Big changes are on the horizon for Arlington’s Lee Highway corridor, but not before an extensive public planning process.
After at least two years of public outreach and planning, which led to a final “visioning study” report earlier this year, Arlington County is planning to kick off another year of discussion with a pair of open houses tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 29).
The daytime open house is scheduled from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Lyon Village Community House (1920 N. Highland Street) while the evening open house is set from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Community and Senior Center (5722 Lee Highway).
“The County is preparing to kick-off a community planning process for Lee Highway in 2017,” says a county-produced flyer. “Drop in at one of the upcoming Open House events to learn more about the project scope and share your thoughts on expectations, participation opportunities, boundaries and more. The same information will be shared at both events.”
The 2017 planning process will be “building on recent visioning work by the Lee Highway community” and will take “a closer look at the long-term goals for this important corridor and its surrounding areas.”
From the county’s Lee Highway Planning website:
The vision, a culmination of a seven-month study, illustrates the best of the community’s ideas and proposes key ingredients for the future of this important east-west corridor. This vision calls for Lee Highway to become a walkable, urban main street with a string of neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, along with new transportation options, better public spaces and more.
The visioning document is not an adopted plan, but rather a compilation of ideas that provide a framework for the formal County planning process that will kick off in 2017.
As reported by ARLnow earlier this year:
[The visioning document] outlines a sweeping vision for the corridor, which currently is a primarily car-oriented mish-mash of strip malls, aging apartment buildings and other assorted low-density businesses and infrastructure.
The plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”
New apartment buildings, townhouses and retail hubs would be encouraged to spring up. New parks and bus service would be added. Building heights up to 12 stories are discussed, though 3-6 stories would be more common; the taller buildings would be along Lee Highway itself and “sensitive transitions to single family neighborhoods” would be emphasized.
In an online poll, 57 percent of nearly 1,200 respondents said they “like the plan” and would like to see “more businesses, parks, housing and amenities” along Lee Highway.
The Williamsburg Field Site Evaluation Workgroup, the citizen body charged with weighing in on the thorny issue of whether an athletic field near Williamsburg Middle School should have lights, is set to have its 21st meeting tonight (Wednesday).
The workgroup is preparing to write its draft report, which will be presented to county commissions next month and reviewed with the Arlington County Board in January before a final set of recommendations is presented to the Board in February.
Earlier this month the workgroup held an open house at which those on both sides — for and against lighting the artificial turf field — presented their case. ARLnow.com spoke to a number of people at the meeting.
“I’m for the fields,” said Chris Smith, a nearby resident. “I think it’s fantastic that we have the resources that we do in Arlington, and the utility of the turf fields is only expanded by having them lit at different times during the day. It gives us more time on the fields, particularly give the children more time on the fields, as the days get shorter, through the winter and I think that’s only a good thing.”
“I’m probably one of the four or five houses that are closest… whatever the effects could be I would probably feel them as much as anybody else,” Smith added. “But as a member of the local youth sports community and as a father of three children, two of whom are at Discovery [Elementary], I think it’s a better investment with the lights there.”
A number of supporters said their kids play soccer and having a lighted field closer to home — currently they must travel to Gunston Middle School or Long Bridge Part to play at night — would benefit far more residents than the lights would, potentially, negatively affect.
Opponents, however, said in their presentation that the area around the field is a “historically dark and quiet neighborhood” and lighting the field would be a slippery slope leading, perhaps, to turning “all of Arlington County into a big city with big-city traffic, noise and lights.”
“I live close to the field, my kids went to this school and we already lived through building Discovery school, the elementary school, which has been fine, actually,” said a lighting opponent who did not give her name. “But this will have games going at night, I don’t know how many nights a week, late at night. They already have games it seems, a lot, all day, all weekend. It seems like it’s just too much for the neighborhood and the lights will disturb everybody’s sleep and rest and just the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.”
“I just don’t think you have to play soccer 24/7,” the lighting opponent continued. “You know, enough is enough.”
County Board member Christian Dorsey attended the open house and said the lengthy community process — which started in September 2013 — is intended to give all residents plenty of opportunity to shape the county’s ultimate decision.
“We put together a workgroup because this is not an easy issue to decide or deliberate about,” Dorsey said. “The Board wanted to make sure we gave individuals from communities, affected communities who are also part of interest groups to really go deep into the issues so that they could give us all the perspectives that we needed to make a decision. So, this is kind of a — not the culmination — but it’s nearing the end of their work and this is really a useful way to take what they’ve learned and share it with the wider public.”
