by Heather Mongilio — September 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm 2,262 0

Candidates field questions from the audienceAffordable housing in the county has become a dividing line between the Democratic and independent candidates for County Board.

The candidates fielded questions from Arlington’s civic associations about various issues facing the county, including communication with residents and the commercial vacancy rate during a Civic Federation meeting last night. Arlington residents will vote for two new County Board members on Nov. 3.

Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol both spoke in favor of the Affordable Housing Master Plan, which the Board will decide on this month, while independents Mike McMenamin and Audrey Clement said they would vote against the plan.

The problem with the affordable housing plan, said Clement, is that it continues to rely on “densification” — building more housing in order to also add subsidized affordable units. Development has made housing more expensive, and has contributed to the loss of market rate affordable housing, she said.

Audrey Clement

“The actual economic assumption behind it is fallacious,” said Clement.

If voted onto the County Board, one of her first priorities would be the creation of a housing authority, which would put all housing agencies under one roof, similar to Fairfax County, Clement said. She also took issue with what she said would be a $90 million cost that the county would shoulder each year.

Dorsey disagreed, arguing that the plan is good for the county from an economic standpoint.

Christian Dorsey

“When you have people who can live affordably, you have people who can spend money in your community,” Dorsey said.

For Cristol, the plan presents a way to help protect the middle class. While campaigning, she has heard from residents who say they would not be able to afford their homes if they had to buy them today.

“I believe the status quo in Arlington is hostile to the middle class,” Cristol said.

The plan isn’t perfect, Cristol said, adding that some of her South Arlington neighbors have asked for the plan to be more firm about geographic distribution.

“It’s a tough issue,” Cristol said. “It’s a complex issue.”

Michael McMenaminWhile housing affordability is an important topic, McMenamin said it is the wrong issue to be prioritizing, separating himself from the three other candidates who include affordable housing as a top platform issue.

“We’re betting everything on affordable housing when we have a school crisis,” he said, referring to the burgeoning student population, overcrowded schools and the proliferation of trailer classrooms across the county.

Arlington also needs to focus on the commercial vacancy rate, McMenamin said, an issue all candidates agreed on.

The county needs to work on “getting businesses back in the county,” he said. The county should focus on becoming a home for large companies like Marriott — which is considering moving from Maryland — but also provide a nurturing environment for startups, he said.

The county needs to find “creative ways, like tax relief,” to make the county more attractive to business, McMenamin said.

Making it easier for small businesses is an absolute must, Dorsey said. He proposed streamlining the process of starting a business in Arlington.

Katie CristolCristol agreed that Arlington could be a hub for new businesses, such as companies in the medical technology industry, but she said that the county should not keep lowering the tax rate without a plan.

“We need to plan for the Arlington we want to see instead of blindly lowering the tax rate,” she said.

Candidates were also asked about the process behind County Board decisions, which some residents said is unsatisfactory.

All candidates said they would work to be open and more transparent about decisions, acknowledging decisions around the Western Rosslyn Area Plan, Reevesland Farmhouse and Fire Station 8, were not handled properly when it came to informing the community.

by Heather Mongilio — September 9, 2015 at 10:00 am 1,233 0

Parking meter on N. Oak Street

(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) Street parking in Arlington will now cost an extra quarter.

The 25 cent rate increase for parking meters went into effect on Sept. 7. The raise was approved by the County Board in May.

Rates for short-term, two hour parking are now $1.50 per hour, up from $1.25. Four hour, or long-term, parking rates are $1.25 per hour, instead of $1.

The increase does not apply to meters with reduced rates of 50-75 cents per hour. Areas with lower parking demand, such as near Virginia Hospital Center, were also not affected by the change, said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

All digital, multi-space parking meters have been switched to the new rates, Baxter said. Parkmobile, a mobile app that allows users to pay for meters through their phones, has also been updated to reflect the new prices.

Old meter (left), digital meter (right)

Older, mechanical parking meters for individual space will most likely reflect the changes by the end of the week, Baxter said.

