County Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced today that the county is offering EasyPark devices to its residents, the “successor” to the iPark devices it stopped selling because the manufacturer declared bankruptcy in 2013.
The devices are currently available to be ordered online and can be used immediately, we’re told. Anyone, not just Arlington residents, can purchase the devices and use them to park in the county.
“The iPark was very popular, and EasyPark is even better,” de la Pava said in a press release. “It makes metered parking simple and easy. We are pleased to partner with the manufacturer, OTI America, to make EasyPark available to everyone who parks in Arlington.”
The EasyPark device costs $30, and comes with $10 of parking pre-loaded. The device works like the former iPark devices: customers enter which parking zone they are in, turn the pre-paid device on and leave their car. When they return, the driver turns off the device, paying only for the time he or she parked.
The devices can be refilled online at EasyPark’s website and at the treasurer’s office at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, window 215. Each time a device is refilled, EasyPark charges users a $2 fee.
The devices will be displayed on the driver’s side window, and sound a tone every 60 seconds to prevent drivers from paying for unused parking. In addition, meters can be set to “on” overnight, and will automatically turn on at 8:00 a.m. and off at 6:00 p.m.
For those still clinging to their iPark devices, those can still be used and refilled at the treasurer’s office.
Image via EasyPark
Iwo Jima Anniversary — Today marks the 70th anniversary of the famous photo of Marines raising the flag during on Iwo Jima during World War II. Veterans of the battle gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, which depicts the flag raising, to mark its anniversary last week. [Stars and Stripes]
Impromptu Marriage at Fire Station — A Marine and his fiance got married at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 Saturday night. Firefighters got the call at 6:00 p.m. that the Marine, who was deploying the next day, was in desperate need of a hall after their venue was closed due to broken pipes. Firefighters were able to hastily mop the floor and set up chairs in one of the station’s bays before the bride and groom arrived for the short ceremony. [Facebook]
Man Falls on Tracks at Ballston Metro — Around 8:15 this morning, a man somehow fell onto the outbound tracks at the Ballston Metro station. Bystanders were able to hoist the man back onto the platform. According to scanner traffic, he suffered a head injury.
SUV Rollover Near Columbia Pike — An SUV crashed and rolled onto its side at Walter Reed Drive and 13 Street S., near Columbia Pike, on Friday night. The vehicle’s occupants were unhurt and were able to get out on their own, according to a fire department spokesman. Also Friday night, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road near Pershing Drive. The victim was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter]
Benjamin Banneker Park to Expand — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a 8,375 square foot lot and home adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park in East Fall Church. The $688,710 purchase will allow the park to expand, following the deconstruction of the house. [Arlington County]
James Hunter Park Cost Infographic — What caused the James Hunter dog park in Clarendon to cost so much? Washingtonian has created an interactive graphic that details some of the park’s features and their price tag. [Washingtonian]
Condo Parking Space Kerfuffle — At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the last item of the day, before the Board adjourned early due to the snowstorm, was a site plan amendment for the Virginia Square Condominiums building. The site plan amendment was proposed by the condo association to try to ameliorate a dispute over the size of two parking spaces. ARLnow.com live tweeted the absurdist theater that followed. [Storify]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
The rollout of Arlington’s smartphone parking system is expected to be complete by the end of the weekend.
Metered parking has been gradually adopting the Parkmobile system — which allows users to download the Parkmobile app and use the app to connect to their credit card and pay the meter, including sending notifications when a session is about to expire — neighborhood by neighborhood. It launched in Crystal City and Shirlington in July, in Clarendon and Ballston last month and in Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike in the last two weeks.
According to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter, the final phase of the system will be done by the end of the weekend, meaning all meters run by the county in Arlington will be eligible to be paid via smartphone. The kiosks and coin-operated machines are still functional, if motorists prefer to pay with other methods.
Baxter said the system had 34,000 transactions in September. Initially the rollout of the service was expected to stretch into 2015, but due to the widespread use of the system, the county accelerated the app’s deployment. Last month, Columbia Pike had been targeted for a winter expansion of Parkmobile.
Arlington has accelerated its Parkmobile rollout, installing the smartphone app service in Clarendon, Ballston and Virginia Square over the weekend.
The mobile app allows users to enter their parking “zone” number and pay from their phone with pre-saved credit card and vehicle information. It has been in use in D.C. since 2011, and it was first introduced in Crystal City and Shirlington in July, and Pentagon City soon after. Clarendon and Ballston were expected to have the service available “by winter,” county officials said at the time, but the timeline has been pushed up.
