The Arlington County Board has unanimously decided to buy a one-mile right-of-way from the Virginia Electric and Power Co. in return for Vepco's promise to place 230,000-volt transmission lines underground.

The negotiated purchase price is $1.25 million, to be paid in three annual installments. This year's payment of $400,000 will come from previously authorized park bonds. The other two payments--$400,000 and $450,000--could come from park bonds or the capital improvement budget, county officials said.

Last fall, the voters approved a $900,000 bond issue for various parks projects in the county, and Robert A. Nelson, chairman of the county parks and recreation commission, said he hopes all those funds will not be spent on the Vepco land.

"I think people wanted a relatively wide dispersal (of land purchases) throughout the county," Nelson said.

Vepco originally had planned to place overhead transmission lines along the one-mile stretch, which runs from North Kensington and Fourth streets to North Buchanan and Ninth streets. The lines would have passed through the Stonewall Jackson neighborhood in central Arlington.

Stonewall Jackson residents complained, however, that overhead lines would be an eyesore and a hazard.

Vicki Portney, a member of the Stonewall Jackson Civic Association, said the county-Vepco agreement "seems to be a fine solution to the problem. The people I've talked to are all very pleased."

The Stonewall Jackson lines are part of a two-mile project designed to meet an increasing demand for power in the Ballston and Clarendon areas. Vepco spokesmen had argued that placing the lines underground would add $1.5 million to the project costs, now estimated at $4.3 million, and would set an expensive precedent.

The agreement worked out between the county and Vepco was $250,000 less than Vepco officials had said it would cost to bury the lines. Vepco district manager Hilton Peel said, "When you look at the overall project, it was a fair price to both parties. We're pleased and the county is pleased."

Vepco will get a permanent easement for the mile of property and the county will be able to use the right-of-way to complete the long-planned connection between the Four Mile Run bike trail and the I-66 bike and hike trail.