The County Board has given the go-ahead to a plan from the U.S. Department of Defense to install equipment around Arlington that could detect explosions and provide forensic data to investigators after an attack.
The board’s members voted unanimously last night to approve a license agreement between the County Board and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to install the equipment on county property.
According to a county staff report, the nature and location of the equipment will be kept secret and exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, a fact that worried ACLU of Virginia’s executive director, Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. Speaking before the board, Gastañaga argued that it was “important that the capabilities of the equipment be public.”
“We don’t think think that… those capabilities of this kind of equipment are any real secret,” she said. Additionally, Gastañaga urged the board to ask the Defense Department to agree not to install listening devices or other active monitoring equipment.
County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac replied that the board has some of the same concerns as the ACLU, and added that its members have had an opportunity to examine the plans to assure “that the nature of the equipment is not the kind of thing that can record audio or visual activities.”
“It is dormant equipment that is only activated when an event occurs and it does not record audio or video,” MacIsaac said. “You can have a high level of confidence that the equipment they’re putting out there is not capable of doing the sorts of things that there is concern about.”
Board member John Vihstadt agreed with McIsaac and said that “the county has a high degree of control over exactly what DTRA is doing and what they’re putting out on county property.”
“I think a big distinction here is that we’re not turning over any part of our county’s infrastructure or geography or territory to DTRA, we’re simply entering into a licensing agreement to deploy the kind of sensors that they have described,” added board member Christian Dorsey. “That gives me great comfort that many of the civil liberties issues that Ms. Gastanaga have brought up are not going to be ongoing issues here.”
Furthermore, board chair Libby Garvey said the county could choose to cancel the agreement if it ever became concerned with the new equipment.
Screenshot via County Board video
The 4-1 decision was made as part of the Board’s deliberation on the adoption of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes the replacement of Fire Station 8.
The sole dissenter in yesterday’s vote was County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who argued that building the station on 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University would serve more residents by reducing the amount of time it would take for the fire department to respond to calls north of Lee Highway.
Garvey’s argument mirrored what supporters of the relocation have said in the plan’s defense.
“Far and away the most important criteria about where we site the fire station is getting as many people as possible that can be reached as quickly as possible in an emergency,” Garvey said. “If we move it further north, we can get more people we can reach in time in an emergency. It really may mean life and death.”
Other board members, such as Christian Dorsey argued that the current location, along busy Lee Highway, better serves the needs of the majority of calls to the fire department than a lower density location like 26th Street.
“It’s pretty clear that we should keep the fire station at its current location in order to meet people where they actually are, recognizing that the greatest number of calls required of our fire and EMS crews is to help people with EMS distress,” Dorsey explained. “It’s a crapshoot. There’s no way we can guarantee what’s going to happen in the future but if I’m going to have to make an allocation based on our best judgment and best data, it’s got to be where people are… versus static residences that are only used for a certain portion of the day.”
Board member John Vihstadt pointed to future development in the area as reasons to keep the fire station at its current location.
“We just approved a large new Ballston corridor development, which is serviced by the station closest to it, Fire Station 2 at George Mason and Wilson Blvd,” he said. “Fire stations south of Fire Station 8 are going to be increasingly called upon to deal with the increased density that is looming in our future.”
Vihstadt also said the location of Virginia Hospital Center played into his decision. “Why would we degrade service for so many to marginally improve service for a much fewer number?” he concluded.
Further planning on the new station will begin next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, according to a press release from Arlington County. While the construction is underway, the fire department will operate from an interim station for two years at a location that has not yet been determined, officials said.
The Board directed the County Manager to determine possible locations and expected costs for the temporary fire station by the end of 2016. The added costs of keeping the station on Lee Highway are expected to total several million dollars.
The new fire station will be ready for operations in spring 2021, according to county officials.
As part of its latest Capital Improvement Plan, the Arlington County Board last night approved a new slate of bond referenda that will appear on the ballot this fall.
The county has proposed four bonds for voters to consider. In total the bonds add up to some $315.8 million.
- Metro and Transportation — $58,785,000
- Local Parks and Recreation — $19,310,000
- Community Infrastructure — $98,850,000
- Arlington Public Schools — $138,830,000
In a board report, county staff detailed the planned use of funds for each bond.
