Priority Action 1.1. Add at least 30 acres of new public space over the next 10 years.
The most common phrase used by the community to describe Arlington’s public spaces was “need more.” Over half of public survey respondents indicated that they would support acquisition to develop “passive” facilities. New public space should include a combination of additional land acquired by the County, public space developed by other public entities, privately developed spaces with public access easements, and the addition of rooftop or other creative spaces. Over the past 10 years (Fiscal Year 2009 – Fiscal Year 2019), the County has acquired 24 acres of new park land. It will take a concerted effort to achieve the goal of 30 acres over the next 10 years. See Appendix II for the complete list of park acquisitions since the adoption of the 1994 Open Space Master Plan and Appendix IV for a list of public access easements.
1.1.1. Acquire land strategically according to acquisition guidelines and parcels identified in this plan (see Appendix II, Land Acquisition).
One of the key recommendations of the 2005 Public Spaces Master Plan was to develop a land acquisition policy. This Public Spaces Master Plan has clear guidelines for land acquisition, identifies priority areas for acquisition and assembles a comprehensive list of future public spaces identified in various other County plans. The guidelines were created to provide the County with a way to objectively evaluate acquisition opportunities against public space goals. They will be used in coordination with the County’s Level of Service analysis for public space amenities (see Appendix II, Level of Service).
Priority Action 1.1.2. Secure or expand the public spaces envisioned by sector, corridor, and other plans adopted by the County Board — including the Clarendon Sector Plan, Virginia Square Sector Plan, Courthouse Sector Plan, Rosslyn Sector Plan, Crystal City Sector Plan, and Columbia Pike Form Based Codes — and ensure they provide amenities that meet the County’s needs.
Adopted County plans provide direction for where new public spaces should be located in the more densely populated corridors. While the size and general function of these spaces may be identified in such plans, the Level of Service standards set in this PSMP will guide the selection of amenities to be built in these new spaces as they are master planned. For example, the Courthouse Sector Plan envisions a new Courthouse Square as the premier community gathering place for conversation, relaxation, and to celebrate important civic events.
1.1.3. Incorporate the recommendations of this PSMP into future sector, corridor and other County plans, and use County-wide needs and Level of Service analyses to guide the inclusion of additional public space in those plans.
As part of the Comprehensive Plan, this plan sets overarching policy for public spaces in Arlington. As other plans are revised or replaced, they will look to this plan for guidance to inform their public space elements. The Level of Service standards set in this plan, and thereafter regularly updated, will be one of the tools to guide the identification of new public spaces in future County plans.
1.1.4. Ensure that privately owned public spaces conditioned in Board adopted plans, like site plans and form based codes, are informed by this plan’s Level of Service analyses and guided by the Privately Owned Public Space Design Guidelines (see Appendix III, Design Guidelines). As developer projects are completed, the County will ensure that the required public access easement is platted, recorded and enforced.
Public access easements as a result of private development will continue to be an important component of the County’s public space system. The Level of Service standards and the Privately Owned Public Space Design Guidelines set forth in this plan will also guide the site plan review process. As private development projects go through the site plan review process, the County will proactively analyze and recommend the inclusion of specific locations and needed amenities based on this PSMP. While these amenities will be located on private property, their design, signage, maintenance, hours, and use will clearly indicate that they are for public use.
1.1.5 Continue to acquire ownership or easements from willing sellers for land adjacent to County waterways, particularly Four Mile Run.
Since the adoption of the 2005 Public Spaces Master Plan, the County has expanded access to and amenities around waterways including Four Mile Run. The County will continue this process to further enhance the Run and other waterways to protect natural resources and as destinations.
1.1.6. Explore strengthening and expanding the use of the County’s Transfer of Development Rights policy as a tool to create and consolidate future public space.
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a program that allows a landowner in a designated sending zone to sell development rights to a landowner in a designated receiving zone. Land that is desirable for future public spaces can be designated as sending zones, which enables landowners of these spaces to get value out of their properties while achieving land use development goals — namely the preservation of public space. Arlington County currently has a TDR program, but it could be used more broadly in the realm of public space creation. For example, creating a TDR “bank” or using other tools could help facilitate broader use of the TDR program by allowing owners of land where future public space is desired to immediately sell and be compensated for their development rights without needing to have a receiving site identified. Another potential provision would be to create a list of available sending and receiving sites to help facilitate awareness of the program.
1.1.6. Work with the Commonwealth of Virginia and County-owned street system network to explore opportunities to create new deck parks over I-66 or other highways and primary streets to mitigate highway widening or reclaim public space.
Highways and primary streets are typically single-use land uses. In a location as land-constrained as Arlington, it is imperative that spaces serve multiple uses where possible. Highways and primary streets also often act as physical and perceived barriers, hindering connections across them. Gateway Park is an example of decking over I-66 to “create” public space. Many other cities are also using deck parks over highways to create public space and stitch communities back together — including Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park, Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park, and Atlanta’s The Stitch.
1.1.7. Work with the Commonwealth of Virginia and County-owned street system network to explore opportunities to create new deck parks over I-66 or other highways and primary streets to mitigate highway widening or reclaim public space.
Highways and primary streets are typically single-use land uses. In a location as land-constrained as Arlington, it is imperative that spaces serve multiple uses where possible. Highways and primary streets also often act as physical and perceived barriers, hindering connections across them. Gateway Park is an example of decking over I-66 to “create” public space. Many other cities are also using deck parks over highways to create public space and stitch communities back together — including Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park, Phoenix’s Margaret T. Hance Park and Atlanta’s The Stitch.
1.1.8. Conduct a study of residual rights-of-way to determine if such spaces could be used for public space purposes on a temporary or permanent basis.