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GUNSTON SPORTS BUBBLE COLLAPSES

Weight from melting snows collapsed the dome roof of an athletic facility of the Gunston Recreation Center Wednesday, Feb. 19. County officials knew the “sports bubble” was at risk and were at the location inspecting it when it collapsed. No one was inside, however, and no one was injured.

The dome structure was installed six years ago over two tennis courts and was intended as a temporary gymnasium during renovations to Gunston Middle School and Gunston Recreation Center.

Gunston Principal Greg Croghan said the school’s gymnastics program had used the bubble briefly during renovation of the auxiliary gym, but that recently all school activities had returned to the main buildings. So the destruction of the bubble has not disrupted classes or activities at the school, Croghan said.

The destroyed facility had been used for various activities including baseball and softball clinics, lacrosse practices and inline skating instruction.

County officials are currently evaluating possible uses for the location but are not considering installing another sports bubble, said county spokesperson Pamela Locke.

BOARD APPROVES HOUSING PROJECT

At their meeting Saturday, County Board members approved a funding package of up to $2.82 million, to help the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing buy the Columbia Grove apartments.

APAH plans to buy the property for long-term preservation of mixed-income housing, initially using a “buy and hold” approach for a period of up to five years, after which they would refinance to provide funding for rehabilitation and upgrades.

Built in the 1950s, Columbia Grove Apartments is a 210-unit brick garden apartment complex located on eight acres at 1010 S. Frederick St. in the Columbia Forest neighborhood. The affordable housing plan consists of 50 percent of the units to be available to families making $18,000 a year or less.

With the approval of Columbia Grove financing, the County Board has approved five projects incorporating the addition of 679 committed affordable rental units to the County during the current fiscal year 2003. This brings the total number of committed affordable housing units in the County to 4,986, representing roughly 12.percent of total rental stock in the County.

The financing package consists of $2.5 million in FY 2003 Affordable Housing Investment funds and $321,500 in Community Development Block Grant revolving loan funds. Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is a non-profit housing sponsor that has been developing residential properties in Arlington since 1989.