With a rare solar eclipse set for Monday afternoon, Arlington is preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The moon is set to pass in front of the sun at around 1:17 p.m. Monday. Its peak is projected to be at 2:42 p.m., when 80 percent of the sun will be hidden, while the eclipse is expected to end at 4:01 p.m.
On Monday morning, ambassadors from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District will be at the Rosslyn Metro station handing out 200 pairs of free eclipse glasses while stocks last.
From 8:15 a.m. onwards, anyone wanting to pick up a pair needs to show that they “like” the Rosslyn BID’s page on Facebook from their smartphone.
The Connection pop-up library in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive in the Crystal City Shops) gave out hundreds of free glasses with which to watch the eclipse, supplied by PBS. The free glasses proved to be popular and the supply quickly ran out.
Clarendon restaurant Don Tito will host its rooftop eclipse viewing party from noon onwards on Monday, with the event now sold out. The watering hole at 3165 Wilson Blvd will offer what it described as “eclipse-inspired refreshments” and taco specials for the occasion.
And for anyone hoping to watch the eclipse, the county’s Public Health Division has some advice to avoid spectators’ eyes being permanently burned by part of the sun’s light:
- At no point in the Washington, DC area will anyone be able to safely view the eclipse without using special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse sunglasses or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses — even very dark ones- – are NOT safe for looking at the sun.
- Looking at the sun without eclipse glasses or solar viewers can permanently burn the retina of the eye. The retina is the inside back layer of your eye which converts light into pictures that your brain uses to interpret what is going on around you.
- An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed Sun is pinhole projection. NASA offers a guide for making your own pinhole projector.
- As always, children should always be supervised when using solar filters and pinhole projectors.
- A solar eclipse is one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy this incredible event now and have great memories for years to come.
- For further recommendations on how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse, go to:
- For reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers, the American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors at https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.
Arlington Ridge Road is blocked by a downed utility pole following a crash, according to scanner traffic.
A vehicle reportedly ran into the pole along the 1900 block of Arlington Ridge Road, toppling it and blocking the street. At least one person is being evaluated for injuries by paramedics.
Arlington Ridge Road, a busy commuter route for those exiting from I-395, is closed between 19th and 20th Streets S. Police are on scene directing traffic.
Image via Google Map
News related to the events in Charlottesville last week has dominated local Arlington happenings in the past few days.
But in happier news, you may hear cannon fire around Fort Myer on Saturday evening for the U.S. Army Band’s annual 1812 Overture concert. And the Arlington County Fair is underway, wrapping up up Sunday.
These were our top five most read stories this week:
- UPDATED: Police Investigating Stabbing in Courthouse
- Letter to the Editor: Time to Remove the ‘Lee’ from Washington-Lee High School
- Arlington Is Seeking the Authority to Rename Lee Highway and Jefferson Davis Highway
- BREAKING: School Board to Consider Changing School Names
- Local Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Organized By Two Recent Yorktown Graduates
And these received the most comments:
- Letter to the Editor: Time to Remove the ‘Lee’ from Washington-Lee High School
- Morning Notes (August 14)
- Morning Notes (August 16)
- Clement Decries Further Affordable Housing Demolition in Westover
- McCullough Calls For Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway After Charlottesville Violence
Feel free to discuss anything of local interest in the comments below. Have a great weekend!
Board members announced they would study the names of all current and future schools in the county and decide if any should be changed.
Since the violence in Charlottesville over the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee, there have been calls to rename Washington-Lee High School, Arlington’s oldest. Others want to keep the old name.
As a 2015 graduate, I have thought about this subject often, especially after the Charleston massacre, which was on the day of my graduation.
I understand the argument for renaming the school. Robert E. Lee fought for a government whose raison d’etre since its inception was the preservation of chattel slavery; the Cornerstone Speech by their Vice President, Alexander Stephens, makes this clear as day.
