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by Chris Teale October 27, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office will take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day tomorrow (Saturday).

In partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, county residents can safely dispose of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Drugs will be collected at the following sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

  • Fire Station 1 (500 S. Glebe Road)
  • Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street)
  • Fire Station 8 (4845 Lee Highway)
  • Fire Station 9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
  • Pentagon parking lot between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street (551 Army Navy Drive)

The DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharp objects. Only pills or patches will be accepted.

More from an ACPD press release:

Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds–more than 4,050 tons–of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines–flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash–both pose potential safety and health hazards.

If residents are unable to participate in this event, please visit the Arlington County website for information on how to prepare unwanted medications for disposal. For additional information about the October 28 Take Back Day Event, please visit the DEA Diversion website.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

by Chris Teale October 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department is celebrating Fire Prevention Week with its second department-wide open house this Saturday (October 14).

All 10 county fire stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and have activities and information on fire safety. Visitors can also climb the trucks, tour the stations and meet crews on duty.

For Fire Prevention Week, which began on Monday, ACFD had the slogan “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” to remind residents to plan a quick escape after their smoke alarm sounds. (Incidentally earlier this week a man nearly died in a house fire in Ashton Heights.)

ACFD had the following advice for homeowners to stay safe in a fire.

  • “Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.”
  • “Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home and practice using different ways out.”
  • “Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.”
  • “Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked on the outside and easy for the fire department to find.”
  • “Close doors behind you as you leave to slow the spread of smoke, heat and flames.”
  • “Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.”

by Chris Teale July 7, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Construction crews have moved in and are well on the way to demolishing the former Wilson School in Rosslyn to make way for the future H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs.

As of Thursday, very few walls from the school at 1601 Wilson Blvd were remaining, with piles of rubble, metal and bricks piling up as workers continue to clear the site. Construction on the new $100 million building is set to start later this year.

The new structure is scheduled to open in fall 2019 and house 775 students across both programs. The Stratford Program will have the majority of the space of the lowest level, while H-B Woodlawn will have classrooms on the first through fifth floors. There will be shared spaces throughout the building, with outdoor terraces allowing open space for recreation and learning.

The site will also be home to a temporary fire station while the current Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn is rebuilt, despite a bout of back-and-forth drama over the plan last summer.

The former Wilson School had been recommended for designation as a historic district, but that request was denied by the Arlington County Board in 2015. Instead, the Board directed Arlington Public Schools to incorporate pieces of the old building into the new school.

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Fairlington at night

Highest Monday Wind Gusts — According to the National Weather Service, the highest wind gusts recorded in Arlington Monday, after the initial squall line came through Sunday night, were between 47 mph in Barcroft and 53 mph in Cherrydale. [National Weather Service]

Arlington Man Arrested for Bank Robbery — A 41-year-old Arlington man was arrested in D.C. Monday and accused of robbing the HSBC Bank at the corner of 14th and I streets NW. Police say the man passed the teller a note claiming to have a bomb, fled on foot with cash but was then detained by a pair of witnesses and held until police arrived. [Washington Post]

County Defends Property Purchase — Arlington County says it did not overpay by spending $800,000 to buy a house, assessed for $519,200, which was needed for the Fire Station No. 8 expansion project. The county says the owner of the home was not anxious to sell and, essentially, making them an offer they couldn’t refuse helped save time and effort compared to trying to use eminent-domain to try to acquire the property at a fair-market value. [InsideNova]

Kudos for Arlington’s Affordable Housing Plan — “Arlington has set ambitious goals to tackle housing affordability, in part by making it easier for developers to build affordable housing in the first place. According to a recent report, Arlington made plans for new affordable units and brought its number of homeless residents down last year even as rents and housing costs went up.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Registration Open for Girls Fire Camp — The Arlington County Fire Department is now taking applications for its 2017 Girls Fire Camp, which “gives teenage girls, ages 15-18, a chance to experience firsthand what it takes to be an Arlington County Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician.” The camp will take place from July 6-9. [Arlington County]