“We need to make an informed decision,” Dorsey concluded, “which is what I look forward to.”
The church, at 4444 Arlington Blvd, is holding a discussion entitled “Islamophobia: Replacing Fears with Facts.” The event is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
From a press release:
The Committee for Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine (CPJIP) of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington is hosting a talk entitled: Islamophobia: Replacing Fears with Facts, presented by Ms. Meira Neggaz, Executive Director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), in Washington, D.C.
Neggaz will present ISPU’s groundbreaking research on Islamophobia and will lead a discussion of what each of us can do to combat discrimination against historically marginalized groups, including American Muslims.
The talk is open to the public. Congregants from the Moroccan American Muslim community and neighboring Christian and Jewish congregations are expected to attend.
Three years, 18 working group meetings and 886 pages of posted documents later, the county is nearing the final stretch of a public process to decide whether to add lights to the athletic fields at Williamsburg Middle School.
The Williamsburg Field Evaluation Work Group will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to discuss the process and gather more community input before drafting a report for the County Board.
“Come see what was learned, ask questions and share your input,” said a description of the meeting, which will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the middle school (3600 N. Harrison Street).
Controversy over whether new synthetic turf fields should be lighted — which pitted soccer parents against a group of residents who live near the school — prompted the Board to call for the creation of a working group. The group’s charge was finally approved, after a bit of additional intrigue, in 2015.
The 15-member group was tasked “to lead a robust community process to evaluate whether or
not to light the Williamsburg synthetic fields.” At issue: whether resident concerns about excessive light, noise and traffic at night outweigh the county’s usual policy of lighting synthetic fields to maximize use (primarily for youth sports) and return on investment.
Earlier this year the timeline for the working group was pushed back: it’s now expected to prepare a draft report in November and finalize its recommendations in January. The County Board is then expected to consider the group’s recommendations at its February meeting.
Image via Google Maps
Bluemont Park Meeting — Arlington County is hosting a community meeting tonight about a suddenly controversial plan, approved earlier this year, to build a fenced-in baseball field in Bluemont Park. The county says it will “listen to community concerns and suggestions and share next steps.” Those next steps likely include building the field largely as planned: a temporary construction fence has already been placed around the site. [Arlington County]
More Details on Police Chase — Montgomery County Police last night released additional details about the police chase that started with a carjacking in Silver Spring and ended with a crash on Lee Highway in Arlington. Police say the suspect, 41-year-old Anthony Shade, stole the Toyota RAV4 from a gas station while its owner was filling up. He’s facing charges in Arlington and Montgomery counties. [Montgomery County Police]
Virginia Has Best Electoral Representation — Demographically, compared to all other U.S. states, Virginia’s voters most closely represent the overall population of the state, according to a new study. [WalletHub]
The FAA wants to shift the northbound flight path for planes taking off from Reagan National Airport directly over Rosslyn, a change that many residents expressed skepticism about during a public meeting last night at Washington-Lee High School.
“What we’re asking people to look at is a new proposed route that is an effort to relieve noise in the Foxhall Village section of [D.C.] and put planes more over the middle of the river,” said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. Residents of Northwest D.C. have been complaining about airplane noise for some time now, culminating in a letter to the FAA from D.C.’s attorney general earlier this year.
But the new proposed flight path could result in more noise for parts of Arlington, particularly the Rosslyn, Courthouse and North Highlands neighborhoods. (The new flight path would slightly shift planes away from some far northern Arlington communities.)
Some residents questioned why Arlington should be subject to more noise so that D.C. residents could have more peace and quiet.
“The problem with downtown airports is that they’re convenient and they’re noisy,” said Arlington resident and retired Naval aviator Jim Pebley. “You can have one, but you can’t have it without the other. The best we can do is distribute the noise equally between the District and us.”
Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol and John Vihstadt were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. Garvey on Monday wrote a letter to the FAA asking why data shows aircraft noise increasing in Arlington over the past couple of years. The letter asks the FAA to be more responsive to concerns from residents and localities about aircraft noise; it also asks the agency to propose alternatives for reducing noise.