In fighting for said government, Lee therefore fought to preserve that vile institution even if it was not his premier motive, and that in and of itself leads to just condemnation. That fact certainly makes the banner in the halls “Washington-Lee Celebrates Diversity” more than a little ironic.
That being said, I also understand the opposition to the name change. Washington-Lee, as a name divorced from its namesakes, has become an honored name, with famous graduates like Sandra Bullock and Warren Beatty, and academic and athletic success. Thousands of people by now have formed memories and friendships under that name.
Additionally, changing the name to proposals such as “Washington-Lincoln” or “Washington-Lafayette” (which I have both seen) would cause a significant degree of financial trouble to the school administration as they would have to replace signs, songs and logos on just about everything.
In full understanding of both perspectives I propose a compromise as a plan of action. We need not change the name “Washington-Lee,” but the name “Lee” could be rededicated to Robert’s father, Henry Lee. The elder Lee fought for the early Republic during our war for Independence in both Northern and Southern campaigns, and died long before the Confederacy was ever even an idea.
In doing so, we could keep the name “Washington-Lee,” the mascot “Generals” (for they were both generals in the Continental Army, and both from Virginia), the alma mater (which refers only to ‘Washington-Lee’ as a collective), and most everything else. All that would need to be changed are some portraits, like the ones in the main office and little theater, and one of the logos.
This compromise would allow the complete removal of the stain of the Confederacy from the school whilst maintaining its long-standing traditions. It is a compromise that I find ideal and hopefully would spare the school from the worst of the ongoing culture wars and bring the dispute to a quiet conclusion, one that would not attract undue attention.
In these trying times, I share the sentiment of our alma mater: “Washington-Lee, Washington-Lee, humbly for thee do we pray.” Our alma mater will need it.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
Work to rebuild the Wilson School in Rosslyn could cause some inconveniences for those in the area as crews closed a sidewalk and street near the project.
Due to construction at the school at 1601 Wilson Blvd, 18th Street N. is closed to non-construction traffic between N. Quinn Street and N. Oak Street for the entirety of the project.
And pedestrians walking along that side of Wilson Blvd near the soon-to-be-rebuilt Fire Station 210 and a 7-Eleven convenience store will need to cross over as the sidewalk outside the school is closed too.
Construction on the new $100 million building appears to be underway, with work expected to be done in fall 2019. It will house 775 students from the future H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs.
Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.
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Requests to add new residential permit parking zones or change current zones will be on hold for around two years so county staff can study the program’s effectiveness.
The moratorium, approved 3-2 by a divided Arlington County Board, freezes 16 active petition requests and prevents residents from filing more until after staff’s review.
Board member John Vihstadt and vice chair Katie Cristol opposed the moratorium, while chair Jay Fisette and members Christian Dorsey and Libby Garvey supported it.
Of those 16 active petitions, 15 are out in the community collecting signatures while one has been fully filled out and returned to staff at the county’s Department of Environmental Services.
Board member John Vihstadt suggested processing that petition and determining the fate of the proposed parking zone in the interests of fairness. He argued that those residents might feel as though the county has “[pulled] the rug out from under them.”
“It doesn’t seem to me to be very equitable if the petitioners have fulfilled what has been portrayed to them as all the requirements of their application and then you’re going to say, ‘Well, sorry, we’re going to put this on hold for two years,'” Vihstadt said.
“There is an element of unfairness, because you’re drawing a line somewhere,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in response. “There will be someone or some group of people who will feel aggrieved.”
Schwartz said a moratorium is necessary so that staff can devote their time to reviewing the program. Stephen Crim, a parking planner at DES, said staff can spend anywhere between 18 and 46 hours analyzing citizen requests and making a decision.
Cristol said her opposition was rooted in the fact that petitioning neighbors can be hard work, and is the kind of action that Board members routinely praise as community engagement. But Garvey said a moratorium is necessary so staff can look fully at the program and make changes to get it right.
“I know people are going to be upset, and I’m probably going to hear from some of them and I’m sorry, but we need to not cause any more harm,” Garvey said. “I think we’ve been causing a lot of harm.”
