New Options for Long Bridge Park, Lubber Run

Published on April 13, 2016

CORRECTION: 04-15-2016: In a release issued April 13, the estimated base construction cost of the planned Long Bridge Park aquatics, health and fitness facility failed to note that the figure included development of 10.5 more acres of parkland. The correct estimated construction costs of the aquatics health and fitness facility and development of 10.5 more acres of parkland is between $46 million and $50.5 million.The text below has been corrected.

  • County Manager proposes smaller Long Bridge aquatics, health and fitness facility, completing 10.5 acres of open space

  • Replacing Lubber Run Community Center, increasing open space

  • Start of robust community discussion on both proposals

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz on Tuesday presented the County Board with options for moving forward with both the replacement of the Lubber Run Community Center and development of 10.5 more acres of open space and a reduced aquatics, health and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park.

The Board's work session on the two projects helped frame the community's upcoming discussion on updating the Capital Improvement Program, the County's 10-year blueprint for funding major facilities and infrastructure. The work session, Chair Libby Garvey noted, "is the beginning of the process" of engaging the community on both projects.

An aquatics, health and fitness center to meet core community needs  

"After careful study, extensive engagement with the community and a lot of hard work by the Long Bridge Park Advisory Committee (LBPAC), we have developed a proposal to create an outstanding swimming and fitness center and 10 more acres of open space at Long Bridge Park within the existing budget and without additional taxpayer funds," Schwartz said.

The goal is to meet core community needs and complete the open space and aquatics, health and fitness center within the existing $64 million budget, he said. Toby Smith, chairman of the Board-appointed BPAC, said the group agrees with the goals.

"Our fundamental recommendation is: don't spend a dime more than what is already bonded," said Toby Smith, chairman of the Board-appointed BPAC.  The proper way to include any elements that were removed from the program, he said on behalf of the committee, "would be through finding a sponsor or partner to bear the costs of those additions."

Both Schwartz and Smith noted that the County's recent POPS (A Plan for Our Places and Spaces) statistically valid community survey indicated that swimming pools were the most important indoor facility to Arlington residents, with exercise and fitness ranked second.

"We knew from experience that we commonly have more people on the waiting list for County aquatics classes than in the class," Schwartz said. "What the community process showed us is that community support for an aquatics, health and fitness facility at Long Bridge Park remains strong."

Board members praised the advisory group and County staff for reducing both the estimated construction costs and estimated operating costs for the aquatics, health and fitness facility.

Schwartz reported that a partnership the County explored with the City of Alexandria to build and share the aquatics, health and fitness center seems out of reach at this point. He said the County continues to explore potential private-sector partnership and sponsorships.

Fewer pools, lower construction and operating costs for Long Bridge Park project

The revised plan for Long Bridge Park reduces the size of the facility by 37 percent, to about 73,000 square feet. The reductions are achieved by reducing the number of pools from the three proposed in 2012 to two, reducing the number of lobbies, circulation areas and storage space. The smaller building, fewer pools, and a less expensive HVAC system all contribute to lower construction and operating costs. The family pool and teaching pool would be combined into a single pool under the new proposal, and the therapy pool and three dive towers eliminated. Space for a health and fitness center would be retained.

Extensive civic engagement identified community priorities

The recommendations resulted from a civic engagement process that included working with the LBPAC, surveys and a number of public participation events where participants shared what project elements were most important to them.

17 percent reduction in estimated total project cost

Estimated base construction cost for the recommended down-sized aquatics  health and fitness facility and development of another 10.5-acres of parkland is between $46 million and $50.5 million, Schwartz said, with the possibility of adding options such as advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and 300 more spectator seats if the budget allowed or a partner or sponsor could be found.

With development of the additional 10.5 acres of parkland, a $5 million contingency and project management, design and other "soft costs," the total project cost is estimated at between $63 million and $67.5 million — a 17 percent reduction from the $79.2 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Budget estimate for the project. The County currently has $64 million earmarked for the project — primarily funded from a combination of voter-approved bonds and Transfer of Development Rights funding.

To view the staff presentation on the proposed revisions to the aquatics facility, visit the County website. Learn more about the history of the County's development of Long Bridge Park, located in Crystal City along the Potomac River.

Multi-purpose center proposed for Lubber Run

Schwartz recommended moving forward with a plan to replace the aging Lubber Run Community Center at 300 N. Park Dr., with a multi-use community center. The new center would be up to four stories and would include program space for multi-generational activities, the existing pre-school, a gymnasium, underground parking and space to accommodate park staff. The recommendations grew from community feedback as well as review of County-wide recreational needs.

The proposal follows the recommendations of the Community Facilities Study that the County seek opportunities to combine uses on scarce public lands and build up rather than out to preserve open space. Eliminating the current surface parking lot and building a three-to-four-story community center with underground parking, Schwartz said, would add about 1.1 acres of open space to Lubber Run. The project's estimated cost is $44.8 million.

The replacement proposal calls for a community center that would include flexible multi-purpose spaces for inter-generational programs; a ground-floor gymnasium; space to consolidate Department of Parks and Recreation staffers, new basketball and volleyball courts; an upgraded playground that will meet ADA accessibility standards and the current Department of Parks and Recreation pre-school program.

To learn more about the Lubber Run Community Center Project, visit the County website. View the staff presentation on the project scope recommendations.