“Due to the success of the app, we’re accelerating our rollout schedule,” county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said. “We’re anticipating that the service will be available at all the remaining sectors — Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by the end of the year.”
Baxter said that, to date, the app has already processed more than 18,200 transactions in Arlington.
The county has 5,329 metered spots, all of which are now expected to be Parkmobile-eligible by 2015. According to Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell, the app is responsible for 56 percent of D.C.’s parking revenue.
In 2013, when ARLnow.com first reported the county was planning on implementing smartphone payment for parking meters, then-Treasurer Francis O’Leary said there’s a chance revenue could increase from mobile payments, since they wouldn’t pose the convenience or time issues some have with the kiosks currently installed.
Hat tip to Bill Colton
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The large surface parking lot between the Arlington County Justice Center and Courthouse Plaza appears destined to become open, green space at some point in the future.
Last night, county planners presented three concepts to the community as part of the Envision Courthouse Square outreach process. All of the concepts included using the space the surface parking lot occupies as a sort of town green, with pedestrian and bicycle paths crisscrossing the area in different patterns.
The workshop last night was the last in-person chance the community will have for significant input before staff from Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development drafts a Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the community in the fall and presented to the Arlington County Board this winter.
Moving forward, the county will plan on placing parking underground while “retaining minimal surface parking,” according to CPHD Principal Urban Designer and Planner Jason Beske. There are no plans for buildings on the north edge of the current parking lot to preserve the square, and 14th Street and 15th Street between Courthouse Road and N. Uhle Street will both remain open to vehicular traffic.
Three “big ideas” were brought before those in attendance, which included the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group and county staff. The first, Concept A, calls for 3.9 acres of open space, a pedestrian promenade connecting 15th and 14th Streets N. in front of the AMC Courthouse movie theater and converts 15th Street between N. Courthouse Road and Clarendon Blvd into a shared pedestrian, bike and vehicle corridor.
Concept B, pictured above in the center, calls for the pedestrian promenade to be diagonal from the current Strayer Building — viewed as a target for high-rise redevelopment — to the Verizon Plaza building adjacent to the building that contains the Gold’s Gym. This plan calls for 4.2 acres of open space and includes a pocket park between Courthouse Plaza and N. Veitch Street.
Concept C, pictured above on the right, calls for 3.15 acres of open space and a more east-west alignment of paths and streets in the design area.
The plans for building redevelopment vary significantly among the three plans. Concept A calls for the two buildings with 15th Street frontages to be redeveloped at heights of 153-180 feet for the Strayer building — at the intersection with Clarendon Blvd — and 300 feet for the Landmark Block, at the intersection of with Courthouse Road. It also calls for retail in front of the AMC theater and a new building up to 180 feet tall next to it.
Concept B flips the proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark blocks from Concept A, calls for the redevelopment of the AMC theater into a county or private building up to 180 feet tall and a three-to-five story “cultural building” at the Verizon Plaza site.
Concept C includes the most significant redevelopment: a “market shed” next to the AMC theater, the same proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark block and two, 10-12 story buildings along 14th Street N., with the option to preserve the current theater or include a separate cultural use. The Verizon Plaza would be the site for a new, 300-foot high-rise building.
“Think of these plans as a kit-of-parts,” CPHD staff wrote in its presentation last night. “All of the big ideas are open for your feedback. Feedback results will inform us of the community’s preferences as we take the next steps to combine ideas and test their feasibility. The goal is to create a single, preferred plan that carries our shared vision forward.”
CPHD officials said an online survey will be posted shortly for community members unable to attend last night to weigh in on the three concepts.
Images via Arlington CPHD
Arlington County, which rarely misses an opportunity for a ribbon cutting event, will be holding one this week to kick off the county’s first pay-by-cell parking system.
Arlington will be rolling out the smartphone parking app Parkmobile over the next year — with the service first available to pay for street parking in Shirlington and Crystal City starting later this month.
The service will be expanded to Pentagon City this fall, Ballston and Clarendon this winter, and the rest of the county in the spring.
(Parkmobile is also currently used for pay-by-cell parking in the District of Columbia.)
The county will be holding a ribbon cutting to mark Arlington’s Parkmobile launch on Thursday, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., in front of Charlie Chiang’s Restaurant in Crystal City (320 23rd Street S.).
Those expected to help wield the giant pair of scissors include County Board Chair Jay Fisette, Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach, Crystal City BID President and CEO Angela Fox, and Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell.
Those who park in Arlington will soon be able to skip the parking meters and pay directly with their smartphone, Arlington County will announce this afternoon.