Staff last reviewed the residential parking program in 2003, a process that also took two years. And while Board members said it works well in general across the county’s 24 residential parking zones, they discussed some issues with the program and how it can be fixed.
Dorsey said the county’s current “one size fits all” approach to residential parking is not as effective given the differences between neighborhoods near Metro stations and ones with single-family homes. Garvey said it can appear that more parking passes are distributed than there are spaces for cars, while Cristol and others asked about the legality of allowing any Arlington resident to park in any residential zone if they have a county registration sticker.
While residential parking zones are popular with homeowners in Metro corridors and near employment centers, because it prohibits commuters and other non-neighborhood residents from parking in front of their homes during certain hours, it has also faced criticism for making parking more difficult around business districts and advantaging certain Arlington residents over others on taxpayer-funded streets.
Vihstadt, meanwhile, spoke of the apprehension in the community when new apartment and condo buildings are built, as nearby residents worry that those projects will not have enough parking and so be forced to use street parking instead.
Fisette said the program has certainly been effective in its original intent. When it began in 1973 in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, the residential parking permit program was to prevent commuters from outside Arlington parking by people’s houses on their way into Crystal City or D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program in 1977 in the decision “Arlington County Board vs. Richards.”
Staff proposed a process to gather data, engage the public using “deliberative dialogues” rather than trying to build consensus around an issue that they said will always leave someone upset, before coming to the Board for a work session, refinements and final approval. Crim said that final approval could be around May or June 2019.
Arlington’s residential parking zones image via county presentation
Flying Colors is a sponsored column on the hobby of backyard bird feeding written by Michael Zuiker, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. Visit the store at 2437 N. Harrison Street or call 703-241-3988.
Last week, my son and I traveled to a different world. It was still on the planet Earth. It was still in the United States. It was actually in Wisconsin. But it was a different world.
For you see, my son and I travelled to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Where you can stand on a bridge or hill and have a 360 degree view of beauty. Beauty in the form of tall Spruce, Norwegian Pine, Cedar, Oak and Maple trees rising up to the sky. Clean, strong, perfect in their shape and form; not pulled down or suffocated by invasive walls of vines and killing weeds. A sky that is at once crystal clear cerulean blue, and slate grey and robin’s egg blue. A sky that changes in a blink of the eye from bunny rabbit soft pillow clouds to massive Cumulus Nimbus “Big Momma” thunderstorms that dare you to get in their way.
And a landscape that offers you wide open vistas that are not decimated into 4,000 irregular pieces by telephone lines, power poles, billboards, buildings or cellular towers which allows you to watch these majestic storms roll over the corn and wheat fields, laying down their torrential rains from 45 miles away.
A world where animals and birds live and die as the natural order set it in place. Where loons make daily recordings of their spooky and siren call. Where geese fly low over water with their natural call as they settle in for the night.
Ducks swim mightily up the Wisconsin River as if going to the gym to build up strength for the coming seasons. Great Blue Herons stand straight and erect on shallow ground waiting for the unsuspecting fish to come into striking range. Where squadrons of Cedar Waxwings put on nightly aerial shows that rival Cirque de Soleil as they feed on flying insects and ripe berries from the shrubs. Warblers, sparrows and Kingbirds all feast on the flying insects; which there are no shortage of.
If you see one mosquito, you see 10,173 in every 10 square feet of space. In other words, the size of one adult male, six feet tall. But mosquitos drift and they like water. And when they fly over a watery surface and hungry carnivores lie waiting underneath, the show is about to begin.
Panfish species of fish, aptly named for fitting in a frying panning heated with butter, explode out of the water with mouth wide open to gorge themselves before nightfall. When the water is stone cold grey and still like a sheet of ice, the fish bug show is mesmerizing. Nature though has one more surprise in store before the day ends.
With a clear view of the horizon and with a water canvas for the foreground, the sunsets can create colorful masterpieces for up to two hours. The bright yellow setting orb begins to pull in colors of orange and tan and sienna and red into its sphere. With charity in its heart, the sun then explodes out these colors it has gathered and paints the sky. Minute after minute the sky changes. And just when you think the sun is done, lost below the horizon, it paints with more colors a masterpiece.