Metro and Transportation:
This proposal will fund a variety of transportation, road, pedestrian enhancement and transit projects across the County. The largest components of this proposal are $30 million for Arlington County’s share of WMATA / Metro’s capital improvement program, and $24 million to fund a portion of the costs for paving local streets and roadways. Proceeds of this proposal will also fund bridge renovation, street lights, transportation systems & traffic signals, as well as the WALKArlington, BikeArlington, Safe Routes to Schools, and Curb & Gutter Missing Links programs. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.
Local Parks and Recreation:
This proposal will fund various parks improvements and enhancements, as well as $3 million for the Land Acquisition and Open Space Program for strategic park acquisitions. This proposal would also fund the Trail Modernization program, design and planning at Jennie Dean Park and construction at Tyrol Hills Park, and maintenance capital improvements such as playground, courts and other parks infrastructure improvements. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.
This proposal will fund a variety of County infrastructure projects. The largest component of this proposal is $46.46 million for the Lubber Run Community Center project. Also included is $12 million of funding for Neighborhood Conservation projects, as well as funding for the Nauck Town Square, planning & design of the Fire Station 8 replacement, renovations & improvements to government facilities in the Court House Complex, renovation of the Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center for additional gymnastics, and a County childcare facility. The Neighborhood Conservation Program provides funding for a variety of neighborhood-identified capital improvement projects including street improvements (sidewalk, curb and gutter, drainage, paving), traffic management and pedestrian enhancements, park improvements, street lighting, recreational facilities, landscaping, and beautification.
It also includes funding of a joint County & Schools parking deck and other improvements at the Thomas Jefferson middle school site due to the construction of a new elementary school, critical systems infrastructure upgrades to 24×7 hour facilities; and facilities maintenance capital improvements, including design and construction of projects including but not limited to roofs, electrical and heating / cooling systems and other facilities infrastructure. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.
Arlington Public Schools:
This proposal will make funds available for the Arlington Public Schools’ capital improvement program. The proposed bonds will fund the following projects:
- The new middle school at the Stratford site ($26,030,000)
- The new school at the Wilson site ($78,400,000)
- Addition and renovation at the Career Center/Arlington Tech ($12,000,000)
- Planning for secondary seats at location(s) to be determined ($10,000,000), and
- Infrastructure capital projects such as HVAC, roofing, etc. ($12,400,000)
The School Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.
The Board also approved its $3.3 billion 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan Tuesday night. A county press release on the plan, after the jump.
Arts Truck, Grants Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved $215,810 in grants to local arts organizations and nearly $70,000 for the purchase and deployment of a new mobile art studio. [Arlington County]
Snow Plowing Policy Change — Starting this winter, Arlington County will plow residential streets at the outset of snowstorms, reversing its previous policy of only focusing on major arterial routes before moving on to residential streets after the snow stops and major roads are clear. [InsideNova]
Ballston Mall Redevelopment Authority Approved — Arlington County is creating its first Community Development Authority. The CDA will be focused on making infrastructure improvements around the future Ballston Quarter mall — the new identity of Ballston Common Mall, which is being renovated. As part of a public-private partnership, the county plans to spend around $55 million to improve local roads, public plazas and the public Ballston parking garage. [Arlington County]
Chamber Supports Aquatics Center Plan — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has penned a letter in support of building a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. “One of Arlington’s main assets is the employee talent pool we have residing in our county,” wrote the Chamber’s president. “The proposed facility will help attract and retain this talent, as well as the businesses looking to employ them.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
A new “pop-up” library is coming to Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with the Crystal City Shops that will allow the county to open the temporary library in a vacant retail space rent-free for at least nine months.
The county will pay nearly $1,900 per month for maintenance and utilities and incur one-time costs of $60,000 for a connection to the county’s fiber optic network and about $113,000 to renovate the space. The funds have already been allocated in the county’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
With the “pop-up” library open, those who live and work in Crystal City will be able to walk to a library without having to cross busy Route 1. The nearest library is the Aurora Hills branch near the Pentagon City mall.
