** 6/18/10: The proposal regarding Columbia Pike Branch Library was withdrawn Friday, June 18, in a press release from the County Manager’s office.**
**Town Hall Meeting Venue Update **
To accommodate as many people as possible, the June 16, 7:00 p.m. meeting has been moved to the atrium of the Career Center, which is adjacent to Columbia Pike Branch Library at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr. **
Hello Arlington neighbors,
Below are answers to frequently asked questions we’ve heard since announcing our “Town Hall Meeting” on a possible new Columbia Pike library, to be held Wednesday, June 16, 7 p.m. at the Columbia Pike Branch Library, 816 S. Walter Reed Drive.
Please read the FAQ below. We look forward to next Wednesday evening for the kind of engaging, enlightening and respectful discussion that Arlington is known for.
With all good wishes,
Columbia Pike Branch Library
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
June 10, 2010
1. Why does staff think it is a good idea to move the branch?
Library staff believes a modern, more efficient library will offer better services. The current branch library, opened in June 1975, has many drawbacks in both design and condition. The library collection and functions are spread over two floors, making it inconvenient for patrons and more difficult to staff. The aging building in which it resides would require major reinvestment to bring it up to modern standards, including handicapped accessibility; reinvestment decisions would be made jointly with schools as part of the broader Career Center, and there are no plans for significant reinvestment reflected in the School Board’s recently approved Capital Improvement Plan. It is not located directly on Columbia Pike and has limited accessibility.
2. Why does staff think Arlington Mill is a good site for relocation of the branch?
The new location would be right on Columbia Pike, a key east-west roadway now being revitalized and redeveloped into a more pedestrian and transit-friendly Main Street. In addition, incorporating the branch library into Arlington Mill offers many advantages, such as:
- With no plans to renovate the existing facility in the near future, this represents the best opportunity to bring a new, up-to-date library to more people in the Columbia Pike area
- More user-friendly layout and design of the branch
- Visible library presence on the Pike
- Better transit access, aided by an adjacent new bus Super Stop.
- Ability to share staff for building management/operations, potential to expand service hours and increase access to the collection
- Ability to provide an upgraded library, modeled after the successful new Shirlington and Westover branches (all circulating collections on one floor, self-checkout, integration of space, services and technology), in a more densely populated area.
- No net increase in operating costs, potential for savings
- Availability of materials to all-age users of the gym, fitness center and plaza
- Option to support teen and senior programs at the community center
- Opportunity to collaborate with the on-site Head Start programs
- Ability to share the computer lab with the Community Center
3. How many people live near the current and proposed Pike library sites?
Within a half-mile radius of the Arlington Mill site, an estimated 16,929 persons reside, as compared to 7,606 persons residing within half a mile of the Career Center site.
4. When did the County begin considering the possibility of moving the branch library from the Career Center to Arlington Mill?
After the housing partner for the Arlington Mill site withdrew from the joint venture, the County Board directed County staff in December 2009 to investigate the possibility of adding one or two additional floors to the Arlington Mill Community Center. In April 2010, it was determined that the funding was available to build out two additional floors, creating the opportunity to expand space for the approved uses in the Center. County staff proposed expanding the small library presence (kiosk) in the original Center plan by moving the library at the Career Center site to this location on Columbia Pike.
5. When was the public informed of the proposal?
After ascertaining that Arlington Public Schools was not interested in occupying (and paying for) some of the additional space, it was decided to begin a public discussion process on the proposal to move the Columbia Pike library. Public outreach began in late May.
6. Why does the County want to add two floors to Arlington Mill?
The original Arlington Mill Community Center design had three floors of apartments above the community center. When the housing portion of the approved mixed use development could not be financed, the County Board decided to proceed with the community center separately. The Arlington Mill land is valuable. To maximize its investment in valuable land, the County wants to construct a building with room for improved services to the community. The marginal cost of adding two floors in place of the apartments is relatively low and helps maintain the building design that was approved by the Board as a public anchor facility on the Pike.