A $13.8 million plan to move Arlington Public Schools’ offices from the Education Center to prepare for its use as a high school is set to begin later this year.
The Education Center, which houses various APS offices as well as the Arlington School Board’s meeting rooms, will be used as part of a “hybrid option” alongside the Career Center to add 1,300 high school seats for APS. The Education Center is adjacent to Washington-Lee High School.
APS’ offices are set to relocate to Sequoia Plaza Two at 2100 Washington Blvd, which already houses the School Health Bureau that provides health programs and services, as well as the Parent-Infant Education and Environmental Health programs.
Separately, the county’s Department of Human Services consolidated more than 80,000 square feet of facilities into three buildings at its headquarters at Sequoia Plaza in 2014.
As part of a plan approved last December, the School Board agreed to amend its lease at the property and add just under 80,000 square feet of new office space. In May, the Board approved a design for the office space, which will be spread across four floors.
At its meeting Thursday, August 17, the School Board advanced a construction contract for Sequoia Plaza Two, and will vote to approve the contract as an action item at its September meeting.
Under a timeline presented by APS staff, construction would begin in September and take until April 2018. The first phase of moving would begin in December, with the second phase to begin in April once construction is complete.
Jeff Chambers, APS’s director of design and construction, said that first moving phase would be to move APS staff already based at the building elsewhere to accommodate construction. Chambers said the project will not require any more funding than the $13.8 million already budgeted.
The Democrats running for Arlington County Board and the Virginia House of Delegates say they are united with the Board in its desire to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway.
Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and incumbent House of Delegates candidates Mark Levine, Patrick Hope, Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Alfonso Lopez praised the County Board’s stand. In a statement, an excerpt of which is below, all five applauded what they described as “a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry.”
The county will need to first obtain the legal authority to rename both stretches of state highway within its borders, an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. But the incumbents pledged to try to do so, so the county can choose “who in our history we want to honor and celebrate.”
Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board’s determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”
“It’s long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. “I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes.”
Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, “I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values.”
“Giving localities the authority to rename highways — like Jefferson Davis Highway — is long overdue,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), “This is not about erasing or trying to change history — indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue.”
“I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, ” said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more.”
Update at 2:30 p.m. — Arlington is now also under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of CT, DE, DC, MD, MA, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV until 9 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/5IkasOqzn9
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) August 18, 2017
Update at 12:40 p.m. — A Flash Flood Watch has just been issued.
Flash flood watch issued for entire area until 2AM Saturday. PM storms will have heavy rain w/winds and hail poss. pic.twitter.com/jo9VBiFsCR
— Amelia Draper (@amelia_draper) August 18, 2017
Earlier: Today (Friday) is expected to run the gamut of summer weather.
Forecasters say high humidity may push Heat Index values as far north at 105 degrees. After roasting this afternoon, strong to potentially severe thunderstorms are expected to cool things down a bit this evening.
The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory from Arlington, D.C. and the surrounding area. More from NWS:
HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM THIS MORNING TO 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A HEAT ADVISORY, WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM THIS MORNING TO 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING. * HEAT INDEX VALUES… AROUND 105 DEGREES DUE TO TEMPERATURES IN THE LOWER 90S AND DEWPOINTS IN THE MID TO UPPER 70S. * IMPACTS… THE HEAT AND HUMIDITY MAY CAUSE HEAT STRESS DURING OUTDOOR EXERTION OR EXTENDED EXPOSURE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HIGH TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN POSSIBLE, RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK, THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY – CALL 911.
