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by Chris Teale August 18, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

A $13.8 million plan to move Arlington Public Schools’ offices from the Education Center to prepare for its use as a high school is set to begin later this year.

The Education Center, which houses various APS offices as well as the Arlington School Board’s meeting rooms, will be used as part of a “hybrid option” alongside the Career Center to add 1,300 high school seats for APS. The Education Center is adjacent to Washington-Lee High School.

APS’ offices are set to relocate to Sequoia Plaza Two at 2100 Washington Blvd, which already houses the School Health Bureau that provides health programs and services, as well as the Parent-Infant Education and Environmental Health programs.

Separately, the county’s Department of Human Services consolidated more than 80,000 square feet of facilities into three buildings at its headquarters at Sequoia Plaza in 2014.

As part of a plan approved last December, the School Board agreed to amend its lease at the property and add just under 80,000 square feet of new office space. In May, the Board approved a design for the office space, which will be spread across four floors.

At its meeting Thursday, August 17, the School Board advanced a construction contract for Sequoia Plaza Two, and will vote to approve the contract as an action item at its September meeting.

Under a timeline presented by APS staff, construction would begin in September and take until April 2018. The first phase of moving would begin in December, with the second phase to begin in April once construction is complete.

Jeff Chambers, APS’s director of design and construction, said that first moving phase would be to move APS staff already based at the building elsewhere to accommodate construction. Chambers said the project will not require any more funding than the $13.8 million already budgeted.

by Chris Teale August 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm 0

(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Arlington School Board chair Barbara Kanninen announced Thursday (August 17) it will revisit all school names in the county with a view to possibly changing some, including Washington-Lee High School.

Kanninen’s announcement came after the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, and a new petition for Arlington Public Schools to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, named in part for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The petition already has more than 200 signatures.

Though there has been talk of removing Lee’s name previously, the current backlash against Confederate symbolism has put the idea on center stage. Speakers at Thursday’s meeting and a letter to the editor published earlier in the day called for changing the school’s name, which has been its moniker since it opened in 1925.

The Board is going to be naming new schools at the Wilson, Stratford, Education Center and Career Center sites, and with that in mind, Kanninen said the time is right to look again at who schools are named after.

“Given all this, it is simply clear to us as a Board that now is the time,” Kanninen said. “It’s time to talk about the names of our schools, and what they mean and why they matter. It is time to talk about the values these names reflect and the messages we are sending our children.”

Kanninen said there will be extensive community input when discussing school names, and the process will include a “wide range of voices.” She said the Board will look to establish a naming criteria for schools that “reflects our values,” which will ensure debate is “focused on facts, not opinions.”

“We are committed to this community conversation, but it will take time and resources to get it right,” Kanninen said. “As the governing body of our school system, we have to be careful and deliberate.”

During the Board’s public comment period at the same meeting, numerous speakers showed support for changing the name of Washington-Lee, given Lee’s history with the Confederacy. Of the dozen speakers to testify, the majority expressed support for a name change.

“Today, Lee remains a potent symbol of hate, as witnessed by the events in Charlottesville,” local resident Ryan Sims said. “[It] is time for Arlington Public Schools to acknowledge its history, change the name and move on.”

“We must build on the momentum of the current crisis and use this as a teaching moment in Arlington Public Schools,” said Marc Beallor of the group Indivisible Arlington.

Not everyone who testified spoke in favor of changing the high school’s name, however. Mila Albertson, president of the Washington-Lee Alumni Association, said changing the name could set a precedent that could lead to changing numerous names and flags throughout Virginia. She said that precedent could include changing the name of the capital city of Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America, or renaming Virginia.

Instead, Albertson said, the school has gained a reputation for producing tens of thousands of graduates who have led productive lives.

“The name Washington-Lee is exalted because of its graduates, not because of the two [people] it is named for,” Albertson said.

Local resident and “unofficial W-L historian” John Peck urged caution and urged residents to learn more about Lee’s history, especially after the Civil War.