Arlington will utilize Parkmobile, the same smartphone parking system currently in use by the District of Columbia, allowing smartphone users to use a single app to park in Arlington and the District. Parkmobile is available for iPhone, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry devices. It utilizes a stored credit card number to pay for parking.
Arlington will offer Parkmobile at all 5,329 metered spaces in the county, though the system will be rolled out in phases. Drivers will be able to use Parkmobile in Shirlington and Crystal City by late July, officials say. It is scheduled to be expanded to Pentagon City in the fall, Ballston and Clarendon in the winter, and all remaining areas — including Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by spring 2015.
“Whether you use public transportation, bike, walk, or drive in and around Arlington County, we are committed to providing the best commuter experience possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “This technology will make it easier for our residents and visitors to pay for parking.”
Separately, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com Tuesday evening that his office recently signed a 5-year contract to bring the EasyPark parking payment system to Arlington. EasyPark is a battery-operated device that allows drivers to pay for parking without using a parking meter or a phone. It will replace the legacy iPark system; new iParks are no longer available because the company behind the technology went out of business.
Nathan Norton, Deputy of Operations for the Treasurer’s Office, says the county is hoping to have EasyPark systems available for purchase online or at the Treasurer’s Office by mid-July. The devices will cost $30 but will come with $10 worth of parking. EasyPark devices can be refilled online or at the Treasurer’s Office. Unlike the iPark, which hangs from a vehicle’s rear view mirror, the Easypark will hang from the driver’s side window, making enforcement easier, Norton said.
The county says it will continue to accept payment for parking at meters (both mechanical coin-operated meters and credit card-enabled multispace meters) and via existing iParks, even after the new systems are rolled out.
The neighborhood, one of the smallest in the county, spans from Glencarlyn Park to 7th Road S. and Tyriol Hill Park. The Forest Glen Civic Association has grown increasingly concerned over non-residents — specifically, residents of apartment buildings in neighboring communities — taking up available street parking they feel should be reserved for only neighborhood residents.
“Residents even drive a car from the apartment complex, park it on our street, and get into a different car already parked on our street,” Shawn Brown, a Forest Glen resident, wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “That’s pretty crazy and really unacceptable.”
Forest Glen residents say street parking is nearly impossible to find late at night, with the streets filled not only with cars, but commercial vans and trucks. The civic association has prepared a draft appeal for the county to institute permit parking, citing the source of the problem as “the overcrowded apartments, condominiums, and duplexes that are located to the south of our neighborhood (between 7th Road S. and Columbia Pike and between Carlin Springs Road and Dinwiddie Street).”
However, any parking zone created by the civic association’s request under the current parking ordinance would also include residents of neighboring Columbia Heights West, which includes those apartment buildings. That’s something the civic association wants to avoid.
County Parking Manager Sarah Stott says she considers Forest Glen and Columbia Heights West “basically one community.” The county is currently conducting a study to determine whether, instead of restricting parking, more street parking can be created along the streets.
“Maybe there’s one space here, one space there [to add],” Stott said, adding that the “signs team” is studying if signs can be moved to create spaces. “We’ve got some wide streets there, we could put in angled parking and see if that could work. That could gain you a lot more spaces than parallel parking. We’re having engineers see if there’s a way to do that.”
If the study yields results the civic association finds unsatisfactory, it may submit its draft appeal, which suggests creating its own special parking ordinance for Forest Glen. If it does, Stott says she’s not exactly sure what would come next.
“I don’t know what that process would be,” she told ARLnow.com. “We haven’t had that before where a civic association, or anybody has appealed to the county to write its own ordinance.”
The appeal also references the special parking zones that have been established in the much-larger neighborhoods of Douglas Park and Columbia Forest, which restrict nighttime street parking. Even if the draft were to become an official ordinance, Forest Glen residents may not be too pleased with the results. Connor said he doesn’t see a need to increase parking for Forest Glen homeowners.
“The design folks are going to look at that entire community, but the intent isn’t to create the capacity in Forest Glen, which is a single-family neighborhood” he said. “Ideally the county is going to be able to create capacity in the higher-density neighborhoods.”
The full text of the civic association’s appeal is after the jump.
Update at 9:20 a.m. – Forest Glen Civic Association President Ron Ross said the neighborhood’s “ideas for a possible appeal have not been finalized” and said the appeal sent to ARLnow.com does not reflect the civic association’s official stance. He added, “There is a considerable amount of parking in Forest Glen by non-residents, decreasing the parking space for Forest Glen homeowners. The additional vehicles have also brought peripheral problems, such as trash left on the neighborhood streets and lawns, noise during nighttime hours, as well as blocking driveways of homeowners.”
