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June 9, 2011 / Arlington Unwrapped

Beating The Heat In Arlington

Northern Virginia won the lottery when it came to weather – not only can we enjoy the odd 22 inch snowfall in the winter, but the heat and oppressive humidity in the summer can rival that of our neighbors further to the south.  The question from May to September invariable becomes, where can we find relief from the heat (outside of an icy cold movie theatre!).

The condo and luxury apartment construction around the Orange Line for the last 2 decades has led to a proliferation of rooftop pools, for those lucky enough to live in those buildings. Some of the older, higher rise buildings throughout the county also boast swimming pools, typically open and staffed Memorial Day-Labor Day. But what about the rest of us?

While the county does not provide numerous outdoor pools, like say the planned community of Reston (where annual HOA fees allow residents to attend a variety of community swimming programs), there are still lots of options for Arlingtonians.

The County is home to 4 private recreational clubs, spaced throughout North Arlington. All are members of the Northern Virginia Swim League (NVSL), which is the largest and one of the oldest summer swim leagues in the country. All or most boast dive teams as well, and lessons are offered for a variety of age groups and skill levels. Members are close knit, and typically schedule annual brunches, cookouts, lobster or crab feasts, movie nights, and other special activities and events.

The important thing to know, particularly if you are buying a home nearby one of these pools, is that these are private, members only organizations. Purchasing or renting a home in a pool’s preferred boundary neighborhood does not guarantee membership – regardless of what a brochure or a realtor tells you! Each individual pool has a systemized waiting list and application system, with different initiation and annual fees.  If you ARE purchasing a home in private pool boundaries, please have your agent inquire whether or not the current owner holds a membership at any of these pools. If the sellers are willing to convey (or let you purchase the membership) via transfer, sometimes the pool will allow you to join right away, or at least move to a priority position on the waiting list. Also, do your homework! Before you join, read the rules and regulations and inquire about any planned construction or improvements that could affect your usage of the facilities or require additional assessments from members. Don’t complain when you find out that a pool has a mandatory adult swim from 10-1 on Sundays – its been in the bylaws for 30+ years.

Donaldson Run Recreation Association

Donaldson Run is located at 2729 N Marcey Road, Arlington, VA 22207 – just down the road from Marcey Park and Potomac Overlook Park. It’s bounded by the GW Parkway from about Glebe Road to Spout Run, and includes neighbors like Woodmont, Bellevue Forest, Riverwood, and Dover Crystal. Open since 1959, the 600-member organization has a 600,000 square foot pool, baby pool, bathhouse, and snack bar.

The website estimates that the waiting list for full voting membership is 7-9 years – provisional full summer and August memberships are sometimes available in the interim. The initiation fee includes a capital contribution ($1500 in 2010) that is refundable when you resign your membership. Yearly dues for a member family of 4 in 2010 were $765.

Overlee Community Association

Overlee is located at the intersection of Lee Highway and John Marshall. Overlee is notable for having one of the most competitive swim and dive programs in the county. It currently has 2 25 meter pools, a training area, fenced baby pool, diving well, and water slide. It also has a year-round clubhouse, which is available for rent as well. Overlee culls its 800-member organization from Arlington, McLean and Falls Church – the current waitlist stands at 452, which indicates an average wait for full membership of several years.  Overlee also has provisional August passes for non-members. Per their website, “When invited to join Overlee, a non-refundable initiation fee of $2000 (as of February 2011—this amount is subject to change), plus $1000 construction fee (paid in two $500 installments) is required, in addition to Annual Dues ($675 in 2011) which are set by the membership-approved budget at the Annual Membership Meeting held in February.” Overlee’s construction of new facilities is set to begin at the close of the 2011 season.

Dominion Hills Clubhouse

Another option in the north-west part of the County is Dominion Hills Recreation. Located at 6000 Wilson Blvd, the pool enjoys a central location, walking distance to Bluemont Park, Ashlawn Elementary, and Upton Hill Regional Park. Besides the pool, there is also a clubhouse, available for rent, which accommodates up to 100 guests. Dominion Hills does not publish its rates and membership info regarding membership, rental membership, and length of wait list.

Finally, Arlington Forest Club sits just off Carlin Springs, at 400 N. Harrison Street. It features a newly constructed pool, 2 diving boards, picnic area, bathhouse, and 4 tennis courts. AFC offers summer tennis lessons, teams, and tournaments, and the  courts are available to members throughout the year. Current waiting list stands at 400+, provisional rental and August passes are available – per website, projected wait for rental membership if you are within AFC’s preferred boundaries (Arlington Forest, Barcroft, Bon Air, GlenCarlyn) is 4+ years. “The cost of a membership certificate is $975, which is returned (less a $50 transfer fee) when the membership is sold. In addition, when you purchase the membership certificate, you must also pay a non-refundable $200 initiation fee. The cost of a membership will increase if the membership votes on certificate fee increases.” The current annual fee stands at just over $400. AFC members recently voted to commence reconstruction of its bath and changing facilities.

Pool at AFC

Another private option is the Knights of Columbus – The Columbus Club Swimming Pool offers membership opportunities even if you are not a Knights of the EDW member. The facilities include 2 full size pools, diving board, and baby pool – as well as tennis court, picnic area, and full service kitchen and snack bar. Council member families 2011 dues were $385, non-Council family memberships were $825.

If you want to cool off in style, there’s the Washington Golf and Country Club. Located at 3017 North Glebe Road, and established in 1894, it’s the oldest golf club in the DC area and former members have included presidents, House and Senate members, and Supreme Court justices. The clubhouse has been upgraded and rebuilt several times over the last century – it’s currently in its 5th incarnation. Members enjoy access to golf, swimming, tennis, fine and casual dining, and a fitness center. Membership is as expensive as you imagine – there is a wait list, and you are required to be sponsored by an active member.

So what if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to join, and hundreds of dollars annually to join a pool? Have no fear – there are other public, less expensive options!!

All of Arlington’s indoor swimming pools (located at Wakefield, Yorktown, and Washington Lee High Schools) are open to the public. Passes are inexpensive (a couple of dollars a day, annual memberships also available). There are swim classes available, as well as the Arlington Aquatics club and a masters program.

Wakefield Swimming Pool – 4901 S. Chesterfield Road

Washington-Lee Swimming Pool – 1300 N. Quincy St., Arlington

Yorktown Swimming Pool – 5201 N. 28th St., Arlington; 703-536-9739

Want to work on your tan by the pool? Check out Upton Hill which is operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, rather than Arlington County. Located just off of Wilson Blvd, this wooded park area straddles the line between Arlington and Falls Church, and offers a waterpark, batting cage, putt-putt golf course, and of course a large main pool. Day passes are under $10, season passes to the pool are under $100.  Word of warning – open to the public means expect crowds, particularly once school lets out!

Looking for a quick way to help kids beat the heat? Arlington now has 3 “SprayGrounds” spaced throughout the County, at Drew Playground, Hayes Park, and Lyon Village Park. But do your research – not all have available bathrooms!!!

All in all, a good range of options for all of us who won’t make it to Dewey or Virginia Beach this season! Stay cool Arlington!


One Comment

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  1. Jordyn Crane / Mar 23 2017 3:49 am

    Great content, very useful information. Thank you for sharing.

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