The Arlington County Board, during an hours-long meeting on Saturday, debated whether to include a controversial driveway feature in the design for the forthcoming Stratford Middle School in Cherrydale.
Though the Arlington School Board approved the school’s design in November, the project’s designers, county staff and some neighbors have come to an impasse on whether that design should include a one-way driveway connecting N. Vacation Lane and Old Dominion Drive.
Proponents of the plan with the driveway — including its designers and some locals — argued the one-way avenue is needed to mitigate traffic in the area and would give the new school a much-needed area for pickup and drop-off. But opponents of the plan said building the driveway would negatively impact the environment by removing 166 trees from the site and would send hundreds of vehicles directly onto Old Dominion Drive, among other concerns.
Among those arguing against building the driveway is Dennis Leach, deputy director of transportation for Arlington County.
“The driveway causes adverse environmental impacts to the site and is not essential for transportation access,” he said.
But Vern Torney, a traffic expert hired by a community organization dubbed the Coalition for a Safe Stratford, said the driveway plan would actually help the environment, albeit in a different way.
“With the driveway, you’ll see that the fuel consumptions seven percent less and the noxious emissions range from one to ten percent less than the without driveway scenario,” argued Torney. “It’s my professional opinion that the with driveway scenario offers an advantage over the alternative.”
Members of Arlington Public Schools’ Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) also supported the plan to build the driveway, citing reduced risk of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and better accessibility and emergency access.
After hearing hours of concerns and comments from members of the community and other interested parties, the Board’s members made their opinions known.
“It’s clear to me that reasonable people with good motives can still have profound disagreements about an ultimate proposal that’s before you,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “I am comfortable with the driveway option as being the most prudent to address all of the concerns that the renovation of stratford has at this point.”
Board members John Vihstad and Katie Cristol also agreed that building the driveway was ultimately the right course of action in a complicated decision.
The lone voice of dissent came from Board member Jay Fisette.
“I think we can accomplish and maximize the benefits in the longer term… by not including the driveway,” Fisette said. “The best way to do that is changing the modal split.” But Fisette acknowledged that, “either way, we’re going to have a much better outcome.”
County Board Chair Libby Garvey had the last word on the matter.
“I do believe in the end that building the road will be helpful to the environment, will improve safety and will encourage more students and their families to be walking instead of driving to school,” Garvey said.
In total, the Board spend about 4.5 hours on the discussion, even though it was just a “Request to Advertise” on the “Consent Agenda” for non-controversial items. Most of the time was spent in an impromptu County Board work session; a vote on the matter is expected to take place at a subsequent Board meeting.
The Stratford school building is slated to be renovated after its current primary occupant, the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, moves to the Wilson School in Rosslyn.
Photo via APS/Quinn Evans Architects
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) The Reed School building in Westover may be tapped as the site of a new elementary school.
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has included a $45-63 million renovation of the building, to create a new 725-seat elementary school, in his proposed FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The school would help to alleviate what’s currently projected to be — without further building — a 1,387 elementary seat deficit countywide.
The Reed School building currently houses The Children’s School, a co-op child care center for APS employees, and the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to integrate with The Children’s School students. The Westover Branch Library is also located in the building but is not expected to be displaced by the new school.
Some Westover residents are organizing on Facebook to speak out against the plan at the School Board’s public CIP hearing, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. They say APS is planning a choice elementary school for the site — and thus would be busing in students from around the county. While seeming to accept the inevitability of changes to the Reed site, one of the few APS-owned pieces of land suitable for a new school, residents say they would prefer any new facility be a neighborhood school, open to local students.
Some residents have suggested that the newly county-purchased Buck site, across from Washington-Lee High School could instead be a good location for a choice school.
In 2014, more than 1,000 people signed an online petition opposing a proposal to move the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program to the Reed site. At the time, APS staff described Reed as “underutilized.” Ultimately, the Wilson School site in Rosslyn was selected as H-B Woodlawn’s future home.
Dr. Murphy’s CIP identifies Rosslyn-Ballston corridor elementary capacity and countywide high school capacity as APS’ most pressing capacity problems.
The CIP also includes:
- Two 200-seat elementary school additions
- Two minor modification projects to add new 60 seats apiece to Gunston and Kenmore middle schools
- Modifications to add 300 seats apiece to Wakefield and Yorktown high schools
- A 600-seat facility for the Arlington Tech secondary program
If the CIP is approved by the School Board, work on the new Westover elementary school could start as soon as 2017.