“Arlington County firmly believes that improvements for both those on the ground and the flying public are possible and necessary,” the letter says. However, “it does not seem reasonable to the County that local communities, who are not experts on the needs, constraints and opportunities with regards to aviation, should be tasked with solving this problem.”
Another issue raised at the meeting: the safety implications of having jetliners flying even closer to Rosslyn’s tall buildings. The recently-released film ‘Sully,’ which recounted the Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549 after striking a flock of geese on takeoff, was brought up.
“I’m worried about what this is going to do for a single engine out operation over Rosslyn,” Pebley said. “I ran the calculations. If you take off on a warm summer day and climbed up the best you could, you might make it a couple hundred feet over the tallest building there. That’s really scary.”
The FAA will be holding two additional public meetings — in Georgetown tonight and Bethesda tomorrow — and will weigh public feedback at each of the three meetings, Brown said. A final decision on the flight path could be make as early as January 2017.
One expected hot topic of conversation: whether parking for the school should be partially above ground or completely below ground.
From an APS email about the meeting:
APS wants to hear your input and questions related to the New Elementary School at the Jefferson Site. Planning is currently in the schematic design phase and a proposed design is expected to be submitted to the School Board in October. On September 13, 2016 APS will host a Community Forum beginning at 7 PM in the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Library. The purpose of the event is to inform the community of the planning progress made so far and to hear feedback from community members. The event will be an Open House format with materials on presentation boards. APS staff and consultants will be available to answer questions. Participates are welcome to come and go as they please.
Originally a number of community members fought against a new elementary school on the TJ site, but they only succeeded in delaying the project for a year before the County Board voted to approve it in December.
Permanent Bathrooms Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — Congress has approved a bill to add permanent bathrooms to the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. The bathrooms will replace the current porta-potties and will be accessible to those with disabilities, including wounded veterans. The cost of the project will be paid for by philanthropist David Rubenstein. [WUSA 9]
Arlington 9/11 5K Registration Closing — Online registration for the 15th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K is closing at 10 a.m. this morning. The race will take place Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. [Zippyreg]
Remembering 9/11 in Arlington — Arlington County is holding events in remembrance of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Tomorrow, Sept. 8, the county’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission is holding a public event reflecting on the response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, moderated by NBC 4’s Doug Kammerer. On Sept. 11 this year, the county will hold its annual wreath-laying ceremony at Courthouse Plaza. [Arlington County]
Police Car Involved in Crash — An Arlington County Police cruiser and an SUV collided yesterday afternoon while the police officer was responding to a call. The crash happened near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive, roughly between Shirlington and Wakefield High School. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Arlington Not a ‘Sanctuary City’ — Does GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on “sanctuary cities” put Arlington in danger? Probably not, county officials say, because Arlington is not a sanctuary city. “It is, and has always been, Arlington County’s policy to comply with requests from all other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the county said. [NBC 4]
Photo courtesy James Mahony
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
Locals will get a chance to learn more about the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola project in two weeks.
A public information meeting is being held at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre (1611 N. Kent Street) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7.
There will be a presentation by ZGF Architects, the firm conducting the gondola’s feasibility study. There will also be a question and answer session after the presentation.
“Learn the basics about a gondola-based transit system and how they have been applied in other jurisdictions,” says the event’s webpage. “The scope of the current feasibility study will also be reviewed for the public”
Free parking is available after 6 p.m. in the building garage and the theater is two blocks away from the Rosslyn Metro station. Attendees can RSVP here.
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation says it wants to hear from residents about its plan to widen part of I-66.
The plan calls for an extra lane to be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
VDOT is inviting feedback at a public meeting in Arlington on Monday, May 9. That meeting is being held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street).
A second meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church.
The public meetings will feature “stations” with informative display boards staffed by knowledgeable project team members where attendees can learn and ask questions about the widening project. Both meetings will also include a presentation addressing items such as the purpose of the widening project and the associated Environmental Assessment, as well as the preliminary project schedule and design concepts.
Previous public meetings focused on tolling and multimodal aspects of the I-66 Inside the Beltway Project, which will not be an emphasis of next week’s meetings.
