That’s the message from the two candidates for County Board, incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze, in response to a questionnaire from the Arlington Parks Coalition.
Both Vihstadt and Howze said that Arlington needs more parkland and recreational space to meet existing needs, let alone future demands. Both said they would support the acquisition of new parkland by Arlington County.
In addition, Vihstadt floated a number of specific ideas, like “building up rather than out, in schools and public facilities construction and additions to maximize green space,” and “examining the feasibility of air rights over I-66 in Rosslyn and East Falls Church for fields development.”
On the topic of the “Public Land for Public Good” affordable housing initiative, both candidates rejected the idea of using parkland for affordable housing, schools or other purposes.
Howze, however, kept the door open to potentially redeveloping existing recreational facilities to include housing. His response to the Parks Coalition:
I do not support the development of existing parkland for other purposes. Parks are a public good that are available to all members of the community and it is important that we preserve these public spaces.
When current recreational facilities are renovated or rebuilt, I believe it is appropriate to engage in a community conversation about potential uses. For example, could pre-K and on-site childcare be integrated into a site – making it easier for parents to use a facility? Could housing for seniors be integrated on a site to make recreational amenities and wellness activities more accessible to them? There is no one size fits all answer to these questions – but by engaging the community I am confident that the appropriate solutions will emerge. In fact, it is this confidence in our community that led me to call earlier this year for a broad public process to bring people together to work towards solutions to address school overcrowding, park needs, affordable housing, and public safety infrastructure. By bringing the community together we can emerge with a broader consensus for how to move forward in protecting our parks – while meeting other important community needs in schools, recreational, housing and infrastructure.
Vihstadt said Arlington should find creative solutions for preserving affordable housing and building more school capacity that do not require the loss of parkland.
In my view, Arlington’s 149 parks and our many community/recreation centers are the very essence of “public land for public good” and should be preserved for their intended purpose and adequately maintained. It is both counterintuitive and counterproductive to locate housing, schools, or any other non-parks and recreation-related development on our increasingly precious parkland and recreational sites, and I will work and vote to keep our green space green. As we add ever more population and density to our County, we must more carefully assess how our development decisions are impacting the diversity and character of our neighborhoods and our public parks, as well as our schools and infrastructure. We must also endeavor to ensure that our core services, including our parks and recreation resources, keep pace with our population growth. Clearly, our County faces challenges in ensuring adequate school capacity and preserving our affordable housing stock, but I believe we also possess the resources and creativity to address these challenges while preserving and, indeed, enhancing, our parkland and recreational resources, including sports fields.
On a related note, I believe that our regional parks and nature centers should remain substantially as they are, absent community-driven upgrades and maintenance improvements.
County Board Race is Anyone’s Guess – The outcome of the Arlington County Board race between incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze is far from certain. While Vihstadt is winning the fundraising battle, Howze is expected to benefit from far greater turnout than the 16 percent who voted in the special election this year. The last general election with a Senate race on the ballot saw a 55 percent turnout in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt Peeved at ‘Pro-Streetcar Narrative’ — At yesterday’s County Board meeting, John Vihstadt complained about the county government’s pro-streetcar PR efforts. He suggested that he and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, who make up 40 percent of the Board, should have their views heard through county government channels. Board Chair Jay Fisette slammed that idea, saying “it doesn’t make sense” for the county government to expend resources arguing against its own official policy. [InsideNova]
Cyclist Struck on Lynn Street — A bicyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N., just before 9:00 this morning. The cyclist was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with an apparent dislocated collarbone.
Bank Robbery in Falls Church — The FBI is looking for a man who robbed a BB&T Bank on West Broad Street in Falls Church yesterday morning. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Zac Hanson’s Birthday — On this day 29 years ago, “MMMBop” singer Zac Hanson was born in Arlington. [Hello!]
Democratic Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze, trying to unseat the first non-Democratic Board member since 1999, is using buttons with issue buzzwords on them to try to generate a new wave of enthusiasm for his campaign.
The buttons, instead of being splashed with the candidate’s name in big letters, instead feature issues Howze’s campaign believes are most important to Arlington voters, like “great schools,” “mobility” and “affordability.”