Those are some of the highlights from the $582 million Fiscal Year 2017 budget adopted by the Arlington School Board on Thursday night.
- A step increase for all eligible employees ($7.6 million)
- An increase of 1.75% for eligible employees at the top of the salary scale or on a longevity step ($2.4 million)
- An increase in the minimum wage to $14.50 per hour ($150,000)
- An increase in School Board salaries ($14,760)
- Implementation of a parental leave benefit of two weeks of paid leave ($0.5 million)
- An increase in the Live Where You Work program to provide additional grants as well as the implementation of rental assistance grants (similar to the County’s program) at a cost of $68,700
Arlington Public Schools issued the following press release about the budget’s adoption.
The Arlington School Board adopted its FY 2017 final budget at last night’s meeting. The approved budget totals $581,941,859 which includes an additional $2,042,993 in ongoing County funds and an additional $1,336,437 from the Future Budget Years Reserve. The additional County and Future Budget Years Reserve funds closed the funding gap to ensure a balanced budget was adopted.
“We worked closely as a Board with our staff and advocated to our County colleagues to make certain that APS has the funding that is necessary to meet the needs of our growing school division,” stated School Board Chair Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez. “The Board has also invested in additional areas that will meet the instructional needs of our students, support the whole child and provide the necessary staff to ensure all students can succeed.”
The School Board has designated that all of the additional funds be used to invest in instructional support, infrastructure, and staff needed to continue progress toward achieving strategic goals of the school division.
The School Board’s adopted FY17 Budget also included staff compensation increases totaling $10.2 million, including a step increase for all eligible employees, an increase of 1.75% for eligible employees at the top of the salary scale or on longevity steps, and implementation of two weeks of paid parental leave.
“It is critical that APS offers competitive staff compensation and benefits to ensure that we continue to retain and attract the most talented employees to work here,” said Dr. Violand-Sanchez. “We are proud to provide, for the first time, two weeks of paid parental leave, to enhance our “Live Where You Work” assistance for our employees, and to raise the minimum wage to $14.50 an hour. Our APS educators are a crucial factor in our students’ success.”
The FY 2017 budget designates APS operating funds for July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.
Metro Delays and Traffic This Morning — There are residual delays on the Orange and Silver lines due to a malfunctioning train near the Clarendon Metro station earlier this morning. For drivers, morning rush hour traffic is noticeably heavier than usual around Northern Virginia inside the Beltway. [Twitter]
Firefighters Applaud New Metro Move — WMATA will now staff its Metrorail control center with a uniformed fire officer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Arlington’s firefighter association applauded the move, calling it a “positive step for the safety of firefighters and citizens in the DMV.” [WTOP, Twitter]
CARD to Hold School Board Debate — The Pike Presidents’ Group and the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for a wider distribution of affordable housing throughout the county, is holding a School Board candidate debate on Wednesday, May 11. CARD also sent a candidate questionaire to all four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Of them, only Tannia Talento declined to respond. [CARD, CARD]
Liberty Tavern Named Top Brunch Spot — A new-for-2016 list of the top brunch spots in the country, compiled from diner reviews by the restaurant reservation website OpenTable, includes The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. [OpenTable, Patch]
Mall Launches Walking Program — Today, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is launching a new program called “Walk-Fit.” Open to all ages, the program is described as “an official way for walkers to meet up, exercise, socialize and even enjoy a morning cup of coffee,” all inside the mall.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Today Covers Arlington Couple Picking Baby Name — An Arlington County has named three children after former presidents, but is now seeking help naming their fourth child, a girl. Potential names include Kennedy, Reagan, Pierce and Monroe. [Today Show]
School Board Releases Proposed Budget — The Arlington School Board has released its proposed, $582 million budget and is now seeking public comment on it. Final school budget adoption is scheduled for May 5. [Arlington Public Schools]
Civic Federation Meetings May Be Streamed — Future Arlington Civic Federation meetings may be live streamed, courtesy of help from the TV production program at the Arlington Career Center. Arlington County recently started streaming commission meetings. [InsideNova]
Millions for Melwood from Local Couple — An Arlington couple has donated $3 million of their estate to Melwood, which provides services and job opportunities to those with disabilities. The donors are Geraldine “Gerry” Schaeffer, a prominent local psychiatrist who died in 2013, and her husband Peter M. Kolls, a former pro football player for the San Diego Chargers who retired from the National Park Service. Kolls passed away last year. The couple loved to travel but otherwise lived frugally, we’re told. The gift is one of the largest received by Maryland-based Melwood, according to a press release.
