What’s next for a small park on a busy intersection in Ballston?
Tomorrow night, the county will unveil some possible temporary uses for the park at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street. They will get community feedback before moving forward, one official said.
“What we’re proposing tomorrow is a short term--is a temporary--solution” with an eye toward the long-term, said Scott McPartlin, a senior park planner in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. He will be leading tomorrow night’s meeting at Washington-Lee High School.
I think it’s safe to say this half-acre of grass and weeds has been a thorn in the side of the parks department for years.
In many ways, it’s landlocked. The long side of this triangle of property faces the Ballston Commons Mall parking garage. Randolph Street is four lanes at the intersection; Glebe Road is six lanes. An elevator shaft on the property lifts people to the various floors of the parking garage. However, few people use the elevator since few people park in the garage and then go somewhere other than into the mall or into the heart of Ballston. The closest entrance to the mall itself is a half block away along Glebe.
The county has long stood by the idea that the space should be “activated,” that is, used for a purpose other than sitting or strolling. That is still the case, McPartlin said in an interview today.
With that in mind, staff began looking for partners that would help them build and run a miniature golf course. They felt a mini golf site would work well there and could be “revenue neutral,” in partnership with a developer. Staff and other supporters pointed to the fact that Ballston had a mini golf course years ago.
Patrick Hope, then the Buckingham Civic Association president (now the delegate in the Virginia legislature), thought the county was pushing through the mini golf site too quickly, telling the neighborhoods what they had in mind without asking what the neighborhoods wanted.
Staff maintained that they had spoken with the Ballston and Ashton Heights neighborhoods, since the park is at the border of those two neighborhoods. Then the economy collapsed, and developers interested in mini golf could not be found.
In 2009, mini golf gave way to other potential uses, such as a “town center” with a performance venue or a small amusement park.