“We created these campaign buttons after listening to residents express what makes Arlington special and what issues matter most to them,” Howze said in a press release. “From great schools to thinking ahead to open space, the buttons capture essential elements of our community. The buttons are a great way to start a conversation about our vision for the future of Arlington.”
Howze is trailing behind Vihstadt — who won the April special election by a 57-41 percent margin after former Board member Chris Zimmerman resigned in February — in fundraising less than a month before Election Day on Nov. 4. This morning, Howze issued a separate press release announcing his goal of “zero pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths from vehicle accidents,” and a plan to accomplish that, including accelerating the Intersection of Doom improvements.
Howze’s plan calls for “complete safe routes to ALL Arlington schools,” expanding sidewalks and increasing police attention toward drivers making unsafe maneuvers for pedestrians and cyclists. He has also recently released campaign plans for improving the Columbia Pike streetcar and enhancing discussion on public land use.
This morning, the Sun Gazette endorsed Vihstadt, saying his months of service on the County Board have proven he’s willing to ask questions other Board members do not:
In another year, Howze might well be our choice, as we think he does want to tackle significant issues.
But the message his election would send to the Democratic oligarchy that has run Arlington — sometimes exceptionally well, but not always so – over past decades is that the public has gotten the anger out of its system, and it’s back to business as usual. That can’t be allowed to happen.
“It’s not divisive to ask questions, and question authority,” Vihstadt said at a recent candidate forum. “If I lose, the status quo prevails.”
He’s right, and while Alan Howze likely would be a fine County Board member — far better than he has been as a candidate – we think it’s the wrong time to turn back the clock. Vihstadt deserves a four-year term.
Va. ‘Fully Committed’ to Streetcar Funding — Despite budget cuts, the Commonwealth of Virginia is still “fully committed” to providing up to $65 million for the Columbia Pike streetcar project, according to the director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. [Washington Post]
Name Proposed for New Elementary School — “Discovery Elementary” is the name proposed by a steering committee for the new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The name will be formally presented to the school board on Thursday. [InsideNova]
Firefighters Endorse Vihstadt — The Arlington County firefighters and paramedics union has endorsed John Vihstadt for reelection in the race for Arlington County Board.
Candidate Forum Tonight — The Radnor Fort Myer Heights Civic Association will hold a forum with the candidates for Congress, County Board, Treasurer and School Board tonight at 7:00 p.m. [Ode Street Tribune]
Wardian Featured in Runners World — Prolific ultramarathon runner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian was the subject of a full-page spread in the latest Runners World magazine. Wardian, 40, holds the record for fastest marathon dressed as a superhero, fastest marathon with a stroller and fastest marathon on a treadmill. He was photographed on the Potomac Heritage Trail, where he regularly goes on morning runs with his puppy, Rosie. [PDF]
Candidates Question School Costs — School Board candidates Barbara Kanninen and Audrey Clement both said that there are ways to contain costs at Arlington Public Schools. Clement said the school system should consider increasing class sizes, while Kanninen said she was concerned about the cost of technology initiatives. [InsideNova]
GW’s Barcroft Park Field to Be Named – George Washington University will name the field its baseball team plays at Barcroft Park after a major donor. The field recently underwent a $3 million renovation. It will be named after Avram “Ave” Tucker, a former GW baseball player and the owner of a financial firm, who is making a $2 million donation to the school. The newly-christened “Tucker Field” will be dedicated in a ceremony Saturday morning. [George Washington University]
Orthopaedic Center to Open in Clarendon — The Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Center of Falls Church has announced that it has opened a second office, at 1307 N. Highland Street in Clarendon.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board and School Board released a joint statement Tuesday regarding public lands and the school capacity crunch.
County Board candidate Alan Howze and School Board candidates Barbara Kanninen and Nancy Van Doren said that while the school system should address capacity needs “expeditiously and cost-effectively,” it should do so following a “broadly inclusive community process” to discuss the use of public lands for schools, parks and affordable housing.
In response, incumbent County Board candidate John Vihstadt said that while a community process is currently underway, “what is also needed is a recognition that some difficult choices will have to be made and that hard trade-offs must occur.”