7. Will the County add two floors even if the Board ultimately decides not to move the branch library to Arlington Mill?
8. When does staff plan to bring this issue to the Board for a decision?
At an initial meeting with the Arlington Mill Review Steering Committee at the end of May, staff stated a desire to complete the public process so a recommendation could go to the Board in July. We now recognize more time is needed for public input and have adjusted our schedule. Staff will seek broad public comment on the proposal through the summer, and hopes to make a recommendation to the Board in September. At that time, the Board will consider a use permit amendment for the Arlington Mill Community Center. The use permit amendment could be approved without a decision on the library. If the recommendation is to move the branch library to Arlington Mill, staff could incorporate that into the use permit amendment. That timing would allow the design of the community center to proceed on schedule.
9. Why the tight timeline?
The tight timeline is for the Arlington Mill Community Center, not the branch library. County Board has made a commitment to the community to build the long-promised Arlington Mill Community Center, which closed in the summer of 2008, and resume services and programming there. The Board has set the first quarter of 2013 as a target date for opening the new Arlington Mill Community Center, with a new gym and public plaza. To achieve that goal, the project would need to be put out to bid before the end of this year. Putting the project out to bid by the end of this year would likely yield significant cost savings, because construction
costs have declined during the recession.
10. Is this a done deal, or will public input make a difference?
This is not a done deal. We are committed to providing ample time and opportunity for a full community discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of moving the branch library to Arlington Mill. The public’s views on this proposal are important and will be fully considered in the County Board’s decision on this proposal. The Board has made no decision on whether the Columbia Pike Branch Library should be moved. The Board will make a decision only at the conclusion of a full public process that allows all stakeholders ample time to make their views known.
11. What is the County doing to inform the public of this proposal?
The County has invited eleven civic associations along the Pike to a June 10th meeting, informing them of the proposal. There also will be a Town Hall meeting with Director of Libraries Diane Kresh at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16 at the Columbia Pike Branch Library, 816 S. Walter Reed Dr. County staff have met with the Arlington Mill Steering Committee, and plans to meet with the presidents of Columbia Pike civic associations on June 26. In addition, staff has posted information on the Libraries blog and on the County website, has used its social media channels and has reached out to reporters, inviting them to attend the town hall meeting.
12. How can I make my views known?
Public input will be gathered through community meetings, comments to the Library’s website and a resident survey planned for later this summer. In addition, the public can direct comments to the County Manager, and to individual County Board members through email or telephone calls.
13. What is the additional cost of building a branch library at Arlington Mill and where would the money come from?
The cost of outfitting a library at Arlington Mill is estimated at $500,000 to outfit and furnish it ($1.7 million to build a floor will be spent regardless). This does not include additional parking added to the parking garage, which will be added regardless, based on the additional square footage of the structure. The community center total cost is estimated at $34 million. Funding will come from several sources, including the $26 million bond funding from the 2008 referendum, unsold bond funding from the 2006 infrastructure bond and a planned 2011 IDA bond included in the proposed 2010-2016 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
14. Has any alternative site been identified for the Columbia Pike Branch Library?
15. What agreements exist between the County and Arlington Public Schools relating to the Columbia Pike Branch Library?
There is a 1974 Memo of Understanding between the County Board and School Board that agreed that the library has continued use of the building until the County Board releases the space for some other use.
16. Are there plans to redevelop the Career Center?
The Career Center’s redevelopment is not included in the current CIP. The County and APS have held redevelopment discussions about the Career Center over the years, most recently in an August 2007 feasibility study and an April 2008 redevelopment proposal.
17. Has Arlington Public Schools been part of the discussion relating to relocation of the library?
No. The Arlington Public Schools has not asked the library to leave and has not indicated that there would be no place for the library in any redevelopment plan. If a decision is made to relocate the library, then the use of the vacated space would follow in a separate process.
18. Are there still plans to build housing on the Arlington Mill site? Will it be affordable housing?
Yes, there are still plans to building housing on the site. The County is putting the finishing touches on a request for proposals (RFP) and will put that out to bid shortly. The RFP will include goals for affordable housing.
