Plan Langston Boulevard: Key Planning Elements Part 6

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Key Planning Elements Series: Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 of this newsletter series on Plan Langston Boulevard’s key planning elements. This week, our newsletter is talking about PUBLIC SCHOOLS, FACILITIES, and SPACES. Here, we outline the planning element goal and provide a brief summary of what has been shared previously. If you would like to take a deeper dive into all the public feedback received or read the full reports, go to the Documents webpage or click the links throughout this newsletter.

The Key Planning Elements are: 

Thank you to those who shared their corridor-wide objectives or most important neighborhood improvements and benefits! We received 561 responses and will publish the results soon.

Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

Goal: Ensure that the Langston Boulevard community is connected to and well served by a diverse mix of public spaces and adequate schools and public facilities that balance community needs

An integrated network of public schools, facilities, and spaces promotes a community’s wellbeing and strengthens its economic viability.

Public spaces along Langston Boulevard will be created by preserving and maximizing existing spaces while guiding the development of new spaces—resulting in a balanced and efficient network that is both inclusive and sustainable. The Langston Boulevard community has asked for additional indoor and outdoor gathering places with flexible uses and better connectivity to destinations. A successful network of public spaces along the corridor will support recreation and leisure activities, environmental infrastructure, economic development, and social interaction while encouraging walking and biking to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The life of community is supported by social hubs, a walkable cluster of public facilities, parks, plazas, or other public spaces, and neighborhood shops and businesses. With guided development over time, the area surrounding the current Lee Heights Shops, near the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Langston Boulevard, is one location where such social hubs could exist to provide new amenities to neighbors and businesses.

Planning for public schools, facilities, and spaces along Langston Boulevard, however, cannot be done in isolation. We must consider the entire array of County needs, access to facilities, and available resources. We must monitor growth along the corridor, while examining Countywide needs and opportunities to steward public resources and maintain flexibility over time to adapt to growth cycles and changing demographics in all planning corridors.

Public Space

The first priority of the 2019 Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP) is adding at least 30 acres of new public space by 2029. The PSMP calls for the expansion of public spaces in corridors with adopted plans, which will eventually include Langston Boulevard, and the integration of biophilic elements to promote health and biodiversity.

To serve the growing population along the corridor, additional open spaces for recreation and social interaction will be needed. While there are already several public parks throughout the study area, a variety of spaces within walking distance are needed for both personal wellbeing and to strengthen the economic vitality of ground-floor commercial uses.

Proposed public spaces will be in strategic locations and achieved through redevelopment that meets planning goals. We envision different-sized spaces that function to support a variety of activities.

Public Schools

Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools (APS) will continue to monitor enrollment needs as redevelopment occurs along Langston Boulevard. APS, along with the County, will carefully study student enrollment from new housing to determine school needs, such as upgrades, new facilities, or other measures. Planning staff reports APS data on the estimated number of students from proposed housing when reviewing site plan applications to inform the decision-making process during Commission and County Board review.

As a standard, APS projects student enrollment for 10 years into the future. Enrollment projections are updated annually, and are based on resident births, enrollment trends, and anticipated student yield from future residential properties in approved development projects and 10-year housing forecasts.

APS uses many strategies to address school-capacity challenges, including the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and Arlington Facilities and Student Accommodation Plan (AFSAP), to determine the level, timing, and location of future school seat needs. For example, Cardinal Elementary School was a CIP-identified project that was constructed in the 2021-2022 School Year and added 747 permanent school seats.

Public Facilities

As the community grows, so does the need for community centers, libraries, government offices, and the public safety and human services facilities that serve residents, visitors, and businesses. Public facilities for core support services, such as County operations functions and the storage of critical equipment and materials needed to deliver consistent County services, are also needed.

Currently, there are three community centers—LAC (formerly the Lee Arts Center), Langston Brown, and Dawson Terrace--that serve as gathering spaces. Additional public facilities include historic Cherrydale Library, as well as Fire Station 8 in John M. Langston, Fire Station 6 in East Falls Church, and Fire Station 3 in Cherrydale.

There are many community needs to meet with relatively little available land for the renovation, expansion, or construction of public facilities. In the future, public facilities can be located within private development or as standalone buildings. Public facilities with flexible spaces that can be adapted to accommodate multiple programs and services and other future needs, as outlined in the PSMP, will be key.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will :

  • Propose a network of interconnected new and existing public spaces, within a 5- to 10-minute walk of residential areas, to serve the growing population, create a sense of place, enable gatherings, and plant trees
  • Identify public projects that could be included in the Capital Improvement Plan to manage growth and maintain facilities
  • Identify locations for social hubs
  • Identify areas to create or expand access to public parks, consistent with the policies of the PSMP
  • Achieve different types of public spaces of varying scales and character to serve a range of age groups and activities
  • Designate overland relief areas in new open spaces where runoff can be detained or slowed to reduce downstream flooding
  • Use public spaces, along with historic buildings, public art, and other design elements, to create a sense of place and connect people to nearby significant historic and cultural resources
  • Establish guidelines for achieving new open space at street level or on roof tops
  • Identify future opportunities for public-private partnerships if new public facilities are needed
  • Identify options for providing core County support services along the corridor

