Board sends letter to Arlington County protesting use of Bluemont Park south parking lot for snow storage and melting

At the BMCA Board meeting on August 9, the Board reviewed the response from Greg Emanuel, Director of the Arlington County Department of Environmental Service to a letter from Phil Klingelhofer, BMCA President expressing extreme concern over teh Counties use of the Bluemont Park South Parking lot for emergency snow storage and melting during the extreme snowfall of last winter.  The Board voted unanimously to send the following letter in response, copying the Arlington County Manager and the Arlington Board.  A full copy of the Board letter and prior correspondence can be found here: Snow storage letter to DES from BMCA


Re: Emergency snow storage at Bluemont Park south parking lot

Dear Mr. Emanuel,

I want to thank you for taking the time to discuss neighborhood concerns about emergency storage of snow in the Bluemont Park south parking lot with me and for your detailed written response.  At a meeting on August 9, 2016, the Boulevard Manor Civic Association Board approved unanimously this letter expressing our continued deep concerns and insistence that the County find other, better options.

While we strongly support the goal of getting the community going again as soon as possible after a heavy snowfall and understand that Arlington’s small size and urban character make options for snow storage limited, we believe the priorities used by Arlington County in making the site selections are inappropriate.  There is a monumental difference between disrupting home life and making sleep difficult or impossible for county residents because of 24-hour industrial-scope operation of heavy equipment, on the one hand, and having parking lots cleared for tennis players during winter months, on the other.  We assert that home life for county residents, including allowing time for sleep and freedom from noxious fumes, should have a priority over sports needs and other elective activities.

As detailed in my initial email to you, utilizing the Bluemont Park south parking lot for snow storage has proven to be extremely problematic.  Reviewing the current snow storage sites, this lot is the only location in a residential neighborhood that is not accessible from a major arterial road.  Trucks driving through the middle of a residential neighborhood for the 24-hour operation and subjecting the residents to the noise and fumes day and night is a significant hardship, especially to the 28 residents unlucky enough to live immediately adjacent to the parking lot or along the truck route.  Safety for pedestrians and children using the nearby sledding hill is a significant concern, as well as is damage to the park.  The much-used Bluemont Trail was blocked (probably inadvertently) by the snow piles for many days. Lastly, there are serious concerns about the environmental impact to Four Mile Run from the forced melting of the snow with possible chemical and pollutant residue and possible spills of diesel fuel, and the associated noxious fumes from the melting operation.

We appreciate the job that you and your staff did in clearing our streets during the extreme snowstorm we had last winter.   Staff worked tirelessly and effectively, while demonstrating good humor throughout the effort, yet the planning for snow storage and melting and site selection has been misguided and inadequate.

We know that other options do exist which could be relatively easily used to handle the emergency snow storage needs of the County for years to come and do not have the same significant shortcomings.  Given that this will be a recurring issue, some planning and preparation would be warranted to make all emergency snow storage facilities accessible and efficient, yet provide all the necessary protections for the public and the environment.

In a few minutes, using an online mapping tool (so actual area figures are only approximate), we identified several nearby options accessible from arterial streets:

Location Access Size (sf) Adjacent homes
Bluemont Park south lot Access via five blocks of residential street 22.1k sf 6 immediately adjacent to lot, 28 on truck route
Bluemont Park north lot (entire) Direct access from Wilson Blvd 23.4k None
Bluemont Park north lot east section Direct access from Wilson Blvd 13.9k None
Bluemont Park north section Direct access from Wilson Blvd 9.5k None
Upton Hills Park lot (entire) Direct access from Wilson Blvd 34.8k None
Upton Hills Park lot north section Direct access from Wilson Blvd 16.6k None
Upton Hills Park lot south section Direct access from Wilson Blvd 18.2k None
Kenmore School field Direct access from Carlin Springs Rd 99.4k None
Wilson Safeway lot east section Direct access from Wilson Blvd 18.0k One immediately adjacent to lot
Arlington Blvd access road between N Columbus and N Edison Direct access from Arlington Blvd. 12.1k One immediately adjacent to spot

The Boulevard Manor Civic Association Board urges you to discontinue using the Bluemont Park south parking lot for emergency snow storage now and develop plans for a facility that really meets the community needs without placing an undue burden on a few in time for the coming winter.  We are sure others in the Arlington Community feel the same and would willingly work with County staff to review options and make appropriate recommendations.

Thank you, 

Phil Klingelhofer

Boulevard Manor Civic Association President



Previous correspondence in attached PDF file:

Snow storage letter to DES from BMCA