Arlington Bond Vote Approved By Board
$208 Million Asked For Parks, Schools
By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 11, 2004; Page C01
Arlington voters will be asked to decide the largest bond question in county history in November after the County Board yesterday approved a $208 million bond referendum slated for improvements to parks and schools.
Voters will see four ballot questions Nov. 2 that would authorize the county to issue general obligation bonds to raise money to fund capital improvements.
Those include a $78 million request for schools, $75 million for parks and recreation, $35 million for transportation and infrastructure, and $18 million for a contribution to Metro.
The two largest amounts funded by the bond referendum would be $72 million for a new high school to replace aging Washington-Lee and $50 million for the North Tract project, a park and swim complex to be built on industrial land just south of the 14th Street bridge in Crystal City.
"We did our best to balance many worthy projects, and the community helped us prioritize," Arlington Board Chairman Barbara A. Favola (D) said.
"We stayed within solid fiscal parameters," Favola added.
Wayne Kubicki, a Republican member of the county's Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, said the commission should have had a separate bond question on the $50 million for the first phase of the North Tract park.
That figure could increase by as much as 40 percent as the groundbreaking nears, he said.
The 28-acre complex is to be built in three phases beginning in 2006. The first phase of construction for the project would include a community recreation center, two pools and a fitness center.
Kubicki said the fiscal commission analyzed cost figures on the North Tract project and had asked the county to delay putting the question before voters until better construction estimates were available.
The project could top $100 million, and commission members feared cost overruns, Kubicki said.
"You've chosen to ignore your own advisory commission's advice," Kubicki said. "It's clear that North Tract may well cost more -- possibly much more."
But board member Chris Zimmerman (D) said that waiting for more detailed cost estimates could further delay the project, which was advocated by vocal groups of soccer parents and swim aficionados.
"The community clearly wants this to go forward," Zimmerman said. "It's right to give the voters a chance to give the go-ahead here."
The $75 million bond question for parks also includes funding for land acquisition and replacement or renovation of the Fairlington Community Center.
The $35 million transportation question includes $13 million for neighborhood conservation efforts; $9 million for improvement to county fire stations and the fire training academy; $10 million for transportation initiatives, including new trails and roadways; and $2 million for storm drainage upgrades.
For the schools bond question, voters will be voting on $75 million for the new Washington-Lee High School, additional remodeling at York Town High School and $1.4 million for the completion of reconstruction at Kenmore Middle School.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company