The county will have the same minimum standard for parking spaces as before, but developers will now be allowed to make contributions to county transportation funds in exchange for being allowed to build fewer spaces than the minimum. Among the funds to benefit from the contributions are the county’s Transportation Demand Management fund and funding for transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
“This policy will help ensure that our commercial buildings work for everyone — the developers, the people who travel to and from them to work, shop, dine or do business, and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Board Chairman Walter Tejada said. “It provides a framework that will allow developers to build less parking in commercial areas without increasing traffic on our streets.”
Office parking minimums vary by location in the county, from 1 space per 630 square feet of floor area to 1 space per 1,000 square feet.
The policy will only be implemented along Arlington’s two Metro corridors. Developers will either have to pay $242, $417 or $1,333 per year for each space reduced, depending on how many spaces below the minimum standard the developer is requesting. The actual dollar amounts will change with inflation.
The policy applies to buildings for 30 years after construction, after which it will be re-evaluated to adjust for changing traffic and transit patterns.
The Board also directed the County Manager to initiate a study for the parking requirements for residential building.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.
Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.
VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.
The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:
- Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
- Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
- Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
- Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.
ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.
According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.
Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.
“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”
Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:
“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”
Projected Subsidy Soars for Aquatics Center — The planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center could require more than $4 million per year in subsidies from the county government, according to new projections. That’s up from projections as low at $1 million per year. “Certainly there are other priorities that arguably should come before building a luxury pools facility,” said local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki. Construction contracts for the aquatics center are expected to be awarded early next year. [Sun Gazette]
County May Allow Less Office Parking, For a Fee — Arlington County is considering a system that would allow office developers to build less than the currently-required amount of parking, in exchange for a per-parking-space fee. The fee would then be used for public improvements in the area around the building, or for Transportation Demand Management Services for the building’s tenants. [Greater Greater Washington]
Memorial Bridge Could Have Looked Like Tower Bridge — The Arlington Memorial Bridge was originally proposed as a memorial to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, complete with a series of “medieval”-looking towers and turrets. [Ghosts of DC]
Arlington Carpenter’s Intricately-Carved Birds — Arlington carpenter Jeff Jacobs, 59, carves intricate wooden hummingbirds out of a single block of wood. He sells the birds at Eastern Market and the Clarendon farmers market. [Washington Post]
Flickr photo by Eschweik
Coming on the heels of Alexandria’s announcement that it will implement a pay by phone option at parking meters, officials say Arlington County will be doing the same next year.
The county’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) hopes to have the system up and running by the fall of 2014. Right now DES is waiting for the police department to update its parking enforcement system before moving forward.
DES Parking Manager Sarah Stott explained that the handheld devices currently used by parking enforcement officers are not connected to a wireless system. ACPD needs to purchase new wireless handheld devices that are connected to “the cloud” where all the pay by phone information is stored. Once the system is in place, officers can type in a license plate and a message will pop up if the meter user paid by cell phone. Some systems also allow officers to type in a location and instantly know which cars on that block paid by cell phone.
The county has received a number of inquiries about the possibility of installing the system, which Stott says is far more convenient than fishing for quarters or waiting for the current parking kiosks to print a time slip.
“We do get calls asking if we’re going to be getting pay by cell,” Stott said. “I think it will be positive, people will be very happy to get it.”
The county will proceed with finding a system vendor once the police department purchases new handheld units, which may happen by spring or summer of 2014. The three D.C. area jurisdictions with pay by phone capabilities all use different vendors — the District uses Parkmobile, Montgomery County uses MobileNow! and Alexandria will use Pango. Stott said Arlington will examine those vendors and others when determining which the county will choose.
Because no vendor has been chosen, the county is not sure exactly how the system will function. Typically, users with smart phones are able to add time to meters with a credit card via an app or by logging on to a website. Customers who do not have a smart phone should be able to add time by calling a phone number listed on the meter.
The county will still keep traditional parking meters and the kiosks that dispense paper tickets. Despite trouble with a vendor going out of business earlier this year, the iPark system also will remain in place. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said Arlington was able to purchase the recharge codes for the existing iPark devices so customers can continue to use them. County workers are in the process of finding alternative devices for those who may wish to purchase one in the future. O’Leary likes the idea of providing the public with a number of options for parking payments.
“The more options you give people, the more likely they are to take advantage of the situation,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s no single solution, there are multiple solutions. Give people alternatives and make this as painless as possible.”
O’Leary does not anticipate any issues with the county’s parking meter revenue when the new pay by phone system goes live. In fact, he indicated there’s a chance revenue could increase if more people use the county’s parking spots when they discover the ease of pay by phone.
