How sad -- and unbelievable -- that Arlington is letting a golden opportunity slip away. I refer to its chance to secure the Army Military Museum for the empty Twin Bridges site.

Not long ago, South Arlingtonians successfully resisted efforts to locate a Major League baseball stadium at the Twin Bridges location. A high-rise office or residential development at the site is unlikely because of the potential interference with air safety at National Airport and because of parking, pollution and traffic problems. Some neighbors of the Twin Bridges location also oppose using the land for a park, envisioning drug dealing, boom boxes, six packs and an assortment of obnoxious activities.

The location of the Army Museum at the Twin Bridges site would have many advantages and none of the disadvantages of other proposed uses. A museum would be an economic asset without imposing hardships on the community. The easily accessible and highly visible location on I-395 would attract many more visitors than two other suggested locations for the museum -- Fort Belvoir and Carlisle Barracks, which is in the remote Pennsylvania countryside.

At a June meeting at the Army Navy Club in Washington, I asked the leadership of the Army Historical Foundation to comment on the status of the museum project. I was told that considerable money had been raised to finance the museum but that lack of a proper site was hindering further progress. The Army Historical Foundation overwhelmingly favored the Twin Bridges location for the museum but had found no indication of community desire or support for the project. The foundation members felt that if Arlington leaders voiced a strong desire to have the museum, fund-raising and congressional or other high-level support would be forthcoming.

The Army Military Museum would be a credit both to Arlington and to Northern Virginia. But with each passing day, the chances of having a far less desirable activity at the strategic Twin Bridges location become greater. If Arlington County's elected leaders do not act soon, the opportunity to put the Twin Bridges site to good use will be lost.

-- Sherman Pratt