Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As Arlington faces challenges that are not easy to resolve, it is important to take note of a recent success story about Arlingtonians working together to build consensus around a dynamic vision for the future of a neighborhood.
During a two-year process driven by resident input and feedback, the Waverly Hills Civic Association (WHCA) developed the Waverly Hills Neighborhood Conservation Plan (NCP) — a document that fosters a more closely knit community, identifies citizen-driven capital improvement projects, and lays out a dynamic vision for the future of our neighborhood.
Last Saturday, the WHCA’s hard work resulted in a unanimous vote by the Arlington County Board to approve the NCP. The WHCA members’ consensus building efforts are a testament to the power of grassroots, citizen-led planning and to the trust placed by the County in the NCP process as a way to improve neighborhoods and help them thrive.
The creation of the WHCA’s NCP was an exercise in community building. Different generations with varying needs came together to forge an updated vision for Waverly Hills. All of us who participated received an education about the neighborhood’s rich history, its connections to Lee Highway, and its perceived strengths and weaknesses. Long-time residents listened to the concerns of newcomers, and vice versa. Neighborhood residents built shared understanding and trust through well-attended brunches, bake sales, and happy hours.
Through its process, the WHCA identified several capital improvement projects that would be beneficial to the neighborhood and around which consensus had developed, focused principally on Woodstock Park and pedestrian safety.
Woodstock Park — like most parks in Arlington — is a valuable resource. WHCA reached a consensus that the park should be more than just a children’s play area; it should be place for all ages to enjoy. A section of the park was identified as a top-priority capital improvement project, which will result in the addition of recreational uses primarily for adults such as a formal garden area for reading, chess tables, and a place for yoga classes.
The WHCA NCP also included spending recommendations for sidewalks and other pedestrian safety projects. Waverly Hills is within walking distance of Lee Highway and Ballston, both of which are major transportation and shopping hubs. We are also proximate to three schools — Glebe Elementary, Washington-Lee High School and the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program — that are experiencing the capacity challenges that come with increased enrollment. Because sidewalks are expensive, the WHCA prioritized projects that connect residents to transit, shopping, schools, and parks.
The WHCA NCP also addresses critical issues confronting seniors in our community. Seventy percent of Waverly Hills’ residents expect to retire in the neighborhood. This has prompted a community goal of creating a comprehensive aging-in-place strategy, including supporting the “Villages” concept, expanding senior housing options so that seniors can stay in the neighborhood, and ensuring that the local hospital has the capacity to keep up with the coming wave of healthcare demands.
This vision for Waverly Hills is ambitious, but it is also workable and affordable. Hopefully, the successful implementation of the NCP will help create bonds within the neighborhood and restore faith in the ability of Arlingtonians to work together in a fiscally responsible manner to enhance the quality of life for our residents and to improve a neighborhood that is rich in history and tradition.
Ginger Brown is the immediate past president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association. She is a co-founder of the Lee Highway Alliance and currently serves on the Arlington County Planning Commission.
The residents of the Waverly Hills neighborhood in North Arlington want more mixed-use development and to be able to age in place, according to the community’s just-approved Neighborhood Conservation plan.
Waverly Hill is the area north of I-66, south of Lee Highway between N. Glebe Road and Utah Street. According to a survey of almost 400 residents in the 3,800-person neighborhood, 70 percent of Waverly Hills residents want to retire in the neighborhood.
“Seventy percent is a very large number, and I don’t want to say we’re transient, but there are a lot of people that come and go from Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It shows how many people like it enough to suggest that they want to live their whole life here and take advantage of the services into retirement.”
The County Board approved the new neighborhood conservation plan, which includes a request to implement a master plan for Woodstock Park (pictured), which would include a vision for future improvements. The County Board approved a $644,000 renovation for the park in June, which will include a new playground and basketball court, under construction now.