“We chose Crystal City as the first neighborhood to experiment with a pop-up library both because we have found that Route 1, which runs through Crystal City, poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library, and because people in the neighborhood expressed interest in the approach,” Library Director Diane Kresh said in a press release (below).
Taking an innovative approach to meeting patrons where they live and work, Arlington Public Library plans to open a temporary “pop-up” library this September in Crystal City.
Library Director Diane Kresh sees the pop-up facility as a low-cost way to push library services into more neighborhoods and introduce people of all ages to the wide scope of what the County’s public library system has to offer. In addition, the Crystal City pop-up branch is expected to help enliven the Crystal City Shops.
“We chose Crystal City as the first neighborhood to experiment with a pop-up library both because we have found that Route 1, which runs through Crystal City, poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library, and because people in the neighborhood expressed interest in the approach,” Kresh said.
Dubbed “The Connection: Crystal City,” the pop-up will be a compelling location for checking out books, accessing the internet, holding community meetings and attending workshops.
The County Board approved a lease this month with CESC Plaza Limited Partnership for 1,222 sq. ft. of space inside the building located at 2100 Crystal Drive, within Crystal City Shops at 2100, 2117 Crystal Plaza Arcade.
The pop-up library staff will hold community discussions this summer to learn more about what types of services people would like offered within the constraints of space, time and budget, Kresh said.
The County’s nine-month lease may be renewed on a month-to-month basis. One-time funding for the pop-up library was approved in the adopted Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
Although the space is being offered to the County rent-free, the County will pay a monthly fee for its share of common area maintenance expenses, real estate taxes and electricity associated with the shopping center. That share is estimated to be $1,603 a month for maintenance, $176 for real estate taxes and $100 for electricity. The County expects to spend about $113,000 to renovate the space. Kresh notes that many of the features the County will install – carpeting, shelving and furniture – will be reused elsewhere by the County after the lease is terminated. The County also will spend $60,000 to install fiber and conduit to connect the pop-up library to the County fiber optic network, ConnectArlington.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a new 10-year transit plan that provides a vision for “more frequent bus service, more late night and weekend service, better north-south connections, and a new Premium Transit Network along Columbia Pike.”
There’s an asterisk to the Transit Development Plan’s unanimous approval and the subsequent cheery press release, however. Responding to criticism from residents and the county’s own Transportation Commission, the Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to report back next year on possible improvements to the post-streetcar transit plan for Columbia Pike.
The Board’s guidance to Schwartz and county staff:
This generally ambitious and robust Transit Development Plan nevertheless falls short of the urgency and innovation needed to create a transformative transit network serving Columbia Pike and to realize its potential as a thriving and dynamic residential and commercial corridor.
Therefore, in adopting the FY 2017 -FY 2026 Transit Development Plan, the County Board also gives the following guidance to the County Manager and staff:
Look and Customization of Vehicles. The current TDP phases in the most modern version of current vehicles, WMATA buses and ART buses, with no unique features beyond re-skinning the buses on WMATA routes. Recognizing the significant logistical, cost and inter-jurisdictional challenges, please provide to the Board for consideration and analysis, during Q2 2017, the details of a possible path to customized and unique vehicles.
Articulated Buses. In consultation with WMATA, provide a plan by Q2 2017 to add articulated buses to the highest-demand routes on Columbia Pike (on either a pilot or permanent basis). Continue to assess effectiveness of articulated bus service and determine sustained levels of service for these routes through FY2026.
Headways. The current TDP identifies 6-minute peak headways and 12-15 minute off-peak headways for the Metrobus Connector “trunk line.” Please provide to the Board, by Q2 2017, a cost/benefit analysis (to consider efficiency, capacity, ridership impacts) of reducing the off-peak headways and ultimately achieving a 6-minute headway for 18 hours/day.
Coordination with Other Agencies. To effectuate this guidance, the County Manager and staff will coordinate as appropriate and necessary with WMATA and other federal, state, regional and local government agencies and transportation bodies.
Most of the public comments at Saturday’s Board meeting were complimentary of the overall plan, save the plan for the so-called Premium Transit Network. That plan seemed in many ways diminished from the “TSM-2” enhanced bus plan the county and supporters originally said was inferior to its since-cancelled streetcar plan for Columbia Pike.