2016 Visioning Study Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Reportthe plan for Langston Boulevard will include additional public open spaces to support growth in mixed-use nodes and feature new community spaces that are integrated into a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environment. Recommendations in the report include:

Public Spaces:

  • Create walkable/bikeable network of new and existing neighborhood open spaces and social gathering places
  • Refresh and connect existing destinations (e.g., recreation facilities, schools, natural areas)
  • Provide art in public spaces
  • Provide spaces for active and passive recreation serving a range of age groups and families
  • Embrace streetscapes as an important element of public space

Public Schools and Facilities:

  • Continue to pursue joint County/Community Studies of potential future use of Fire Station 8. (Note: The Fire Station 8 project has moved to the design phase. Learn more)
  • Monitor growth to assess and adequately plan for future schools and other public facilities, including core support services.

Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

The County’s existing inventory of educational, recreational, and cultural assets (land and buildings) have been evaluated to explore opportunities for acquisition, expansion, renovation, redevelopment, consolidation, and co-location of uses. The Existing Conditions Analysis Report  shared that in the Langston Boulevard planning area:

  • Public schools are close to or exceeding capacity and will continue to experience increases in enrollment as growth occurs both in and outside the study area. (Note: There is now more capacity within the schools in the Planning Study Area than there was when this report was created. Learn more.)
  • Public facilities are interspersed along the corridor providing cultural, recreational, and public safety amenities.
  • Public facilities are in various conditions and there is no flexible space available for other County operational needs, such as storage of equipment and materials.
  • Public spaces are also interspersed throughout the corridor and complemented by privately owned, publicly accessible open spaces to form a network of minimally connected places where people can meet
  • Public schools, facilities, and spaces are interconnected, but there are physical barriers—challenging street crossings, steep grade transitions, lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, poor wayfinding, and dead-end streets―hindering access.
  • Langston Boulevard itself is the most significant barrier, separating neighborhoods from nearby public schools, facilities, and spaces.

Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

In 2050, as reported in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix), neighbors hope to gather and interact in a variety of places, including:

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Dog parks, libraries, farmers markets, Lee Community Center
  • Open spaces and spaces for community meetings that encourage different types of uses and accommodate a range of ages and needs
  • New public space over I-66 bridging downtown amenities and the west end of the Metro station

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Community uses like the LAC and libraries
  • Westover businesses
  • Benches on Langston Boulevard
  • Fields, playgrounds and parks
  • Semi-public spaces
  • On greenways and neighborhood streets, front porches and during block parties
  • Commercial areas that have cafes, retail, and restaurants

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Multi-use spaces in private buildings
  • Community centers and schools
  • Event spaces (small, medium, and large)
  • Outside gathering spaces like sidewalk cafes and seating areas, public plazas, parks, dog parks, and trails (with interactive sculptures or fitness spots)
  • Streets (block parties)
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Places for different age groups including teens

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Cafes, wine bars, and places with outdoor seating
  • New public and civic facilities, including libraries and community centers
  • New types of open spaces, like pocket parks and plazas
  • New commercial areas along Langston Boulevard, if speeds are lowered and the street has better streetscape
  • The Italian Store retained as part of redevelopment of Lyon Village Shopping Center

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Activated and inviting neighborhood public spaces that connect people including new pocket parks, plazas with water features, and playgrounds
  • Restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, breweries

Land Use Scenario Analysis + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysisthe community expressed support for a variety of community facilities and gathering spaces and improvements to existing facilities, including:

  • A plaza gathering space near East Falls Church Metro site
  • Maintaining park space at the LAC site
  • Larger Langston Brown Community Center and green space
  • New open space on Safeway site (Harrison St.)
  • New open space in Old Dominion
  • Community meeting space and space for an urban market in the Waverly Hills neighborhood
  • County-purchased land for green space and public use
  • Redesigned and improved access to Cherrydale Park
  • A playground and more green space in N. Highlands
  • A green spine along Custis Trail (E-W) and Spout Run Pkwy.
  • Open green space behind Dawson Terrace community building to get more use
  • Improved green areas along I-66, south of 21st St. S.
  • A dog park in the triangular green area near the 21st St. bridge

The key areas of concern among the community are:

  • Lot consolidation
  • Loss of green space through redevelopment
  • Impacts on school capacities
  • Size and usefulness of proposed open spaces
  • The amount of property proposed for open space/stormwater needs may negatively impact developer incentive/ability to redevelop income producing properties