School Board candidate Audrey Clement, who is running against Kanninen (Van Doren is running unopposed), in turn questioned why the county’s school construction costs and per-pupil costs are significantly higher than other Northern Virginia jurisdictions.
The full statements from the candidates, after the jump.
File photo courtesy APS
The big-ticket question in that referendum will be $105.7 million for Arlington Public Schools, $50.25 million of which will pay for either a new elementary school adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, or additions onto Randolph and Barcroft elementary schools.
The voting public can only vote to approve or reject to each of the four bond questions on the ballot — for public schools, Metro and transportation, parks and recreation funding and community infrastructure. Each question requests at least $13 million in funding, and all of the referenda roll multiple projects into the larger categories.
The items in the $105.7 million schools bond, aside from the $50 million elementary school, are:
- $28.75 million for a 136-seat expansion at Abingdon Elementary School;
- $10.31 million for “minor construction/maintenance” at school facilities;
- $7.47 million toward a 241-seat addition and renovation at McKinley Elementary School;
- $5 million for a 300-seat expansion at Washington-Lee High School;
- $4 million in planning and design for a new, 1,300-seat secondary school at a yet-undetermined location.
The funding items in the $59.74 million transportation bond question:
- $39 million for continuing funding of the Metro system;
- $15.5 million for road paving;
- $1.3 million for bridge renovations;
- $2.39 million to be divvied up among WALKArlington, BikeArlington and “improvements to major travel corridors [outside] principal boundaries.”
The biggest items in the $40.15 million community infrastructure bond are:
- $12 million for neighborhood conservation projects; $10 million for facilities maintenance;
- $2.2 million for planning of the Salt Dome site on 26th Street N.;
- $1.4 million toward a new Lubber Run Community Center;
- $6.1 million combined for a new parking deck, wash bay and fueling station at the Arlington Trades Center.
The $13 million parks and recreation bond question includes:
- $10 million for parks maintenance;
- $2 million for land acquisition and open space;
- $450,000 for Crystal City parks and open space;
- $220,000 for Four Mile Run near-stream improvements.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the transportation and education bond packages, with assurances from county officials that the additional debt won’t affect the county’s triple-AAA bond rating. The chamber doesn’t take a position on the community infrastructure and parks and rec bonds because they “are not directly tied to economic development.”
“Maintaining and improving quality transportation and education are two of the key components of our public-policy positions, and these bonds will assist in easing the traffic crunch and provide seats for Arlington’s growing student population,” Chamber Chair Timothy Hughes said in a press release.
Planners Consider Rosslyn Skyline — The Realize Rosslyn plan is primarily intended to make Rosslyn a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place. However, it will also have an impact on Rosslyn’s skyline. Arlington County planners will be working with the community this fall to come up with recommendations related to the skyline. [Greater Greater Washington]
Fmr. NAACP President Dies — Dr. Talmadge Williams, a former president of the Arlington NAACP, died on Saturday. He was 79. Williams was also a champion for the proposed Arlington Black Heritage Museum, which is still searching for a permanent home. [InsideNova]
County Board Candidates Debate, Again — The two candidates for Arlington County Board again debated the merits of the county’s planned streetcar system. Incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze debated before an audience of 125 at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Monday night. [Washington Post]
It’s October — Today is Oct. 1, the first day of the last quarter of the year. If you’re looking to take advantage of October’s crisp fall weather, there’s a full slate of activities and events in around Arlington on our event calendar.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Sen. Gillibrand Apologizes to Arlington — “Sorry, Arlington, didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) said via Twitter last night, following ARLnow.com’s scoop that she called the county a “soulless suburb” in her new book. County Board member Walter Tejada, meanwhile, couldn’t quite understand why Gillibrand didn’t like living here. “I’m not sure what she was referring to,” he told the Washington Post. “Maybe somebody got in front of her at the supermarket or something like that.” [Washington Post]
Back to U. Va. for Sullivan Campaign Manager – Washington-Lee High School alumnus Jarrod Nagurka is heading back to the University of Virginia, having spent the summer running the successful election campaign of Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan. Nagurka, 20, also served as political director for Del. Patrick Hope’s unsuccessful bid for Congress. “I learned and matured more during that experience than I ever would have in a semester at school,” he said of the campaign. [InsideNova]
Report: Arlington Man Gave Robbery Victim Cash Back — The victim of a robbery in eastern Pennsylvania says the alleged perp — a 38-year-old man from Arlington — gave him him $5 back before running off with his wallet. The robbery occurred outside of a Wawa store near Allentown. The suspect, Timothy Smith, seemed “almost… remorseful,” the victim said. [Lehigh Valley Live]
Flickr pool photo by erkiletian
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Vying for a seat on the Arlington County Board, challenger Alan Howze and incumbent John Vihstadt made their cases for and against the big-ticket Columbia Pike streetcar and described other goals should they be elected November 4.
