The State Department presented its Arlington Hall Station remodeling plans yesterday to stunned Arlington officials, who said parking lots are now being proposed for land that was supposed to be parks and playgrounds for use by county residents.
The plans are also an embarrassing blow to Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who had assured nearby residents that parts of the federal installation, which is in his district, would be open to the community.
In a letter to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Wolf called the new plans "a major breach of faith" and asked that they be redesigned.
Arlington Hall, currently an Army installation, lies just south of Rte. 50 between George Mason Drive and Glebe Road.
Legislation passed in 1985 transfers 72 of the installation's 87 acres to the State Department, which plans a campus for its Foreign Service training school. The remaining 15 acres will be developed by the National Guard as its national headquarters. The Army is expected to leave the facility by next October.
The remodeling plans, presented to the Arlington County Board yesterday morning, call for a series of connected, low-rise buildings to house the State Department's Foreign Service Institute and a training facility for the department's diplomatic security branch.
The facility would serve about 1,445 students being trained as diplomats and about 540 employees. Plans call for 1,300 parking spaces.
But what drew the attention of Arlington officials were plans for the southern tip of the main site and for a small parcel to the west of George Mason Drive, areas that county officials thought they would be able to use with the Foreign Service Institute as parkland and recreation space.
The plans are very different from what residents and county officials thought had been agreed upon. "I don't know where to start," County Board Chairman John G. Milliken said.
In 1986, the board, believing it would have access to a large parcel on the site, voted to use it for the county's first public golf course.
"What happened to the community aspects of the project?" Milliken asked yesterday, adding that the county "went out of its way to support the project before Congress because we believed it could be part of the community."
Project officials said the design unveiled yesterday was in response to projected school enrollment increases, security concerns, the need for a day care center (primarily for the children of State Department employees) and efforts to preserve some buildings on the site, once the home of Arlington Hall Junior College for Girls.
Government security directives prohibit underground parking facilities, the officials said, and the project's $55 million budget does not allow for above-ground parking structures.
Still, the project "is by no means in its final form," said Brandon H. Grove Jr., a former ambassador and currently director of the Foreign Service Institute. "We want to be a good neighbor."
Grove said a major redesign is not necessary: "There's a lot of land around it. It's a process and we are at a particular point in the process. I think this is a good project. I think it's going to come out that way and that everybody is going to come around to understanding that. We are making a good-faith effort to live up to our commitments."
About the only consolation for the all-Democratic County Board, though, was the predicament facing Wolf, who is up for reelection next month.
Wolf backed the legislation shifting the property to the State Department, with the understanding that county residents would have access to about eight acres.
Yesterday he called the current plans "totally inappropriate" and vowed that the State Department "will not be reneging on their promise because we are going to make sure."
Wolf would not say how he would do that or whether he would seek to block remaining appropriations for the project. "We'll use the appropriate measures that can be taken," he said.