County Board members said they expect the update to the NC plan for the community to serve as a model for other civic associations, both with a focus on aging in place and the update’s thoroughness; according to the county’s press release, the civic association spent more than 1,000 hours on the process.
“This plan gives us an inclusive outline for preserving our livable community while addressing the concerns of our residents,” Michael Polovina, president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, said in the release. “We are very proud to have accomplished this revisioning after a process that took several years to complete. The next 15 years look very bright for Waverly Hills.”
Other priorities for the update include facilitating mixed-use development along Lee Highway and Glebe Road, with nods to affordable, senior accessible housing. The neighborhood also requests a sidewalk on 20th Road N. adjacent to N. Utah Street and further pedestrian improvements for walking to nearby schools like Washington-Lee High School and Glebe Elementary.
Six projects are slated to receive $3.5 million in funding in the fourth
and final round of appropriations from 2012’s $11 million Neighborhood Conservation Bond.
The projects are:
- Street improvements to the 5700 block of 2nd Street S. and the 100 block of S. Kensington Street in Glencarlyn. Cost: $724,042. Expected completion date: June 2016.
- A trail connector from the 4800 block of 7th Street S. to the W&OD trail in Barcroft. Cost: $135,317. Expected completion date: October 2015.
- Pedestrian safety improvements to 19th Road N. between Woodstock Street and Upton Street in Waverly Hills. Cost: $753,845. Expected completion date: May 2016.
- Street improvements to S. Lang Street between Arlington Ridge Road and 28th Street in Arlington Ridge. Cost: $713,003. Expected completion date: October 2015.
- Streetlights and trail improvements on N. Ohio Street between 22nd Street and Washington Blvd in Highland Park Overlee Knolls. Cost: $380,369. Expected completion date: July 2015.
- Park improvements to Woodlawn Park in Waycroft-Woodlawn. Cost: 795,000. Expected completion date: None given.
The projects were chosen based on a priority scale and approved for recommendation by the NCAC in December.
The projects given the highest priority were those in neighborhoods that have recently updated or completed new conservation plans and in neighborhoods that have waited for projects the longest. The county staff report has the full list of criteria.
With the stated goal of “a more economically vibrant, walkable, attractive Lee Highway corridor — one that benefits neighborhoods and the business community,” representatives from the civic associations have already met with the Arlington County Planning Commission for guidance, according to representatives of the Waverly Hills Civic Association.
Along with Waverly Hills, East Falls Church, John M. Langston, Glebewood, Yorktown, Leeway Overlee, Old Dominion, Donaldson Run, Cherrydale, Maywood, and Lyon Village have also joined what the group is calling the “Lee Highway Grassroots Re-visioning.”
Waverly Hills Civic Association President Ginger Brown says the group hasn’t discussed specifics on what the future Lee Highway should look like, calling these first months since the group formed in February “the educational phase,” which includes meetings with the county’s planning staff.
Among the issues the group will be examining and presenting to staff and, they hope, the County Board, will be land use planning and zoning, housing, transportation and parking, demographic trends, tax increment financing and transferable development rights.
“It is anticipated that the new vision will be sent — in early 2015 — to the Arlington County Manager’s office with a request that the County Board appoint and fund a Task Force,” Brown wrote in an email. “Its purpose would be to formally develop a Lee Highway Sector Plan that guides future rezoning and development applications.”
The FBI is conducting a training exercise on the 4400 block of 16th Street N., in Waverly Hills, until about 4:00 p.m., according to an Arlington Alert.
The exercise inadvertently drew a large police response to the area when a 911 caller reported seeing a man dressed in camouflage with an assault rifle strapped to his back near Glebe Elementary School. Police searched the area and eventually discovered the training exercise, according to scanner traffic.
Archstone has broken ground on a new 227-unit apartment building next to the strip mall at the corner of N. Glebe Road and 20th Road N. in Waverly Hills.
