Stop Paving Over Parkland

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on December 16, 2017.

While I generally support the Framework Plan for Benjamin Banneker Park, I oppose the widening of the multi-use trails from 8 feet to 12 feet with a ten foot minimum.

First, most of the park lies within a resource protection area (RPA) defined by the watershed created by Four Mile Run. Four Mile Run Trail runs close to the stream throughout the park—as close as three feet from the stream bank in some areas.

If the County intends to steward the Four Mile Run RPA, then it will place the health of the watershed over other competing interests in determining how to treat the adjacent bike trails. Otherwise it arguably violates the County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance.

True. Section 61-5 of the Ordinance exempts bike trails from the RPA provisions of the act provided:

2. Sufficient and reasonable proof is submitted that the intended use will not deteriorate water quality; and,

3. Any land disturbance exceeding an area of two thousand five hundred (2,500) square feet shall comply with Arlington County Code Chapters 57 (Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance) and 60 (Stormwater Management Ordinance).

The plan presents no evidence that widening the bike trails through the park will not deteriorate water quality and no evidence that the widening complies with the Stormwater Management Ordinance.

If the trails can’t be rerouted away from the stream, they should be left as is. Widening the trails will simply attract more foot and bike traffic and impair the stream even further.

Also there is no rationale in the plan for the trail widening. It does indicate that the W&OD trail will eventually be diverted north to the East Falls Church Metro. If that happens, there will be less foot and bike traffic in the park, and the need for widening will be obviated.

Department of Parks and Recreation needs to stop paving over parkland. Public land is not a particularized benefit. It’s a precious resource that should be coveted not traded for transitory benefits to diverse constituent groups.

The County’s disregard for parkland was exemplified earlier this year by the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) working group that considered potential uses for newly acquired County property. None of their options included parkland acquisition or expansion. Rather green space was shown on their maps as mere filler between various planned facilities.

The 4MR watershed isn’t filler between playgrounds and picnic tables. It’s a precious wetland that needs to be preserved at all costs.

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