In a rarity for School Board meetings, two members spoke after the public comment period — urging patience for those who wish to change the name quickly. James Lander, the Board’s only black member, said it is important that community members continue to focus on students who face discrimination every day.

“I just don’t want us to take our eye off the ball and the children who are looking to us for examples,” Lander said.

Board colleague Reid Goldstein promised a robust process involving a wide range of opinions and community members, and no “knee-jerk” decisions.

“It’s very, very important that we do this right, or we’re going to keep doing this over and over again,” Goldstein said.

by ARLnow.com August 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by writer and Washington-Lee High School graduate Waleed Shahid, who has started an online petition to push for removing Robert E. Lee’s name from the school.

Activists are also expected to call for Lee’s name to be removed from W-L at tonight’s Arlington School Board meeting, in the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, sources tell ARLnow.com.

When I was a student at Washington-Lee, I clearly remember being taught in history class that Robert E. Lee “did not fight for slavery; he fought for Virginia.” I didn’t make much of it until I left Virginia for college. Many of my classmates thought it was strange that I went to a school named after the leader of the Confederate Army and that there was a highway that ran through my hometown honoring Jefferson Davis. These were racist slave-owners who rebelled against the American government and Abraham Lincoln, they told me. I shrugged and didn’t make it much of it.

But over the past few years — and particularly over the past week — many Americans have been beginning a conversation about our nation’s living wounds. It’s clear that too many are ignorant of our country’s history. And this past week has shown that a small minority of white nationalists are increasingly comfortable with publicly stirring up the worst aspects in American society by pitting Americans against each other.

To these white nationalists, Robert E. Lee represents their deep commitment to racial hierarchy. When three of his slaves escaped, Lee whipped them and had their backs washed with stinging brine. Lee ordered his Confederate soldiers to respect white property, but declared that any black people they encountered — regardless of their previous ‘status’ — were to be seized and returned to the South to be sold into slavery. At the Battle of the Crater, Lee’s Army even killed black prisoners of war. This is the history we honor when we name our school after Robert E. Lee — and why white nationalists felt so threatened by the removal of his statue in Charlottesville.

We must understand the stakes too. Arlington Public Schools should not shy away from taking a clear stand on this issue. It’s up to our civic leaders and institutions to take steps toward reconciling and repairing our nation’s living wounds where we can make a difference. Washington-Lee High School should be renamed so that we can move toward creating a school, county and country that truly belongs to all who call it home. If the President of the United States is unwilling to provide the leadership our country needs, then we need to provide it ourselves.

America was founded upon a revolutionary promise: freedom and justice for all. But, the revolutionary promise of America has never been fulfilled. We, the people has never included all of us. The story of our nation has always been a struggle over who America belongs to: the chosen few, or all of us? This is what is at stake when we honor the leaders of the Confederacy. Which side of that struggle will we honor? Germans don’t honor Nazi soldiers; South Africans don’t honor those who held up Apartheid. But Americans still honor Robert E. Lee and countless other Confederates who raised up a new flag and started a rebellion against the United States of America. Why?

It’s time Arlington honor those who fought tirelessly to create an America for all of us. As an alum of Washington-Lee High School, I urge you to consider re-naming our school Washington-Douglass or Washington-Tubman High School. As a Muslim-American who grew up in Arlington, continuing to have my alma mater named after Robert E. Lee is like seeing a Confederate Flag being constantly waved in my face. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing that we are honoring a man who fought to shackle and chain other human beings.

In many ways, Washington-Lee is a microcosm of America. My alma mater — just like my country — is still working to perfect our experiment in constructing a vibrant multi-racial democracy. This past week has been a reminder that some still hope to thwart our collective project and take us back to darker times. But by committing to change the name of Washington-Lee High School, we can take concrete steps toward living up to our best traditions and creating a nation where we all feel like we belong and where “We, the People” includes all of us. This is our historic responsibility as Americans in this moment in our history.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A plan to host a polling place at a condo building in Crystal City has been nixed, but elections officials said they are confident of finding a new location before November.

