The “Buck Site” — a county-owned property across N. Quincy Street from Washington-Lee High School — could serve a smörgåsbord of Arlington’s needs.
Last week the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) reviewed proposed uses for four building renovations planned for the site to fit needs across several local departments and Arlington Public Schools (APS).
According to the Phase 3 plans, the Buck 1 building closest to N. Quincy Street would be used as a logistics hub for the Arlington County Fire Department.
Buck 3, a building farther back in the site, would be used for police storage.
According to Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for Arlington County’s Department of Environmental Services, the county is moving forward with renovations to the warehouse building at 1425 N. Quincy Street to accommodate the relocation of police reserve vehicles.
The police vehicles are being relocated due to the upcoming construction at Jennie Dean Park near Shirlington, where they’re currently stored.
The planned use for the two other buildings at the site is still to be determined. Baxter said the county is waiting to hear what the top priority would be from APS.
“The two office buildings at 1429 and 1439 N. Quincy Street (Buck 2 and 4) are being considered for instructional space and/or the relocation of APS’s administrative offices, trade shops, and associated white fleet vehicles from the Trades Center in Shirlington, for APS’s growing needs,” Baxter wrote. “APS will decide whether to proceed with the uses of these buildings, and is to let the county know this fall.”
Last June, the County Board approved an agreement that would allow APS to park vehicles at the property.
If APS does not proceed with classrooms or an administrative use in those buildings, the county’s plans are to convert Buck 2 into county offices and a facility for Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management (PSCEM).
The presentation at the JFAC meeting also included estimated renovation costs for each of the buildings:
- Buck 1 (Fire logistics) — $8 million-$10 million
- Buck 2 (APS classrooms or county offices) — $14.5 million-$20 million
- Buck 3 (Police vehicle and equipment storage) — $7 million-$9 million
- Buck 4 (APS classrooms, administrative, or PSCEM) — $14 million-$24 million
- General site renovations — $4 million
An alternative design for the site, also under consideration, envisions the Buck Site as a recreational field, multi-use athletic field and youth/rec baseball field was also presented at the meeting, with a $13.5 million cost estimate.
Photo via Google Maps
Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment Building — Updated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]
The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]
Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]
Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]
Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]
Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]
W-L Crew Team Wins State Championship — “The Washington-Lee High School girls varsity eight won its first state championship in 30 years at the recent regatta at Sandy Run Regional Park in Occoquan.” [InsideNova]
‘Click It or Ticket’ Returning — “As the Memorial Day holiday approaches, Arlington County Police are reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use. This annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from May 20 to June 2, 2019.” [Arlington County]
Millionth MAGA Hat Stored in Arlington — “The one-millionth official Make America Great Again hat ever made is currently locked away at President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.” [Breitbart]
Arlington County Board will take a final vote this Saturday on a plan to add capacity for 600 additional students at Washington-Lee High School by building classrooms in its nearby office building.
Arlington Public Schools requested a permit change in order to convert the former administrative offices at the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) on the W-L campus into educational space. The 24,600-square-foot space is slated to be converted into classrooms, a science lab, gym, and a “commons” area, with a fall 2021 completion date, according to a staff report submitted to the Board.
If approved, the updated use permit would allow APS to make others changes:
In addition to the conversion of use, the request also includes minor exterior alterations to the building, including replacing ground floor windows. Site modifications include a new pedestrian connection between the main W-L building and the Ed Center, provisions for new off-site bus and parent pick-up and drop-off, additional bicycle parking, and improvements to a pedestrian crossing at North Quincy Street to enhance pedestrian safety.
The request comes as the student population in Arlington continues to grow. School Board members already approved an APS budget that factors in an additional 1,000 students next year. W-L’s expansion into the Education Center is one of the solutions officials have picked to house the additional enrollment growth.
The staff report described the expansion as “a sustainable alternative to building a new school facility to address capacity needs.” The report indicated 55 teachers and staff would be needed at the Education Center if it’s converted to classrooms.
