Recently our esteemed friends at the DMV decided to move its Four Mile Run customer service center from Arlington County to Barcroft Plaza, a shopping center in Falls Church, Fairfax County. While on the surface this might not seem like a big deal, after all, it is only 5-6 miles from the old location so not a big deal for Arlington Residents to drive and one shopping center is as good as another, right?
The Four Mile Run facility is one of the five busiest in the state, handling an average of more than 540 customers a day and more than 150,000 in a year. It is currently located in a standalone 12,000 sq. ft. building in a light-industrial district and is served by a dedicated parking area with 102 spaces.
The proposed space in Barcroft Plaza is in no way prepared to handle that kind of traffic. Bank of America, Zips Dry Cleaners, Starbucks, and a large Harris Teeter food market. The shopping center is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and an elementary school. It is busy, evidence of its value to families living in the area.
To name only a few if the key problems with this idea:
- Safety of Drivers: Access is from Columbia Pike and Lincolnia Roads – neither side has a stop light. Forcing patrons into a situation where they must cross the extremely busy Columbia Pike without the benefit of a stop light is negligent at best. Someone will get killed here.
- Safety for community: Unlike the current DMV location, this one is surrounded by a school and residential neighborhoods that are simply not prepared to handle the impact of the additional traffic and student drivers. Children live and play in this community and this will have a negative impact on their quality of life and will put them at risk.
- Parking: There is just enough parking to support the businesses already there, adding another 550+ visitors will choke the existing businesses.
- Economic: By adding a mass service center to a community shopping center you will drive away the existing customer base and thereby put the existing businesses in jeopardy.
- Cultural/Community Impact: As mentioned before, this is a community shopping center serving the residents of Barcroft, Parklawn, Lincolnia, Sleepy Hollow, and other similar neighborhoods. To put a mass service center in the middle of the neighborhood is not only unwise, it would destroy the flavor of the community.
The DMV did not bother to consult the community or residents it purports to serve or many of our elected officials regarding its plan to relocate to Barcroft Plaza. The community only happened to learned of the plan from an October 30 post on the Annandale Blog.
On December 3rd, Delegate Kory and the Mason District Council of Community Associations convened a meeting of residents with state and county representatives to hear and discuss DMV’s plan for the relocation. More than 100 residents attended; more than 30 spoke out in opposition and no resident supported the plan. Surprisingly, it was apparent from the DMV representatives that no consideration whatsoever had been given to the compatibility of their proposed service center with the Barcroft Plaza community. The justification for their plan was simply that DMV would save money on rent, and they had no requirement to notify the public.
If you agree that this is not a good use of Virginia residents’ tax payer dollars and that moving a mass service center to a small community shopping center is a bad idea, please review this comment and sign the petition at Change.org to save our community shopping center.