Arlington The Department of Parks and Recreation is surveying Towers Park off of Columbia Pike at 801 South Scott Street as part of a plan to redesign the park and make a number of improvements.
The County Board approved the $1.6 million budget for the project, $245,000 of which goes toward the staff, design and consultants, and the rest of which goes toward the construction itself.
DPR is considering two options for the redesign. According to Project Manager Bernadette Grullón, the biggest difference between the options is the location and number of practice tennis courts.
There was originally only one design option, which Grullón said was well-received at a public discussion April 17, but after receiving 6 emails opposing the original design on May 18, a second option was added.
Option A allots for the park’s two practice courts to be moved behind the doubles courts to where the puppy play area is located. Option B keeps the practice courts in their current location next to the parking lot, but removes the fence that divides the area into two practice courts, a subtraction that a number of tennis players don’t care for.
“As long as they have two separate practice cages, I’m happy,” said Wayne Brough, who frequents the park.
Some tennis players, such as Fred Millar, also do not like the thought of having the practice courts farther away from the parking lot because people looking to partner up could no longer watch people on the practice court from their cars or the benches to gauge their skill.
Millar said he doesn’t like the granite dust that covers that surface of the dog park because the wind often blows it toward the courts and into the eyes and lungs of players. He also said that the smell of dog droppings is a nuisance.
A number of dog owners like the shade of the current location and the protection it offers against the heat.
“As long as it’s in the same general area, I probably wouldn’t care,” said Jeff Hendrickson, who uses the dog park.
BOTH DESIGN OPTIONS are also listed as requiring the removal of some trees. Option A is listed as requiring the removal of three silver maples, a mulberry and a magnolia, with a minimum of seven trees being planted in their place. Plan B is listed as requiring the removal of the magnolia, but Grullón said that further review of the plan may show otherwise.
According to Vincent Verweij, and urban forester with the County who has worked directly on the project, the impact of tree removal at Towers Park is fairly low.
The county follows a formula for tree replacement that takes into account a tree’s species rating to determine how many trees it must be replaced with. The rating is indicative of how much of an impact the species has on the surrounding ecosystem.
Verweij said that typical range of species ratings for silver maples is between 30 and 60 points out of 100 and that he probably wouldn’t assign a rating above 50 for the ones at Towers Park.
Verweij also said that the mulberry at the park is a white mulberry, an invasive species and that he probably would rate it no higher than 30 because an excess of invasive species can lead to a sterile ecosystem.
The southern magnolia in the park is a species that ranges from 50 to 90, and Verweij said he would probably score it an 80 or an 85.
Grullón will decide on replacement trees based on factors such as shade, flowers, problems with falling branches and aesthetics.
IN ADDITION to the redesign, the project will also set out to address maintenance issues with the park, which was the initial reason the project was taken on.
“Our maintenance crew had to go out there pretty frequently to seal cracks in the pavement,” Grullón said.
Other maintenance issues to be dealt with include runoff onto the courts and drainage problems.
Grullón said she would like to address runoff either with a raised curb or a low wall, and that she is working on drainage solutions with engineers from William H. Gordon Associates, Inc.
Both design options feature new seating, trash receptacles, drinking fountains, ADA accessible walkways, picnic shelter, portable restroom shelter and landscaping.
The deadline for the surveying period of the project is 5 p.m. June 22.
To look at the full details and drawings of the design options, or to read or post comments on the project or vote on an option, visit http://arlingtonplace.us/openarlington/
Technical specifications for the tennis courts can be found under the 78’ Tennis Court Layouts heading at http://www.usta.com/Facilities/tech_specs/