Nearby: No New Taco Bell in Alexandria — A proposed new Taco Bell restaurant on Duke Street in Alexandria, which neighbors worried could bring “late night riff raff” and cause traffic problems, will not be opening after all. The company has withdrawn its plans for the new location. [Washington Business Journal]

by ARLnow.com January 30, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Snow on tree branches 1/30/17

Va. Officials on Immigration Order — President Donald Trump’s executive order barring those from seven Muslim nations from entering the U.S. has caught the ire of Arlington’s Democratic congressional representatives and state officials. Sen. Tim Kaine said that he was “appalled by the cruelty” of the order, Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner have “demanded answers” from the Dept. of Homeland Security, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is “outraged and disappointed,” and Rep. Don Beyer joined four other local congressmen at Dulles International Airport to try to speak to Customs and Border Protection officials who were detaining a number of travelers.

County Board Changes Airbnb Regs — Renters will now no longer be barred by the county from renting their home on Airbnb and other online services. The Arlington County Board approved the change to their recent-passed ordinance unanimously at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]

Bill: No Food = No Liquor — A bill that has passed the Virginia state senate would prohibit restaurants from serving liquor while the kitchen is closed and no longer serving food. The bill clarifies a 1971 law that was intended to do the same but was “interpreted liberally by some.” [Style Weekly]

County Acquires Land for Fire Station Project — The Arlington County Board has approved the $800,000 purchase of a home on N. Culpeper Street for the construction of a new, expanded Fire Station No. 8. The property is the final acquisition necessary to build a temporary fire station for use while the new station is constructed. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com December 14, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Buildings in Rosslyn

County to Buy Houses for Fire Station — The Arlington County Board last night approved the purchase of two houses on N. Culpeper Street for a total of $1.68 million. The houses are needed for the construction of a new Fire Station No. 8. One house will be torn down to make way for a temporary fire station, while the other will serve as quarters for firefighters at the station. [Arlington County]

Boeing to Move Defense HQ to Arlington — Boeing is moving the headquarters of its Defense, Space and Security unit from St. Louis to its existing regional HQ in Crystal City. The move will bring about a dozen top executives and fifty support staff to Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]

County Buying Bus Maintenance Site in Springfield — County Board members unanimously approved the $4.65 million purchase of 2.15 acre industrial site in Springfield, Va., to be used as a future heavy maintenance facility for Arlington Transit buses. After it is built, the facility will replace the current leased ART maintenance facility, located in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

ACPD Distributing Toys for the Holidays — Arlington County Police Department officers have been delivering toys to Arlington Public Schools families in need, after collecting the toys during the department’s Fill the Cruiser drive. [Twitter]

Recycling Center Move Approved — The Four Mile Run Drive self-serve recycling center will soon be moving to the Arlington Trades Center, as expected. The County Board unanimously approved the move at its Tuesday night meeting. “County workers will be better able to monitor recycling at this location, to make sure the site is maintained properly and remains litter-free,” said Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com September 26, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Following a recommendation from county staff, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to locate a temporary fire station next to the future Rosslyn home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.

Fire Station 10 will be temporarily relocated to the corner of N. Quinn Street and 18th Street, not far from the current fire station, which is set to be torn down. The old, stand-alone station will be replaced with a modern fire station at the bottom of a new mixed-use development; developer Penzance will be paying for its construction.

A number of alternative temporary fire station locations were considered but found to be lacking. In approving the location — despite the objections of H-B Woodlawn parents — County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement that the Board made the best choice in a difficult situation.

This was a very tough decision for the Board. And we know that there will be members of the community who are disappointed. I think everyone will agree, however, that we listened to the community’s concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative that would meet the criteria of providing fire protection and emergency medical services to Rosslyn, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We acknowledge that this solution will need to be accompanied by serious efforts to mitigate the impact of the fire station on the Wilson school site and the students who will be learning there. We have always said the redevelopment of Western Rosslyn is complex and difficult, but in the end, it will result in benefits for our entire community. We will have a wonderful new urban school, new, integrated open space, including a park that the developer has agreed to pay for, a fire station that the developer will build, affordable housing and a commercial building.

Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a “coordinated open space plan” for Rosslyn Highlands Park — a plan that will come to full fruition after the temporary fire station is removed to make way for a new field.

According to the plan, the renovated park will include:

  • Multi-use, lighted court for basketball and other sports
  • Sloped green lawns for added tree canopy, picnics, seating and play
  • Lighted, synthetic turf field at Wilson School
  • Planted/permeable field boundary with trees
  • Playgrounds for tots and school age children across the street from the main park
  • Community access to Wilson School indoor amenities including gym, cafeteria and theater

by ARLnow.com September 21, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

County staff's temporary fire station site recommendation

This summer’s back-and-forth drama over the location for a temporary fire station in Rosslyn will culminate in a County Board vote this weekend.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending that the Board stick with the original plan: to build and operate a temporary fire station on the Wilson School site while Fire Station 10 is torn down and a new permanent fire station is built in its place as part of a private redevelopment.

That plan drew criticism from parents of H-B Woodlawn students, who worried that the temporary station would be built on what would otherwise be a field for the school, which will be moving to a new building on the Wilson School site in 2019.

In addition to concerns about the temporary loss of what little open space there is adjacent to the school, concerns were also raised about students being picked up on busy Wilson Blvd while the temporary station is in operation.

Parent outreach prompted county officials to examine alternative locations, but only two other viable alternatives were identified.

One, Rhodeside Green Park, was unpopular with local residents, who started a petition against it that garnered more than 750 signatures. A second, along Lee Highway near the Rosslyn Holiday Inn, was determined by county staff to be too small and challenging from a construction standpoint.

An online poll posted on the county’s website resulted in 420 votes for the Wilson School site. ƒThe Rhodeside Green Park site received 299 votes and the Lee Highway property 113 votes.

“After extensive analysis and additional community outreach, staff confirms its recommendation that the Wilson School site be selected as the location for the temporary fire station,” says a staff report. “While there is no perfect location, the Wilson School site is recommended.”

More excerpts from the staff report, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com August 29, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Runners in Bluemont Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Fairlington Park Forum — Next month the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation will hold a public forum about proposed renovations to Fairlington Park. The forum will take place on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center. [InsideNova]

Fundraising for Italian Earthquake Victims — Shirlington’s Osteria da Nino is raising money for victims of last week’s deadly Italian earthquake. For a limited time the restaurant is donating $10 for every $17 Bucatini Amatriciana dish it sells to the Italian Red Cross. [Facebook]

Fire Station No. 10 Meeting — Where will Rosslyn’s Fire Station No. 10 relocate to on a temporary basis? That controversial question will be the subject of a public meeting next Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Key Elementary. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Lindsay Smith August 3, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Several of the original firefighters of Arlington’s Fire Station 8 were glad to see that the Arlington County Board abandoned a plan to relocate the station, instead voting in favor of rebuilding it on its current site.

Fire Station 8 was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 60s. Those firefighters had to work hard just to keep the station running — due to a lack of county funding, they would hold cookouts to raise funds for equipment.

“The community got together, and they sold dinners, fish dinners, chili dinners, chicken dinners, and… they made enough money to buy all the materials and things for a barracks,” recalled Marguarite Gooden, a local resident.

After working on a volunteer basis for years, Captain Hartman Reed and Firefighter Carl Cooper were two of the first three firefighters at Station 8 to receive pay for their work, starting in the early 1950s. (White Arlington firefighters started receiving salaries about a decade earlier.)

Reed and Cooper still live in Arlington, right behind the fire station. They spoke to ARLnow.com about their thoughts on the station’s relocation.

“I just thought, well, it was very wrong about trying to move it out,” Cooper said. “If anything, they should enlarge it and let it remain here.”

In 2014, the fire chief recommended — based on a 2012 consultant’s report — that Fire Station 8 be moved north of its current location to reduce response times for the northern communities. A county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University seemed like a prime candidate.

Captain Reed found that recommendation a little odd, especially given that there was more population density — and thus, more calls — along Lee Highway.