Parkland Gardens, as the project is currently known, is billed as a high-end residential community in a “pedestrian-friendly, North Arlington neighborhood.” A press release (after the jump) claims the building will be “in close proximity to the Ballston Metrorail station,” though the station is a mile and a half away.
The building will be four stories high, according to county building permit records. The complex will have a variety of desirable features and amenities, Archstone says.
“The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes and lofts will showcase a host of high-end finishes, including large, open floor plans, nine-foot ceilings, built in book cases, crown molding, European-style kitchen cabinets with glass doors, stainless steel appliances and master bathrooms with double vanities,” according to Archstone. “In addition, residents… will have access to a variety of unique amenities, such as a resort-style pool with a sun deck and private nooks, two courtyards, an outdoor amphitheater with tiered seating and a pet spa.”
The project is being constructed in a large, empty, fenced-in lot just south of the Thirsty Bernie Sports Bar & Grill. No word yet on how much the project will cost or when it’s expected to be complete.
Car Runs Into Apartment Building — A car ran into an apartment building on Lee Highway over the weekend. The impact punched a big hole in the side of the brick building, located at 4343 Lee Highway in Waverly Hills. [WUSA9]
Chorus Performances Relocated — The Potomac Harmony Chorus has announced that its 35th anniversary show, Melodies, Memories and Magic, will be relocated to the Washington-Lee High School Auditorium from the earthquake-damaged Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The all-woman chorus is also seeking a new venue for its December holiday concert and sing-along. [Potomac Harmony Chorus]
Merrick Holds Cash Advantage — As of Aug. 31, Republican state Senate candidate had a nearly 9-to-1 campaign cash advantage over Democrat Barbara Favola, who had just emerged victorious from a bruising primary. [Sun Gazette]
Julia’s Empanadas Now Served at Boccato — Clarendon’s Boccato Gelato (2719 Wilson Blvd) started serving D.C.’s famous Julia’s Empanadas over the weekend. The expanding eatery is planning to start serving baguettes and pastries from Arlington bread delivery service LeoNora Bakery on Oct. 1. [Clarendon Culture, Twitter]
Photo courtesy David Johnson
An SUV that careened out of control at Glebe Road and N. Woodstock Street, in Waverly Hills, ran through a yard, across a driveway and down a wooded embankment before coming to a rest in a yard at the corner of Woodstock Street and 19th Road.
At least one parked car was hit as the SUV ran off the road. The SUV, which was carted away by a flatbed tow truck before the above photo was taken, suffered heavy front end damage.
There were no reports of significant injuries.
Federal prosecutors say Yonis M. Ishak of Arlington was the leader of a criminal conspiracy that imported millions of grams of the illegal African drug Khat into the United States from England, Holland and Canada. Public records show that Ishak lived in an apartment on the 2000 block of N. Vermont Street in Waverly Hills.
Authorities say Ishak, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, used couriers and the postal system to distribute nearly 10,000 pounds of Khat to at least 15 states, including California, Washington, Tennessee, New York and the D.C. metro area. Ishak was arrested yesterday along with 17 alleged co-conspirators. Ten of the individuals arrested were from Northern Virginia, although Ishak was the only one from Arlington.
Khat leaves contain the drug cathinone, an addictive amphetamine-like stimulant. The leaves are chewed by users, a common practice in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The charge of conspiring to distribute the drug carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. See more information on the case here.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) It looked like a scene from an action movie, but it was really just a training exercise.
FBI agents, dressed in camouflage body armor and armed with faux automatic weapons, practiced raiding a home in Waverly Hills today. The home, near the corner of 16th Street and N. Glebe Road, was vacant and made available for law enforcement training by the property owner.
Several alarmed residents contacted ARLnow.com to ask what was going on. When we arrived on scene about a half dozen FBI personnel were standing in the street observing agents who were surrounding the house with riot shields and fake guns.
FBI Washington Field Office spokesperson Lindsay Godwin said field training exercises like this are conducted at local homes about four times per year.
We blurred the agents’ faces at the request of the FBI.