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Peter’s Take: Long-Term County Planning Needed Now for Carlin Springs Parcels

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The Arlington County Board must act now to enable the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission to perform its primary long-term planning role with respect to two large parcels of land on Carlin Springs Road: the Kenmore Middle School site and the Urgent Care site.

JFAC recently has been asked to dedicate some of its attention to helping Arlington Public Schools and the county with a phased facility and site development plan for the Career Center site.

While this is an important short-term assignment, it’s vital that both boards — particularly the County Board — take appropriate actions now to enable JFAC to produce a long-term facilities plan for these two large Carlin Springs parcels.

Long-term planning is vital

The County Board must recognize the need to address more comprehensively the challenges of future growth and development by focusing JFAC’s work primarily on the job of coordinating long-term County and APS facility needs, including APS capacity needs, for the next 15 years.

Unfortunately, over the first nine months of JFAC’s existence, the County and School Boards have kept assigning JFAC a series of short-term facilities planning tasks. The two boards need to cut down on using JFAC for these short-term planning assignments.

The Kenmore and Urgent Care sites are critical

The best currently-available, multi-year APS enrollment projections are in a consultant study prepared last fall. A related joint county-APS study, presented at a joint County Board-School Board meeting this past January, concluded (at p23) that Arlington’s total population aged 0-14 will exceed 40,000 by 2030.

The multi-year projections in this joint study correctly led both APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy and the leadership of JFAC to conclude that Arlington will need yet another new high school up and running no later than 2032.

Resolving where that new high school ought to be located cannot be decided without first determining the highest and best uses for the Kenmore and Urgent Care sites.

At 32.5 acres, the Kenmore Middle School site is by far the largest piece of land currently owned by APS that could become the site for a new high school. If a high school were located there, one option could be to move the middle school to the Urgent Care site.

To enable JFAC to evaluate these options, the County Board needs to lead now on a series of issues, especially issues relating to paralyzing traffic problems which inhibit any further identification for uses at either Kenmore or the Urgent Care property.

For example, the County Board needs to engage now with:

  • Virginia Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and then set aside funding to improve the intersection between Carlin Springs Road and Route 50
  • Fairfax County regarding additional egress on Arlington County land onto the Arlington County portion of Manchester Street at Route 50
  • APS regarding the creation of a possible new turn lane along Carlin Springs Road to Kenmore
  • APS regarding possible additional turn lanes between Campbell Elementary School and the Nature Center entrance to the current VHC Urgent Care site
  • APS regarding wider pedestrian walks along Carlin Springs Road
  • APS regarding a possible pedestrian overpass on Carlin Springs Road

Conclusion

The County Board needs to take the lead to enable JFAC to do its comprehensive long-term planning job as it relates to both of these large sites on Carlin Springs Road.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

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The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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