The building previously served as APS administrative headquarters but has been empty since staff relocated to an office building in the Penrose neighborhood.
The Arlington School Board approved the expansion project two years ago and funded it last year with $37 million in the budget. Washington-Lee is set to be officially renamed Washington-Liberty High School this summer.
The Sun Gazette ran a mysterious ad in this week’s paper, offering W-L students who write an essay about “why my school should be named Washington-Lee” the chance to “win $1,000 cash.”
The ad did not specify who was running the contest, and only said submissions to be sent to [email protected] When contacted, a man identifying himself as Tom Hafer of McLean responded and said he was organizing the contest.
Hafer told ARLnow he’s a W-L graduate from the class of ’66 who has lived in Arlington for most of his life before moving across county lines.
“The money is from my own pocket unless some of my like-minded colleagues decide to help defray,” Hafer said when asked about the contest’s funding. “At this point, I am doing this on my own but I will likely enlist some other readers if there is significant competition among essays.”
Currently he says he’s received no essay submissions, but he doesn’t “expect too many until closer to the [May 12] deadline.”
The School Board voted unanimously to rename the high school “Washington-Liberty” in January. When asked what he thought the essay contest could accomplish after this fact, Hafer said it was a symbolic act.
“This essay will give the students of W-L a voice on this issue that was denied them by the School Board, and will give members of the public an opportunity to hear that voice,” he wrote in an email. “I believe that if the students had been allowed to vote on the name of THEIR OWN SCHOOL that it would be Washington-Lee — forever.”
Earlier this month, Hafer called the renaming a “diversity sideshow” in a Letter to the Editor published by the Sun Gazette.
Last June, Hafer accused the School Board of “hypocrisy, deceit, ignorance and malfeasance” during a public meeting on the renaming, reported the Falls Church News-Press.
Hafer’s ad this week said that the “winning essay may be published in Sun Gazette” but that the contest was “only open to verifiable Washington-Lee students.”
He clarified that he does not have an agreement with the paper to publish any essays.
“When I see whether any of the essays are worthy of publication I will see whether the Sun Gazette wants to print it,” he said. “If not I may simply put it in as an ad.”
Red Flag Warning Today — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — The D.C. region is under a Red Flag Warning this afternoon for strong winds and low humidity, which can lead to wildfires. In Arlington, fire weather like this typically results in small brush and mulch fires that are quickly extinguished. [Weather.gov]
Report on Old Dominion Site Coming Soon — “With a task force prepping its final report on uses for the government parcel at 26th Street North and Old Dominion Drive, what will happen next to the recommendations? For both procedural and financial reasons, don’t expect the county government to jump into development of the 7.6-acre site immediately.” [InsideNova]
Presidential Race May Post Logistical Challenge — “As Arlington’s elections office begins mulling how to handle the 2020 presidential vote, it could be space, rather than money, that proves the biggest challenge.” [InsideNova]
W-L Hockey Player Raising Money for Diabetes Research — “Ethan Rostker, a freshman defenseman for the Washington-Lee hockey team, doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 20 months old. He wears an insulin pump while playing and completes a 100-mile bike trip yearly to raise money for diabetes research.” [WJLA]
Photo courtesy Jessica Hahn
The backers of a lawsuit seeking to preserve the name of Washington-Lee High School are working to keep their legal challenge alive, appealing the matter to a higher court after a judge previously struck down the suit on procedural grounds.
Three current W-L students are hoping to block the Arlington School Board’s decision to strip Robert E. Lee’s name from the building, arguing that the Board didn’t follow its own stated policies for renaming the building and ignored the community’s opposition to the switch. The Board first kicked off a process to consider a name change in August 2017, in the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and a nationwide reconsideration of the meaning of Confederate symbols.
Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman ruled in December that the students were barking up the wrong tree, noting that the Board broadly followed the community engagement process it laid out for the name change, and that state law doesn’t even bind school officials to follow that process to the letter, in the first place.
But the students, who are backed by a group of the school’s alumni working feverishly to preserve W-L’s name, were undeterred. Their attorney, Jonathon Moseley, told ARLnow that he’ll be appealing Newman’s ruling, even though the Board already voted last month to rename the school as “Washington-Liberty HS.”
“The judge took into account that [the School Board] didn’t follow all of their own procedures for the renaming, but he said it didn’t matter that they didn’t,” Moseley said. “I don’t like that idea, and I think it’s a pretty important issue that the courts need to address.”
Moseley expects that the appeal will head to Virginia’s Court of Appeals, rather than the state’s Supreme Court, though he’s still waiting on judges to sort out the details. He filed his notice of appeal in circuit court on Jan. 30.
Initially, Moseley had planned to simply amend his original complaint. Even though Newman struck down the students’ initial legal arguments, he gave Moseley until Jan. 9 to file revised arguments instead.
Court documents show that he missed that deadline, asking instead for Newman to issue a written explanation for why he blocked Moseley’s previous efforts and more time to consider next steps.
“I wanted more information about the judge was thinking,” Moseley said. “If there were no set of facts we could allege that showed the Board violated the rules, there’s nothing I could’ve added that would’ve been any different.”
But attorneys for the School Board pointed out in a motion that that request came “on the eve of the School Board’s vote on a new name for Washington-Lee High School” on Jan. 10, arguing it was “nothing more than a delay tactic.”
Similarly, Board attorney John Cafferky argued that Moseley “failed to articulate any legal authority” for a delay, urging Newman to toss out the case.
The judge proved to be sympathetic to those arguments. He ruled against Moseley’s motion in a Jan. 25 hearing, reasoning that the students missed their chance to file any revised claims and that the court no longer has jurisdiction over the matter.
That’s forced Moseley to appeal the dispute to a higher court instead, which could drag out the proceedings for months yet. He plans to have a brief ready supporting his appeal within the next 90 days, then the court will need to decide whether to take the case.
“It could be a year to a year-and-a half project if the appeals court decides it’s even going to look into that at all,” Moseley said. “They can do what they want.”
In the meantime, the school system is moving ahead with putting the building’s new name in place. Officials hope to have everything from signage to sports uniforms changed to reflect the new “Washington-Liberty” name in time for the 2019-2020 school year to start up in September.
A group of Arlington high school seniors are now working to raise $50,000 to support blood cancer patients, in a bid to honor a friend who died from a rare form of leukemia a few years ago.
In all, nine students at the newly renamed Washington-Liberty High School are participating in the “Students of the Year” fundraising campaign run by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The girls are competing with other students across the region to see who can raise the most money to support the nonprofit’s mission, and the program includes leadership and professional development opportunities as well.
The students named their team after Juliana Clarkson, a 14-year-old student at Swanson Middle School who passed away due to complications from mixed-phenotype acute leukemia. Two of her best friends, Julia Elman and Grace Barnes, say they were inspired to start a “Cancer Education and Action Club” at W-L as freshmen in her memory, and they’re now leading the “Students of the Year” effort as well.
“This spring, Julia and Grace will be graduating… a momentous milestone that would have included Juliana,” the students wrote as part of their fundraising efforts. “Team Juliana fights to give child cancer patients the possibility to grow up and follow their dreams, something Juliana will never get to do.”
Elman and Barnes also helped organize fundraisers through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walks,” raising “tens of thousands of dollars for LLS while providing an avenue for friends and family to come together and honor Juliana each year,” they wrote.
Elman added that she’s also working to honor her grandmother, who passed away from chronic lymphocytic leukemia years ago. Elman’s mother, Janet, says her daughter is planning to attend Princeton University this fall — she added that Julia was also recently diagnosed with primary lymphedema, a disease affecting the lymphatic system which is treatable, but has no known cure.