Active weather expected today with heat and humidity followed by strong to locally severe thunderstorms. pic.twitter.com/z9W5V6PxSs
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) August 18, 2017
Metro Delays Due to Disabled Train — A 7000-series Metro train reportedly lost power between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom, just before 9 a.m., leading to delays on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines. [Twitter, Twitter]
Confederate Monument at Arlington Nat’l — On the western edge of Arlington National Cemetery there is a monument to Confederate war dead. Writes the Post: “A soaring testament to Southern pride, placed in Arlington nearly 50 years after the Civil War ended, the monument features a frieze depicting Rebels shouldering rifles, a black slave following his master and an enslaved woman… cradling a Confederate officer’s infant.” [Washington Post]
ACFD Rescues Bird — Members of an Arlington County Fire Department rescue company successfully managed to rescue a blue and yellow macaw from a tree. [Twitter]
Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”
Arlington’s summertime real estate market is still quite lazy with only 50 homes sold this week, eight of those within seven days. Sellers were more active putting 74 homes on the market. It was an especially good week for mid-priced single family homes with numerous choices in the $700,000 – $950,000 price range.
The days on market has nudged up to 45, and the “months of inventory” also climbed from 2.1 as recently as May, to 2.9 this week. Interest rates stayed totally flat, still hovering at 4% with no points for a 30-yr fixed rate.
Buyers have a window of opportunity between now and early September to negotiate good deals with sellers before the market shifts into high gear after Labor Day when scores of buyers compete for nice homes. And, buyers can lock in these low rates before they start to rise.
Click to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS and call Team Cathell (703-975-2500) when you find a home you like.
- 2400 CLARENDON BLVD #PH07, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $429,000
- 1050 TAYLOR ST #1-113, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $479,000
- 1020 HIGHLAND ST N #701, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $599,000
- 4918 14TH ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205 – $749,000
- 5929 10TH RD N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205 – $764,900
- 2317 EDISON ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22207 – $825,000
- 1075 MONTANA ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205 – $850,000
- 1916 WAYNE ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $1,050,000
(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Arlington School Board chair Barbara Kanninen announced Thursday (August 17) it will revisit all school names in the county with a view to possibly changing some, including Washington-Lee High School.
Kanninen’s announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, and a new petition for Arlington Public Schools to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The petition already has more than 200 signatures.
Though there has been talk of removing Lee’s name previously, the current backlash against Confederate symbolism has put the idea on center stage. Speakers at Thursday’s meeting and a letter to the editor published earlier in the day called for changing the school’s name, which has been its moniker since it opened in 1925.
The Board is going to be naming new schools at the Wilson, Stratford, Education Center and Career Center sites, and with that in mind, Kanninen said the time is right to look again at who schools are named after.
“Given all this, it is simply clear to us as a Board that now is the time,” Kanninen said. “It’s time to talk about the names of our schools, and what they mean and why they matter. It is time to talk about the values these names reflect and the messages we are sending our children.”
Kanninen said there will be extensive community input when discussing school names, and the process will include a “wide range of voices.” She said the Board will look to establish a naming criteria for schools that “reflects our values,” which will ensure debate is “focused on facts, not opinions.”
“We are committed to this community conversation, but it will take time and resources to get it right,” Kanninen said. “As the governing body of our school system, we have to be careful and deliberate.”
During the Board’s public comment period at the same meeting, numerous speakers showed support for changing the name of Washington-Lee, given Lee’s history with the Confederacy. Of the dozen speakers to testify, the majority expressed support for a name change.
“Today, Lee remains a potent symbol of hate, as witnessed by the events in Charlottesville,” local resident Ryan Sims said. “[It] is time for Arlington Public Schools to acknowledge its history, change the name and move on.”
“We must build on the momentum of the current crisis and use this as a teaching moment in Arlington Public Schools,” said Marc Beallor of the group Indivisible Arlington.
Not everyone who testified spoke in favor of changing the high school’s name, however. Mila Albertson, president of the Washington-Lee Alumni Association, said changing the name could set a precedent that could lead to changing numerous names and flags throughout Virginia. She said that precedent could include changing the name of the capital city of Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America, or renaming Virginia.
Instead, Albertson said, the school has gained a reputation for producing tens of thousands of graduates who have led productive lives.
