View Full Version : New 395 Crossing for Cyclists? Arlington County Board Needs to Hear from You

Mark Blacknell
06-10-2010, 02:42 PM
The Issue

Arlington cyclists have been pressing for over a decade to get bicycle-pedestrian access across a corner of the Army Navy Country Club (ANCC) to connect Army Navy Drive on the south side of Shirley Highway (I-395) with a street in the Arlington View neighborhood north of I-395. Such a connection would allow cyclists heading south on the new paved bike trail along Washington Blvd. at Route 50 to continue across Columbia Pike, past the Hoffman-Boston school and ride on under I-395 to the Pentagon City area. ANCC has long resisted giving an easement for this Hoffman-Boston trail connection.

The Process

However, the country club is now before the County seeking a zoning change and use permit that will allow for enlargement of its clubhouse. As part of that process, ANCC has agreed to provide the needed bicycle-pedestrian easement (which would also serve as an emergency access road) as one of the conditions for approval of the use permit. The item comes before the County Board for action this Saturday afternoon. Approval of the club's use permit by the Board is not certain due to a number of other issues. But from a cyclist's perspective, this is a moment we have been waiting for for many years.

The Action

Cyclists are encouraged to contact the County Board to urge for approval of this agenda item so that Arlington's cyclists and pedestrians can gain a valuable new route to transit between north and south Arlington. Email messages can be sent to the Board at countyboard@arlingtonva.us. Note in the subject line Board Meeting item # 37 -- Army Navy Country Club. If you prefer to call the individual board members, the County Board's central number is 703-228-3130.

The most impact, of course, comes from direct testimony at the Board's meeting on Saturday. This item is unlikely to come up before noon. You can see the Board's meeting schedule here (http://arlington.granicus.com/AgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=308.). You will find the bike-ped right of way mentioned on pp. 5-6 of Report 37B. The web site has a hot link to the full report.

If you have not testified at the County Board before, the first thing you need to do is submit a speaker slip to the clerk. The slips are available outside the Board room on the 3rd floor of Courthouse Plaza. The clerk is seated on the left side of the Board dais at the far end of the room. She has a box beside her in which the speaker slip should be placed. They MUST be turned in BEFORE item 37 is taken up by the Board--otherwise it is too late!

If Arlington is able to secure this trail right of way, we will still have challenges in designing and obtaining the funds to build the Hoffman-Boston connector trail. But without the initial right of way, we have nothing.

06-10-2010, 03:48 PM
Approval of the club's use permit by the Board is not certain due to a number of other issues. But from a cyclist's perspective, this is a moment we have been waiting for for many years.

But what are the "other issues"? It does not make sense to blindly support this item if there are downsides that outweigh the desire to create a crossing over 395.

Mark Blacknell
06-10-2010, 04:16 PM
Hi, Deb - excellent point. My understanding is that there are two possible issues. The first is that some members of the ANCC are unhappy with the decision of the ANCC board to grant an easement for the emergency access road, and may be voicing this unhappiness, emphasizing the total cost (to the County) of one of the implementation options. My view is that the cost issue can be addressed in the future (perhaps with one of the alternative options), and that securing the right of way is simply the first (and necessary) step. The second issue - and this should be given "I heard from someone who heard from someone who told them" status - is that others involved with the process feel as though the County could have asked for more from the ANCC. The linked staff report outlines the various concessions and whatnot. I have no particular view on building heights and streetscaping along Army Navy Drive, myself.

If any one else has more information, or differing views, please join in.

Mark Blacknell
06-14-2010, 08:33 AM
I just wanted to note that this item passed this weekend, on a 4-1 vote. I want to thank everyone who took the time to write in or appear at the County Board meeting. This is, of course, just the first step in a long process. Securing the funding for building the emergency access road/MUT path will take some time. If this is an important piece of infrastructure for you, please consider getting involved with that effort. Thanks again, all.

Mark Blacknell
07-13-2010, 08:14 AM
Something more of a follow-up. It looks like a few of the ANCC members are really really unhappy about this. From the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/12/AR2010071205168.html):

“When officials at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington County decided to replace the fraying clubhouse with a $49 million facility offering expansive views of the Washington skyline, club members -- including many generals and other high-ranking military officers -- gave the project hale and hearty support.

Until they learned that the views would come with a price: Arlington agreed to let them build a new clubhouse about 20 feet higher than zoning rules would allow -- if the club would let the county build a public bike path on the eastern edge of the golf course, which abuts Interstate 395.

A public bike path? Cyclists and skateboarders whooshing by? Distracting concentration on Red Hole Five? That would not do.

"Once the word gets out to the younger generation there is a secluded place to come and visit and have some fun, you can bet they're going to be there," retired Navy Capt. Louis Kriser said at a recent public hearing. "Gangs. Rivals. Hazards to pedestrians coming in and out. . . . I can see The Washington Post: 'Golf Ball From Army Navy Country Club Fifth Hole Hits Baby.' "

Last week, the normally staid country club was roiled by controversy when 14 of its members sued the club's leaders, saying that they cut an inappropriate deal with the county for the bike path -- or "hell's canyon," as one called it -- without a vote from its members, which they say violates the club's bylaws.

"They risked their lives in Iraq and can't even get a vote at their own country club," one supporter said.”

I can't say that I often recommend looking at the comments to anything involving bikes at the Washington Post, but you might find the ones (presently there) in this case . . . interesting.

07-13-2010, 09:23 AM
Thanks mark. I volunteer to be in the crew sent out by Arlington to trim the top 20' off the top of their club house. I've got a saws-all and I'm willing to help. ;)

I'm totally joking about that comment above. I just love that projects like this get special concessions if they include multi-use trails into their project plan, then find excuses to cut the trails out of their plans late in the project.

Mark Blacknell
07-13-2010, 09:28 AM
Something tells me you'd get a bit of help, Pete.

It's my understanding that the easement isn't contingent upon the ANCC's use of the waiver/construction. The only contingency is that the path/emergency access be built within 20 years, I think. So this is more about an internal squabble than anything else. Well, that and preventing Arlington's gangs (http://blacknell.net/dynamic/2010/07/07/arlingtons-got-a-gang-problem/) from threatening ANCC members.

07-13-2010, 10:03 AM
Calculus and poetry alone are scary enough... the combination will likely lay waste to any country club. ;)

07-16-2010, 08:17 AM
This is a non-issue at this point. ANCC has agreed to this condition. If they are internally upset with the powers that they bestowed on their leaders that is an internal problem. They do have 60 days to challenge the 4.1. I'm glad this access has been provided as it is exciting to have a new way of getting across the 395 barrier.