19. How does this proposal impact plans for the other library branches?
The decision to move the library from its current location to Arlington Mill, were it to be made, will not in the foreseeable future have any impact on any decision to close, move, or operate any other library branch.
20. Given the current economic situation, how can the County afford to staff this branch library?
We anticipate minimal increase in operating costs for the library, and some potential for savings, because at the Arlington Mill Community Center, we can share staff for building management/operations, and possibly expand service hours. Moving the branch to Arlington Mill offers an opportunity to take advantage of historically low borrowing rates and a highly favorable construction bidding environment that allows the County to maximize its long term investment on public land.
You say nothing about the benefits of the current location. You say nothing about another option — which is to have two locations. There are many benefits to the current location as well — and it is only a block and a half from Columbia Pike so it has all the benefits of Pike Ride — just a short walk up Walter Reed. This is a slanted FAQ, and you know it.
Where did you get your demographic data from? Why did you limit it to .5 miles?
Right on!! TWO libraries would be better – because by moving the Columbia Pike Library you would be denying MORE people — who live near Walter Reed Drive — of a library!!!
The decision still feels very rushed. Many citizens are away over the summer. Please consider moving your recommendation regarding the library to November at the earliest. County staff has been looking at this since December. Please give the Arlington residents ample time as well.
The current Columbia Pike library is adjacent to both an elementary school, and the career center. As an (at least) weekly patron who lives 2 blocks away, I see this library being utilized heavily by the kids at these schools immediately after school lets out, in addition to those of us who visit regularly at other times. Additionally, with this eastern part of Columbia Pike eventually being a "town center" like area, the library will be even better utilized as more people stop by while doing other errands that are within walking distance. I would hate to see this library move. Perhaps open a second branch (if you must) at Arlington Mill, but leave this gem where it is!
John Fontaine says
The library has been very close to this location for 70+ years. Stating that this is rushed because of the time required for the Community Center is a load of BS. The AMCC is a huge project that has had years of planning. You can't seriously expect us to believe that you've had only weeks to consider this opportunity to move the library. The arguments regarding the lcoation and access are also silly. Consider the Carlin Springs library branch or the location of other outdated facilities. Why not move them insetad? The current library is heavily used by patrons and while a bit run down can certainly act as a serviceable facility for the foreseeable future. Furthermore the space can be rennovatted for a fraction of the costs of building new and a much lower environmental footprint.
Ummm, TWO libraries would be an option to consider??? Are you not aware of the current budget situation? Please join us in the real world.
Firstly, in the interest of full disclosure, I live directly across the street from the Columbia Pike Library, and thus, have it in my best interests to maintain the library in its current location. It is in the best interests of the County, however, to leave the library in its current location, as well. The Columbia Pike library currently serves an elementary school (Patrick Henry), a middle school (Jefferson), and all the high schools (Career Center). If the library moves, yes, it will be accessible via bus or car to these students, but why do these students need to be deprived of a walkable library branch and their families forced to pay to get them to a library? If the library is moved, the schools near the proposed Arlington Mill site will then have two (2) or three (3) (Glen Carlyn, Shirlington) libraries within walking distance. The same holds true for the general population in these respective areas.One cannot deny the benefits of having a library location at the new Arlington Mill Community Center. It is necessary to ask, however, whether one must deprive a significant number of Arlington County students and residents of their only truly accessible library (that is, one not requiring them to pay for a bus or for gas to reach) in order to provide visitors of the Arlington Mill Community Center with yet another library location convenient to them. The coup of having filled a now-embarrassingly empty space and presenting a new library in the much-hyped Arlington Mill Community Center should not come before the needs of Arlington students and residents, and frankly, stinks of a political, rather than practical, decision.For those who are concerned with the age of the current Columbia Pike library location, please reflect on the question as to whether you want your son or daughter (or granddaughter, grandson, niece, nephew, family friend, or acquaintance) to be able to walk to a library which works, but may be as old as the school he or she attends, or whether you want your daughter or son to not have access to a library at all unless you are available to drive them there or pay for them to ride a bus. The same hold true for individuals of any age; is a working, old, yet accessible library better than no accessible library? Do we stop reading old books entirely because they are old and we have the option of reading new, shiny books instead?To those who are deciding on this issue, please do not simply look at a list of benefits of having a new library location, or solely consider the age of the current location, but also look at the map, readily available on Arlington County's website, of the current location of all library branches. It will be plain to see that the Columbia Pike library is exactly where it should be.
