Marymount University Alternative Proposal
For The County Property at the Intersection of
26th Street and Old Dominion
Marymount University is Arlington’s University. As such, Marymount contributes significantly to the economic development of Arlington Co. With 500 employees who live, work, play, pay millions of dollars in taxes and vote in Virginia, as well as 4000 students who pay tuition and soon to be almost 1000 students who live in Arlington, Marymount has an economic impact that is worthy of note. Our students, faculty and staff are engaged in numerous community projects and volunteer over 16,000 hours per year. Marymount has established the “Saints’ Center for Service” which sponsors service projects throughout the community:
- Head Coach of Women’s Lacrosse, Kate Athing, and the whole Women’s Lacrosse team have been recognized for volunteer work with the Affordable Housing Community (AHC), which involves tutoring children in AHC’s after school program
- Marymount University and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce partner with the Arlington Public School Career Center to provide the students of the Career Center with the opportunity to complete the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program
- Marymount University was selected as one of 27 universities across the country to participate in the National Security Agency (NSA)’s GenCyber program to educate high school students and teachers about cybersecurity. We have held residential and day camps, basic and advanced, for some 200 young male and female high school students to expose them to the field of cybersecurity and to promote cybersecurity as a career
- Our academic programs that include a community-based component in their curriculum work closely with key staff and community members. Examples of this include our undergraduate nursing program: NU400 partners with Culpepper Garden, an affordable senior living community, to create a semester-long resident focused curriculum on topics such as health and wellness
- Marymount’s Department of Education works with local school districts and the Arlington Diocese to support their teachers. This ongoing relationship supports the local communities with active engagement in the student teaching process and professional development for in-service teachers and administrators
- Nursing faculty and students provided health services to over 400 un- and underinsured individuals through the Remote Area Medical Mission and volunteer work with the Arlington Free Clinic
- Physical Therapy faculty collaborate with local schools and camps to create motorized vehicles for local children with mobility challenges
- Science, Math and Education faculty and students collaborate to print prosthetic hands for those who cannot afford them
- Dining Services has partnered with our Food for Thought Club to deliver safe, commercially prepared food to local food banks and shelters, supporting both institutions’ shared goal of engagement within the community
Our Plot Against Hunger gardens provide fresh produce to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).
In 2016, the president of Arlington Neighborhood Village (ANV), a local group assisting older adults to “age-in-place,” mentioned the possibility of a grant to Marymount faculty members and committed to securing community partner commitments necessary for a competitive application. Two and a half years later, Northern Virginia has evidence-based falls prevention programs in over 50 locations, reaching more than 1,500 older adults. The Malek School of Health Professions now houses a regional training office for falls prevention and grant-supported faculty members have become master trainers for two falls prevention programs. To date have trained over 300 lay leaders/coaches.
In addition, our students are a force for good in Arlington County and support Military and Veteran families. They:
- Provided clothing donations for local homeless veterans through the Military Order of the Purple Heart
- Raised funds for Fisher House (Based on Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and Wounded Warrior at Military Appreciation Night with the MU Basketball and Volleyball teams
- Donated teddy bears made by students to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
- Donated Thanksgiving baskets to local military families
- Wrote letters to forward-deployed service members through Operation Gratitude
- Packed and sent care packages for forward-deployed service members through Operation Care & Comfort and AnySoldier
- Adopted families through Soldier’s Angels, and provided gift cards/presents to deserving military families
- Wrote Valentines for Veterans in local Military Retirement Homes
Our facilities are used for many community purposes. We host a seasonal farmer’s market, the SpecialOlympics’ basketball tournament, our gallery exhibits feature local artists, and Arlington police and fire force use our academic facilities and host camps on our campus. We provide our auditorium and associated parking for events at Ballston free to community non-profits. Clearly, we have enjoyed a productive partnership with Arlington County and its residents on a variety of fronts.
One of the most productive elements of that partnership with Arlington County has been access to county owned playing fields for our athletes. In the past that has led to the joint development of the multi-purpose NCAA field at Longbridge Park. While Marymount University is not the only user of that facility, Marymount University has invested over $2 million in the development of that field and continues to contribute at the rate of approximately $200,000 per year for renovation and maintenance. Marymount continues to value our partnership with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. But we are concerned that as Marymount University and Arlington County grow, we will need more and closer access to an NCAA field. And we are concerned that with the growth in interest in field sports and especially with the introduction of Amazon in close proximity to the Longbridge Park field, Arlington County may see additional demand for that field in particular. Consequently, Marymount University feels that it is imperative that Arlington County continues to focus on the expansion of playing fields. Due to population growth, the Arlington Public Space Master Plan shows a need for six additional rectangular fields by 2025 to accommodate youth and adult recreations leagues and practices. The NCAA field provides two modified fields of appropriate size for these activities. The 26th and OD site is ideal for developing additional rectangular fields and a replacement for the Longbridge site for Marymount, freeing up Longbridge completely for county recreation use.
We have been pleased to be part of the 26th and OD task force. But we have been disappointed in the outcome. At one of the first meetings of the task force we proposed a design for the space that would satisfy all of the minimum requirements for the area except for the leaf storage only to be confronted with serious contention brought on largely by the unjustified expansion of emergency snow operations, which is discussed elsewhere in this report. This dramatic expansion of proposed operations has led to the development of complex and costly alternatives that raise many questions about the cost – benefit analysis that has led to them. So, Marymount University would like to offer an alternative to the consensus position of the task force that we believe would serve the interests of the university as well as all of the residents of Arlington County. In the interest of expanding the available area, and consistent with the recommendation in the consensus report to explore expanding spaces available contiguous to current county owned property, we offer the possible addition to the space in question by dedicating two thirds of an acre directly across the street from the property in question for joint use by the community and Marymount University. This space is easily accessible to the users of the larger proposed park development via an existing crosswalk located at the trailhead. The Marymount University Board of Trustees has endorsed this offer at their March 20, 2019 meeting conditioned only upon the development of an appropriate legal framework that would eliminate any Marymount University liability associated with its use.
The proposed layout would be as follows:
Please note that all of the elements of this proposal are at grade. As such, the double deck in other concepts that included the field is not necessary making it easier to accommodate the field on the site and considerably more affordable than the consensus proposal. In addition, Marymount University is prepared to commit to another joint development of the field and is willing to commit to a contribution of $2 million for its development. While this approach does require restricting the growth of snow operations, we believe it is responsive to the desires of the community for more than 4 acres of park and open space, twice as much as is occupied by the NCAA field. As far as parking is concerned, we are prepared to provide off street parking at Marymount garages for Marymount sponsored events on the field. As a reminder, Marymount is Division III. We do not anticipate the crowd sizes that one might associate with Division I NCAA events.
This plan could be significantly enhanced by the further removal of constraints that are suggested in the task force report. The first that we would encourage is the removal of leaf storage and mulch distribution. We have assumed some limited mulch distribution space within the operations area. Elimination of that would allow the full maintenance of current snow operations. We would like to endorse the idea of considering a third-party storage of leaves and the development of mulch. The second is to encourage the county to consider expansion of the site by acquiring other parcels of land that are adjacent to the site. This could allow repositioning the proposed field further west on the site all the way to the corner of 26th and Old Dominion. This would have the advantage of positioning the field as far from neighboring residences as possible and of maximizing contiguous park and/or recreational areas. In closing, we would like the county to give serious consideration to our alternative. We stand prepared to further develop this proposal in conjunction with county staff and Marymount neighbors.