Arlington Leader Defends Costly Projects In South Arlington

6:14 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va.  (WUSA) - A massive structure dwarfing other buildings along Columbia Pike looks more like a luxury condominium complex, than a government building.

Arlington County leaders insist the Arlington Mill Community Center which is under construction in South Arlington is worth its $28 million cost.

The five-story, 60,000-square-foot building and 7,400-square-foot gymnasium is set to open in the summer of 2013.   

Above the north side of the two-story garage is a 122-unit multifamily project for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

But Arlington resident Todd Post thinks the project is too expensive in a time of budget cutting and when the sequester threatens to furlough many federal workers who live in Arlington.   
"It seems like they like to go for the gold, a Porsche, when  a used car would do," said Post. 

He's also opposed to the county's plan to build 23 more super station bus stops.  The first one built along Columbia Pike at Walter Reed Drive came in way over budget at $1 million.   A regular bus stop costs only $30,000.  Post also complains about the plan to build the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Facility.  

"I think Arlington County has  a problem with needs and wants. 

You look at something like the Arlington Mill Community Center of the Aquatics Center that they want to build for $80 million and your taking out bond money for.  It's going to have a lazy river in it.  Is that really necessary when you can go to Wakefield High School and swim in lanes in a facility that already paid for?" questioned Post.  

But Arlington leaders say both the Arlington Mill Community Center and the Long Bridge Aquatics Facility will fill a void in communities that have been under-served.   They say the benefits of both centers are immeasurable because they'll add economic vitality to areas of Arlington  that  desperately need it. 

Board Chairman Walter Tejada said about the Arlington Mill Center, "For too long that community center had not been redone.  It was just a old Safeway that was turned into a community center temporarily.  So I think people from all walks of life deserve to have a community center that, by the way, was approved by voters."

Tejada also pointed out that the aquatics center was approved by voters and will  bring healthy living to a diverse community there as well.  As far as the expensive bus stop, he says the board is not happy with the cost overrun and will reassess the design for future stops, which he says will go forward, along with the plan to bring a street car to Columbia Pike.   

Tejada bristled at the suggestion the county board was wasting money, emphasizing Arlington County's AAA bond rating and strict financial management.  


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