Update at 5 p.m. — Water service has been restored ahead of schedule, county officials say.
Update: Repairs have been completed and water pressure restored to customers in the Willston zone. Learn what to do should water appear cloudy when turning taps back on: https://t.co/rlidD7YZGM.
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) February 17, 2022
Earlier: A western portion of Arlington County has lost water pressure due to a broken valve, leaving a couple thousand water customers high and dry.
Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services announced around 12:45 p.m. that a part of the county that receives water from Fairfax County’s system has had its service impacted by a broken valve.
“Engineers are working on repairs,” DES said in a tweet. “Estimated time for completed repairs/return of full water pressure: 6 p.m. Willston customers are asked to conserve water.”
Willston refers to the name of the water system within Arlington, comprising about 2% of the county’s population in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods.
“The Willston Area system is located on the western edge of Arlington County along Wilson Boulevard,” notes the county’s water distribution plan. “The water provided in the Willston Area system is treated at both the Dalecarlia and McMillian WTPs, flows through the Fairfax Water system, and then into the Willston Area.”
DES noted that Fairfax County is performing the repairs, although Arlington generally maintains the pipes.
Thanks to quirks in geography and the development of local infrastructure, Arlington and Fairfax County’s water systems each serve some of each other’s customers under a recently-updated agreement.
The agreement also sought to provide redundancy for each water system through a new transmission main. Arlington County’s primary system and the Willson water system both get their water solely from the Washington Aqueduct, across the river, whereas Fairfax’s system uses two of its own water treatment plants along the Potomac and Occoquan rivers.
Water Outage: Residents in the Willston Water Distribution System, approx 2K customers on Arlington's western edge, may be experiencing no pressure because of a broken valve. Engineers are working on repairs. Willston is handled by Fairfax County. https://t.co/m4vEm70mMC pic.twitter.com/G0a3AHYlOP
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) February 17, 2022
Update: Estimated time for completed repairs/return of full water pressure: 6pm. Willston customers are asked to conserve water. Note: Arlington maintains infrastructure for the zone but the water is supplied by Fairfax County, performing this repair. https://t.co/MfrWE0QDHv
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) February 17, 2022
Boulevard Manor families whose kids have been or will be separated from their middle school friends for high school can apply for a placement process to try and avoid that fate, Arlington Public Schools says.
Students who live in the neighborhood, near the Arlington border with Falls Church, attend Kenmore Middle School but do not matriculate to Washington-Liberty High School like their peers. Instead, they attend Yorktown High School as a result of a 2017 boundary change when W-L was overcrowded.
Students and parents say it’s difficult to adjust to Yorktown, where only 3% of the student body comes from Kenmore. But getting back to W-L — via a neighborhood transfer or the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program — can require winning the lottery, literally.
Whenever applications for a neighborhood transfer or into the IB program exceed available seats, APS holds a double-blind lottery for spots and maintains a waitlist. The IB waitlist has been on the rise for the last four years, and stood around 80 students last March.
So last fall, a group of Boulevard Manor community members seized on the boundary change process moving students from Wakefield High School to W-L to request APS extend the same change to them. Once over-crowded, the school will have plenty of seats after construction at the neighboring 600-seat Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street), formerly an APS administrative building, wraps up and doors open this fall. The extra seats will offset the IB waitlist.
Boulevard Manor families didn’t succeed on the boundary process front, but this week, Superintendent Francisco Durán recommended a way forward without a lottery: an administrative placement.
“Following requests from the Boulevard Manor community, Dr. Durán recommended they request an administrative placement if they are interested in students changing the school they currently attend,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “It is a process that some Boulevard Manor families have already gone through.”
This process is available to all APS families, Bellavia said, but approval depends on a school’s capacity when the request is received.
