NVRPA Board Votes to Rescind Potomac Overlook Development Plan

As expected, the full board of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) last night (March 21) voted to rescind its earlier approval of the entire package of development proposals for Potomac Overlook Park.

Paul Ferguson, one of Arlington’s two representatives on the regional park authority board, said the board voted unanimously on a “simple and brief” motion to rescind its earlier approval.

However, the NVRPA may try to revive some of its plans down the road. A Washington Examiner story published today says the Park Authority “is expected to delay some of the proposals ’for a year or so.’”

Last Nov. 15, without advance public notice or community input, the NVRPA board voted to approving “planning and implementation” of several changes to the 70-acre Potomac Overlook park, the largest remaining woodlands in Arlington County created as a nature preserve, educational center, and public park for “low-impact” recreational use.

The development projects included such high-impact facilities as a rental treehouse, zip line, climbing wall, large group shelter/concert pavilion, two-acre urban garden, and more than doubling the size of the park’s parking lot, among other changes.

Park users and Arlington residents strongly opposed the plan, based its clear violation of the park’s stated purpose as a nature preserve and low-impact recreational park, and on the lack of community input in drafting the plans.

At a standing-room-only public meeting March 19 sponsored by the Potomac Overlook Preservation Association (POPA), both Ferguson and Paul Gilbert, NVRPA executive director, announced they were withdrawing the plan and would ask the full board to vote to rescind their earlier approval of it.

At the NVRPA board’s meeting last night, the board did so.

POPA has pledged to work with the Park Authority to ensure any future plans for Potomac Overlook are compatible with the land’s mission as a nature preserve and low-impact recreational park.

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