Residents Supportive of Cemetery Expansion Plan — The military held a meeting yesterday to reveal preliminary plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike. Local residents were generally supportive of the plan and the need to expand the cemetery. [Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — The Sunrise senior living community in Arlington has celebrated the 100th birthday of a resident, Kathleen Hanawalt. Hanawalt celebrated the event with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Hanawalt’s husband died in 1969. [InsideNova]
Endorsements for Gutshall, Talento — Arlington County Board challenger Erik Gutshall has picked up a trio of endorsements from state lawmakers. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rip Sullivan have endorsed Gutshall in his primary challenge against County Board Chair Libby Garvey. Meanwhile, School Board candidate Tannia Talento has received the endorsement of School Board member Reid Goldstein. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]
Sexual Assault Awareness Event at the Pentagon — All branches of the military were represented at a recent event to raise awareness of and combat sexual assault in the military. “Walk-a-Lap for a Survivor” was held in the Pentagon courtyard on April 20. Also participating in the event were members of Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families. [Pentagram]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The forum is being held at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) from 7-9 p.m. and will be moderated by WJLA reporter Jennifer Donelan.
The police department says the forum is intended to focus “on the community’s trust and confidence in Arlington’s criminal justice agencies.”
“Safe communities are built on strong relationships among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” the police department said. The event will feature a panel discussion, followed by an open question and answer session with audience members.
“This is the public’s opportunity to ask local officials and community activists about issues affecting Arlington County and to learn how we can work together to maintain a safe community,” said police.
Panel members include Arlington police chief Jay Farr, Sheriff Beth Arthur, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, public defender Matthew Foley, local NAACP vice president Julius Spain and community activist Andres Tobar.
At an ACPD community forum in 2014, activists called for the hiring of more Latino police officers, while a couple vocal residents decried alleged police profiling and harassment. One of the attendees who spoke out against police profiling was arrested a week later for stripping naked and doing pushups in the middle of the street in Nauck.
Spanish translators will be available at the event, according to ACPD.
VDOT Holds HOT Lane Meeting — Last night VDOT gave the first formal public presentation of its plan to expand the I-395 HOV lanes and convert them to High Occupancy Toll lanes. The meeting was held at Wakefield High School and addressed issues from toll pricing to transit improvements to sound walls. [WTOP, Fox 5]
Bike-on-Bike Crashes Problematic for the Law — A new article asserts that Arlington County Police normally do not file reports for bike-on-bike crashes. “This is a bike accident. Life happens,” an officer reportedly told a victim after one recent incident. Incomplete or nonexistent police reports have frustrated victims and attorneys seeking legal redress — and led to the hiring of private investigators who try to gather evidence and find witnesses. [Washingtonian]
Disability Advocates Protest in Arlington — Disability rights advocates made their frustrations personal yesterday by protesting in front of the Arlington home of Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division. [Disability Scoop]
Proposal: Allow Older Cabs in Arlington — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to consider a policy change that would allow older cabs on the road, among other changes. Currently, cabs entering service may be no older than two years old and then must be retired after reaching seven years old or 350,000 miles. Recognizing advances in vehicle reliability, the new policy would do away with the two year provision and set the maximum age of cabs at 10 years old. [Arlington County]
Free Donuts for Lawyers Today — It’s Be Kind to Lawyers Day and to mark the occasion Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike is offering a free “house donut” to lawyers today. Sugar Shack is also beginning a promotion that will give select customers free donuts to distribute to their favorite local teachers. “To participate, folks just need to use the hashtag #Treats4Teach to tell us on Facebook or Twitter why they should be picked to deliver donuts to their local school teachers and to which school,” said a press release.
Nice Weather at Last — After this morning’s rain, expect clearing skies and pleasant weather that should stretch into next week. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
VDOT is holding a community meeting next week to discuss plans to extend the I-395 Express Lanes north through Arlington.
The meeting is being held at Wakefield High School’s cafeteria (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11.
The project will extend the 395 Express Lanes ” for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington,” according to VDOT.
“The improvements primarily will be built within the existing footprint of the I-395 HOV lanes,” the agency said on its website. “The two existing HOV lanes (or High Occupancy Toll) lanes will be converted to express lanes and a third lane will be added, providing three reversible express lanes.”
Among the promised benefits of the project, besides the additional lane and faster travel for single-occupant drivers willing to pay a toll, are:
- “An active traffic management system to keep traffic moving”
- “Sound walls for nearby neighborhoods”
- “Improving connections between the I-395 Express Lanes and Eads Street”
- “Providing dedicated annual funding for transit”
Following a multimodal study and a public hearing this fall, construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2017 and wrap up by the summer of 2019.