Stef Pryor says
Please add in the FAQ items requested at the meeting with the Col Pike Presidents on Jun 10:1. show the population for 3/4 and 1 mile out (it is significantly closer in population than the 1/2 m mark)2. list the bus lines on and near each location (AMCC and Walter Reed)3. Why can't we keep both locations (high density, support walkable communities in both locations, col pike has much higher density, diversity, languages etc than the rest of the county, especially north arlington)4. provide sources for the demographic data used and the bus line calculations
Hear, hear Anonymous at 4:02 PM. And to another question, one reason they may have used the .5 mile radius is because Fairfax County starts .5 mile down the Pike. So, if it's moved, thousands of Fairfax residents would live MUCH closer to an Arlington library than all the Arlington residents around the current branch. How does that makes any sense? That's not to mention that another branch (Glencarlyn) is less than a mile from Arlington Mill. This move would be a HUGE disservice to thousands of residents, while giving a luxury (multiple close libraries) to a bunch of others. If the county is so embarrassed at the lack of interest in the Arlington Mill site that we need to create a library there, maybe we should close the Glencarlyn branch instead. Let's be honest, the Career Center is going to be redeveloped in the next 5-10 years, and can easily include library space. Let's deal with 2 floors and the other minor conveniences for a little longer.
If the number of residents living within 1/2 mile of a library branch is to be used as criteria for branch location, will you please share the same data for all the library branches in Arlington?
i think it makes more sense to close Glencarlyn library, than to move Columbia Pike. I also agree that the FAQ is really biased. but i do agree, the current columbia pike library is in a very ugly/decrepit building, that needs to be renovated soon.
I agree that if the number of residents living within 1/2 mile of a library branch is to be used as criteria … share the same data for all library branches in Arlington. Additionally, when quoting the number of residents near the current Columbia Pike branch, have they included the new residents that will result when the Halstead, Siena Park, and the new housing at Adams Square are fully occupied?
Quite apart from any considerations of location, I wonder about the total cost of many of the building expansions and renovations taking place around the county these days. You answer the FAQ about costs by mentioning old and new bond issues. Whenever a new bond is issued, the interest on that bond must be paid. Where does the money for that repayment come from? Us, the citizens! So you can't think of money from any new bond issue as "free" — we all pay for it, in the form of higher taxes. As a person whose property taxes have increased significantly this year, I am not anxious to add to my personal tax burden. Of course, we all want more services — but wanting is not the same thing as needing. We need to think more carefully about what we will end up paying for shiny new facilities.
Seems staff should really work with the Pike communities before they they publish their solutions. After the Giant, and other FBC issues you would think they would learn we are smart and do not allow them to pit one community against another. I think there might be an case to be made that the communities between West Barcroft and Carlin Spring Road could us a library but that does not mean the Barcroft East to the Pentagon area does not need a library or lose their existing library. The current proposal pits one community again another which never is a good situation.The county staff have some explaining to do. Are the facts in FAQ pre or post FBC construction. With Sienna, Penrose, Halstead I would think the numbers would be quite different than if they are not included. Seeing all the density make me think they decided to use the current density not the near future density. The FAQ are quite funny and I think the overall issue is they have space at the Arlington Mill locations and they have to fill it with something if not the library what and why not? The 16th should be interesting…..Sara
Arlington County staff screws Columbia Pike again. They pit neighbors against neighbors and selectivity us statistics to move their case unless someone asks about the data and then it is revised and qualified and they leave the public forum with their tails tucked between their legs. According to the County staff the Giant would "walk" from the site leaving the Pike without a grocery store. The community said walk and they downsized and now are more of an urban grocery. Hold tight and again they will back down.
the $500k to get the other place ready can be used to fix up the current place, most of the work needed could be accomplished by that amount of money. rehab bathrooms, elevator, rugs, shelves, etc.. What issues are there with ADA? and having the school next door – seems having the library there is a perfect match. why move it at all?