Arlington Teacher and Principal of the Year — McKinley Elementary principal Colin Brown has been named the 2016 Arlington Public Schools Principal of the Year. Oakridge Elementary teacher Jennifer Burgin, meanwhile, has been named Teacher of the Year.
Va. Square Hess Station Rebranded — The Hess gas station in Virginia Square has been rebranded as a “Speedway” station. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Samer Farha
Courtney Hill, the former campaign manager of Arlington School Board candidate Tannia Talento, is planning legal fight after she said Talento didn’t pay her what was owed in her contract.
Hill is a community activist who serves on Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women and on the steering committee of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. A single mother of two, Hill says she’s being evicted from her home after Talento refused to pay her. She is suing Talento, who refutes the allegations.
“At the onset of my campaign, Ms. Hill was employed as my campaign manager,” Talento told ARLnow.com, in a statement. “Shortly after we began our work together, I realized we had different expectations for the direction of the campaign. Her employment was eventually terminated and unfortunately we had a contractual disagreement which will be settled judiciously in our court system.”
The two parties are scheduled for a hearing in Arlington General District Court on April 11. The eviction proceedings against Hill were filed Feb. 16. It’s the second case against Hill filed by an Arlington landlord in three years, according to court records.
“Because of this unfortunate breach of contract and disheartening chain of events, I am now facing an eviction and will have to uproot my daughter who’s in middle school,” Hill wrote. “The past few years have been very difficult for my family, and I cannot imagine having to upend/end all of the things I’ve worked so hard for. This is not right and should not be supported by anyone who purports they are advocates for women, children, families and minorities.”
Hill said she worked as Talento’s campaign manager from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. She said Talento “attempted to bully” her into changing the terms of her contract, but she refused due to provisions that would have prevented her from working on other campaigns and would have imposed a confidentiality agreement. Talento then refused to pay her full contract, according to Hill.
“Working on campaigns is what I do and how I pay my bills,” she said. “How dare she threaten and try to dismantle my livelihood?”
Hill, who is black, also accused Talento of an “unwillingness to meet with black leaders,” saying she was “constantly questioning the black community’s concerns/issues in regards to equal and quality education.” She further accused Talento of “having [a] very poor work ethic” and not doing “much of the leg work required to run an effective campaign.”
“I am running for the Arlington School Board, because I firmly believe in advocating for quality education and the success of every student in Arlington Public Schools,” countered Talento, who is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. “It is important that we ensure equitable education for every child regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion or gender. My vision will ensure a continued focus on the Whole Child and will make strides in closing the achievement gap. Therefore it is unfortunate that Ms. Hill is undertaking this present course of action.”
Talento has picked up the endorsement of a number of current and former elected officials, including Del. Alfonso Lopez, former County Board member Mary Hynes and retiring School Board Chair Emma Violand Sanchez.
“Tannia has demonstrated integrity and passion for advocating all students in Arlington,” Sanchez said in a statement today. “I firmly believe she is one of the most ethical leaders that I know, and she will be an exceptional School Board Member. I am disappointed that these false allegations are being spread to discredit a highly qualified School Board candidate.”