Among the public speakers at the Board meeting was John Snyder, member of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and a former streetcar booster. Snyder said the plan for Pike transit presented by county staff was inadequate to support growth along the corridor.
We had a debate for several years [about] TSM-2… and the streetcar. TSM-2 won the debate. Now, when I look at the plan, what is written in the plan has disappeared. The whole idea of premium new vehicles that have higher capacity: it’s gone. This wasn’t announced and it wasn’t part of a public process. We found out about it by looking at the Capital Improvement Plan. There’s no money to buy new buses. There’s still money in the plan for the transit stations if they’re maintained at the current level but the buses have disappeared. There’s great things in the Transit Development Plan, what’s in there is great and the consensus is that the county board supports all of it. But the concern is what’s not in there. We don’t see anything that’s going to help businesses with more frequent service on the off-hours. People go out to dinner not during the commuting hour, they go out to dinner after that time and they come back after that time. The idea of six-minute intervals all the time makes it reliable, frequent, easy and simple to use. We have the simplicity, the new 16M line is great in the way that it simplifies many of these different routes but it needs to have that frequency to help our businesses and connect our residents to that so we get out of the car mentality. Seventy percent of the people on the Pike do not use transit even to get to work. The percentage on other sorts of trips is even higher. We need to change that. That’s the whole idea behind the Pike plan and it has been supported by the Board for the last 15 years.
There is no plan to increase capacity. We understand that you’re going to be coordinating with WMATA on how we can get articulated buses. I heard the same thing in 2003 at the first meeting I attended regarding transit on the Pike. WMATA has a lot on its plate. What we need in that regard is a statement that says Arlington will. Arlington will go do this, we will go get the additional buses, we will get the additional facilities needed to maintain them and we’re going to do that by a particular date.
Some were more charitable about the plan as currently conceived.
“These critics failed to appreciate that no amount of service upgrades will defeat car culture,” said perennial County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who’s running as an independent this year. “If state of the art transit technology were the solution, the Silver Line would not be running half-empty in the I-66 median with cars parked on the interstate on either side every day.”
Dennis Leach, Arlington’s Deputy Director of Transportation, said the enhanced transit stations and other amenities included in the Premium Transit Network plan will, in fact, move the needle in terms of making transit a more attractive option along the Pike.
“The premium amenities are proving those high-quality stations with near-level boarding, longer platforms and real-time information,” he said. “These stations are the front door of transit in the corridor. It is shifting this entire corridor to off-vehicle fare collection. We’ve already started work on transit signal priority and we are committed to actually implementing it in the full corridor.”
“We are actively coordinating with Metro to replace the current buses with modern low floor vehicles,” Leach added. “The intent is to implement a unified brand for this premium transit network.”
“I would say this was the most intensive and comprehensive transit update that the county has ever done,” Leach said of the overall transit plan. “I was here for 2011, this effort well exceeded that. We looked at every route and every part of this community to bring these recommendations before you.”
The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.
County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]
Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]
Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]
More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]
Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is set to consider a contract for another round of improvements to High View Park’s neighborhood basketball courts and other recreational areas.
The County Board on Saturday is scheduled to vote on a $1.03 million contract for D.C.-based Bennett Group to make several improvements to the park.
The changes this time are expected to include a new North Dinwiddie Street entrance, picnic shelter, permeable paving and lighting, as well as new trees, irrigated fields, restrooms, storage facilities, bleachers and steps to the basketball courts.
In 2014, the John M. Langston Citizens Association and neighbors of the park collaborated to create a design concept for the second stage of the improvements based on the feedback from online surveys.
The first stage of improvements — which included a new play equipment, picnic areas and a path to the park’s amphitheater — were completed in May 2013.
The Pike Presidents’ Group
sent is sending a letter to Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey yesterday, saying that the county is not delivering on its promise to communities along the Pike to “provide services that are equivalent of the abandoned streetcar plan.”
The letter was drafted in advance of a presentation by county staff on Arlington’s 10-year Transit Development Plan and its plan for a “Premium Transit Network” along the Pike and through Pentagon City and Crystal City.
