The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA) Board has unanimously voted to rename itself the Langston Boulevard Alliance (LBA), following the change in the name of the roadway itself that was approved by the Arlington County Board on July 17, 2021.
The renaming of both the Alliance and Lee Highway comes after nearly one year of community outreach, discussions, name vetting, and planning led by LBA’s Working Group. LBA is proud to bear the name of John Mercer Langston, the American abolitionist who became Virginia’s first Black Congressman in 1888, established Howard University’s School of Law and served as its Dean in the 1870s, and was the Inspector General of Arlington’s Freedman’s Bureau in the 1860s.
LBA also bears the word “Boulevard” rather than “Highway,” which connotes traffic, speed, and congestion, especially during rush hours. The word “Boulevard” describes the LBA’s vision–a thriving corridor that safely welcomes pedestrians and is surrounded by relevant stores, restaurants, and fun activities.
That vision was sparked and nurtured by LBA, a citizens’ initiative and non-profit that started in 2013 with the goal of creating a joint community vision for a walkable, sustainable, and attractive corridor – one that benefits both residents and businesses. “Over the past decade, we have engaged thousands of residents about what they want to see here,” said Ginger Brown, Executive Director of LBA. “Renaming the corridor is a step toward realizing the vision.”
Arlington County, meanwhile, has been engaged in a Plan Langston Boulevard planning process. LBA will continue working with the community and the County to develop a 30-year plan that helps to transform Langston Boulevard. This fall, the County will share its next proposals.
“Langston Boulevard has not been systematically planned in more than 60 years,” said Pamela Gillen, LBA’s President. “A lot has changed since then – how we live and work, our changing recreation and retail needs, and the need to focus on climate change from the start,”. “Gillen said “Langston Boulevard has immense potential to be a place where residents and businesses thrive together, and where the environment is put first by insisting upfront on sustainable designs.”
“If we plan and create as a community, with a collective thought process, we’ll have a much better place for everybody to live,” added Ben Keeney, a Working Group member and resident of the North Highlands area. And that is exactly what LBA’s goal throughout the past few years has been–community engagement and collaboration.
As one example, Brown noted that LBA held 3 walking tours and numerous virtual meetings during the spring to review and discuss the County’s proposals for changes in land use and building height, as well as to help participants visualize and share input on potential changes. More than 50 people attended one of the walking tours that started in the Lyon Village Shopping Center. “Traffic safety, stormwater management, impact of population growth, and building heights seem to be the biggest concerns of the community,” Brown added, “LBA looks forward to the forthcoming analysis by the County and updated proposals in early fall 2021.”
With the renaming and systematic planning of the corridor should come a new chapter in Langston Boulevard’s story. “We’re looking for the corridor to be a place where people in the community convene,” shared Saundra Green, Working Group member and Hall’s Hill/High View Park resident. “We want a place that stands for all the things that we want the corridor to be, from children to senior citizens.”
In the meantime, LBA is planning a weekend celebration in September where it will bring the community together to celebrate the renaming through the arts, activities, and mural-making. To stay up to date with Langston Boulevard Alliance news, community members can sign up to receive newsletter alerts.