APS Mulls Background Checks for Parents Who Work in Schools — Arlington Public Schools is considering requiring background checks for parents who provide enrichment services in schools. The School Board has sent back a staff proposal, however, which calls for parents who are paid for their time to receive background checks. Parents who volunteer would not get such screening. School Board members said the amount of staff supervision, not money, should determine who should gets background checks. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Eatery Offers 50 Percent Off for Military — Through the Sunday, Brixx Pizza in Clarendon (1119 N. Hundson Street) is offering 50 percent off food for those with a valid military ID. [Facebook]
Arlington Dems Predict Landslide Against Trump — If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, local Democrats believe they could run up a 50,000 vote margin against him in Arlington alone, perhaps enough to win Virginia. Arlington Democrats also believe it’s possible that nationally, a Trump nomination could swing Democrats back into the majority in the House of Representatives. [InsideNova]
Arlington Home Show Returns — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is back for 2016. The huge hometown event will take place Saturday, April 9 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center. [Arlington County]
I-66 Public Hearing at W-L — VDOT is holding a public hearing on the changes planned for I-66 tonight. The hearing is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, one letter-writer is decrying the “whining” from Arlington residents who complain about the proposed partial widening of I-66 while using it to make a reverse commute to Fairfax County — and the protestations from Arlington policymakers who are more than happy to have large employers come to Ballston and other dense neighborhoods along I-66, thus increasing traffic on the highway. [VDOT, Washington Post]
Wakefield, Yorktown Victorious in Key Games — The Wakefield boys basketball squad defeated Deep Run 50-48 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 5A state basketball tournament. This will be the Warriors’ third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Yorktown’s hockey team, meanwhile, defeated Washington-Lee 5-3 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Friday night. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Abingdon Elementary Design Approved — On Thursday the Arlington School Board approved a final design for an addition and renovation to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project will add 12 classrooms and 136 seats to the school, while renovating the gym, kitchen and media space. [Arlington Public Schools]
Retired Fire Officials Speak Out Against Station Move — Two retired Arlington County Fire Department officials say a proposed relocation of Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned location farther north does not make practical sense and would mostly benefit residents of Fairfax County. Residents around the current fire station and around its proposed new location have been protesting the planned move. [InsideNova]
Arlington Complying With Immigration Detainers — Arlington County law enforcement is complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for jail inmates, but only if ICE reimburses the county for certain expenses and picks up the inmate within 48 hours. Fearing that some jurisdictions are not complying with federal detainers, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed bills to make such requests mandatory. [Washington Post]
County Board to Meet With Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board tonight is holding a meeting with the chairmen of the county’s advisory commissions. ARLnow.com hears that the Board has received complaints about certain commissions overstepping their bounds or operating inefficiently. The meeting will address diversity in commission membership, training for commission members and potential improvements to commission communication and community outreach. [Arlington County]
Arlington Democrats will have four School Board candidates to choose from at an endorsement caucus in May.
The “unassembled caucus” — also referred to as a “firehouse primary,” with an instant run-off voting process used to determine the winners — will be held over two days:
- Thursday, May 19 from 7-9 p.m. at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.)
- Saturday, May 21 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street)
There are two School Board seats in contention, one of which is up for grabs with the retirement of School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez. The candidates vying for the Democratic endorsement are:
Prior to the caucus, a candidate debate will be held at the Arlington County Democratic Committee monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Four File to Run for School Board — It looks like there are four candidates running for two Arlington School Board seats this year. Incumbent Nancy Van Doren is running for reelection, while School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez is retiring. First-time candidates Tannia Talento and Michael Shea are seeking the Democratic endorsement for School Board, while Realtor Chaz Crismon has filed papers to run without seeking the endorsement. [InsideNova]
More on Complete Streets Plan — The Arlington County Board approved a new Neighborhood Complete Streets program last month. The program ranks road projects by “points” earned by problems like speeding issues, frequent crashes, poor lighting and a lack of sidewalks, plus proximity to schools and transit. Some residents, however, are unhappy that the program doesn’t allow neighbors to directly vote on projects in their community. [Arlington Connection]
Arlington May Get Its Tourism Tax Back — Five years after having its ability to impose a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge stripped by the Virginia General Assembly, as retribution for the county’s I-395 HOT lanes lawsuit, the state legislature may be poised to finally give Arlington its tax authority back. Revenue from the hotel tax funds the county’s tourism promotion efforts and is supported by the local tourism industry. [InsideNova]
It’s Ash Wednesday — Among the churches placing ashes on the foreheads of commuters at local Metro stations for Ash Wednesday this morning was Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands, which greeted commuters at the Pentagon City Metro station. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Tannia Talento announced her candidacy at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
A first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, Talento and her husband, Gary, currently have two children in Washington-Lee High School.
From a fundraising page:
Tannia knows firsthand how important education is to ensuring children have the brightest future possible. That is why she is extremely involved in Arlington’s public schools. Tannia has served on the Math Citizens Advisory Committee, the ESOL/HILT Citizens Advisory Committee, the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group, and on the Advisory Council on Instruction as a Vice Chair. Some of her most recent work includes the Facilities Study Committee and serving on the Career Center Parent Advisory Committee. Now she is running for School Board to make sure all of Arlington’s students have a fair shot at a world class education.
From a press release:
Local school activist and community leader Tannia Talento announced her candidacy to become and Arlington School Board Member tonight at the Arlington Democratic Committee Meeting.
Talento, a first-generation American, spoke before a large crowd of local Democratic activists tonight announcing her campaign to replace Emma Violand Sanchez, who is retiring at the end of 2016, on the School Board.
