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Bids To Build Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center Way Off The Mark

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A rendering of the proposed sport and fitness pool at the Long Bridge Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.
Arlington County Department Of Parks And Recreation
A rendering of the proposed sport and fitness pool at the Long Bridge Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.

County leaders in Arlington are going back to the drawing board for a new aquatics center at Long Bridge Park, as construction bids came in higher than expected.

The Long Bridge aquatics center was expected to be an $80 million project. Operating it was expected to cost taxpayers about $2 million. But then county officials started crunching the numbers on the cost of staffing and maintenance, and the annual cost to taxpayers doubled to $4 million. That raises concern for County Board member Libby Garvey.

"I think we should circle back to our community and have perhaps a difficult but I think very important conversation and discussion about the aquatics center, how it will benefit Arlington and what it will cost before we move forward," says Libby Garvey, a county board member.

Now County Manager Barbara Donnellan says the construction bids for the project came in "significantly higher" than expected, which means she will not be bringing the construction contract to County Board members in 2014 as planned.

Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz says the Virginia Public Procurement Act prevents county officials from disclosing the dollar amount of the construction bids.

"If we were to say anything about it, we would be in violation of the code of Virginia and you wouldn't want us to do that," Schwartz says.

County officials say they are currently conducting an analysis to figure out why the bids were so high and what they should do about it. That analysis is expected to be completed next month.

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