Speaking before the Arlington Civic Federation last night, Howze, a streetcar backer, repeated his call for a public referendum on the transportation option, calling it a huge economic opportunity for the county.
“When you look at the capacity and the economic development that will be driven by the streetcar versus the buses, it’s a smart investment to make,” he said. “We’re talking about passing on thousands of jobs in our community and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that can go toward funding our schools and our social services.”
Howze suggested looking at renewable energy to power the streetcar. “If we can get into a long-term power purchasing agreement, it may actually not cost anything” beyond current energy rates, he said.
Vihstadt countered that the streetcar’s operating costs will have to be funded by bonds and tax dollars and that improved buses are a cheaper and more flexible option.
“The way to keep taxes under control in this county is not to spend so much,” he said. “People want to get from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time, in reasonable comfort and at a good price. The bus is the way to do that.”
Vihstadt said he is not a “single-issue candidate” and stated he would focus on creating affordable housing if elected.
“We want an Arlington that’s welcoming, that’s diverse and that’s affordable to everybody and it’s just really a question of how we’re going to do that — whether it’s through additional committed affordable units or additional housing grants or a special program for workforce housing, I am completely open to that,” he said.
Howze said he was also committed to making affordable housing a priority.
Vihstadt touted his successes thus far in bringing “balance and accountability” to the Board and reminded audience members that he won their vote in April. Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent, won the special election in April to replace Chris Zimmerman (D) on the board. He captured 57 percent of the vote, to Democrat Howze’s 41 percent.
“Since I’ve been on the Board, we have lowered the property tax rate for the first time in nine years, freed up more bonding authority for more new schools and additions to address our capacity crisis, and we’ve directed the County Manager to examine staffing levels for our fire and police,” Vihstadt’s opening statement said.
In his opening statement, Howze criticized Vihstadt’s work on the board thus far.
“He put politics ahead of the needs of our community when he voted this summer against funding for school construction, Metro and parks in the Capital Improvement Plan, just to make a political point,” the statement said. “But political obstruction won’t build schools for our children or secure a more prosperous future.”
Also participating in the Civic Federation candidate forum were the three candidates running for two open Arlington School Board seats. Nancy Van Doren, who is running unopposed, addressed the capacity crowd at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel conference center, as did Nov. 4 opponents Barbara Kanninen and Audrey Clement.
Traffic Impacts Due to Military Funeral — Military officials are warning of possible traffic impacts in Arlington due to a full honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene will be laid to rest today beginning at 2:00 p.m. A Falls Church resident, Greene was killed on Aug. 5 in Afghanistan; he’s the highest-ranking U.S. military casualty since Vietnam. Officials say Greene’s funeral could impact traffic on Washington Blvd at the Fort Myer exit and on Route 110 at Marshall Drive.
Partisans Support Nonpartisan Redistricting — Democrat Rip Sullivan and Republican Dave Foster, candidates for the 48th District House of Delegates seat, agree on at least one thing: that Virginia’s redistricting process should be nonpartisan. While support for nonpartisan redistricting may be growing, it is unclear if it could pass the General Assembly. [InsideNova]
Capriotti’s Opening Nears – Originally slated to open on July 29, the new Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn now has a new opening date. A spokeswoman says the shop — the Delaware-based chain’s first in Virginia — will first open to the general public on Monday, Aug. 25.
