An Arlington citizens committee yesterday began examining more than a dozen possible sites for a proposed residential treatment facility, including a tract near South Arlington's Barcroft Park that created an uproar among residents as the site in an earlier proposal.
The 21-member committee -- appointed by County Manager Anton S. Gardner this summer to try to defuse residents' criticisms that shadowed Gardner's proposal for a 130-bed facility for minimum-security inmates, drug and alcohol addicts and the homeless -- has been meeting since early July.
After suggesting criteria for sites to county staff members, the committee received a list of 10 possible sites yesterday, four in North Arlington and six in South Arlington. Included is the 6.8-acre tract next to Barcroft Park that was the site in the original proposal, but committee members said yesterday they would consider the Barcroft tract only as a last resort.
Officials proposed the facility to ease crowding in the county jail and to provide the county's first drug rehabilitation facility. Opponents of the original Barcroft Park plan said it was being pushed through too quickly and said the facility should not be built near a park.
County staff members yesterday urged the panel to keep discussions about site selection private to try to avoid creating a wave of dissent among Arlington residents who live near the sites.
But panel members chose to make the list of sites public, saying that a secretive process might renew the anger that met Gardner's proposal, which was withdrawn after the state agreed to accept about 100 inmates from Arlington's crowded jail, delaying the need for a jail release center.
"It's very important that the public know we're looking at a large number of sites," said John Brannock, president of the Claremont Citizens Association and a critic of the first proposal. "A big problem the first time was that people didn't believe that county staff seriously considered a lot of sites."
Committee member Henry Lampe, president of Arlington's Chamber of Commerce, agreed, referring to the panel's role in rebuilding trust between Arlington's government and its residents.
"We've been . . . trying to find out how to get the community in, now we're talking about how to keep them . . . out," Lampe said. "I can't go along with that."
Other sites on the list include:
A stormwater retention area near Fairfax Drive and Interstate 66, in the Ballston area.
A gravel dump site on North Kensington Street, off Carlin Springs Road near Arlington Boulevard.
The 1700 block of North Fairfax Drive, between North Rolfe and North Rhodes streets.
The county's Department of Human Services complex, next to Arlington Hospital and between North George Mason Drive and North Edison Street.
The Arlington County Trades Center, South Arlington Mill Drive and South 29th Street.
A construction staging area on South 31st Street off South Glebe Road, near an incinerator and waste water treatment plant.
A tract owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation at Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard.
The Hollinger warehouse in the 3800 block of South Four Mile Run Drive.
The Kimel warehouse at South Four Mile Run Drive and South Walter Reed Drive.
Committee members stressed that their search is not limited to sites on the list, and at their meeting yesterday a half-dozen other tracts were suggested.
The panel may wind up having to choose two sites. Several members have said they are leaning toward separating the proposed jail release unit from the detoxification and homeless programs.
A few committee members said they were wary about seriously considering the Barcroft site again.
The panel expects to make a recommendation to Gardner in September or early October. Gardner then will propose a plan to the County Board.