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September 11 GCA Meeting Urgent Care Site
Katie Cristol, vice chair of the Arlington County Board, and Greg Greeley, vice chair of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC), met with the a room full of neighborhood residents at the September 11 Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association meeting for over one hour. Ms. Cristol opened with the steps that let up to the joint establishment by the County and School Board of the JFAC in January 2017. Although the intent is to use the JFAC to look at the desirability of acquiring an locating mid- to long term county and school facility needs, its first task was to make recommendations on the Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) Urgent Care property on south Carlin Springs Road and the commercial Buck property on north Quincy street across from Washington-Lee High school. Phase 1 was to identify the needs of both the county and schools for various facilities. Phase 2 was to determine what may be good fits for potential locations. After a dozen meetings seeking community input and considering several dozen different possible options for uses of the properties. The JFAC draft report in June recommended for phase 3 study possible scenario C for Buck and scenarios A and C for Carlin Springs. The County Board approved the acquisition of the Carlin Spring site as part of the land swap and directed that staff prepare to proceed with these studies. (The report and lots of other information is on the JFAC News Archive located at https://commissions.arlingtonva.us/jfac/jfac-news-archive/)
Phase 3 the Use Determination Process, as described in the September Village View, is to consider issues including:
- Transportation analysis including traffic impact analysis, pedestrian circulation, access to public transportation, ingress and egress, and parking, etc.)
- Environmental and historic/cultural analysis (natural resources, historic or cultural resources, noise, light, sustainability elements)
- Infrastructure review of capacities and access (water/sewer, storm sewer, electricity, telecommunications, gas,)
- Cost analysis (site preparation, facility (new, addition or re-hab), operating and maintenance costs, existing tenancies, easements.)
As of the September meeting, the Arlington County staff are scoping out the studies which may last from 6 to 9 months and will largely be conducted by consultants. Current expectations are that the costs may be $1 million, which has not been allocated. The County Board is expected to approve the funding in November by allocating some unused end of year 2017 funding (year ended June 30). Prior to the results of the studies being brought to the County and School Boards there will be significant opportunities for public input.
Transfer of the ownership of VHC site is likely to occur in the summer of 2018. The VHC has committed to relocate the Urgent Care and getting the Arlington Pediatric Center to another location(s) in south Arlington.
The Possible Scenarios for Carlin Springs Site
(Please note, these are possible scenarios proposed in the draft JFAC Phase 2 Report and may change as a result of the Phase 3 studies.)
Scenario A – The Carlin Springs site would include four different activities. About 40% of the space all along the eastern side of the property for either passive or active recreation. About 25 % of the space on the north west corner would be a structure for fire department reserve vehicles. These are not ones which make calls but are in for periodic service; for every vehicle at stations ready to respond there is ½ a vehicle in reserve. The other 35% of the property would be for Arlington Public Schools (APS) bus parking, in the center, space for Department of Environmental Services materials staging (e.g. for road and other construction and maintenance) along the south western side of the property. The actual uses for the open space would be consistent with the updated Public Spaces Master Plan. The scenario includes a buffer to the single-family neighborhood to the north, screening of proposed uses and a pedestrian network encircling the property and potentially connecting to 5th Rd. South, which will be beneficial if it improves access to an expanded Glencarlyn Park and the Nature Center.
Scenario C – This scenario is more flexible for long term use with no permanent structures in the near term. About 30% of the space all along the eastern side of the property for either passive or active recreation. Approximately 30% of the property space along the northwestern side for school seats for elementary or middle school needs, or this could be swing space for School or County needs. The remaining 40% would provides for APS and ART surface bus parking. Since surface parking does not require a substantial investment, the property could easily be repurposed for other structures in the future.
Questions During the Meeting
Traffic and Safety Issues – There were numerous comments and questions about the study of traffic and safety to pedestrians. Ms. Cristol reiterated the areas that would be covered in the Phase 3 analysis (see above). She committed to ensuring that the traffic studies would be sure to fully capture the traffic during the peak times of the year. On the question of whether the studies would include the potential use of the site as a future school facility, she said she would get back to us; she did note that study for that use at this time would not be useful if planning for a school on that site is more than 5 years away. It was suggested that the traffic study look at the addressing traffic on Carlin Springs from where it was coming, i.e. from Fairfax, and seeing if steps may be able to deal with it there.
There were a number of concerns about the bus parking raised at the meeting. The JFAC Phase 2 draft report notes
“Due to the strong opposition to ART Bus and APS bus parking on both Buck and Carlin Springs sites, many of those questions were about bus parking. The outstanding questions about bus parking include:
- Why can’t Arlington park buses outside of the County?
- Are there other places within the Arlington to park buses? In particular land that is currently vacant, in areas such as Potomac Yard.
- Could the Arcland site on Shirlington road be purchased . . .”
After the Phase 2 report was presented, on July 27 there was a very informative 80 minute informational session of JFAC, County and School staff on questions related to bus operations. The slides from the presentation and the You Tube video of the presentation are on the JFAC News Archive located at https://commissions.arlingtonva.us/jfac/jfac-news-archive/)
The County is continuing to determine if they can find locations for bus parking other than on the Buck or VHC Urgent care site. The issue is that if buses are located well outside of the county there is at least a $6 million per year operational cost added because of the added time and distance they need to travel.
GCA President Julie Lee wrapped up the discussion thanking our guests and noting that both the County Board, staff and JFAC have been extremely helpful in letting us know what is going on and ensuring that public comment was being heard. She assured everyone that she and the GCA would continue to closely monitor all that is going on in this process and keeping all of the residents informed. If you have any questions for her or ones that you would like addressed by the County or JFAC, please contact her at email@example.com or 808-384-4954
For more information go to JFAC’s webpage at: https://commissions.arlingtonva.us/jfac/.