The county’s plan “does not even come close,” to providing transit service similar to the original streetcar plan, wrote the chair of the group, Adam Henderson.
“We ask that you uphold to your prior statements and instruct staff to honor the commitment to Pike… to achieve the Pike transit system we have all worked diligently to achieve,” said Henderson.
The full letter, which we’re now told was a draft and not the final version, is after the jump.
File photo (above) shows rendering of the since-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar.
Last year, after a proposal to move the station from Lee Highway to county-owned land near Marymount University prompted an outcry from both residents who live near the current station and the proposed location, the county established a task force to consider the issue. With input from the task force, Board is expected to make a decision on the station location by the time it approves the CIP next Tuesday.
Residents near the fire station want it to remain where it is largely because of its historic significance to the community. Those near the proposed site are worried about noise and traffic issues, as well as a loss of green space. A majority of the task force agreed, voting in May to recommend keeping it at its current site.
However, supporters of the move — including fire department officials and County Manager Mark Schwartz — still say that it’s necessary to improve fire and EMS response times in northern Arlington and to modernize the fire station.
Additionally, keeping the station where it is will cost more money: because the land it sits on is smaller than the proposed site, a new station there must be built higher. It would also require the construction of a temporary fire station.
Among those supporting the move is long-time local civic figure and former Fire Station 8 task force member Jim Pebley, who says it’s the right thing to do from both a safety and financial perspective.
Pebley recently wrote the following letter to the County Board.
Dear Ms. Garvey and County Board Members,
This letter is provided to you as my personal input (not representing any extant group) with regard to your considerations about relocating/replacing the County’s current Fire Station Eight facility. As you will recall, I served as the EPAC representative on the Ad Hoc Task Force (TF) that was asked to provide recommendations about the location and building of a new Fire Station Eight. In that capacity, I attended 8 of 10 TF meetings but had to step down to undergo surgery for lung cancer. Now recovering, I find myself personally very strongly in support of the County Manager’s recent recommendation for relocating the fire station.
Residents near Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and in the Lyon Park neighborhood near Clarendon would get new precincts, according to a proposal the Arlington County Electoral Board and elections director have recommended to the County Board. About a half-dozen other adjustments to boundaries and polling stations also would happen under the election officials’ plan.
The voting district near the Pentagon City mall would come out of the Virginia Highlands Precinct, with a polling station at the new Bartlett apartment building (520 12th Street S.).
The precinct in Lyon Park would form from the Lyon Park Precinct, with a polling station at Garfield Park Apartments (925 N. Garfield Street).
The other proposed precinct and polling station changes are online.
The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on whether to hold a public hearing on the revisions in September.
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve the installation of the detection equipment on county property at its meeting this Saturday.
A county staff report, below, notes that the nature and location of the equipment will be kept secret and exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
[The Defense Threat Reduction Agency] is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense and has requested permission from the County to install explosion detection equipment on County property. The equipment is designed to characterize explosions in urban environments. In the event of an intentional detonation, such as a terrorist attack, the information generated by the equipment will be used in the federal government’s efforts to determine who was responsible for, and how to respond to, the event. The information obtained from the equipment will be used to support law enforcement efforts. DTRA has requested that the License Agreement and supporting documentation, such as the type of equipment and the installation location, be exempted from public disclosure pursuant VA Code Section 2.2-3705.2(4) of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]
ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]
Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]
Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]
Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]
The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider the purchase of an “arts truck.” In a staff report, officials said the truck could bring the arts to various locations across the country, partially filling the void left by the closure of the Artisphere in Rosslyn.
“When closing the Artisphere, the County Manager and County Board made a commitment to continue programming for artistic and cultural events, specifically through the use of mobile and periodic programming along major commercial corridors,” says the staff report. “Cultural Affairs staff believes that an Arts Truck that delivers innovative, professionally-curated pop-up style arts events is an excellent mechanism for expanding the reach of arts, entertainment and culture throughout the Arlington community.”
Potential arts truck programming could include:
- “Pop-up visual arts exhibits”
- “Lunchtime mini-concerts”
- “Lounge and learn educational and civic programming”
- “Temporary public art activities”
The truck is expected to cost about $55,000. Another $14,000 is being allocated for one-time costs and “pilot programming.”
Nearly $30,000 of the costs is being provided by donations that were made to Artisphere but never spent. Close to $40,000 is being provided by existing Arlington County arts funds.
“While the Artisphere was in operation, the [Arlington Community Foundation], on behalf of the County, managed a fund dedicated to Artisphere donations,” says the staff report. “Now that the Artisphere has closed, the remaining balance in the fund must be used in a manner consistent with the intent of the fund – to support innovative cultural programming throughout the County. After consulting with both ACF and public stakeholders, Cultural Affairs staff have determined that an Arts Truck providing such cultural programming in the major commercial corridors would broaden the reach of arts in the community and complement existing arts outreach.”
The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program is gearing up to move to a brand new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but a new wrinkle in that plan is worrying parents.
On Friday, Arlington County announced that it was collaborating with Arlington Public Schools on a money-saving plan: a temporary fire station will be placed on the school’s field while developer Penzance constructs two new mixed-use buildings next door, on the county-owned site of the current Fire Station No. 10.
The development will provide a new, permanent fire station and 100 underground parking spaces for the school — when it’s completed in 2022. In the meantime, the temporary fire station will be placed on the field at the corner of N. Quinn and 18th streets, and Arlington County will provide off-site fields and parking for the school.
The county says the plan will save it $20 million and will save Arlington Public Schools $5 million — thanks to Penzance paying for the parking, the new fire station and a new Rosslyn Highlands Park, adjacent to the development.
“We realize that opening the school without a field will inconvenience students and staff,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We chose this site because the parking provided to APS for schools will save a considerable amount of money for the school project, and it is the best location by far for the temporary fire station. We believe that when the project is finally completed, this site will not only be a great new home for H-B and the Stratford Program, but will also provide many, many benefits to our community.”
Members of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee, however, were none too pleased with the idea of opening the school without a field and other factors that could have “an adverse impact on our children.”
In an email to members, the committee urges parents to reach out to County Board and School Board members before each considers approving the plan at their July meetings.
Dear Members of the H-B Woodlawn Community:
Our apologies for sending this message out on the Friday before a three-day weekend, but we thought it was important to bring this issue to your attention as soon as possible.
The School Board and County Board announced today that they are in negotiations to build a temporary fire station on the planned athletic fields at the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, at the Wilson site. This plan is being rushed through with very limited public input and without serious consideration of its impact on students, staff, and visitors, in the name of saving money. A press release regarding this proposal can be found here: Press Release
We strongly urge you to express your opposition to this proposal to members of the County Board ([email protected]) and members of the School Board ([email protected]). Your emails should be addressed to County Board Chair Libby Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, and will be distributed to all members of each respective board, including H-B Woodlawn’s School Board member liaison Reid Goldstein. The County Board plans to vote on this issue on July 16th and the School Board on July 21th.
Here are suggested points to make in your communications with Board members:
- I strongly urge you to oppose the proposed licensing agreement that would allow a temporary fire station to be built on the planned athletic field at the Wilson site.
- H-B Woodlawn and Stratford students’ instruction would be seriously compromised by the elimination of all outdoor physical education classes for three years or more if this proposal went forward. The idea of bussing students to parks almost a mile away is unworkable, as the entire class period would be spent loading and unloading busses and driving back and forth.
- The safety of HB Woodlawn and Stratford students, as well as staff and visitors, would be put at risk as the planned covered drop off and pick up entrance would be obstructed by an active fire station. There has been no analysis of the transportation impact of this major change that will result in students being dropped off and picked up on Wilson Blvd., an idea the stakeholder representatives serving on the Wilson project design committee and APS already rejected.
- There has been no public input to this last minute, backroom deal with a private developer. Indeed, the APS School Board is considering this significant change to the new building without even asking the architects for revised schematics to understand the impact on the building design, without knowing what the temporary fire station would look like or how its colocation could impact instruction, and without a new traffic analysis to determine the safest and most efficient ways for bus, auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency traffic to flow on and/or around the new campus.
- The County should relocate the temporary fire station to another location that doesn’t have such an adverse impact on our children.
We will keep you informed as we gather more information about this proposal and its potential impact.