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Arlington Makes Bids For Aquatics Center Public, But Future Still In Doubt

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A view of proposed aquatics center from the esplanade at Long Bridge Park.
Arlington County Parks Department
A view of proposed aquatics center from the esplanade at Long Bridge Park.

Arlington County officials say that information that was previously withheld regarding construction bids for a new aquatics center should actually be part of the public record, and have released it.

Earlier this month, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan announced plans to construct a new aquatics center at Long Bridge Park had been shelved indefinitely. County officials said the bids came in significantly higher than expected, although Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz said at the time Arlington officials would be keeping the amount of the bids a secret.

"Those bids are still open. So 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," he said.

But now Arlington officials say the bids are part of the public record, and a newly released memorandum spells out that the construction bids range from $82 million to $83 million. The total cost of the project  design and construction  was expected to be about $80 million, although county officials won't say what their expectation was for the cost of construction alone. Schwartz declined to be interviewed for this story.

Frank Shafroth, the director of the Center of State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, says that even with the information out in the open, there remain some unanswered questions. "Is it some problem within the county and they need to fix it before they go out again or are they deciding we just got some wild bids?", he asks.

Arlington officials are in the process of trying to figure out why the bids were so high, and what they're going to do about it now.

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