“County staff is working diligently to convert the older mechanical meters (this requires a manual effort where staff physically reprograms each individual meter to the new rates),” she said in an email.

The 25 cents increase is predicted to bring in $1 million in revenue per year, but was prompted by higher demand for street parking, according to a county press release from May.

“Raising the rates to levels closer to the rates charged in nearby parking garages and closer to those of the rest of the region will help level the playing field ensuring that businesses that need short-term parking spaces on the street for their customers are more likely to have them available,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a May statement.

The County Board is also expected to discuss a proposal to extend the hours that paid parking is enforced by two hours. If approved, people will have to pay to park until 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — September 8, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,124 0

Acting County Manager Mark SchwartzArlington County today is embarking on a series of policy discussions that will explore ways to improve county services while keeping costs down.

Addressing “longer-term budget and service delivery issues” is a top priority of Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, who says Arlington must think and act strategically as the county continues to grow and develop.

“Too often, we are so wrapped up in our day-to-day responsibilities that we lose sight of the importance of planning for the longer range,” Schwartz said in a press release that was sent out Friday. “These conversations will focus on what the future is for service delivery, staffing and management and how we make sure we are on the cutting edge of planning for that future.”

According to Arlington County, policymakers will discuss:

  • How Arlington’s growing population and changing demographics impact service delivery
  • How service delivery choices and investments can help meet the county’s economic development goals
  • The impact of technology on how county government delivers services
  • Opportunities to achieve efficiencies while improving service delivery

“While no formal action is expected by the County Board at these sessions, the discussions will help inform future budget and Capital Improvement Plan discussions,” the county said.

The first County Board work session will be held at 3 p.m. today, in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, and will discuss Arlington’s public libraries. Other work sessions are scheduled for Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.

by Heather Mongilio — September 2, 2015 at 11:30 am 2,779 0

Members of the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, a group that wants affordable housing throughout the county, protested before a County Board work session on the Affordable Housing Master Plan last night.

The Affordable Housing Master Plan calls for 17.7 percent of all housing in Arlington to be affordable by 2040 for those making up to 60 percent of the average median income. Under the plan, the county would add roughly 15,800 new affordable units.

“It’s housing for our low wage workforce, or our lower wage workforce,” said County Board member Jay Fisette after the work session. “It’s the people we all rely on and come across every day in our lives in Arlington.”

The County Board will vote on the plan in September, and CARD members said they do not think the plan does enough to spread affordable housing throughout the county. Instead, the group said that new affordable housing units will be clustered around Columbia Pike.

“I think the county can make a stronger commitment to placing CAFs [Committed Affordable Units] in school districts that don’t have a high concentration of poverty,” said CARD member Katherine Novello, who lives in Barcroft.

Housing Distribution forecast map (via Arlington County)

The plan includes a map that forecasts the distribution of affordable housing units throughout the county. By 2040:

  • Rosslyn-Ballston corridor will have 22 percent of the affordable housing units
  • The Route 1 corridor (Crystal City and Pentagon City) will have 10 percent
  • Columbia Pike will have 22 percent
  • The area around the Arlington and Washington Blvds will have 6 percent
  • Buckingham will have 7 percent
  • The Westover Garden Apartments will have 3 percent
  • Apartments along I-395 will have 13 percent
  • The neighborhoods along Lee Highway to East Falls Church will have 11 percent

Under the plan, no affordable housing units would be added to areas in the northern most part of Arlington, including the Bellevue Forest, Arlingwood, Old Glebe and Rivercrest neighborhoods.

Many of the CARD members are concerned that the lack of distribution throughout the county will hurt school achievement by clumping high levels of poverty in some schools, while others have very few students who need free or reduced meals.

“If you create pockets of poverty, you’re not creating opportunities for people to succeed in life,” said CARD member Sue Campbell, who lives in Glencarlyn.

The lack of diversity in some schools also goes against the county’s slogan of diversity and inclusion, Campbell said.

The County Board received many comments from the public asking for geographic distribution and urging the county to do more to ensure it, said County Board member John Vihstadt during the work session.

