update its parks, while also cultivating and preserving the area's natural resources.

County continues to expand Benjamin Banneker Park


The Board voted 5 to 0 at the June 21 Board Meeting to approve the purchase of a home at 6600 18th St. N., adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park. The house on the property will be deconstructed later this year, and the site will be restored for expansion of the park.

Over the years, the County has acquired parcels along 18th Street North for the park, after the properties were identified in the County Board adopted Public Spaces Master Plan for acquisition to expand the park.

About this purchase


The County will pay $637,500 for the 8,487-square-foot lot, located on the south side of 18th Street North at the intersection with North Tuckahoe Street. The sales price is consistent with an appraisal obtained by the County from a licensed Virginia real estate appraiser in April 2016. The County estimates closing costs of approximately $5,000 and the removal and site restoration to cost around $50,000, paid for from parkland acquisition funds.

To read the staff report on this project, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 36 on the June 21, 2016 Board Meeting.

Board approves Hitt Contracting, Inc.'s land donation


The Board also approved the donation of land by Hitt Contracting, Inc. Hitt donated three undeveloped parcels, totaling approximately 7,432 square feet, near the intersection of 18th Street North and North Quantico Street. The land is at an entrance to the County pedestrian and bicycle trail abutting the north side of I-66.

Hitt intended to develop the land, but was unable to do so because of zoning restrictions. The developer donated the land to the County as parkland. The County will pay no more than $2,000 in closing costs, which will be paid from parkland acquisition funds.

The Board voted unanimously as part of the June 18 consent agenda to approve this donation.

To read the staff report on this project, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 18 on the Regular Agenda for the June 18, 2016 Board Meeting.

Memorial plaque to honor Jane Gilmer Wilhelm


To honor an Arlington County resident's initiatives to expand parkland, the Board today approved the dedication of a plaque to memorialize Jane Gilmer Wilhelm. The plaque will be placed on an existing bench in Chestnut Hills Park to commemorate her efforts to establish the park.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to Jane for her vision, tenacity and generosity," Garvey said. "Because of her efforts and sense of community, we now have the wonderful treasure that is Chestnut Hills Park. What a special legacy to pass on to future generations."

An activist's vision for the future

Ms. Wilhelm reared her four children at 2723 N. Harrison St. in Arlington during the 1940s and 50s. She realized older kids could play at the fields in nearby Greenbrier Park, but there wasn't a public park or playground for the younger children.

She asked her neighbors to join her in selling their land to Arlington County to create a park for younger children. Together with community members Jane eventually arranged for Arlington County to buy three lots and houses to be consolidated into a park with a playground.

The plaque honors Ms. Wilhelm's efforts to create the park, as well as her many meaningful contributions to her community. It will be inscribed, "In Memory of Jane Gilmer Wilhelm, 1914-2002, whose vision helped create this park." Her family will pay the cost of the plaque and its installation on the bench.

The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the plaque. To read the staff report on this project, and learn more about Jane Wilhelm, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 35 on the Consent Agenda for the June 18, 2016 Board Meeting.