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Artisphere, Two Community Centers Could Be on Next Year’s Chopping Block

By ARLnow.com

Friday - 2/22/2013, 12:20pm  ET

The Fenwick Center (photo via Google Maps)Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan says she and her staff will be evaluating several county facilities for possible changes or closure next year.

Among those expected to be evaluated are the money-losing Artisphere, two community centers and two Department of Human Services facilities.

In her budget message to the County Board, Donnellan said “potential facilities to be evaluated” include the Madison and Woodmont community centers in north Arlington, the Edison Complex near Virginia Hospital Center, and the Fenwick Center on S. Walter Reed Drive.

Madison Community Center (photo via Google Maps)“As our population changes and as technology changes the way we deliver services, I believe we have many opportunities to do things differently, particularly in the area of buildings and facilities,” Donnellan said. “I have asked staff to begin evaluation of some of our facilities that require significant capital investment or are underutilized — with one of our initial tasks being how we engage the community and stakeholders in these discussions.”

Possible recommendations for the facilities could include changes in use or closure, said Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius.

“The evaluations will look at a full range of options, including no change in use, repurposing these facilities for a new use (County or otherwise), or potentially closure — but it’s preliminary to speculate until the process is complete,” she said. “As the Manager’s message noted, one of the initial starting points will be to get public input — and other evaluation factors will include utilization rates and building condition and age, among others.”

Artisphere signAlso on the chopping block is Artisphere, the Rosslyn-based cultural center that opened with high expectations in 2010. As previously reported, Donnellan is including $1.8 million in taxpayer funding for Artisphere in her proposed FY 2014 budget, but warning that she’s “assessing its performance and programming model” for next year.

“We’re going to evaluate the fiscal sustainability,” she told County Board members on Wednesday. “I’m forcing them to reevaluate how they operate. It’s an expensive operation to continue and I need to evaluate it to make sure it’s sustainable.”

Photos (top, middle) via Google Maps