“I’m just looking at pages and pages of the comments looking at the survey [on affordable housing],” Vihstadt said. “We’re moving in the right direction. The question is what more can we do.”

Vihstadt said after the meeting that he thinks the plan is better than before and is hopeful that the final plan presented in September will be something he can support.

“I think this plan now has goals as well as some teeth,” he said.

CARD founding member Joye Murphy said this morning that while the County Board members, “especially John Vihstadt,” were listening to the group, the plan still does not do enough to enforce geographic distribution.

“The county continues to harp on ‘preserving’ affordable housing,” she said in an email. “The only place housing is ‘market-rate affordable,’ (this means ‘low rent apartments’) is basically along Columbia Pike. This thinly-veiled ‘goal’ of ‘preserving affordable housing’ means dumping more committed affordable units on the Pike. We are not drinking that Kool-Aid.”

by ARLnow.com — August 31, 2015 at 2:35 pm 2,306 0

CARD logoA group that’s pushing for a wider distribution of affordable housing throughout Arlington plans to protest a County Board meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Board will be holding a final work session on its new affordable housing plan at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The draft plan calls for adding 15,800 affordable housing units in Arlington by 2040.

The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development says it “organizing a peaceful demonstration opposing the plan” at 6:30 p.m., at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Wayne Street. The group will also hold signs and “observe the markup process” at the meeting.

CARD says the county has been concentrating affordable housing along Columbia Pike, hurting student achievement. The group says county officials have not been responsive to its concerns.

From a CARD press release:

Over the past decade, Arlington has become socio economically segregated, with pockets of poverty along the west end of Columbia Pike. This area continues to be targeted for even more affordable housing. The second-order effects on schools like Randolph and Barcroft are 80% free-and-reduced-meal rates and an achievement gap. The coalition is dismayed that county leadership is not responding to its concerns and wishes to see affordable housing as an avenue for upward economic mobility for tenants. We want children living in affordable housing to have access to the highest-achieving schools.

September is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington. Public hearings on the affordable housing plan are scheduled for Sept. 8 and 19.

by Heather Mongilio — August 31, 2015 at 10:15 am 1,034 0

Affordable Housing Month logo (via Arlington County)

Arlington County and a local nonprofit are raising awareness of housing and hunger in September.

September is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington. Throughout the month, Arlington County will be holding events that celebrate “the County’s long-term commitment to preserving and creating housing opportunities that benefit the whole community.”

There will be bus and bike tours of affordable housing complexes, a speech from national affordable housing advocate Chris Estes and a public forum about the benefits and challenges of offering affordable housing in the county.

During the month, there will also be public hearings on the Affordable Housing Master Plan on Sept. 8 and 19. The plan addresses the decline of affordable housing in the county and includes the creation of 15,800 additional affordable housing units by 2040.

“For decades, we have invested in our affordable housing programs to help us achieve our vision of a diverse and inclusive community,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “These efforts support our residents at all ages and stages of life, improve our neighborhoods and strengthen our economy. This September, we will come together to celebrate our successes and discuss our challenges.”

Affordable Housing Month kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 2 with a speech from Estes, the president and CEO of non-profit National Housing Conference. The opening reception is from 4-6 p.m. in the County Board room (2100 Clarendon Blvd, room 307).

The following events are also part of Affordable Housing Month:

AFAC celebrates 25th anniversaryThe Arlington Food Assistance Center will also spend September educating residents about hunger and food demand in the county as part of its Hunger Action Month.

The organization will hold discussions about hunger, a golf tournament, a film screening and multiple food drives to raise awareness of Arlington residents who struggle with feeding their families.

There will also be a month-long exhibit about AFAC and hunger in the lobby of the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), with an accompanying presentation on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

“Over 2,200 families are coming to AFAC each week to access fresh and healthy supplemental groceries, freeing up tightly stretched funds for child and health care, rent, and other financial demands. The growing need shows no signs of abating and Hunger Action Month creates an opportunity to share AFAC’s story and expand its reach to every Arlington resident suffering from food insecurity,” the organization said in a press release.

by Heather Mongilio — August 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm 1,784 0

Renderings of the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health & Fitness Facility

Arlington County is asking for public input on a possible partnership with Alexandria to build the proposed Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility in Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City.