County Fair Carnies Profiled — Who are those smiling carnival workers working the rides and games at the Arlington County Fair? They’re fun-loving nomads who sleep in bunkhouses and travel throughout the East Coast and the South during fair season. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
‘Republican’ Not Found on GOP Candidate’s Signs — Republican candidate Dave Foster, who’s running to represent the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, has a notable addition and omission on his campaign signs. Foster’s signs include a union label, but do not include the word “Republican.” Foster will face Democrat Rip Sullivan in a special election on Aug. 19. [InsideNova]
Arlington Transportation ‘What Ifs’ — Three shelved transportation proposals could have had a big impact on Arlington over the past 50 years. One would have seen a new 22-mile Blue Line built through Arlington, under the Potomac via a new tunnel, to Georgetown and eventually to RFK stadium. Another would have converted Route 1 through Crystal City to “Interstate 595.” A third would have built a new bridge from Spout Run Parkway to Georgetown. [Washington Post]
Clarendon ‘Good Morning Guy’ Profiled — Robert Gordon, the Express newspaper distributor who excitedly wishes Metrorail commuters in Clarendon a good morning on weekdays, says his is “the best job I can ever have in the world.” [WJLA]
Blues and Brews in Crystal City Tonight — Clarence “Bluesman” Turner is scheduled to perform in Crystal City tonight for the monthly summer “Blues and Brews” concert. The event, in the courtyard of 2121 Crystal Drive, also features a craft beer garden. [Crystal City]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
Arlington Probation Officer Charged — A 40-year-old Arlington County probation officer has been charged with the aggravated sexual battery of a 10-year-old girl in Woodbridge. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the crime. [NBC Washington]
No Democrats to Run Against Van Doren — Nancy Van Doren is the lone Democrat to file to run for the Arlington School Board seat being vacated by Noah Simon. She’s expected to be confirmed as the Democratic endorsee on Aug. 6. [InsideNova]
Verizon Outage Reported — A widespread Verizon FiOS and wireless data outage was reported in the D.C. area Sunday night through Monday morning. [CBS Local]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington Boy Hit and Killed by Car — An 8-year-old Arlington resident was struck and killed by a car while crossing an intersection in Chagrin Falls, Ohio — near Cleveland — on Saturday. Police say Eli Sachar, 8, died at the hospital. His mother and father were also struck by the car and injured. It’s unclear why the 62-year-old driver of the car didn’t stop for pedestrians; she was also transported to a local hospital. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, ABC 5 Cleveland]
Million Dollar Homes Now the Norm in Arlington — Of 222 homes on the market in Arlington late last month, 57 percent were priced above $1 million. Real estate agents say they’re aware of the trend of home prices increasingly exceeding the $1 million mark and “expect it to continue.” [InsideNova]
Dem Delegate Candidate Calls for Streetcar Referendum — Rip Sullivan, the Democratic candidate to replace Del. Bob Brink in the 48th District House of Delegates special election, says if elected he would push for General Assembly approval of an advisory referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar project. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Caucus Date Set for Treasurer, School Board — Arlington Democrats will hold a caucus the evening of Monday, Aug. 4 to determine the party’s nominees in the special elections to replace Treasurer Frank O’Leary and School Board member Noah Simon. The caucus will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Comeback for Crumbs? — The Crumbs store in Clarendon and across the country closed this week, but could a comeback for the cupcake company be imminent? A group of investors is planning to provide financing for the bankrupt Crumbs Bakeshop Inc., and that could revive some of the company’s stores. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Art Festival to Return — The “Arlington Festival of the Arts” will return for a second year in Clarendon. The art festival is scheduled to take over part of N. Highland Street for two days on the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20. [ArtFestival.com]
Last Day for Cheaper Tickets to ARLive — After today, tickets to the upcoming ARLive Startup Smackdown will increase from $15 to $20. The event — which is being held after work on Tuesday, July 22 — will pit about 20 Arlington-based startups against each other in a bid to collect the biggest “investment” from attendees, who will be given play money to dole out to their favorites. Beer, wine and food are included in the price of admission. [nVite]