Arlington Cemetery Negotiations Moving Forward

Though negotiations on how to use the land that formerly housed the Navy Annex had stalled, they are back on track after Arlington County, the Army, and the Virginia Department of Transportation agreed on an idea the county manager says will significantly increase the amount of burial space for the cemetery. “While work remains to finalize the details of a land exchange agreement … I am encouraged by our recent progress and remain confident that a final agreement is within reach,” acting county manager Mark Schwartz said. In July, Schwartz wrote in a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh that Arlington county officials were “troubled” by the Army’s “continued misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Arlington County’s position, commitments, and proposals” about the negotiations. The land consists of three parcels, none of which is contiguous to the cemetery and most of which is not currently suitable for burials. The county proposal included realigning Columbia Pike to give the cemetery more burial space, but the Army balked at the plan’s inclusion of a county transit operations and maintenance facility. In the July letter and an August letter to McHugh, Schwartz reiterated that the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the Army and the county said the land south of the realigned Columbia Pike would be used for “county and/or public use” and that no matter what the county builds there, it will be designed and built “in a manner that does not detract from surrounding uses.”