The county will reach out to residents this fall to see what they would like to see in an aquatic and fitness facility. Alexandria will also be surveying its residents.

If interests in both counties line up, the two will start to discuss costs and responsibility for the development of the pools and fitness area. The border between Alexandria and Arlington is roughly three miles from Long Bridge Park.

The possible partnership is the county’s latest plan to find the funds it needs to complete the second phase of the Long Bridge Park Project Plan.

“If the synergy is there, and both communities are interested, we will explore this further,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Partnerships are just one of the many creative ways we are approaching the development of our facilities and programs.”

Phase Two includes building the aquatic and fitness facility, connecting an esplanade in Long Bridge Park to the building and the creation of public areas, trails, public art, walkways and signs for the park, according to the 2013 Long Bridge Park Master Plan.

The county has been planning a redesign of Long Bridge Park for more than 10 years, with the first phase completed in 2011. Higher-than-expected construction bids and operating costs prevented the county from choosing a contractor to complete phase two, pausing the project in 2014.

Once completed, the aquatic and fitness facility is planned to have a 50-meter pool for recreational, fitness and competitive swimming. There will also be a smaller pool for exercise and recreational program, a small hot-water therapy pool and a free-form water play area that will include a lazy river and slides, according to a 2013 design plan for the facility.

In addition to the aquatic elements, the facility will have a large fitness area and a community room, according to the plan. A “Multiple Activity Center,” which will have a climbing wall, a large indoor fitness space and an elevated track, is also planned.

The plans may change based on feedback from residents, Hynes said. The County Manager is scheduled to present recommendations to the County Board in January 2016.

“A lot has changed since that building was designed,” Hynes said. “The economy has changed. Many things in the region are different.”

While the county is waiting on the aquatic and fitness facility, it will continue to make improvements to the park. In June, the County Board unanimously approved the construction of playgrounds on the south end of the park. The $1.082 million contract includes play areas with cooling “fog” systems, tunnels, play structures, bridges, benches and fencing.

Photos via Arlington County

by Mariah Joyce — August 11, 2015 at 4:15 pm 3,457 0

Five Points Intersection (Copy)Arlington County is finalizing the design for changes to the historically busy and confusing “Five Points Intersection” in Cherrydale.

The intersection, located near the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department at the confluence of Lee Highway, Old Dominion Drive, N. Quincy Street, Military Road and N. Quebec Street, has long been a source of ire for pedestrians and drivers alike because it can create dangerously complicated traffic patterns.

This frustration increased in 2013 when the county chose to move forward with proposed changes to the intersection as part of the Cherrydale Lee Highway Revitalization Program, over the objections of neighborhood residents. While the changes were intended to improve the intersection for pedestrians in keeping with the program’s goal of a more walkable Cherrydale, residents claimed they made the intersection even worse.

According to a 2014 neighborhood update on the project, some alterations that irked residents, such as guides directing cars to turn left in front of oncoming traffic (known as “puppy paw guides”), have since been removed.

Five-way intersection in CherrydaleHowever, the update claimed the changes were not extensive enough and the way residents turned before, while not a typical traffic pattern, was actually safer and more efficient.

As of now, the county is still moving forward with many of their proposed modifications. According to project manager Elizabeth Diggs, the project design is 90 percent complete and changes will include the installation of wider sidewalks, the addition of bike lanes, reflective crosswalks and handicap ramps, and upgrades to traffic signals, timing and street lights.

Diggs said recommendations from the Virginia Department of Transportation, county staff and an outside consultant were taken into account when finalizing the design. The project webpage says that recommendations from the Cherrydale Listserv and public meetings were also incorporated.

“The intersection improvements are being designed to improve vehicle turning movements and create a safer environment for pedestrian, bicycle and transit users,” said Diggs.