These placements are approved on a case-by-case basis and are typically based on the following special circumstances:
- if a juvenile and domestic relations district court judge requests the transfer
- to bridge a short-term gap in their instructional program
- as a result of a disciplinary incident
- if the student experiences repeated bullying and can’t learn as a result
- if a certified medical or psychological need requires a change of environment
- if the student or family is experiencing hardships — a death or medical illness in the family and financial troubles — that make it difficult for the student to get what they need at their home school
“Administrative placement requests are less common than neighborhood transfer requests, but are another method to submit requests to change schools when neighborhood transfers are not available or when a request is being made outside of the annual neighborhood transfer application timeframe,” Bellavia said. “Administrative placements are approved on a case by case basis contingent upon a student meeting one of the six criteria outlined in the policy.”
Dropping nearly 40 feet from a platform above, a climber cut the ribbon on the “finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic.”
Located at Upton Hill Regional Park on Wilson Blvd in Arlington, Climb UPton was formally opened this morning at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by local officials as well as those from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority which operates the course.
“We gather to celebrate this magnificent cutting edge recreational ropes course… and one of the finest examples of regional and local collaboration,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, chair of NOVA Parks board. “This is the finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic. That’s what you have given back to the citizens.”
Officials are touting this ropes course as the biggest and best in the area. With 90 elements and reaching nearly 40 feet high, the course is intended for beginners and those more advanced alike. It features three zip lines, a 40-foot controlled freefall, tunnels, an Everest ladder, and an observation deck.
The course also has a “parks theme,” hence the suspended picnic table that climbers can ostensibly sit and eat lunch at.
The course actually has been open for climbers since July, but the admissions building wasn’t finished until now due to “supply chain issues,” NOVA Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert told ARLnow.
The ropes course is the major addition of the $4 million, at times contentious, renovation of Upton Hill Regional Park that was first presented to the Arlington County Board in late 2017.
There’s also a new playground at the bottom of the hill, parking improvements (including ADA-accessible parking on Wilson Blvd), more walking trails, a large underground cistern to capture stormwater as well as soon-to-be opened bathrooms and a picnic shelter next to the playground. The renovations were paid for with revenue bonds from the Virginia Resources Authority.
These additions join slow and fast pitch batting cages, Ocean Dunes Waterpark (which is currently closed for the season), and a 18-hole mini-golf course already at Upton Hill Regional Park.
A big reason that some residents and conservationists initially disapproved of the project was the plan to cut down more than a hundred trees to make room for the ropes course and parking lot improvements. Not only were some of those trees saved, but a new native hickory and oak forest was planted in the park, officials said.
“We brought in the right trees, the right shrubs, the right grasses to create the ultimate succession of forest to kind of jumpstart [the growth process],” Gilbert told ARLnow. “We don’t have to wait a hundred years for it to get there. We can grow it from the ground up.”
Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association during much of the project’s development, said in remarks that this was a “testament” of how government, non-profits, and the community can come together to build something that works for all.
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington and surrounding areas battled a house fire today in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, near Bluemont Park.
Smoke could be seen coming from the top of a home on the 5900 block of 3rd Street N. as first responders arrived on the scene shortly before 12:30 p.m., according to scanner traffic. It took at least 30 minutes to extinguish the bulk of the fire, which reportedly started in the attic.
Initial reports suggest that people inside the house were able to get out safely. No one was injured. Three residents will be displaced by the blaze, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.
#Final – Fire Prevention Office remains on scene conducting their cause and origin investigation. No FF or citizen injuries. 3 residents displaced from the fire.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 14, 2021
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) On Friday, Arlington County workers — dispatched after a resident complained — power washed away a girl’s Black Lives Matter chalk art from in front of her Boulevard Manor home. After an uproar, the county later apologized.
A memo from County Manager Mark Schwartz, sent to county employees on Saturday and obtained by ARLnow, shows some of the internal soul searching that followed the incident.
The memo says that Schwartz first heard about what happened due to “an inquiry from the press” — ARLnow first asked the county for comment around 10:30 a.m. He learned that the sequence of events started when “a resident complaint about ‘graffiti.'” Then he saw the photos of county employees erasing quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among other phrases and drawings.
“A series of flowers, hearts, and quotations focusing on understanding and the sanctity of Black lives had been removed by 3 county employees — all 3 are Black,” Schwartz wrote. “What was first described as graffiti removal became obviously something very different. My heart sank. How could this have happened? On Juneteenth of all days? I was sick.”
