Urgent: Salt Dome site alternative that saves CIP $

August 9, 2018

Email to Greg Emanuel, Director, Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, copies to County Board and County Manager

Dear Greg,

I really appreciate your reaching out to me on Tuesday with a phone call to discuss the trees impacted by the construction of the temporary salt storage facility on Old Dominion.  ATAG is very pleased with your efforts to save as many trees as possible by moving the structure as far as feasible and attempting to save trees that may only be minimally compromised. I know your team has been working very hard to address each of the communities’ concerns. You and your staff gave an excellent discussion of all aspects of the project at the Tuesday evening walk-around despite some very steamy weather!

Speaking only on my own behalf, however, I do not think that the current plans are the best alternative. I have attached some information on an alternative program at the Buck site and compared it to the current plans. Key points of the program are:

  • Ability to use the temporary structure already on order for the Old Dominion site at the Buck site
  • Lower site preparation costs at Buck with existing paved surface and no regrading necessary because the proposed facility can be built on uneven surfaces.
  • More operating and storage space at Buck for equipment and available space in buildings
  • No need for rezoning with M-1 and CM designations avoiding a bad precedent for changing GLUP designations without adequate analysis; preserves trees and nature options.
  • Good access to a wider street
  • Allows time for demolition of current tank and site preparation for a facility at Old Dominion site by spring 2019
  • “Temporary” facility is a type of facility used by municipalities across the nation for their permanent salt storage facility, with warrantees lasting 20 to 50 years.  This would free up $2.2 million in CIP funds.
  • Can be moved easily back to the existing Old Dominion site as soon as 2019 and located so that fewer trees are impacted. This would minimize the community impacts at both locations.

Attached please find more detailed information on the potential locations and benefits of this alternative. I invite you to consider this option seriously while there is still more than adequate time to make the switch.  During the walk-around it seemed that there were still many unknowns that needed to be worked out for the Old Dominion site, so there is still some risk for that site working out.  I would be pleased to speak with any member of your staff if I can be of assistance.

Best regards,

Mary Wolter Glass


See “Three alternative locations on the Buck Site”:   8-7-18 Buck Site maps


ISSUE OLD DOMINION (existing site) BUCK – 3 SITES (alternative sites)


Rezoning required from R-6 (residential) and S-3A (public parkland) to P-S (service/industrial).  This is a significant change in zoning from the current General Land Use Plan that sets a dangerous precedent. DES assesses this as high to medium risk. Two of the sites are zoned M-1 and CM (industrial and commercial) so they require NO rezoning. Third site would require similar rezoning from R-5 to M-1 or P-S. Using the two industrial/commercial sites is much more compatible with the General Land Use Plan. DES assesses this as medium to low risk.
SITE Site close to and will drain into a Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area. Site preparation will require expensive geotechnical evaluation, site clearing, grading, installation of impermeable surfaces, and a new street entry from Old Dominion. Site is paved for heavy duty use. No grading or other preparation required. Temporary buildings can be placed on sloping paving. Current entry is established to Quincy Street.
OPERATIONS Traffic congestion on narrow Old Dominion Dr. due to direct access without staging area.

Public risks from waiting trucks and in and out traffic. DES assesses this as low risk.

Ample staging and parking space for equipment. Staging of many trucks in parking lot rather than on a street. Large existing entrance. DES assesses this as medium to low risk.
FUTURE USE Stuck with a multi-year commitment to this new use on the site that could hamper consideration of other uses in the future. Single year use of the structure at the site. Potential for much less expensive relocation of structure to Old Dominion site for permanent use eliminating the need for a solid structure
COMMUNITY Three civic associations and local residents have opposed the current plan. Also concern that a multi-year “temporary” use and rezoning will lead to other public buildings or uses that are not compatible with the residential areas. DES has assessed this as medium risk noting community concerns. No concerns expressed by residents on the record. No community meetings were held. No consideration of the option to have a single year use for this site to minimize impacts to the community. No planning has even started on the use of this property. Site is no closer to residences than is the Old Dominion. DES assessed this as medium to high risk noting that it would be a new use in the neighborhood.
COST Cost for facility and installation $200k plus site preparation. CIP for the replacement storage is $2.2 million.  DES assesses this as medium to high risk. Cost for temporary building and installation less than $200,000. Moving structure and new foundation at Old Dominion site estimated at less than $300,000.  DES assesses this as medium risk.
Schedule Can be built by November deadline. DES assesses this as medium to low risk. Can be built by November deadline. DES assesses this as medium to low risk.
SUMMARY DES assesses both sites as medium risk DES assesses both sites as medium risk – There was no detailed analysis of the options here or the site.