Construction on the project, originally planned for this spring and summer, is now slated to begin this winter.

by Heather Mongilio — August 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm 1,831 0

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was no stranger to challenges.

The first All-African American volunteer fire department in Arlington faced segregation and limited equipment for almost 40 years, according to a history of Fire Station 8 by Arlington Public Library.

The chronological history of the station was published in the middle of a debate between local residents and county government over its proposal to relocate the station farther north to Old Dominion Drive, by Marymount University.

“My neighbors look at that fire station as the heart, the hub, the star on the tree, whatever you want to say,” community member Jim Derrig said at a July 30 meeting. “And what we’re trying to say is you can’t replace the heart with a pacemaker or a bandaid. You have to replace a heart with a heart.”

The county says relocation is necessary for the Arlington County Fire Department to meet their response time goal of four to six minutes countywide.

“We are focused on life saving. That is our mission,” former Arlington County Fire Chief Jim Schwartz said in a county-produced video.

While this would not be the first time the fire station moved, — the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was previously housed in smaller fire stations on Lee Highway and N. Culpepper Street in the 1930s — relocation would mean that it would no longer be in the Hall’s Hill community.

Hall’s Hill is a historically African-American community, once the home of freed slaves and separated from the rest of the county by a fence. In 1918, the members of the community formed the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department with one 60-gallon chemical tank that six men would have to pull along muddy and unpaved roads, according to the library.

When Arlington County was formally established two years later, the county excluded the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department from the Arlington County Fireman’s Association and did not give the department monthly pay for professional firefighters.

The VFD, which played a central part in the community, slowly built up its fleet of fire trucks and built a station first on Lee Highway in 1927 and then 2209 N. Culpepper Street in 1934. The 1934 fire house also had a basement for a community center.

After the fire department was integrated, it moved to its current home at 4845 Lee Highway and officially opened on June 17, 1963 with 17 paid firefighters. The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department owned the deed to one of the pieces of land that went into the new station, while the county owned the others.


by Heather Mongilio — July 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm 3,110 0

The Rosslyn of the future is envisioned to be more walkable, more dynamic and more green with the County Board’s approval of the Rosslyn Sector Plan and Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP). However, with the approval comes the loss of open space from Rosslyn Highlands Park, which left some residents frustrated with the County Board’s process.

The County Board unanimously approved both plans after hearing resident and staff concerns. Residents generally supported the new sector plan, focused primarily on areas around the Rosslyn Metro station. The Western Rosslyn plan focused on the area around Fire Station #10, up the hill on Wilson Blvd.

It was the Western Rosslyn plan — which calls for a new fire station to be built by a developer, which is in turn building a mixed-use office and residential complex next to it — that attracted the most opposition.

“It is a shame that we felt we needed to pay for the fire station with public land, such an irreplaceable asset, especially here,” said resident Stuart Stein, who was involved with the WRAP study. “This has been an unfortunate process, but it is time to pass this plan.”

The lack of energy from the previously vocal WRAP opponents was reflected in the County Board’s responses. Although they all voted to approve the plan, Vice Chair Walter Tejada said that he came out of the vote “with a sense of resignation, almost, about the open space angle particularly.”

“We do need to move forward, but it really is a good lesson learned,” he said. “We just can’t let this happen again.”

With the Rosslyn Sector Plan, Board members were more enthusiastic.

“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I think it was a good conversation and I think we have a plan that will work for all of us,” Chair Mary Hynes said.

Under the Rosslyn Sector Plan, the neighborhood will get a new open-air Metro entrance, Fort Myer Drive, Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard will become two-way streets and the county will create a new esplanade that runs along Rosslyn’s eastern edge, connected to the Mt. Vernon Trail via a new pedestrian bridge. It also calls for a corridor along an extended 18th Street, which is envisioned as “a new central spine for Rosslyn.”

Green space has been a big concern for residents under both plans. The Rosslyn Sector Plan calls for a new park and redesign of existing parks, but residents fear that these are empty promises.