Schwartz says he asked himself a series of questions, including how those involved in the incident were doing and “In the time of pandemic, why are our limited resources being used to remove chalk from the street?”
He concluded that the employees and family involved, as well as county taxpayers, are all owed apologies. He personally delivered the apology to the workers. Among those to reach out to the family were Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey and Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services Director Greg Emanuel.
Schwartz ruminated on how the incident could have taken place despite the county’s focus on equity. He focused both on how the employees involved did not feel empowered to question their orders, and how the county has created a complaint-based system of resident services.
“Calling the ‘authorities’ is the wrong way to address our concerns as neighbors and community members,” Schwartz wrote. “This should be reserved for cases where our safety is at risk.”
The workers involved were not empowered “to make a judgment better than stipulated by the letter of the policy,” the county manager wrote. “The way we currently operate, it is too hard for employees to question what they are asked to do under a policy that is blind to feelings, nuance and the world we live in.”
Other notable questions raised by Schwartz in the memo include:
- “Was this possibly the worst example of how we ignore equity in doing our work?”
- “[Does] our complaint driven enforcement efforts lead us to address concerns (regardless of how serious they are) by some residents for any problem that frustrates them, while larger problems that affect our residents go unaddressed?”
- “[Are we] intentional about reaching impacted residents during public engagement processes, or only those who show up regularly?”
In the memo, Schwartz notes that the county will soon be hiring a Chief Equity and Diversity Officer, who will report directly to the county manager.
“This will take some time, but it is an overdue step,” he said.
The full memo is below.
Arlington County is apologizing for an “unfortunate situation” — ordering three Black employees to remove a girl’s Black Lives Matter chalk art from in front of her home on Juneteenth.
A neighbor complained about the chalk creations, which included quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, leading to the county response. Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews will remove any such markings, regardless of the message, upon receiving a complaint, the county said.
The county issued the following statement Friday night:
We apologize for this unfortunate situation, particularly on such an important day, Juneteenth. Our crews were following policy to remove markings, regardless of the message, on County right-of-way in response to a received complaint. None of the markings were removed from private property.
We understand the deep feelings that are present in the community. Our mission is to deliver public services based on established policies in a consistent manner. We’re reviewing our policy. Our crews take great pride in keeping Arlington clean and safe.
The action drew widespread condemnation from residents and others after a neighbor wrote about it on social media and ARLnow subsequently published an article.
On Friday night, the neighborhood’s civic association condemned the removal of the chalk art and demanded answers from the county.
“These chalk drawings were expressions of solidarity with current racial justice protests done by African-American children, and whose father is a US Navy officer,” wrote the Boulevard Manor Civic Association. “The DES employees were ‘ordered’ to power wash the children’s chalk drawings as another resident in BMCA ‘complained.’ BMCA strongly condemns, is saddened, and is disappointed in the above action taken by DES.”
The Arlington branch of the NAACP said it “sent the County Board a communication” as well.
Earlier Friday, Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey called the removal “a mistake” and “wrong.”
“It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily,” Dorsey told ARLnow. “Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”
“We apologize to the residents for erasing their expressions from their property and to our workers who were directed to do it,” Dorsey continued. “That this occurred as our County gathered to reflect on the unfulfilled promise of Black liberation on Juneteenth adds further insult, and compels us to confront the role of our government in perpetuating systemic inequities. We can, must, and will do better.”
Despite rain yesterday, residents came out to support the family whose drawings were removed, adding more chalk art and quotes to the street, sidewalk and driveway. More expressions of solidarity are expected today.
“We plan to go out again to line the streets and sidewalks with messages of solidarity and support for the Hamptons,” a tipster tells ARLnow.
Many showed up today :) pic.twitter.com/rMfnXh7HiM
— Jess (@MzJessI3) June 20, 2020
This is how we roll in @ArlingtonVA. I’m proud of our community. pic.twitter.com/MMQb2Gd2UA
— Amy Slavin, NBCT (@SlavinTeach) June 19, 2020
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County workers power washed away Black Lives Matter chalk art in front of a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood this morning.