The DES assessments are from the Site Assessment Matrix presented to the Board 7/17/18.





Steps to a Better Solution at the Buck site and Beyond 2019

  • Leave the Old Dominion site undisturbed until a plan for a new facility that can be implemented next year
  • Continue the procurement of the temporary facility proceed as planned to meet manufacturing scheduling requirements
  • Relocate the “temporary” salt storage structure to the Buck site for one season.
  • By spring 2019 demolish the existing tank and start construction of foundations and any ancillary facilities needed to prepare the current Old Dominion site to receive the “temporary” structure
  • Move the “temporary” structure to the Old Dominion site where the tank was located
  • The “temporary” structure becomes the permanent structure as is the case in many cities around the US. These structures are warranted for 20 – 50 years by the manufacturers. (See attached case study from New Jersey.)

Why this is a better solution?

  • The cost of this type of structure is far less expensive than a solid tank or building
    • Published cost of 120’ x 85’ is $60,000 plus installation, DES has now procured this facility and installation for $199k
    • Site preparation and temporary foundation estimated at $50,000
    • The cost to move in 2019 is estimated at $300,000
    • The cost of a solid tank or building could be $2.2 million according to the CIP
  • The disruption at the Old Dominion and Buck sites could be finished in one year rather than having a ”temporary” facility encroaching on the site for 3 years or longer
  • Long term planning would be simplified and could begin now
  • The promises made to the Old Dominion community regarding the use of this land could be honored while preserving all options until the long-term planning is completed. The citizens’ wishes expressed by 76% of the respondents in the Open Space Needs study called for more natural areas and trails.
  • Three possible locations with better storage capability at Buck site
  • Public safety and traffic congestion into and out of proposed driveway on Old Dominion are significant risks.
  • Avoid a bad precedent for “emergency” rezoning without adequate time for analysis and community input.



Township of Wayne Dept. of Public Works Case Study

Challenge– Storage
Solution– Hercules Truss Arch Building
Size– 65′ wide x 100′ long
Application– Road salt storage

Winter weather in New Jersey can coat the roads with anything from snow to sleet and freezing rain, creating slippery conditions that require layers of road salt. Since the state of New Jersey mandates that all road salt be kept in an enclosed area, a proper storage facility is crucial for road crews.

The Department of Public Works in the Township of Wayne, NJ was storing their road salt on an asphalt pad, covered with a large tarp, according to Public Works Director George Holzapfel, a practice that was not only inconvenient in severe weather, but also sometimes hazardous. “The tarp had to be removed for access before, or sometimes during, snow or ice events, neither of which was a pleasure for the employees,” Holzapfel said. “During non-winter periods winds often blew the tarps off, which then had to be reinstalled. Handling large tarps in windy conditions had to be undertaken with extreme caution…again, a task no one liked,” he added.

Holzapfel began looking for a more efficient, yet cost-effective solution to comply with the mandate. After a bit of research, he decided on a ClearSpan Hercules Truss Arch Building. The quick, easy construction and low cost of the 65′ by 100′ building made it the best option for Holzapfel. “An overriding factor was foundation requirements,” Holzapfel said. “The site had clay layers and refuse which would have required deep spread footings or piles to support a traditional structure, substantially increasing costs. The ClearSpan system was essentially placed on an asphalt pad.” The building’s construction took only a few weeks and meets all of the department’s needs.

“It is well received,” Holzapfel said. “Material stored is safe from the elements, and access for trucks and equipment is excellent.” The building is working so well that they have already constructed a smaller ClearSpan structure to store truck tires, and are considering another facility to increase their winter salt storage and possibly store vehicles the rest of the year.

For more information on how ClearSpan helped Township of Wayne, Department of Public Works, call George Holzapfel at 973.694.1800 ext. 3219.