County staff had planned to move the polling station for the Crystal City 006 Precinct to the Crystal Gateway condo building at 1300 Crystal Drive from Crystal Place (1801 Crystal Drive) in time for November’s elections.

But a staff report on various changes to voting locations ahead of the elections said the Crystal Gateway “no longer wishes” to host a polling place. Likewise, the report notes that Crystal Place “no longer wished” to do the same.

Arlingtonians will go to the polls to elect a Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and local members of the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as representatives on the Arlington County Board and School Board.

Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s deputy director of elections, said the building “did not provide any information on why they would not like to be a polling place.” Crystal Gateway’s property manager and a spokesman for Equity Apartments, which owns both the Crystal Gateway and Crystal Place, did not return calls requesting comment.

Reinemeyer said staff is “in the process” of finding a new polling place for the precinct, and they are “optimistic that we will have a new location soon.” She said that when looking for new polling places, staff try and find county-owned buildings in the precinct first before assessing other options.

“If there is not a suitable county facility available, we look at other buildings used by the community that have a ground level meeting room such as churches or community rooms in apartment or condo buildings,” she said. “Once we find a location that we think will work, we begin negotiating with the management of the space.”

The County Board will vote on the proposed voting changes at its meeting Saturday (July 15). Also on the table is a change for the Rosslyn Precinct to move its voting place to the 1800 Oak Apartments from the soon-to-be-redeveloped Fire Station 10, and a technical change for the Virginia Highlands Precinct to reflect that votes are cast at the recently reopened Aurora Hills Community Center.

Photo via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com July 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Seeking Cash for EFC Upgrades — Arlington County is seeking $30 million in congestion relief funds from the future I-66 toll lanes to help fund some upgrades at the East Falls Church Metro station. Among the hoped-f0r changes: a second entrance to the station, from Washington Boulevard, and the addition of two new bus bays. [InsideNova]

New School Board Leadership — Barbara Kanninen has been elected by her colleagues as chair of the Arlington School Board for the 2017-2018 school year. Reid Goldstein was selected as vice chair. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 24-year-old Arlington man was arrested in Arlington last week and charged in connection with a 2016 homicide in Waldorf, Maryland. Authorities say Bryan Aquice was the second shooter in the case; he is one of four in custody for the crime. [NBC WashingtonSouthern Maryland News Net]

High School Football Schedules — Fall high school football schedules for Wakefield, Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Bishop O’Connell have been released. [InsideNova]

Straddling Bus Was a Scam — That traffic-straddling bus that some locals were fascinated by last year as a possible futuristic transit solution? It was apparently an investment scam. [BBC]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Chris Teale June 30, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will add 1,300 high school seats across the Education Center and the Career Center after the School Board approved the so-called “hybrid option” at its meeting Thursday.

The option, put forward by Superintendent Patrick Murphy last month, would add 500-600 seats to a renovated Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) by 2022, then add another 700-800 at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive), which would get a renovation and an addition. The County Board denied a request to designate the Education Center as a historic district last month.

Murphy’s proposal had not been among the original short list of three finalists for the new high school site, but Board members said it would balance the need for more seats with limited building space, and make use of what already exists.

“We cannot allow this Ed Center site to lie fallow,” said Board member Reid Goldstein. “We go to the County Board every year and we tell them we need more: we need more money; we need more land. I’m a taxpayer too. We cannot have a site that could hold students going unused.”

By December, Murphy must also provide a list of recommendations for the Education Center, including its cost, any boundary changes needed and educational programming. He must make similar recommendations for the Career Center no later than May 2018.

In addition to their vote in favor of the plan, Board members directed Murphy to include options for a fourth comprehensive high school, including programming, cost and location, in APS’ 2019-2028 capital budget. Arlington currently has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Wakefield and Yorktown.