Let's be real–this move CLOSES a library.
I very much oppose the proposal to move the Columbia Pike Library. The current library is located amid a high-density residential area consisting of apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes — thousands of homes within walking distance of the library. No transit at all is needed for those current patrons, yet all of them would need to bus or drive to the Arlington Mill site. And most of those patrons who have access to an automobile would almost surely drive. The current library is on the WMATA 10B and ART 77 bus lines and –as noted above– is no more than a three-minute walk from Columbia Pike, which has far more buses passing the intersection of Walter Reed Drive than does the Pike at the Arlington Mill locale. Moving the library would thus be a step BACKWARDS in terms of transit access. Current library patronage levels alone justify the continue presence of the library in or near its present location. If there is enough estimated patronage at the Arlington Mill location to justify a library, then that calls for a new library there. But leave the current Columbia Pike library where it is!
Although the Library Director stated in her first letter that "County staff have sought to identify and evaluate potential new homes for a branch along Columbia Pike" and that she is seeking community help in evaluating this option, the FAQs show that, at least as far as staff is concerned, the evaluation is complete. The justification has begun.
What is the number of PATRONS living within .5 miles of the current location and the proposed location? The number of residents is meaningless if they won't be affected because they don't even use libraries.
What happens if you look at population numbers for 3/4 of a mile away? Why is half a mile the magical number? Will this criteria be used to evaluate all Arlington libraries or only those in south arlington?
My comment simply reflects anecdotal evidence, yet, I believe it is illustrative of other local residents. We specifically purchased our home in Penrose because of the close proximity to the library. We have a child who uses the library regularly. Because it is within walking distance, it is a very useful county resource. The proposed site for the new library is much further away. The new location is in a neighborhood with a higher crime rate than the current location per the county's own numbers. I will not repeat the comments posted above regarding access to its current location, but I do agree that it is a very easily accessible location. It would seem to me that money which will be spent moving and increasing the size of the Arlington Mill location, could be used to renovate and increase the size of the library on Walter Reed. If space is an issue, I would suggest the county consider moving the career center to the Arlington Mill location so that the Walter Reed library can expand into the full space.
There are many comments and questions brought up that have not yet been answered. I attended the meeting last night and questions/concerns persist. When can we expect a response to such questions as: What is the population density if you extend the radius to 3/4 miles from the location of Columbia Pike Library and the location of an Arlington Mill Library?If density is used as criteria for closing a branch and opening a new branch, what is the density of other branch libraries operating in Arlington?What are the bus lines on and near the Columbia Pike Library and the proposed Arlington Mill Library?What are your sources for demographic information you are presenting?When planning a county service why isn't future density taken into account?How does an opportunity for new library at Arlington Mill justify closing a functioning library with the third highest circulation numbers of all branch libraries in Arlington?
I am 100 against a change in location. Keep the current location and just add a branch on arlington mill. you are ignoring the people on the pike!!!! the current location is sufficient enough why must you always make things more difficult and complex. There is nothing wrong with the current location…
1. There seems to be 2 sets of comments going???2. If this senseless move does take place, will the CyberCenter be lost?
Wow! Arlington residents got their way! Now all we have to do is figure out a way for the library building there to stop being so ugly and ill-kept! I'd like to know one particular thing: if the County has a big pile of money for this project, why is the library there anyway? Why not find a good library spot?Or, better, why can't we move the SCHOOL to the new location, and have their program re-locate? Oh yeah, I forgot–the school is letting the library stay there…not the other way around…