In her remarks, Talento explained her personal story, having had to help care for her family during high school, and make sure that her siblings were cared for when their mother became seriously ill. Talento had to drop out of high school to care for her family, later earning her high school diploma through an alternative program, and working her way up to become a legal secretary at one of the world’s largest corporate law firms.
Talento spoke about her drive to achieve educational success in the face of adversity and her desire to see every student reach graduation day without experiencing the adversity she faced.
“I believe that we can ensure that every one of our students will make it to graduation day educated to the highest standards and prepared for their future so that no student in Arlington has to live a version of my story,” Talento said.
Talento has lived in Arlington with her family for 12 years and has spent the last 5 years working her way through the school committees and commissions. From her time on those committees, she believes that Arlington Public Schools has the opportunity and the necessity to better advocate for children of all walks of life.
“As a School Board Member, I will advocate for every child to ensure that their needs are met and that they are prepared for life beyond high school,” Talento said.
Retiring School Board Member Dr. Emma Violand Sanchez introduced Tannia Talento before her remarks and highlighted Talento’s service to APS and its students.
“Her work in our schools has been towards the advancement of students of all walks of life, and ensuring that every one of our children has a shot at success in our schools and beyond,” Dr. Violand Sanchez said. “I believe Tannia’s vision is what we need in Arlington… I am proud to support her candidacy.”
Talento is running for the Democratic Endorsement, which will be determined through a “firehouse primary,” or open caucus. The caucus will be held on two dates, Thursday May 19th from 7pm to 9pm at Drew Model School and Saturday May 21st from 11am to 7pm at Washington-Lee High School.
Photo via Facebook
Free Late Night Metro Rides Tonight — Metrorail will run through 3 a.m. tonight, to accommodate New Year’s Eve revelers. Rides from midnight to 3 a.m. will be free, courtesy of Miller Lite. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Day, Metro will operate on a Sunday schedule, with service starting at 7 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
Last Minute NYE Options — Procrastinated on your New Year’s Eve plans? Our event calendar has some good suggestions, with events along the Orange Line and Columbia Pike. Some NYE events at popular Orange Line bars have already sold out of advance tickets. [ARLnow]
New Year’s Closures in Arlington — All Arlington County offices will be closed tomorrow (Friday) in observance of New Year’s Day, with the exception of the County Board offices, where the Board will hold its annual organizational meeting (see below.) Parking meters and zones will not be enforced Friday. Public libraries will close at 5 p.m. today and will reopen Jan. 2. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
Board to Hold New Year’s Day Meeting — The County Board will hold its annual Jan. 1 organization meeting tomorrow. It will be the first day of work for new Board members Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. A new County Board Chair and Vice-Chair will be chosen, but it’s unclear at this point who will be selected. [Arlington County]
Violand-Sanchez Won’t Seek Third Term — Arlington School Board Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez says she will not seek a third term on the School Board in 2016. Previously a school administrator, Sanchez has had a 40-year career with Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Median Home Sales Price Rises — The median sales price for a home in Arlington rose 5.75 percent to $560,000 in 2015, faster than the rate of increase in Fairfax, Loudoun or Alexandria. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonian Surprised to Be Named 50 Millionth Passenger at SFO — Arlington resident Katheryn Castagna was getting ready to fly from San Francisco back to Reagan National Airport when she was surprised by airport officials and news crews, who told her she was the airport’s 50,000,000th passenger of 2015. Castagna, who works at CEB in Rosslyn, received two round trip tickets to Hawaii. [SFGate, CBS San Francisco]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Shortest Day of the Year — Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun will be up just 9 hours and 26 minutes today, so enjoy the daylight while it lasts. Tonight is the winter solstice. [Capital Weather Gang]
Two Big Crystal City Projects on Hold — Two projects to replace aging office buildings in Crystal City are on hold due to high office vacancy in the region. Vornado was planning to replace 1851 S. Bell Street with what would have been the tallest building in Crystal City and the largest private office building in Arlington. The company was also planning to replace 223 23rd Street S. with an office and a residential tower. Those have both reportedly been shelved due to market conditions. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Play Cornhole With Bar Crawlers — Nearly 2,000 people flocked to Clarendon on Saturday for the inaugural Candy Cane Crawl, a holiday-themed bar crawl. Arlington County Police used the occasion to educate bar-goers about the dangers of drunk driving, by having people try to play cornhole while wearing “drunk goggles.” [WUSA 9]
Mary Slye Obituary — Mary Patricia Slye, who managed Robert Slye Electronics on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, died last month of a heart attack at the age of 65. Slye was an Arlington resident and began working at the audio visual installation business in the mid-1980s. [Washington Post]
Vehicle Topples Light Pole on Washington Blvd — A vehicle struck a light pole near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive on Saturday, sending it toppling across the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. Eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd was blocked for about 15 minutes. [Twitter]
GMU Grad Hopes to Run for Arlington School Board — A newly-minted George Mason University grad has a specific and somewhat uncommon career goal for someone her age: Marlayna Bush says she wants to run for the Arlington School Board in 2018. She just received her BA in conflict analysis and resolution. [George Mason University]
Update at 10:45 a.m. — The Thomas Jefferson site has been approved. From Arlington County:
At its Dec. 15 Recessed County Board Meeting, the Arlington County Board voted 5-0 to approve the use of the northwest portion of the Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Community Center site (currently a parking lot) as the site for a new south Arlington elementary school. the Board’s action came in response to the Arlington Public School Board’s request that the site be approved.