“It’s not a blank slate,” said Board chair Nancy Van Doren. “We have eight points we want answers to, we have a finite amount of money and we have a vision that says we’re going to need to potentially add onto those and make them into something even greater going forward. So we want to leave our options open, and one thing I think we’ve learned to do is not create buildings that aren’t flexible.”

The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with James Lander the lone dissenting vote. He said the plan was not the best use of the space at the Career Center, had safety concerns around traffic on S. Walter Reed Drive and worries about locating high school students close to Patrick Henry Elementary School.

“If you know someone with 40 acres in Arlington who is willing to sell to the school system, I would be happy to negotiate that,” Lander said. “Until then, we have to utilize the space effectively that we have now, and we have to think about what our needs could be potentially down the road. I think this site could be better used than just 600 seats.”

The perceived lack of consultation with nearby residents on the new option came in for some criticism during public testimony. Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association, urged the Board to delay their vote to explore the hybrid model further.

“We feel disappointed in the way the solution came about because we don’t feel like we were presented with the various scenarios and had an opportunity on what would affect us greatly,” she said.

Goldstein raised similar concerns with the way the fourth option came forward, and challenged his colleagues to think about how they continue engaging with the community even as new ideas come forward late in the game.

“How do we do idea changes or option changes in a project like this when there isn’t enough time to extend the community engagement process?” he asked.

Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen said APS intends to get “right back out there” in the fall to begin discussing the new schools, and may look at convening something similar to the South Arlington Working Group that helped site a new elementary school.

“After tonight, we’re proceeding with two projects, and I’m excited about both of them, the Ed Center project, the Career Center site, but it’s no longer a hybrid,” Kanninen said. “These are two projects, just like we have several other projects on the books.”

by Chris Teale June 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board and school board agreed Tuesday night to further study three possible scenarios for the Buck and Virginia Hospital Center sites, as recommended by the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission.

Of the options, whittled down from a list of 10, two could allow for a building to be used by Arlington Public Schools. They could also provide space for the Office of Emergency Management and other public safety agencies, while some offer bus parking for both APS and Arlington Transit (ART).

Two scenarios for the VHC property remain under consideration, while just one is now being examined for the Buck site.

JFAC also formally recommended that the county acquire both sites. The Buck property is located near Washington-Lee High School, while the VHC site is at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road, and the county holds options to either buy the land outright or swap for them.

During the further study on the three remaining options, JFAC will explore how best to make the bus parking fit in. But County Manager Mark Schwartz said his preference would be for Arlington to purchase the current ART bus parking area at 2629 Shirlington Road given that bus dispatch is run from that location. Schwartz and staff will assess their options on that site too in a separate process.

JFAC chair Ginger Brown said residents had raised concerns about using one of the two properties for bus parking due to extra noise, traffic impacts and the need for security lights.

“Thank goodness buses don’t have feelings,” joked County Board chair Jay Fisette. Fellow County Board member Christian Dorsey said bus parking is necessary, and it can work within a community.

“These really can fit very well, but I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we’re looking to dump anything in the Nauck or Shirlington area,” Dorsey said. “This is something that can fit in well with a revitalizing area with planned future development…It’s not an evil thing that is going to disrupt how people live their life.”

The possible swap of a swath of industrial land owned by Arcland Property Company in Shirlington remains on the table, and will be studied for possible long-term uses.

“Maybe there’s some negotiations, some things that can make people more comfortable, but we need that land in Shirlington,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Members of both boards agreed that the Buck and VHC sites could be used to help ease APS’ capacity needs, with enrollment set to keep growing.

School Board chair Nancy Van Doren asked that staff from the county and APS work together closely to plan for the sites’ futures. But several urged caution as the schools review their enrollment projections. All agreed on the urgent need to manage the enrollment growth and provide a seat for every student.

“We really need to come to grips with how we’re growing as a community, where we’re going and when we’re growing and the criteria we’re growing and what we’re getting in return,” said County Board member John Vihstadt.