“I recall when I was in Station 8, how few calls we ran up into that [northern] area, and the difference in the calls we ran,” Reed said. “I don’t think the fire department could prove, even though it was a longer run, that they were needed more in that northern area, then they were in the Lee Highway corridor.”

Reed theorized that one of the underlying reasons for the move may have been a desire to place low income housing on the current fire station site. Cooper said he thought “maybe they wanted to get it away from this community” due to some sort of prejudice.

The recommendation to move the station was met with much resistance from both the historically black community surrounding the station’s current site and the community surrounding the stations’s proposed new location.

Kitty Clark Stevenson, the daughter of Alfred Clark — another one of the first paid firefighters at Station 8 — explained that the community felt they were included in the process only after a top-level decision had already seemingly been made.

“We were not respected as a community by the leadership in this county government, which for us was a violation of the Arlington Way,” she said.

Gooden, who is Captain Reed’s daughter, also found that upsetting.

“The thing that outraged me was… we weren’t engaged in the conversation at all,” she said.

After numerous county meetings and the creation of a task force, the county finally decided against relocating the station. Instead, the existing station will be knocked down and a new, larger Fire Station 8 will be built on its current site, which many in the community describe as historic.

“I was excited to hear that it would… remain where it is,” Cooper said. “Very much elated,” Reed agreed.

Gooden was also pleased that the building was being redone.

“I’m excited about them getting the best, the best technology, the best facility,” she said. “And they will better be able to serve the dynamic, very densely populated Arlington.”

by Adrian Cruz July 28, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Rhodeside Green Park in Rosslyn (photo via Arlington County)More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for the Arlington County Board to take Rhodeside Green Park in Rosslyn off the list of potential locations for a temporary fire station.

As of 10:00 a.m. today, the Change.org petition titled “Save Rhodeside Green Park – No to Fire Station” has 550 signatures, over halfway to its goal of 1,000.

Arlington County originally proposed building the temporary fire station behind the future the H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn, but agreed to consider other locations after parents spoke out against the plan, citing concerns about student safety and the loss of open space.

The petition cites concerns about losing “one of the last green spaces we have” in the neighborhood and calls for the County Board to select an alternate location.

From the petition:

On Saturday, July 16, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to consider the Rhodeside Green Park at the corner of Rhodes Street and Clarendon Blvd. as a location to construct a temporary fire station. This station location would remain in place for at least 3 years while a new fire station is constructed as part of the new school development on Wilson Blvd. next to what is currently Wilson School. The Board plans to take final action at a meeting scheduled for September 24th, 2016. The first time Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights Civic Association (RAFOM) heard Rhodeside Green Park was one of 3-4 possible sites was at the July 16 Board meeting. There was no notification or consultation with the residents of Bromptons Rosslyn Homeowners Association (BARHOA), residents living in apartments and condos near the park, or anyone else impacted. Rhodeside Green was created during development of BARHOA then turned over to Arlington County in 2002 as part of a deal to create green space for our area. We request the Board not stray from the original intent.  Construction of a temporary fire station will displace one of the last green spaces we have in Ft. Myer Heights. We are grateful for the services provided by the Arlington County Fire Department, this in no way diminishes our support and gratitude for what they do for all of us every single day. This petition is about protecting a cherished park that serves as a place for children to play, residents to gather, and for a small part of nature to exist within our over developed neighborhood. We urge the Arlington County Board to remove Rhodeside Green from consideration and select one of the alternate locations under consideration.

Photo Courtesy of Arlington County

by Adrian Cruz July 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm 0

Fire Station 8 (Courtesy of Arlington County Fire Department)The Arlington County Board voted yesterday to approve a plan that would rebuild Fire Station 8 at its current Lee Highway location.

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 vote, based on a recommendation from the board’s Fire Station No. 8 Task Force, marks the likely end to a long and contentious saga over the station’s future.

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.

County Board meeting on July 19, 2016Garvey’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.

by ARLnow.com July 18, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Sunset over Four Mile Run in Shirlington

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]

Two Park Renovations Approved — The County Board unanimously approved $1.65 million in upgrades to Bluemont Park and High View Park over the weekend. [Arlington County]

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]

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 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.

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