Arlington County Board Approves Jennie Dean Park Contract

The Arlington County Board approved a $15.5 million contract with MCN Build, Inc. to begin Jennie Dean Park’s long-awaited transformation.

“This is an exciting milestone for Jennie Dean Park,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “The final design will go to the public for one last look later this month, and then construction will get underway next year. I know that I speak for every member of this Board – and for the community at large – when I say we can’t wait to see, and experience, the new Jennie Dean. This park will be the jewel in the crown of Four Mile Run Valley and will provide our community with recreational options for people of all ages and abilities for generations.”

The Board voted unanimously to approve the contract, and related actions.

Recreation, open space, historic interpretation planned

Once renovated, the park will offer two lighted diamond fields; a lighted tennis court; a lighted basketball court; a playground for pre-school and school-aged children; two picnic shelters; a restroom building with three all-gender restrooms; a stream overlook; green casual use space; landscaping; site circulation; furnishings; signage; limited utility undergrounding on 27th Street South; stormwater management; parking; public art and historic interpretation elements.

The 12.56-acre park lies along South Four Mile Run Drive near Interstate 395. Although many of its aging facilities are beyond their useful life, the park has been integral to the Green Valley community in southern Arlington for more than 75 years. As the nearby community has grown, demand has spiked for public space and recreational options in the area. The County began master planning the park as part of the Four Mile Run Valley community planning effort and adopted the Four Mile Run Valley Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines in September 2018.

Further public review planned

The community will have an opportunity to share thoughts on the final design at two meetings in November. The first will be on Thurs., Nov. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Charles Drew Community Center and the second will be on Sat., Nov. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. The final design then will be posted on the County website, where the public will be able to offer online comments.

‘Construction Manager at Risk’

The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) process allows the builder to have input on cost, schedule, value and quality, and has been used by the County recently to successfully renovate Powhattan Springs Skate Park. It also is being used to build the new Lubber Run Community Center. The process helps to deliver projects in the shortest timeframe. Under a CMAR process, the final design for the park, could be subject to some change, based on project needs.

The overall budget for Phase I improvements for the park is $18.374 million, which includes initial planning, design, soft costs, and construction costs. Funding is a combination of PAYG, and voter-approved Parks and Recreation bonds.

Construction is expected to start in early 2020 and finish in 2021.

Transferring development rights

The Board also approved the certification of transferable development rights from the park, to be used at an as-yet undetermined location in the future. The County’s Transfer of Development Rights Policy allows the legal transfer of development rights from a sending site to a receiving site as part of a special exception site plan or form based code process, to create open space, historic preservation, affordable housing, community recreation and/or community facilities, among other purposes. The Board certified up to 206,046 square feet of gross floor area from Jennie Dean park for open space and park purposes. The County will hold the development rights for potential future transfer of the density to a receiving site owner, if and when an interested purchaser is identified.

Jennie Serepta Dean (1848–1913)

Contributed by Antoinette G. van Zelm and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography

Jennie Serepta Dean founded the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth. A former slave, Dean attended schools in Fairfax County and Washington, D.C., and in 1878 began to establish a series of Sunday schools. She was a skilled fund-raiser, securing money from African American and white donors in Virginia and in northern cities to support her plan to open a school that would teach skilled trades to young African Americans. The Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth opened in 1894 after nearly six years of fundraising. Dean served on the school's board of directors and executive committee. She died in 1913.

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