An Arlington citizens panel studying a bitterly opposed plan for a 130-bed facility for minimum-security inmates, drug and alcohol addicts and the homeless agreed last night that the county should separate the corrections program from the other two.
The 21-member committee, whose recommendations will go to County Manager Anton S. Gardner in five or six weeks, also reduced its list of 18 possible sites for the programs to 12.
Among the sites eliminated from consideration was a 6.8-acre tract next to South Arlington's Barcroft Park, which was the site of Gardner's original proposal for the programs.
"I always thought it was a bad site," committee member John Brannock said last night.
Brannock, president of the Claremont Citizens Association, was among dozens of community leaders who protested Gardner's plan to put the facility in an area near a jogging path and a children's playground.
Gardner, who sought quick approval of the Barcroft plan because of the need for a corrections facility to relieve crowding at Arlington's jail, withdrew it after the state agreed to accept more inmates from the county.
Although Gardner appointed the citizens committee to calm those angered by the first proposal, some of the lingering concerns surfaced at the committee's meeting last night, which was attended by about three dozen residents who crammed into the group's small meeting room at Courthouse Plaza.
Most of them urged the committee not to put any of the programs at two sites that were on the list devised by county staff and members of the panel: a storm water runoff area near North Fairfax Drive and Interstate 66, and a gravel dump site on North Kensington Street near Arlington Boulevard.
The committee later voted to eliminate those sites and the Barcroft tract from consideration, as well as the following sites:
The Arlington County Trades Center, South Arlington Mill Drive and South 29th Street.
A tract to be vacated by by WETA-TV at 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr.
A space to be vacated by by the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper at 1227 N. Ivy St.
Twelve sites remain under consideration by the panel; six each in North and South Arlington.
In deciding to separate the jail release center proposal from the other two programs, the panel committed itself to selecting at least two sites.
"I think we're pretty much in agreement that if we're going to put two of the programs together, it should be the homeless and the detox" programs, said committee member Barbara Favola, a member of the county's Planning Commission.
The panel also is examining the possibility of three programs.
Because of the prospect of dwindling funds from the state, several panel members say they are strongly considering expanding Arlington's existing 20-bed shelter for the homeless, rather than building a new one.