JFAC will now evaluate the short list of three remaining options, develop some rough cost estimates and go into finer detail on what can be done there. That next phase is set to begin as early as next month.

by Chris Teale June 15, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

The Arlington School Board will consider a new contract for Superintendent Patrick Murphy, one year before his current deal expires.

According to a memo sent to her colleagues on the School Board by chair Nancy Van Doren, Murphy has requested a new four-year contract, effective July 1.

At tonight’s meeting, the Board will vote on whether to advance a notice of intent to renew Murphy’s contract as part of its consent items. If it passes, the contract would then likely be debated at the Board’s June 29 meeting.

Van Doren’s May 18 memo reads:

The Superintendent has requested that his contract be replaced with a new four-year term, with some modifications, effective as of July 1, 2017. This memorandum provides notice to the Board, pursuant to Va. Code 22.1-60(C), that the Board may act upon this request at its June 29, 2017 meeting or thereafter, and a vote is tentatively planned for that purpose.

An Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman declined to comment further on the new contract and those modifications, except to say that the Board is “considering the renewal.”

“I know that the procedures for contracts of any type (personnel, construction, equipment, contractors, etc.) are private until the contract has been finalized and approved, so terms of this (or any other) contract would not be public until it is finalized and approved by the Board at some point in the future,” the spokeswoman said.

Murphy’s current contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 school year, provides an annual salary of $223,242.50. He has been superintendent since 2009.

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board members clashed Thursday over an attempt to add language encouraging more diversity in Arlington Public Schools.

The Board was discussing the new enrollment and transfer policy around neighborhood and option schools. The policies have been rewritten to help APS keep up with steep growth.

The revised policies are designed so students could have equal access to an option school with a more specialized curriculum, while also guaranteeing students a place in their neighborhood school.

The new policies will go into effect for the 2018/19 school year, with siblings able to attend the same school at the elementary level if one already attends.

But an effort by Board member Reid Goldstein to add new language that says the policy “will include steps to enhance diversity across our option schools and through our neighborhood transfer practices” got the cold shoulder from his colleagues.

Goldstein said steps that could be taken to enhance diversity could include looking at new options around transportation, to enable a better mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

He also said that higher-income families could thus be encouraged to attend schools where there are more lower-income students and families.

But Tannia Talento said Goldstein’s efforts represented “microaggressions,” the casual degradation of those less fortunate than others.

“While I support diversity, I think diversity is a great thing, it’s very hard for me to sit here and listen to some of this, because there are some things in here that I feel are microaggressions that I’m offended by,” Talento said.

Later, Talento added that previously, she has been seen as the “token Latino” and “token woman” in various settings. Any conversation about enhancing diversity should include all affected communities and be part of a robust public engagement process, she said.

Goldstein said his efforts were focused on helping the county and APS improve its diversity, given what he said are major disparities across the system.

“This should be a call to action for a community that so vociferously hails its diversity and proudly proclaims how diverse and inclusive it is,” he said. “And yet, outside of our vision state and our core values, APS’ definable steps to achieve diversity are scarce.”

But James Lander rejected that, and the idea that the income of fellow students’ families could be a determining factor for where people want to send their children to school.

“It’s been my experience that families choose instructional programs, not how much money their neighbors make, to determine what is the best instructional journey for their children,” Lander said. “I want to bring this back to instruction, because that’s important.”

The board voted down Goldstein’s plan, 3-2. Chair Nancy van Doren said that not only did she believe it was making an attempt at “forcing” or “incentivizing” diversity, it was too late in the process to introduce such an amendment. The Board then unanimously approved the new transfer policy, despite opposition from some parents.

