Veteran civic activist Bernie Berne used his silver oratory and powers of persuasion to convince members of the county government’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) to buck other groups and support a different name for a new park soon to rise in Crystal City.
Before the HALRB’s meeting of May 18, it looked like “Teardrop Park” would be a runaway choice for the new space, which will be bounded (in a teardrop shape) by South Eads Street and Army Navy Drive and bisected by 11th Street South, adjacent to the PenPlace megadevelopment.
That had been the preferred name that rose to the top during a survey of residents, and also had the backing of the Crystal City Civic Association and, if informally, by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee.
But at the HALRB meeting, Berne stopped that train in its tracks by countering with “Arlington Junction Park,” which would pay homage to an important trolley-line nexus of the last decade of the 19th century and the first four decades of the 20th.
“This is a chance to really get back some of this lost history,” said Berne, who for years has not be afraid to tilt at windmills during government planning processes.
But there were no windmills this time. The name caught fire among HALRB members.
“We should jump on this opportunity,” said Gerald Laporte, who declared that the proposed name Teardrop Park “doesn’t really do anything for me.”
Board members Joan Lawrence, Carmela Hamm and Robert Meden were among those adding similar sentiments.
Going with Arlington Junction Park represents a wonderful opportunity to recall history that is lost or little-known, Hamm noted.
The panel then voted 12-0 to support that name, after a staff member from the Department of Parks and Recreation said the agency would have no objection to the name.
“Mr. Berne, you’ve been very persuasive tonight,” HALRB chair Richard Woodruff said.
The issue now heads back to the Park and Recreation Commission, which in a month or two will make a final recommendation to County Board members.
There are three other options apparently still also on the table: Canal Park (a canal used to run nearby); Pentagon Park (the Defense Department headquarters, or at least of parking lot attached to same, is close at hand); and Cottonwood Park (proposed by a member of the Park and Recreation to honor a tree on the site).