An outraged neighbor posted on social media about the removal of the chalk art, which featured words and phrases like “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” “Justice 4 All,” “MLK,” and “BLM.” A portion of the art was on the county-owned sidewalk and road, while the rest was in the home’s driveway.
“I am both saddened and outraged. My friend and colleague at Ashlawn has had a formal complaint made about her daughter’s chalk art on the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of their home,” wrote Dana Crepeau. “I spoke with the Arlington County employees, who did not want to remove the chalk but were told they must. I asked permission to post their photos.”
“It appears the neighbor who called the county has previously taken it upon herself to erase other chalk drawings in support of Black Lives Matter,” Crepeau added. She noted that today (Friday) is Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved persons during the Civil War, which just became a state holiday in Virginia.
“Do I understand correctly that the county forced Black employees to erase messages in support of Black Lives Matter on Juneteenth and apparently saw no problem with that?” asked a commenter on Crepeau’s Facebook post.
“Yes, you are understanding this correctly,” she replied.
The residents were not home when an ARLnow reporter knocked on the door shortly before noon. The mother of the girl whose art was erased — Yvaal Hampton, a second grade teacher at Ashlawn Elementary — said in an email sent to the neighborhood listserv that “today, I feel like an outsider.”
Dear Boulevard Manor,
When my family and I moved into the neighborhood about a year and a half ago we were welcomed by a few amazing neighbors and I thought “this is going to be great.” Well today, I feel like an outsider. With the on-going racial climate that we are in, my kids and I wanted to express some of our feelings and thoughts in chalk outside of our house. Not a novice idea, right? Well this morning I hear loud voices outside of my window, so I go outside to see what’s going on. There were three African American city workers outside power washing our chalk expressions/drawing away because a neighbor complained. I had a lot of emotions running through me, but then one of the gentlemen said “Miss I don’t really want to have to do this, but my boss told be that I have to do it.” Then I felt sad for them, they were forced to remove a Dr. King quote and children’s artwork because a neighbor felt someway about it (angry, threatened… who knows). If it were flowers and sunshine drawings would she have complained? Today, I feel like an outsider, but this outsider stands by her chalk messages “Justice for All”, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Thank you Dr. King for your wise words. #BlackLivesMatter
ARLnow is still awaiting an official statement from Arlington County, which held a Juneteenth Peace Rally in front of county government headquarters in Courthouse this morning. (Update at 9:15 a.m.: The county issued an apology last night.)
Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey told ARLnow that he is disturbed by the incident and awaiting more information on what happened. In the meantime, he offered an apology to the residents.
“We await a full understanding of the facts, but what is known at the moment disturbs us greatly,” Dorsey said. “It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily. Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Arlington County will be holding a virtual public meeting tonight to discuss a trio of road projects set for later this year.
The county plans to repave and re-stripe portions of Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, Potomac Avenue in Potomac Yard, and Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse and Rosslyn neighborhoods. The work is expected to take place this summer and fall, following the current public engagement process.
Arlington has been using its regularly-planned street maintenance to re-stripe roads in an effort make them safer, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. It often involves the addition or enhancement of bike lanes, sharrows and crosswalks.
At an online meeting tonight from 6:30-7:30 p.m., held via Microsoft Teams, county staff will present the concept plans for its three 2020 projects while seeking public feedback.
More from the event page:
The Master Transportation Plan identifies routine street maintenance as an opportunity to provide cost-effective and easy to implement measures to improve safety and access for all people using the street. Community engagement is a core value in Arlington, and we wanted to provide opportunities for community members to share their feedback on the concept plans for the 2020 Street Maintenance season.
Please join county staff for an online meeting on Thursday, June 4 from 6:30-7:30 pm to learn about the project, ask questions and share feedback on the design concepts for the three 2020 Resurfacing Projects for Complete Streets.
Staff will present concepts for:
- Wilson Boulevard – N Larrimore Street to McKinley Road (Dominion Hills/Boulevard Manor)
- Potomac Avenue – S Crystal Drive to Alexandria City Line (Potomac Yard)
- Clarendon Boulevard – N Nash to N Oak Street (Clarendon-Courthouse/Radnor/Fort Myer Heights)
The country recently repaved and re-striped portions of Lorcom Lane and Military Road. The work was done in conjunction with construction on the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.