“I think people will migrate to this rapidly because I don’t think many people like the pay and park, where you have to walk back to your car to put a piece of paper on your dashboard,” said O’Leary. “I don’t think this is going to pose any major headaches.”
It’s unclear exactly how long it will take to implement the pay by phone parking system throughout Arlington; that will be determined once a vendor is chosen. The vendor will work with the county to put up signs explaining the system, and that is often done in phases.
Treasurer Makes Deal for iPark Refills — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary has struck deals to allow the county to refill iPark devices, while adding more devices to the cache that can be used to replace non-functioning units. The county paid $10,000 to the bankrupt manufacturer of the devices for the codes necessary to add value without additional authorization or payment to the company. The move comes about a month and a half after the company’s bankruptcy suddenly prevented the county from refilling the devices. [Sun Gazette]
Man Gets 10 Year Sentence for Custis Trail Robbery — A 23-year-old D.C. resident has received a 10 year sentence for a robbery on the Custis Trail that left a jogger with a head injury and lingering cognitive effects. The attacker and his 17-year-old brother, who’s expected to receive a 1.5 to 3 year sentence, were both arrested as they fled toward the Ballston Metro Station. The victim, a 55-year-old personal trainer, says he still suffers from headaches, nightmares and memory loss. [Washington Post]
Remembering Allison’s Tea House — From the 1920s to the 1950s, Allison’s Tea House, at 1301 S. Arlington Ridge Road, was “a coveted neighborhood restaurant… that had been visited by dignitaries including Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt.” The restaurant’s iconic stone well house was preserved after the restaurant and its grounds were redeveloped into an apartment building in the 1960s. It still stands, and is used as storage for the apartment’s swimming pool. [Preservation Arlington]
ACPD Participating in Drug Take-Back Day — The Arlington County Police Department is participating in National Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at fire stations No. 1, 8 and 9, officers will collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. “The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” police say in a press release. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
County Seeks Federal Funds for Transportation Projects — County officials are expected to apply for three grants for non-vehicular transportation projects. The $1 million in grant money would cover a bicycle and pedestrian connection between Four Mile Run Trail and Potomac Yard, improvements at Ashlawn Elementary School, and street and sidewalk improvements along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. [Sun Gazette]
Man Hospitalized After Fall at Airport — A man has been hospitalized after falling from a roadway at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday. He apparently climbed over the protective barrier near the ticketing level roadway and fell to the arrivals roadway below. [Washington Post]
Study: Arlington Could Cut Back on Parking Spaces – Researchers with the Arlington County Commuter Services’ Mobility Lab conducted a study of residents in 16 high rise towers to monitor their commuting habits. One of the significant findings is that residents are often choosing to walk, bike or use public transportation instead of driving, even if they own cars. A land use expert says the findings suggest that Arlington has more parking spaces than it needs, and can cut back on parking requirements for new developments. [WAMU]
No Anchor Tenant Yet for Ballston Development — All the pieces are in place for constructing a new development at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, except that there still isn’t an anchor tenant for the building. Developer Shooshan is waiting to sign such a tenant before commencing construction. The final building in the Liberty Center complex will have 20 floors and more than 426,000 square feet of space. [GlobeSt]
Plans for the new school have been in the works for some time, and the Arlington School Board unanimously approved a conceptual design in February. Although a number of concerns from the community have arisen during the planning process, county staff recommends Board approval for the use permit.
One issue that previously prompted a meeting is the traffic impact a new school would have on the surrounding area. A study indicates traffic impacts only occur during a 15 to 20 minute “peak” period during school arrival and departure times. It is therefore suggested that the two schools stagger their start/end times to reduce this traffic impact, with Williamsburg having an earlier start time than the new school. Staff believes the new school’s parking lot has been adequately designed to prevent long lines of waiting cars from spilling into the neighboring streets during drop off and pick up times.
Throughout the planning process, the Rock Spring Civic Association had joined other members of the community in expressing concern over the plan to use the neighborhood’s street parking near the schools. However, county staff still recommends reducing the number of on-site spaces for the entire campus from 258 to 209 due to the availability of on-street parking. This goes along with the County Board’s approval of changes to the Zoning Ordinance in February to allow schools and recreational facilities to reduce the number of on-site parking spaces.
Another issue has been the proposal to re-construct the athletic fields on the campus, with two of them becoming synthetic turf fields with lighting. The idea prompted community members to create dueling petitions earlier this year. County staff recommends moving forward with the installation of the fields, but not with the lighting. Staff members recommend a County Board review of the use permit one year after the fields open (approximately September 2016) to see whether lighting is necessary.