“Whether that green space really is developed in the amount that is projected is a question,” Rosslyn resident Diane Gorman said during public comment at yesterday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Parks and Recreation commission member Caroline Haynes urged the County Board members to make sure that plans for open space in Rosslyn were followed, adding that there are limited parks in the neighborhood.

“If we overbuild Rosslyn to the detriment of open space, views and daylight, the built environment will never reestablish those features,” Haynes said. “This plan represents the long-term view for Rosslyn, and should look to achieve long term value for the entire sector, not just for individual land owners and their interests.”

While the Rosslyn Sector Plan looks to create more open space and redesign existing Freedom and Gateway Parks, the Western Rosslyn plan will shrink Rosslyn Highlands Park to rebuild the fire station, a move that prompted residents to rally in protest, pleading with the County Board to save the park.

Under the plan, the county would take away 3,000 to 7,000 square feet of land from the park to allow for the fire station expansion and the Wilson School will be replaced with a larger, 775-seat secondary school building. However, the plan also calls for a 9,000 square foot park to be built across the street at the Queens Court affordable housing complex, which is slated for redevelopment.


by Heather Mongilio — July 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm 3,959 0


(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Independent candidate for County Board Audrey Clement is continuing to criticize Arlington for hosting a bike race last month.

On Saturday, Clement, a self-described avid cyclist, said the Air Force Association’s Cycling Classic, a two-day racing event in Clarendon and Crystal City, was dangerous to the public.

“No mention made by the Air Force Association of the danger to participants and pedestrians of conducting high speed races in the heart of a densely populated business district or the nuisance value of blocking major throughways to vehicular traffic for half of the day,” Clement said.

Clement previously spoke against the race at a last month’s Board meeting, while the race was happening, because the road closures prevented her from biking to the meeting on the route she usually takes. During that meeting, she told Board members that closing roads for the race was “reckless endangerment.”

“I risked my life to bike to this meeting,” she asserted.

Clement noted on Saturday that she was “ridiculed” for her remarks in June.

“At the June 13 County Board meeting I was ridiculed by County Board members for characterizing the bicycle races in progress that day in Clarendon as ‘reckless endangerment,'” she said.

Board members responded to Clement’s latest complaints by saying the barriers lining the cycling course ensured spectator safety, but Clement disagreed.

“Other Board members agreed with Mr. Fisette that the barricades put in place were sufficient to prevent accident or injury, I wish that were true. Yet on Thursday, July 2, one cyclist was killed and two were critically injured when one of the cyclist’s had a tire blowout on a downhill race sponsored by the World Police and Fire Games in Prince William Forest Park,” Clement said during the July 18 Board meeting.

Clement went on to say that the sport of cycling has more deaths than the Indianapolis 500, which had its last death in 1973. While there were some crashes at this year’s Clarendon and Crystal Cup races, no deaths were reported. During the race, barriers kept spectators away from the speeding cyclists and event staff were positioned at every crossing area to help people get from one side of the course to the other.

Arlington County is happy to work with event organizers to plan road closures and public safety measures, Board member Jay Fisette said.

“Our special events [are] one of the things that makes Arlington special. We have a special events policy, we have our block parties, we have bike events, we have neighborhood events, and events sponsored by the BIDs that happen in our denser corridors and each of those require work and require staff time to make sure the road network still works and they’re safe,” Fisette said.

In her remarks, Clement also called for a multi-modal system of enforcing traffic laws, with police officers monitoring activity from bikes. Board Chair Mary Hynes said a system called “PAL” is already in place to encourage cyclists and motorists to be careful on the road.

by Mariah Joyce — July 22, 2015 at 11:45 am 1,751 0

Arl Comm Garden For the second time in a year, Arlington County is planning to expand one of its seven community gardens.

The County Board yesterday unanimously approved the purchase of a house at 2822 S. Arlington Ridge Road, a .22 acre property adjacent to the Lang Street Community Garden, for $699,000.

The house is described as a “modest, colonial-style home built three-quarters of a century ago,” which was determined to not be historic.