An online open house in April discussed all four projects.
Arlington County Police have nabbed four suspects in connection with another series of car break-ins.
The vehicle tamperings occurred around the 6000 and 6100 blocks of Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills and Boulevard Manor neighborhoods, early Tuesday morning. Police say eight mostly unlocked vehicles were entered, and a number of items were stolen.
Four teens, including three young adults from Falls Church, were subsequently taken into custody and are facing a variety of charges, from identity theft to petty larceny to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
This is the latest in a string of vehicle break-ins over the past year, which have prompted Arlington police to post daily social media reminders for residents to lock their cars at night.
More from today’s ACPD crime report:
LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-05260015/05260016/05260020/05260021/05260023, 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 6th Street N./6100 block of Wilson Boulevard/6000 block of 8th Place N. At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 26, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicle tampering incidents. Arriving officers canvased the area and located two suspects in the area of the 500 block of N. Livingston Street and two suspects in the area of 4th Street N. and N. Lombardy Street. All four suspects were taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the four suspects allegedly entered approximately 8, mostly unlocked, vehicles, tampered with items and stole items of value. Abel Perez Santiago, 19, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Identity Theft, Forgery, Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion, Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle and Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Alex Navidad-Ostorga, 19, of Falls Church, Va., and Kevin Aguilar-Lara, 18, of Falls Church, Va., were arrested and charged with Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion. Petitions were sought for Entering or Setting a Vehicle in Motion and Petit Larceny: Theft from Motor Vehicle for the fourth juvenile suspect.
Arlington 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony — “The County’s wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Bozman Government Center. A moment of silence will be held at 9:37 a.m., the moment when the plane struck the Pentagon and 184 lives were lost.” [Arlington County, Press Release]
Stabbing in Boulevard Manor — “ACPD responded to a domestic violence incident in which a woman was reported stabbed in a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. [Tuesday]. She’s expected to be okay. Police are not releasing additional details, to protect the victim’s identity, per spokeswoman.” [Twitter]
ACPD Considering Ring Doorbell Partnership — “The Arlington County Police Department appears likely to become the fourth Greater Washington law enforcement agency to sign a partnership with Ring Inc., a doorbell-camera company owned by Amazon.com Inc., despite internal concerns over privacy and racial profiling.” [Washington Business Journal]
Marymount Jumps in Rankings — “Great news — Marymount has jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings for top Regional Universities in the South, according to the 2020 Best Colleges Rankings from @usnews!” [Marymount University, Twitter]
Arlington Visitor Spending Keeps Rising — “Arlington visitors spent a record $3.4 billion in 2018, a 4.3 percent increase over 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending since 2009. Tourism generated nearly $94 million in local tax receipts, benefiting County programs and services, as well as state tax receipts of nearly $127 million.” [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Neighbor Drama Does Federal — “A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press… Tolson, who has left the FBI, agreed to forfeit two phones and two computers and avoid contact with Burkman, his neighbor in Arlington. He was released on bond until sentencing on Dec. 20.” [Washington Post]
Hoskins Wants ‘Innovation Campus’ in Fairfax — “As one of the lead negotiators involved in bringing Amazon.com Inc. to Arlington County, Victor Hoskins also helped Alexandria land Virginia Tech’s new ‘Innovation Campus’ — and now that he’s changed jobs, he wants to help Fairfax County do the same.” [Washington Business Journal]
Starting in the next few months, Upton Hill Regional Park is set to get a major makeover — but the process of sketching out plans for the renovation work is getting a bit messy.
Some neighbors and county conservationists see the whole project as poorly conceived and deceptively managed by NOVA Parks, the regional body that maintains Upton Hill. Plans to cut down 115 trees at the park, located at 6060 Wilson Blvd near Seven Corners, strike them as a blow to both the country’s tree canopy and a disaster for stormwater runoff in the area.
