The Arlington County Board late Tuesday approved a $2.9 million contract for a substantial renovation of Rocky Run Park in the Clarendon-Courthouse neighborhood.
The 2.3-acre park, at the intersection of North Barton and North Fairfax streets, will get a substantial facelift — improvements include new tot and school-aged playground equipment and a picnic shelter at the upper end of the park; two lighted hard-surface courts; a lighted synthetic field; and lawn areas, improved accessibility and "extensive" landscaping, according to a county staff report.
Park renovations have long been in the making but hit a roadblock earlier this year, when members of the nearby Williamsburg Condominium Association told the county they were unaware of the project.
Several association members expressed concern to board members Tuesday night about increased lighting and noise and the loss of open space.
"This plan has been in the works for two-and-a-half years," said Mary Shaw, who lives in The Williamsburg. "We're a very active community. And we did not know about it. Otherwise we would have been very happy and pleased to be part of the process of planning this park. We are not opposed to people playing in the park and having sports teams play there. What we're opposed to is not being heard at all."
But the seeds for the idea that was ultimately approved Tuesday night were planted nearly a decade ago, when the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association completed a neighborhood survey. The civic association finalized its planning efforts in 2007 and actually won some funding through the county's Neighborhood Conservation Program in 2010.
Laura Rodriguez, who said she lives a short walking distance from Rocky Run Park, said she had been receiving numerous emails from the civic association for months.
Rodriguez said residents of The Williamsburg "should have considered living in a more remote area" where children and play areas aren't as common, and that they should have "considered real-estate purchase in an age-restricted community" — not in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country.
Some of the delays since 2010 have come because of the desire of the county's Parks and Recreation Department to upgrade the park, too — including making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Parks and Recreation has since worked closely with the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association on the plan that was approved.
The park currently features one full-size and one half-size basketball/volleyball court. The new Rocky Run Park will feature two full-sized courts — one striped for basketball and volleyball; the other, for basketball and soccer.
The lights at Rocky Run will be cut off at 10 p.m.; other county parks remain lit until 11 p.m.
The renovation will add benches and picnic tables, trashcans and recycling containers, a new drinking fountain and bicycle parking, according to the county staff report.
A second phase of construction will add a public art sculpture that anyone can use but will be designed to double as an amenity for skateboarders.
County officials met with Williamsburg residents in recent months, which resulted in a few minor changes. Among them: The volleyball/basketball court will remain set up for volleyball, and anyone who wants to play basketball will have to arrange to do so with the county; Also, the picnic shelter roof will be lined with wood in an attempt to dampen sound.
Also, nearby Barton Park will remain a so-called "passive" park — one that is designed more for reading, quiet strolls and relaxing.
"Parkland is scarce in an urban community like ours," board member Jay Fisette said. "So, we're trying to find a balance between active and passive. And I think we have."
Rockville, Md.-based Meridian Construction Co. was awarded the renovation contract Tuesday.
The Arlington County Board on Tuesday also approved vacating a portion of Fairfax Drive to accomodate the renovations.