The Board also directed the Acting County Manager to “expeditiously initiate the public facilities review committee process with participation by all appropriate stakeholder groups, building on the site analysis, including placement and impact mitigation, already done by the Thomas Jefferson working group.”
Earlier: After a year of back-and-forth over choosing a site for a new South Arlington elementary school, the County Board is expected to reconsider the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School for the project.
The Thomas Jefferson site is the final item on tonight’s recessed meeting agenda.
The County Board originally rejected the School Board’s request to build a new elementary school on the county-owned land, following objections from a vocal group of residents who expressed concern about parkland and traffic. As part of the rejection, the Board agreed to reconsider the request if APS took adequate time and measures to analyze other potential sites.
The South Arlington Working Group was established in June for that purpose.
The group’s work was finished earlier this fall. It considered approximately 20 different potential sites, choosing Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Gunston Middle School/Oakridge Elementary School and Drew Model Elementary as the finalists.
In its most recent report, the group once again preferred the Thomas Jefferson site. The School Board, which voted on Dec. 3 to select the TJ site, is asking the County Board to do the same so that the proposed project could be completed in time for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
The County Manager is now also recommending the Board approve the TJ site for the school, which would then be subject to use permit approval, design adoption and other planning processes.
The Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park group, however, says it’s still “concerned” about an elementary school on the TJ site, despite steps taken to mitigate negative impacts on the park, which is adjacent to the middle school.
“We ask that if you select this location for a new elementary school, you commit to fully funding necessary improvements and ensuring the community continues to have full access to park and recreation assets at Thomas Jefferson Park,” the group said in a letter to the County Board.
Funding and specific plans for the elementary school project have not been finalized. However, when the Superintendent first proposed a new elementary school in his 2015-24 Capital Improvement Plan, the plan said the school would cost $50 million and have 725 seats.
Transport Panel Approves of I-66 HOT Lanes — The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted yesterday to approve the creation of high occupancy toll lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. It’s estimated that by 2040, almost twice as many users of eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway will be headed to Arlington compared to those heading to D.C. Meanwhile, two Democratic state lawmakers from Fairfax and Loudoun counties want to force the state to start planning to widen I-66 sooner rather than later. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
County Responds to I-395 HOT Lane Plan — Arlington officials say they hope to reach a “mutually beneficial outcome” to a state proposal to extend the I-395 Express lanes north to the D.C. line. The proposal calls for expanding the HOV lanes from two to three lanes while converting them to high occupancy toll lanes. The County says any proposal should “not undermine Arlington’s successful investment in congestion-reducing transit-oriented development in Pentagon City, Crystal City, or Shirlington.” [Arlington County]
APS Wants Historic Designation for Stratford on Its Terms — Arlington Public Schools says it will pursue a local historic designation for the Stratford building, current home to H-B Woodlawn and a future neighborhood middle school. However, APS wants to cut the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process, to ensure the middle school project can move forward without delays. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Marine Corps Treats Students to Holiday Celebration — The Marine Corps treated students at Barcroft Elementary to a special Christmas celebration at Henderson Hall on Monday. Students were greeted by Marines, participated in various holiday-themed arts and crafts and got a chance to talk with Santa himself. [DIVIDS]
WERA Now Broadcasting — As of Monday, Arlington’s own low-power radio station, WERA 96.7 FM, was on the air and broadcasting for the community. The station is still looking for volunteers to help with programming. [Twitter, WERA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick