79°Partly Cloudy

by ARLnow.com — July 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Fire Station 8 (Courtesy of Arlington County Fire Department)The Arlington County Board is holding a work session this afternoon that will include discussion of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and, along with it, Fire Station 8.

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.

(more…)

by Andrew Ramonas — July 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

Polling place in Arlington (file photo)Arlington election officials are looking to create new precincts, change voting district boundaries and move polling stations for the November election.

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.

by ARLnow.com — July 12, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

The Pentagon (military)The U.S. Department of Defense wants to install equipment around Arlington that could detect explosions and provide valuable data to investigators in the wake of a terror attack.

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.

by ARLnow.com — July 12, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Golden hour in Shirlington

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]

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

2016 Arlington County BoardA mobile art and performance venue may be coming to Arlington.

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.”

by ARLnow.com — July 6, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wilson site plan (image via Arlington County)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.

by Andrew Ramonas — June 22, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Christian Dorsey at Arlington County Board meetingUndocumented immigrants looking for driver’s licenses have found advocates in the Arlington County Board.

The Board yesterday voted 4-0, with one abstention, in favor of a resolution to include its support for undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses among the county’s slate of state legislative priorities next year. Virginia doesn’t allow licenses for undocumented immigrants, but D.C. and Maryland do.

Board Member Christian Dorsey, who supported the legislation, said he doesn’t see any advantage in not allowing all immigrants to obtain a license. He noted that license-holding undocumented immigrants could secure car insurance and commute to jobs more easily, among other benefits.

“We do have a broken federal immigration system that needs to be fixed,” Dorsey said. “But you know what? We also have people who are a byproduct of that system, who are living in Arlington and who want to do the right thing and fully engage in our community.”

Board Member John Vihstadt, who abstained from voting, said he joins his colleagues in supporting immigrants. But Vihstadt said he couldn’t vote in favor of the resolution.

“There may be countervailing concerns, including national security and administrative issues,” Vihstadt said.

Lizzette Arias, interim president for immigrant advocacy group Dreamers of Virginia, said in a statement after the vote that the Board took a “responsible stand” on the matter.

“The undocumented community in Virginia desperately needs access to driver’s licenses,” she said. “For many driving is not a luxurious privilege but a necessity.”

Meanwhile, citing fears among the local immigrant community, the County Board also acted to reassure immigrants of “its commitment as a welcoming community that recognizes, respects and supports the contributions of all of its members.”

From an Arlington County press release:

The Board reaffirmed the long-standing County law enforcement “policy against racial profiling which prohibits our deputies and officers from taking action based solely on that individual’s race, ethnicity or national origin.” And noted that “a person’s right to file a police report, participate in police-community activities, or otherwise benefit from police services is not contingent upon citizenship or immigration status.”

In a statement read by Board Member Katie Cristol, the Board said it was responding to “increased anxiety, fear and panic among our region’s immigrant community,” which the Board attributed to “a number of factors, including federal immigration enforcement actions currently being conducted around the country, as well as the more recent national debate sparked by the 2016 Presidential Election cycle and the United States Supreme Court’s review of the Obama Administration’s Executive Actions on immigration.”

“Arlington County always has and always will be a caring and inclusive community that strives to provide a safe and secure environment where all of our residents have the ability to achieve their potential and live out their dreams,” Cristol said.  “I was disheartened to hear of the concerns in our immigrant community and my colleagues and I wanted to make certain we restated our strong and unequivocal commitment to all of our residents.”

by ARLnow.com — June 22, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Large plush bear outside of Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon

Stratford School Designated Historic — The Arlington County Board has approved a historic designation for the Stratford School, the current home to the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the future home to a new middle school. In 1959, Stratford became the first public school in Virginia to be integrated, with four black seventh graders enrolling, thus marking the beginning of the end of school segregation in the Commonwealth. [Arlington County]

Fox Freed From Fence — A not-so-sly fox had to be freed by an Arlington animal control officer after getting its hind leg stuck in a chain link fence. The fox was uninjured. [Twitter]

Park Expansion, Land Donation Approved — The County Board last night approved the expansion of Benjamin Banneker Park, via the purchase of a 8,487-square-foot lot for $637,500. The Board also accepted the donation of 7,432 square feet of land adjacent to I-66 and a bike trail. Hitt Contracting, Inc. donated the land after figuring out that zoning restrictions prevented the company from developing it. [Arlington County]