by ARLnow.com May 30, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

High School Proposals on the Table in June — A pair of proposals for adding high school seats are on the table at Arlington School Board meetings next month. The board is expected to approve a $3.6 million construction contract for adding 300 seats to Wakefield High School, while Superintendent Patrick Murphy will recommend the board approve a “hybrid” option for adding another 1,300 seats, with 600 seats at the Education Center site near Washington-Lee and 700 at the Arlington Career Center. Despite the added capacity, Murphy expects that it will eventually be necessary to build a new 2,200 seat comprehensive high school to keep up with rising enrollment. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Marriott’s Longest-Standing Employee Is in Crystal City — Cecil Exum, a 79-year-old omelette maker at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, is Marriott’s longest-standing employee. He’s been with the company for 61 years, since the Marriott family ran a “Hot Shoppes” root beer stand and opened its first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington. [Washington Post]

POTUS at ANC on Memorial Day — “President Donald Trump honored those who lost their lives serving the nation as he participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Monday and told emotional stories of just a few who perished.” [Daily Mail]

Cars Towed During Clarendon Memorial Day Ceremony — Some veterans attending the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the war memorial in Clarendon reportedly had their cars towed from a bank parking lot nearby. Del. Patrick Hope (D) tweeted photos of the cars being towed and called it “disgusting.” He directed the tweet at Del. Tim Hugo (R), the sponsor of the bill (now law) that blocked Arlington County from enforcing a “second signature” requirement for certain trespass tows. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by ARLnow.com May 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Monique O’Grady describes herself as just a “regular Arlington resident.”

But this regular resident just convincingly defeated several candidates, including incumbent James Lander, in the Democratic school board endorsement caucus.

O’Grady, a mother of one current Arlington Public Schools student and two APS graduates (one of whom happens to be a well-known actress), says she wants to make a difference on the school board and help APS navigate its current period of rapid student enrollment growth.

We asked O’Grady about herself, her family and the various issues facing APS in this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast. Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.p

by Chris Teale May 23, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A plan to designate one of the potential sites for a new public high school as a historic district will be discussed by the County Board tonight (Tuesday).

But the proposal has drawn skepticism from county and Arlington Public Schools staff, who want the Board to deny the request and instead help preserve flexibility for APS as it solves its capacity issues.

The Education Center at 1426 N. Quincy Street is one of three remaining options for the county’s next public high school — not counting a new option involving the center, floated by superintendent Patrick Murphy.

Under the plan for historic designation, the Education Center and the adjacent David M. Brown Planetarium would be saved from possible demolition and subject to a strict design review process for any changes to its exterior.

The request for historic designation came from local resident and Planning Commission member Nancy Iacomini, who described both 1960s-era buildings as “physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future” in her nominating letter.

Preservation Arlington said in a blog post that the buildings are examples of “New Formalism,” which combined classical and more modern design elements. Both were completed in 1969, after being funded through a 1965 bond referendum.

But in their report on the plan, staff said the Education Center could help address school overcrowding and so designating it would prevent “maximum use (and reuse) of the public facilities we have.”

That is a view echoed by School Board chair Nancy Van Doren, who in a brief letter to County Board chair Jay Fisette expressed the School Board’s opposition to the plan.

“School Board members do not support pursuing historic designation of the building at this time as it would limit options to address the school division’s capacity needs at this site,” Van Doren wrote.

In a previous column, Peter Rousselot argued against the historic designation, and noted that APS is moving its administrative staff out of the building to new offices at Sequoia Plaza 2 on Washington Blvd. The School Board approved the move at its meeting last week.

Staff recommended finding that the site meet some of the criteria for historic designation but that further evaluation be shelved. They also proposed denying the request and collaborating in the future to see how the site can be reused.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

School Board Hears Opposition to Enrollment Proposal — At last night’s School Board meeting, during a public hearing about a proposed update to APS’ enrollment and transfer policy, some spoke out against what they saw as a policy that would disadvantage applicants to choice schools who do not live near the school. Among those speaking in opposition to the proposal was former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra, who has also created a Medium post explaining his opposition. [Medium]

Spraygrounds to Open Next Week — Arlington’s “spraygrounds” — play areas for children where water shoots up out of the ground — will open for the season starting Friday, May 26. The spraygrounds are located at Drew Park (3500 23rd Street S.), Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street), Lyon Village Park (1800 N. Highland Street) and Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street). [InsideNova]