The County plans to tear down the house and use the land to expand the garden, which is currently 1.2 acres and includes 70 garden plots. The expansion will enable the addition of 45 half-size plots.

Arlington has seven community gardens comprising about 300 individual plots. As of now, the wait list for one of these plots has close to 500 names on it.

Photo via arlingtonva.us

by Heather Mongilio — July 22, 2015 at 10:20 am 1,808 0

Walter Tejada

The County Board has given the green light to hiring a new independent auditor, but not before some internal bickering.

The Board approved the recruitment of the auditor with a vote of 4-1 during its recessed meeting Tuesday.

The new independent auditor will work with a new Board-appointed audit committee to review county programs for effectiveness and efficiency, according to the County Board’s charge.

The push for the auditor was led by Board members John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey, with support from Jay Fisette, who is a former auditor himself.

“I don’t think anyone in the community should be afraid of an auditor,” Fisette said. “I’m not a scary guy and auditors typically aren’t if you set it up properly.”

Board Vice Chair Walter Tejada fought against the charge, saying that the push for an auditor indicates a distrust in government. Tejada specifically called out Vihstadt before he was cut off by Board Chair Mary Hynes.

“Madame Chair, I think that I don’t drink the Kool Aid that has been put out there in the community to create, to allege a culture of distrust of government, which is well know as we know by the Republican party to question and to allege mismanagement,” Tejada said.

“So I submit to you, from my perspective, I respectfully think this is a proposal for an expansion of the bureaucracy, it is redundant, it is not needed, it is again to foster a distrust of government and part of the new era in Arlington,” Tejada said. “A timid and stagnant era of distrust.”

Tejada questioned the need for an auditor when the county has received triple triple A bond ratings for the past 14 years.

“I guess I start first with what problem are we trying to solve?” he said.

The County has designated $200,000 for the creation of the new position in its 2016 budget. The new auditor will report directly to the County Board. An existing auditing function within the Dept. of Management and Finance reports to the County Manager.

Vihstadt said that while the county’s bond rating remains high, certain large projects, like Artisphere and the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics center, could use extra review.

“The fact is this county auditor is intended to strengthen and buttress confidence in county government, not undermine it,” Vihstadt said.

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,463 0

Rosslyn sunset and helicopter (Flickt pool photo by John Sonderman)

Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]

Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]

Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Heather Mongilio — July 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm 1,568 0

Planned apartment building and church in Potomac YardA new church is planned for the Potomac Yard area.

The County Board approved a site plan amendment for a new church to go into a planned apartment building at 3001 Jefferson Davis Highway.

The new church — the “Meetinghouse of Worship” — is planned for the first and second floors of the 12-floor residential building. It will be occupy 23,906 square feet of space, with a 300-seat sanctuary, classrooms, administrative offices and a multipurpose room on the first and second floors.

“In the spirit of continuing to work with our property owners on uses that work in buildings, I just want to note that we have approved the location of a church in a commercial building in Potomac Yard,” Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “We think it will be a really interesting addition to what’s going on down there.”

The church will be on the left side of the building, next to 33rd Street. The first floor will have a chapel, multipurpose room and classroom, as well as two bathrooms. There will also be a small retail space next to the chapel. On the right side of the building, the apartment complex will have a lobby and retail space.

Church layout via Arlington County“The proposed religious institutions use would be both complementary to, and compatible with the residential and retail use,” the staff report to the Board said.

On the second floor, the church will have administrative offices and classrooms. The residential units start on the second floor on the right side of the building.

With the new plan for the building, the apartment complex will add 11 more residential units, making the total amount of units 342 instead of 331. The parking lot will also have 532 spots up from the initial 438, to accommodate worshipers.

Of those spots, 167 will be for the church: 142 standard spots, 24 compact spots, two handicap spots and two spots for handicap vans.

As reported by the Washington Business Journal, the site plan amendment was proposed by New York City-based real estate investment firm The Praedium Group LLC. The future building will be located just north of the National Gateway office complex, the future U.S. headquarters of German grocery chain Lidl.


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