“The name Washington-Lee is exalted because of its graduates, not because of the two [people] it is named for,” Albertson said.
Local resident and “unofficial W-L historian” John Peck urged caution and urged residents to learn more about Lee’s history, especially after the Civil War.
In a rarity for School Board meetings, two members spoke after the public comment period — urging patience for those who wish to change the name quickly. James Lander, the Board’s only black member, said it is important that community members continue to focus on students who face discrimination every day.
“I just don’t want us to take our eye off the ball and the children who are looking to us for examples,” Lander said.
Board colleague Reid Goldstein promised a robust process involving a wide range of opinions and community members, and no “knee-jerk” decisions.
“It’s very, very important that we do this right, or we’re going to keep doing this over and over again,” Goldstein said.
(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Arlington is thinking about renaming two state highways named after Confederate leaders, but needs authorization from the state legislature to do so, according to a statement released by the Arlington County Board late Thursday afternoon.
In the statement, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says the county is “united against racism and bigotry” in the wake of the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.
“Arlington rejects the hateful speech and actions of the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right movement,” the statement says. “We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward.”
The statement goes on to say that the county is seeking legislative authority to rename Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) and Lee Highway.
“Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries,” said the statement. “Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.”
Arlington’s ability to actually get the authority, however, is in serious doubt due to Republican majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. Arlington has previously placed authority for renaming Jefferson Davis Highway on its list of legislative priorities, to no avail.
Fisette notes that the renaming of Washington-Lee High School is also under consideration, but falls under the jurisdiction of the School Board.
The full statement is below.
The tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville, where three people lost their lives, has shaken the conscience of our community and of our nation.
The Arlington County Board condemns the act of domestic terrorism that cost Heather Heyer her life, and mourns her death and the deaths of the two Virginia State Police troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, who died in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the many who were injured that day.
As many yard signs across Arlington proclaim: “hate has no home here.”
It is appropriate, in the wake of the Charlottesville events, that our community and many others are reconsidering the public memorialization of Confederate leaders. This Board has received numerous letters from concerned residents pleading that these leaders of rebellion against the Union not be publicly memorialized – particularly noting Jefferson Davis Highway, Lee Highway and Washington-Lee High School.
Because we are a county, Arlington currently does not have the authority to rename state highways such as Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway. We do have the authority to name local roads, and we exercised it in 2012 to rename Old Jefferson Davis Highway as Long Bridge Drive.
Arlington is committed to seeking the authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within our boundaries. Our legislative delegation is committed to putting legislation forward on Jefferson Davis Highway. Arlington believes that local governments should have the authority to name any roadways within our borders.
Because it is a city, neighboring Alexandria controls all roadways within its borders. The City Council voted in September 2016 to rename its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and graciously included two Arlington residents in the advisory panel it formed to seek suggestions from the public for a new name. That panel will make a recommendation this fall, and the Alexandria City Council will act.
We expect that the name Alexandria selects will be suitable for our section of Jefferson Davis Highway as well. Anyone in Arlington who wants to suggest a new name for Jefferson Davis Highway can do so on the City of Alexandria’s website through September 25.
While we are not aware of any Confederate statues on County-owned land in Arlington, we support Governor McAuliffe’s recent proposal that all Virginia localities relocate Confederate statues in Virginia to museums, and be given the legal authority to do so.
Finally, the name of Washington-Lee High School and all other public schools in Arlington falls under the authority of the School Board. We know that the School Board will be speaking to this issue in the near future.
Although this is a painful time for us all, ultimately, Arlington’s story is an inspiring one of racial and social progress, of moving forward and overcoming the deep wounds inflicted by slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and the legacy of segregation. Our past can never be erased, but we can and will continue to learn from it.
Arlington today is a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community that treats each individual with respect and champions human and civil rights.
We will not allow a resurgent hate movement that distorts history and threatens our future to take us backward. Together, we will continue to strengthen the bonds that unite us.
Arlington County Board Chair, on behalf of the County Board