Startups Galore in Crystal City — More than 300 startups now call Crystal City home, according to the neighborhood’s business improvement district. That’s thanks in large part to coworking spaces like WeWork and 1776, but other startups in Crystal City have grown beyond a small, shared office. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2017 at 9:20 am 0

Field Lighting Recommendation Pushed to September — A long-delayed decision on whether to add lights to the athletic fields next to Williamsburg Middle School is getting delayed again: county staff says it will not have a recommendation for the County Board until September. A community work group that spent three years tackling the subject was unable to come to a consensus in its 89-page report. [InsideNova]

VDOT-Maintained Neighborhood Streets Crumbling — VDOT is trying to catch up on its paving of secondary (neighborhood) streets, but in places like Fairfax County many such roads are crumbling. Arlington County paves its own local roads rather than relying on VDOT, though the agency is still responsible for maintaining highways and some primary routes in the county. [WTOP]

School Board to Give Land to County — Despite the current school capacity crunch, the Arlington School Board is expected to deed 4.75 acres of land next to Taylor Elementary School to the county government, which will use it to expand Zachary Taylor Park. The land has been deemed too steep and unsuitable for building new facilities. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

by Chris Teale May 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm 0

(Updated 10:25 p.m.) Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady were victorious at the Arlington County Democratic Committee caucus, winning the County Board nominee and School Board endorsement, respectively.

The final turnout of 5,972 votes is a record for a Democratic caucus held in the county, beating the previous high of 4,951 in the 1993 caucus for County Board. Voters cast ballots across three days at Francis Scott Key Elementary School on Tuesday, Drew Model School on Thursday and Washington-Lee High School Saturday.

Gutshall earned 3,209 votes to finish ahead of Kim Klingler with 1,416, Vivek Patil with 1,189 and Peter Fallon with 945. O’Grady got 3,441 votes, ahead of seven-year incumbent School Board member James Lander’s 2,336 votes and Maura McMahon’s 965.

“I think Arlington is definitely ready to move forward and make sure that we’re focused on the future,” Gutshall said. “That’s what I ran on, and I look forward to fulfilling everything that we’ve talked about in this campaign.”

O’Grady said she wants to repay her supporters’ faith in the November general election and beyond, if she wins a seat on the School Board.

“I want them to know I’m going to work very hard to follow everything that I’ve laid out in this campaign,” she said. “I’ve heard them, I will continue to listen to them and will continue to work so hard for our students. I will listen to them, I will listen to our students, I will listen to our parents as we continue to try to figure out how to handle some of the issues we’re dealing with in Arlington.”

For Gutshall, who came into the three-day caucus with a slew of endorsements from current and former elected officials, it represents a redemption of sorts after he lost the 2016 primary to Libby Garvey.

Gutshall said despite the defeat, he was determined for his vision to be heard at the highest levels of county government.

“It’s knowing that the future of Arlington matters, and that we are this great progressive success story that I want to see continue,” he said. “I have roots here. I’ve got my business here, I’ve got my family here, this is where I’m meant to be and it’s a great place to be and a great community and I want to make sure we keep moving forward into the future.”

Defeated County Board candidates Klingler and Patil congratulated Gutshall on a positive campaign, and said they were positive about the county’s future direction.

“Hopefully some of my messaging and priorities resonated throughout the campaign, because that’s what’s important to me,” Klingler said. “I hope we will carry those messages forward.”

“What I’m really happy about is the amazing campaign we ran,” Patil said. “I’m very proud of the ideas we brought to the race, the stories we told. I’m going to do this. I said on my first day, if I’m going to lose, it doesn’t matter, because I have actually won a lot of faith and support in the community for our ideas and our vision.”

The high turnout, albeit lower than for primary elections in the past, gave Democratic leaders cause for optimism ahead of June’s primary elections and November’s votes for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and the House of Delegates.

“Turnout is high and people are excited, so it’s a win for the Democrats,” said School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen.

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