New Lubber Run Community Center a Boondoggle

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, 09/16/2017.

Staff’s presentation demonstrates a robust process of community engagement in the redesign of Lubber Run Community Center (LRCC), including all relevant stakeholders—except Mother Nature.

The overlay map on page 18 shows that, at twice its size, the footprint of the new center will dwarf the existing one. An underground parking garage, courts and playgrounds will grab most of the remaining open space at the site and necessitate removal of over 100 mature trees.

Much is made of the fact that the garage is underground, freeing up space now dedicated to surface parking. But construction of the garage will require excavation of the site, and since no environmental assessment is available, the adverse impacts it will have on the Lubber Run watershed are unknown.

It is known that the Lubber Run site has a low water table with surface water at or near the foundation of the underground garage.

It is also known that excavation of a hill at the site of Ashlawn ES site near Bluemont Park and removal of about the same number of trees to put in a parking loop in 2015 produced the runoff you see depicted in this photo. Since the Lubber Run excavation site is closer to Lubber Run than Ashlawn ES to Four Mile Run, the runoff effect is likely to be even greater.

An underground garage would not be needed except that the County insists on relocating both its Sports and Recreation Division staff and a senior center to this site, producing demand for parking facilities not otherwise needed.

The transformation of what was once a neighborhood community center into a countywide destination has also impacted the cost. A facility that was originally pegged at $28 million in the County’s 2015-2024 CIP is now estimated at $48 million or $960 per square foot–not including the cost of installing renewable energy.

According to, a new 50,000 square foot community center in Arlington should cost $6.25 million or $125 per sq. ft. LRRC will cost more than 7 times that amount.

In short the Lubber Run Community Center is another boondoggle designed to purchase votes rather than meet the needs of the Arlington Forest community.

On the national level we saw the folly this week of ignoring the impact of massive development on whole states. How long will it be till we appreciate the adverse impact of wanton development on our own county?

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