While joggers in most of the area have been slipping and sliding through the snow, Arlington residents have been prancing over 1 1/2 acres of constant June at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
The Center's tremendous gymnasium has 68,000 square feet of polyurethane floor - 160 feet wide, 385 feet long and 30 feet high.
This space allows for nine full-length basketball courts, though only two or three are set up, a 220-yard, four-lane track, two Universal gym machines and facilities for gymnastics, badminton, and volleyball.
Outside the main gym are eight pool tables, four Ping Pong tables, other table games and a television. Cost for the facility was $6.5 million.
Alas, the center, which is off Glebe Road, is for Arlington County residents only.
"My biggest fear in you writing a story about us," said coordinator Ken Hurt, "is that some people will think they have access to it when they don't. The taxpayers of Arlington paid for it and they are the ones who get to use it."
The center was built along with Thomas Jefferson Junior High, which is adjacent. This sort of joint-use facility required the cooperation of Arlington's Board of Education and the Department of Environmental Affairs, two agencies that had once sought the 26 acres for different purposes.
In June, 1968, Arlington voters turned down a $9 million bond for a recreation center, but that November with the cost of the center scaled down, the voters approved.
"We were granted $5,000 for research," said William Hughes, director of the Department of Environmental Affairs, "and we traveled all over the United States looking at various facilities. It was sort of like piecing a puzzle together."
When the puzzle was completed in September, 1972, Arlington residents had one of the most advanced recreation centers in the country. In addition to the athletic facilities, there are regular educational programs in classrooms and other areas designated for arts and crafts.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the junior high schoolers take two-thirds of the gym, but from 3 until the center closes at 10 residents get to use it. Recreation director Toni Hubbard estimates that 20,000 people a month participate.
The center has six full-time staffers and about 30 part-timers to supervise the 300 to 500 people who come in daily. Hurt said some professional athletes and athletes training for the Olympics are using the center too. Fees amount to $2 a year.
Now neighboring Fairfax County is due to open a less expansive $2 million recreation center with a 50-meter swimming pool, two basketball courts, a weight and exercise room, four handball courts, two squash courts, and facilities for arts and crafts. The Fairfax center, at Wakefield Park off Braddock Road, will open before summer, and will be open to all.