County Board Adopts Four Mile Run Valley Policy Framework

Published on May 19, 2018

(UPDATE: 11-17-2018 -- The County Board today unanimously approved the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan.)

  • Vision, conceptual plan for preserving one of County's last remaining largely industrial areas

  • Preserving Shirlington Dog Park's size, configuration, character

  • Improving Jennie Dean and Shirlington parks

  • Concept plan for Jennie Dean Park

The Arlington County Board today approved a Four Mile Run Valley Policy Framework that ties the area's future to its industrial past. Strategic interventions by the County, the policy framework suggests, can contribute to a safer, more accessible area that includes revitalized public parks, enhanced access to natural areas, better connectivity and new public and private investment that could include the arts.

[caption id="attachment_16649" align="alignright" width="300"]Four Mile Run Valley Four Mile Run Valley study area.[/caption]

"This was one of the County's most ambitious comprehensive planning efforts, because it incorporated so many different elements in one process," Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said.

"Developing the foundation for an Area Plan for the mostly industrial part of Four Mile Run Valley, and a Park Master Plan and design guidelines for both Jennie Dean and Shirlington Parks and the Shirlington Dog Park, while coordinating with the Nauck Town Square design was a heavy lift, but it allowed the community to comprehensively work on a long-range vision for the whole area."

Key elements of the vision developed by the community, working with staff and County consultants include:

  • Maintaining the existing industrial character

  • Identifying opportunities for arts-related uses

  • Maximizing casual use space

  • Improving the area along Four Mile Run

  • Balancing improving public spaces with private ownership and development

Area Plan, Park Master Plan to follow

The framework highlights the overall vision and conceptual plans for the area, and identifies the policy-related actions needed to realize the vision. It will guide staff, the County's consultants and the community in developing the details for a final Area Plan and Park Master Plan (with associated recommendations and Design Guidelines for Jennie Dean and Shirlington Parks and Shirlington Dog Park) for the area.

These plans will help guide public and private investment, including long term County operations, along with the preservation and enhancement of natural resources, open spaces, and future development, in a manner compatible with the surrounding area and consistent with the County's overall policies.

The Board voted unanimously to adopt the policy framework. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 44 on the agenda for the Saturday, May 19, 2018 Regular County Board Meeting.

[caption id="attachment_16646" align="alignright" width="300"]People and dogs in Four Mile Run Dog Park Four Mile Run Dog Park[/caption]

Jennie Dean Park

In adopting the policy framework, the Board adopted the Concept known as Concept 1 for the 12-acre Jennie Dean Park, at 3630 27th Street South. The layout makes it easy to access amenities adjacent to the diamond fields, including the restroom, playground, small and large picnic shelters, and athletic courts. It also has a variety of easy-to-access casual use spaces. Most of the improvements planned for the park will be completed in the first phase of construction.

The park will feature lighted diamond fields — one youth baseball diamond and one adult softball diamond — along South Nelson Street. The adult softball diamond can also be used as a youth rectangular field. A playground and restrooms will be placed along Four Mile Run Drive. A lighted basketball court, lighted tennis court and large picnic shelter will be added to the area just south of the WETA parcel that is adjacent to the park and that the County has said it will aquire.

During Phase 2 construction, a relocated lighted basketball court will be sited within the WETA parcel, two lighted tennis courts will be sited south of the WETA parcel, and expanded casual use space will be sited east of the relocated basketball court.

Lighting technologies designed to minimize effects from light spillover and glare to surrounding neighborhoods will be used for the park's athletic fields and courts.

Casual use space and tree canopy will surround the site. All the park elements will be incorporated north of the Resource Protection Area for Four Mile Run stream, with a soft path created north of the stream for access. A small surface parking lot on the east side of the park will be retained.

The County will continue to build upon and celebrate the neighborhood's African American history and cultural heritage beyond the existing interpretive markers currently located in Jennie Dean Park, named for Jennie Serepta Dean (1848-1913), founder of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth. This effort will take place as part of the design phase of the project.


[caption id="attachment_16632" align="alignright" width="300"]rendering of Jennie Dean Park Rendering of Jennie Dean Park design Concept I.[/caption]

About the Four Mile Run Valley process

The draft framework summarizes the planning process and briefly reviews existing conditions. It also synthesizes the common themes, guiding principles, vision statement and conceptual drawings that illustrate the future of the Four Mile Run Valley area. Policy guidance, essential to fulfilling the vision, are included and outline potential environmental, land use, open space and transportation actions to be taken over time to institute the changes sought for the area.

Four Mile Run Valley Policy Framework Study Area

The study area is bounded by Interstate 395 to the east, Arlington Mill Drive to the south, Barcroft Park to the west and Four Mile Run Drive to the north. Much of the area is zoned for industrial uses, and there are warehouses, catering, a brewery and a concrete plant within the study area. There also are many properties used for commercial services, such as auto repair and pet services. It is one of the last remaining contiguous areas planned and zoned for industrial uses in the County.

The Parks Master Plan study area included Jennie Dean Park, Shirlington Park, and the Shirlington Dog Park, Arlington's largest dog park. However, in a May 2017 work session, the County determined that no new concept should be developed for Shirlington Dog Park.

Public engagement

From the beginning of the process, public engagement included bi-monthly meetings with the Board-appointed Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, which included representatives from the three neighboring civic associations, property and business owners, area non-profit organizations, advisory boards, and commissions. The group met more than 30 times to review and comment on staff and consultant analysis, preliminary concepts and the draft Policy Framework.

Staff also held a community forum, a community open house, check-ins and review sessions with the three nearby civic associations upon request. There were a dozen sessions with civic associations, advisory boards and commissions to review the draft Policy Framework. The Policy Framework was posted online, and more than 200 comments were received. The County Board held two work sessions as the planning effort progressed, one in May 2017 and another in February 2018.

View documents related to the Four Mile Run Valley planning process. Learn more about the Nauck Town Square project.

To read the staff report visit the County website. Scroll to agenda Item No. 44 for the Saturday, May 19, 2018 Regular County Board Meeting.

Learn more about the Nauck Town Square project.

Learn more about the award-winning  Four Mile Run Stream Restoration project.