But park officials, and even some of their fellow neighbors, feel these complaints have been blown entirely out of proportion, arguing that a few malcontents are lobbing bombs against a project that will transform a park sorely in need of a facelift.
The $3 million renovation work is set to proceed over the next year or more, and with a new petition urging NOVA Parks to re-think its plans, debate over the project seems sure to intensify moving forward.
“I look at this as a phenomenal upgrade to the community… and some of the arguments being made against it are beyond ridiculous,” said Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association, where the park is located. “Eventually, we’re going to have to ask what’s more important: a couple of voices, or the safety of park-goers and this park’s future?”
Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, says his group last upgraded Upton Hill back in 2006, and decided back in 2015 to pursue some upgrades to the park.
Some of the planned changes are relatively uncontroversial: park officials hope to add a new ticket booth for the park’s batting cage, renovate some of its restrooms and build a new playground in the park’s lower half (Tighe compares the current playground there to “something out of a Stephen King horror movie.”)
The arguments start over proposed additions like a ropes course, a new entrance on Wilson Blvd complete with a small parking lot and 103 new parking spaces in Upton Hill’s upper half, near its water park.
The last item on that list has attracted the most controversy, as it would require the removal of more than half of the aforementioned 115 trees in favor of thousands of square feet of pavement — a group dubbing itself the “Friends of Upton Hill” wrote on its website that Joni Mitchell warned of just an occurrence when she sang “They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.”
“NOVA Parks has never made a convincing case for expanding parking at Upton Hill, which has a parking lot that is barely used for nine months of the year, when the water park is closed,” said Sada Aksartova, a Boulevard Manor resident. Her husband, Josh Handler, helps run the friends group, which notes that many of the trees set to be chopped down are several decades old.
Yet Tighe argues the new parking will help ease crowds at the park, avoiding the need for so many people to park on the street, and Gilbert says there’s a bit more nuance to consider regarding the trees to be cut down.
Of the 115 trees to be removed, he says 19 trees are already dead, while 31 are non-native trees, which he feels don’t add much to the area’s ecosystem. He points out that he hopes to plant dozens of new trees, shrubs and grasses elsewhere on the park to create an “oak/hickory forest” that he believes will represent a net positive for the county’s tree canopy.
Local activist Suzanne Sundberg believes Gilbert’s thinking amounts to: “We must destroy a forest to save a forest.”
“It’s degrading a park that’s just a little postage stamp of green in an ocean of parking lots,” Sundberg said.
She also fears that removing so many trees and replacing them with asphalt will worsen the already substantial stormwater management problems in the area. The friends group posted a series of videos earlier this month illustrating how huge amounts of water already flow off the park’s grounds.
But Gilbert believes the underground cistern included in plans for the new parking lot will alleviate the stormwater problems in the area, rather than exacerbate them. Furthermore, he feels those videos are misleading, as they were taken just after a heavy rainstorm.
Certainly, Gilbert has plenty of problems with the way the Friends of Upton Hill have conducted themselves. He believes the group’s name is a “complete misnomer,” dubbing it “a couple of individuals with an ax to grind” and “not a true friend’s group.” He feels the community has been broadly supportive of the project.
“We’ve worked very hard to work with the various community groups, but that doesn’t mean every individual is going to get everything they want,” Gilbert said. “And some people can understand that and some people clearly don’t.”
Sundberg believes there are plenty of people upset with the project, pointing to the new petition and work of the Arlington Tree Action Group to oppose it. Furthermore, she says that “if there are, indeed, a low number of citizens who are outraged, it’s likely because they have no idea what the plans are.”
“This whole process has been very opaque,” Sundberg said. “NOVA Parks has gotten so used to doing whatever the heck it wants… it barely posts any documents or makes any information available about this.”
Tighe charges that park officials have been “phenomenal partners every step of the way.” Other neighbors, however, are taking more of a wait-and-see approach, rather than coming out so strongly in favor of the park.
“I understand the objections from some… even if some people may be exaggerating points to serve their own conclusions,” said Brian Hannigan, president of the nearby Dominion Hills Civic Association. “Let’s follow the facts and see where they lead.”