Preservationists Worried About Tear-Downs — Local preservationists are worried about plan to tear down a number of older properties in the area of Minor’s Hill and replace them with new homes. However, it appears that the home builders will be able to proceed with their plans, as “Arlington County has no legal authority to delay or stop the demolition.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Long Branch Creek’s First Neighborhood Plan — The Long Branch Creek neighborhood, located near the Glebe Road onramp to I-395, has had its first-ever Neighborhood Conservation Plan approved by the Arlington County Board. The plan will allow the neighborhood to apply for neighborhood improvement projects. It calls for Long Branch Creek to become a “walkable urban village” while “preserving the livability and quiet, diverse character of the neighborhood.” [Arlington County]

Yorktown Student Auditions for Shark Tank — Among those auditioning for the ABC show Shark Tank at a recent casting call at 1776 in Crystal City was a 17-year-old Yorktown High School student, Zanab Farooq, who founded a custom mobile phone case company. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

by Andrew Ramonas — June 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

A 12-story, mixed-use development with a possible grocery store in Ballston received the Arlington County Board’s endorsement over the weekend.

The board Saturday unanimously approved a proposal by developer Saul Centers Inc. to construct the building on the former Rosenthal Mazda dealership site at 750 N. Glebe Road, which is three blocks from the Ballston Metro station. The dealership closed in April, in advance of the redevelopment.

In addition to a possible full-service supermarket, the almost three-acre property is set to have an Enterprise Rent-a-Car location and 491 apartments, 22 of which are slated to meet the county’s threshold for affordable housing. Saul Centers also is expected to earn LEED Gold and Energy Star certifications for the development.

“It will enhance the vibrancy of one of the County’s most successful urban villages, and offer residents easy access to transportation options, lively outdoor cafes, shopping and more,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement after the vote.

But not everyone at the meeting was in support of the project.

Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement and other locals at the meeting said they were worried about a major influx in traffic from a grocery store, among other concerns.

“The traffic generated by the grocery store will not only add to the hazard of walking in the vicinity, but will also add to the gridlock of traffic dumped by a newly constructed lane on I-66, just one block away at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and Glebe Road, which is in the works.”

Images via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com — June 20, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Crystal Car show in Crystal City on Father's Day 2016

Courthouse, Columbia Pike Developments Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a 90-unit condominium building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse. The Board voted 4-1, with John Vihstadt voting against, after hearing objections from residents of the nearby Odyssey condo tower. Also on Saturday, the Board unanimously approved a 105-unit condo building on the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Plans Filed for New Affordable Complex in Rosslyn — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has filed preliminary plans to redevelop the 39-unit Queens Court apartment complex into a new, 12-story, 250-unit affordable apartment building, with underground parking and a 9,000 square foot public park and playground. The redevelopment was included in 2015’s Western Rosslyn Area Plan, or WRAP. [Washington Business Journal]

Woodlawn Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $616,000 contract for improvements to Woodlawn Park in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood. The improvements to the 3.2 acre park includes “replacing the playground equipment, updating the trails and better protecting Lubber Run stream.” [Arlington County]

Couple Gets Engaged at Local Event — A San Antonio, Texas couple got engaged at Friday night’s Wine in the Waterpark event in Crystal City. [Twitter]

Stream Restoration Project OKed — The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a $3.5 million contract to restore the lower portion of the Four Mile Run stream. Work on the project, which has been in the works since 2000, is expected to begin later this summer and may result in some trail detours over the course of a year. [Arlington County]

First Day of Summer Today — Today is the first day of astronomical summer, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. [Capital Weather Gang]

Leadership Arlington to Run Volunteer Arlington — The nonprofit group Leadership Arlington will be taking over the administration of Volunteer Arlington from Arlington County. Leadership Arlington won the contract in a competitive bidding process. Volunteer Arlington is “the County’s clearinghouse for volunteerism, matching volunteers with non-profits and government programs that rely on volunteers in carrying out their work.” [Arlington County]

by Tim Regan — June 17, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

The Arlington County Board will consider planned residential developments in Courthouse and on Columbia Pike this weekend.

The Board will discuss a new residential tower planned in Courthouse and the redevelopment of the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike during its monthly meeting Saturday.

A developer is seeking the Board’s approval the Bush Construction building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd to build a tower with 14 floors of apartments or condos, a rooftop terrace, ground floor retail and five levels of underground parking and storage.

At the Rappahannock Coffee site, developer B.M. Smith seeks a use permit to tear down a trio of buildings at 2330, 2342 and 2406 Columbia Pike and replace them with a six-story mixed-use building with 105 new residential units, 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and a 140-space parking garage.

County staff is recommending approval of both projects. The Board is scheduled to meet at 2100 Clarendon Blvd tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

View from the rooftop of the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City (photo courtesy @rydaka)

Some Developers Are Pessimistic About the Pike — “The mood is not good,” Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization chairman John Murphy said of developers. “Some of them made big investments, big bets based on the county saying we’re going to do the streetcar. They feel betrayed, they’re not happy at all.” [Bisnow]

Board to Buy Bungalow to Bolster Benjamin Banneker — The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected to approve the purchase of a $637,500 property on 17th Street N. in order to expand Benjamin Banneker Park, near the East Falls Church Metro station. [InsideNova]

DCA Flight Path Changes — The Federal Aviation Administration is considering changes to flight paths for planes departing Reagan National Airport, in response to complaints from D.C. residents. Meanwhile, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is organizing a community meeting to discuss “recent changes to departure procedures for aircraft taking off to the south of the airport.” [WTOP, Rep. Don Beyer]

Chaplain at DCA Mourns Son — Rev. Nace Lanier, the chaplain at Reagan National Airport, is mourning the loss of his 10-year-old son to a brain tumor. [Washington Post]

Clarendon Salon Closed Due to Flooding — Casal’s at Clarendon, a salon and day spa, has been closed for a week “due to a water pipe breaking and flooding the salon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Sehkraft Makes ‘Hottest New Bars’ ListSehkraft Brewing in Clarendon is one of the 10 hottest new bars in the D.C. area, according to Zagat, which writes: “This sprawling, pulsating Arlington brewhouse, gastropub, butcher shop, beer garden and live-music venue is powered by the brilliantly colored art on the walls, robust smoked and grilled American fare and curated craft beers.” [Zagat]

Free Smoothies Today — Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which has a location at 3811 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, is celebrating National Flip Flop Day by raising money for charity and giving out some free smoothies. The store will offer free smoothies to customers wearing flip flops from 2-7 p.m. [Tropical Smoothie Cafe]

Photo courtesy @rydaka

by ARLnow.com — June 15, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Sample Virginia driver's licenseThe Arlington County Board is expected to pass a resolution supporting driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants at its Tuesday meeting next week.

The resolution, below, states that there is a safety and economic benefit to issuing provisional driver’s licenses to non-citizens.

The resolution directs the County Manager to include support for such a policy in the county’s slate of state legislative priorities next year. Virginia doesn’t have any such law but D.C. and Maryland do.

WHEREAS, Arlington is an exceptionally diverse county with a substantial immigrant population and strives to be a “diverse and inclusive” community; and

WHEREAS, immigrants without driver’s licenses experience a diminished quality of life affecting their ability to hold a stable job, take care of their families, and fully participate in the county they call home; and

WHEREAS, in recent years, new laws have passed that now offer a driver’s license or a provisional license to immigrant residents of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Washington, D.C., and

WHEREAS, these laws reflect a national and collective understanding that offering driver’s licenses to undocumented residents provides an overall economic benefit to states and improves public safety by enabling authorities to know who is on the roads and to ensure that all drivers are properly insured.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Arlington County Board believes that offering driver’s licenses to the undocumented residents of Virginia would benefit Arlington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia and encourages the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to pass a bill and send it to the Governor for consideration.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Arlington County Board directs the County Manager, or his designee, to include this policy in Arlington County’s proposed 2017 General Assembly Legislative Priorities.

by ARLnow.com — June 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

“Slow and steady.” That’s how the voting in today’s Arlington County Board Democratic primary is being described.

As of noon today, precincts around Arlington had recorded only about a 5 percent turnout. Election officials are expecting an approximately 10 percent overall turnout by the time the polls close at 7 p.m., compared to a 8 percent turnout in last year’s local primary.

By contrast, a whopping 46 percent of Arlington’s registered voters cast ballots in the March 1 presidential primary — 29 percent for Democrats, 17 percent for Republicans.

Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said things have been “pretty smooth” so far today. The biggest problem has been people showing up and asking why the presidential candidates aren’t on the ballot, she said.

Most voters who talked to ARLnow.com said they voted out of a moral obligation, stating that it was their civic duty to get out and vote.

“It’s a civil duty but its almost an obligation and everyone who can vote should vote,” said one voter at a polling station near Clarendon.

Of the voters willing to reveal who they voted for, the majority said they voted for incumbent Libby Garvey, citing as their main motivation her willingness to do things outside of the expected “establishment” Democratic norms.

“I voted for Libby Garvey because I don’t like the idea of ultra orthodox anything, politics or any other realm,” said a voter. “I don’t like the idea that somebody has to adhere to a certain line when they’re presented something.”

Another voter felt that having an independent voice was important.

“One of the reasons that I voted for Libby Garvey is because her own Democratic colleagues… have turned against her because they wanted a unified bloc of voting,” he said. “Since when has unanimity been the goal? You want some sort of discussion and dissent. I think many Democrats were disappointed that the Board does not allow dissent. It’s almost dictatorial in its approach. She didn’t think she had to vote with the entire group of Democrats just because she’s a Democrat and that upset a lot of people.”

One voter interviewed decided to vote for challenger Erik Gutshall, citing his experience and the desire to have a fresh perspective on the County Board.

“I ended up voting for Erik Gutshall. I read all of the propaganda from both of them that came in the mail and he’s been doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about him before a week and a half ago but he seems to be very active on the Lyon Park [civic] association, Planning Commission and all that and I think it would be interesting to give him a shot at it. I had saved all the things I received in the mail including six from Libby Garvey and they all had the same exact four points with one sentence on each. Not much substance.”

Most of the voters were older, although there were some younger people seen at the polls. When asked about the lack of younger voters, one voter shared his opinion on the matter.

“Older people are probably more invested in voting than most young people who are blissfully unaware,” he said.

When asked about the relatively low turnout, voters and staffers gave a number of reasons including the fact that it was a summertime election, the prevalence of absentee ballots and the more local nature of the election. One man using an ATM outside of a polling location was not even aware that there was an election going on at the moment.

Additional reporting by Adrian Cruz. Photos by Omar DeBrew.

by Adrian Cruz — June 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm 0

With the Arlington County Board primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall took to the airwaves in their final debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

The candidates went on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM radio show, The Politics Hour, Friday afternoon.

Some of the topics covered included the capacity crunch in county schools, affordable housing and the ongoing battle with aircraft noise.

The full debate can be viewed above. Here are some highlights:

Garvey on what she wants voters to know about her time serving Arlington 

“I think over the past 20 years I’ve done a pretty good job serving Arlington. Fifteen years on the School Board help make our schools among the best in the country. And in my 4 years on the County Board I’ve done quite a bit to make our government more responsive and more transparent. One of the things we just started to do was video streaming our work sessions. Up until then if you wanted to watch the board actually getting work done at work sessions, you had to sit in the room and that was hard for a lot of people to do.”

Gutshall on why he’s running

“I’m running because I think I’m better qualified to make sure that we are meeting the challenges that we face today with solutions for tomorrow.

We’ve got to make long-term strategic investments. We have a capacity crisis in our school that’s in our sixth year and we still don’t have a plan for getting out in front of rising student enrollment. We have to make sure that we’re making investments in our transportation infrastructure and we’re dragging our feet in moving forward with the capital improvement plan for doing that.

We’ve got a major issue in Arlington County of housing affordability. It’s the issue that’s going to define our time, our day. We are not moving forward in the way that we need to and the way that I believe Arlingtonians want to in order to make sure that the middle class does not get squeezed out of Arlington.”

Garvey on her long-term plan for handling the school issue

“My long-term plan is to be supporting the School Board. I’ve been on the County Board for four years. That’s really the School Board’s job to come forward to us with plans.

I will say that little over a year ago, the School Board came to the County Board asking to build a school on the Thomas Jefferson site. Four of my colleagues unfortunately thought that it needed more of a community process. I was the one vote to go ahead and move forward with that. A year later, the whole board moved to move forward and we lost a whole year in the process. I have always been supportive of moving our schools forward and getting the work done.”

Gutshall on balancing the seat numbers with the growing student population

“I would hope it wouldn’t wait until I took office on January 1 to move forward with the implementation of the Community Facilities Study. Moving forward, what we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re having a conversation with the School Board and we’re going to miss the opportunity on this CIP now. We need to move forward on laying out a comprehensive plan where all seats, elementary, high school, middle school, all neighborhoods, north, south, east and west are accountable.”

Gutshall on housing and development

“What we have here is a problem that’s created by our success. Everybody wants to be here, that’s a good thing. Rising property values, that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on what we can do for the problem and risk of squeezing out the middle class. What I’ve been talking about is what’s called the missing middle: the idea where you have medium density, not the high rise density of our Metro corridors and not the low density in our single family neighborhoods, but in between that, the missing middle for example along Lee Highway and Glebe Road and other major arterials served by transit where right now you might see a lot of old strip malls, used car lots, basically underutilized land.

We can look at our zoning ordinances. We can open up opportunities for developers to come in and create different housing choices for young families just starting out, for seniors who want to age in the community.”

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