The students have until March 2 to raise money for the cause. The Shirlington restaurant Palette 22 is holding a fundraiser to support the group on Monday (Jan. 28), and full details about how to contribute are available online.
Photo courtesy of Julia Elman and Grace Barnes courtesy of Janet Elman
Medical Emergency at Yorktown — A student suffered a serious medical emergency at Yorktown High School this morning. Police and medics rushed to the scene, CPR was performed and the student was reportedly revived. He was taken to a local hospital.
Arlington Tourism Website Wins Award — “The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International… on Jan. 22 presented the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) with a 2018 Adrian Award for the StayArlington tourism website.” [Arlington County]
Best Bowls of Soup in Rosslyn — A new list exhaustively details “where to go for a good bowl of soup” in Rosslyn, “because it’s everybody’s favorite cold-weather lunch.” [Rosslyn BID]
Gymnastics Competition at W-L — “The annual Barbara Reinwald Invitational girls high-school gymnastics meet was held Jan. 19 at Washington-Lee High School. The high-school meet, which has been held for decades, included 11 teams and was won by the host Washington-Lee Blue team.” [InsideNova]
Chef Geoff Winning Happy Hour Fight — Chef Geoff Tracy is poised to withdraw his lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, which seeks to overturn restrictions on advertising happy hour specials and prices, after the state legislature overwhelmingly passed bills that would remove those and other happy hour restrictions. [Tysons Reporter]
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Washington-Lee High School will soon be known as “Washington-Liberty High School” instead, now that officials have finally wrapped up the contentious process of stripping Robert E. Lee’s name from the building.
The Arlington School Board voted unanimously on the new moniker for W-L during a lengthy meeting last night (Thursday), about seven months after deciding to rename the school. Washington-Lee has borne the name of the Confederate general ever since it opened back in 1925, but the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville in 2017 convinced school leaders to reevaluate W-L’s name.
“There are those that worry that by changing the name of our high school, we will lose our history,” said School Board member Monique O’Grady. “Rest assured, the history of Robert E. Lee will not be forgotten in Arlington Public Schools. It will continue to be part of our curriculum, and thus a topic for students to explore, debate, learn and, yes, even be tested on. As for General Lee, amid the smoldering scars of the Civil War, he urged us to move forward and refrain from erecting symbols that might cause division. With our vote today, we do just that.”
A committee convened to suggest new names for the school recommended “Washington-Loving” as its first choice for the Board, in reference to Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple who successfully challenged the state’s ban on interracial marriage before the Supreme Court.
But a narrow, 3-2 majority on the Board rejected that name in favor of the “Liberty” option, arguing that the moniker was better suited as to match the school system’s aspirations toward equality. O’Grady and Board member Nancy Van Doren cast the dissenting votes.
“I hope we can name something for Richard and Mildred Loving going forward,” said Board member Barbara Kanninen, who chaired the Board when the renaming effort first launched in earnest last year. “But the concept of liberty is woven throughout our history, and I find that there’s a clear, logical and organic story and narrative that we can build from that name… I don’t think there’s a point in our American history where liberty was not central to the discussions of our time.”
The new names mirrors the Fairfax County’s School Board to rename a high school bearing another Confederate general’s name “Justice,” opting for an abstract concept over drawing a name from history. Loving supporters like Van Doren believe the name could’ve represented “the progress America has made since the Revolution,” but found “Liberty” to be a fine second choice, considering that the renaming committee recommended it as an alternative option.
Some on the renaming committee also proposed substituting in William Lee, George Washington’s enslaved manservant, to leave the name mostly unchanged. That option was even backed by some prominent W-L alumni and former teachers at the school, who made a late push to see it considered instead.
But O’Grady argued that naming the school after a former slave could send the wrong message and run “counter to our [Arlington Public Schools] values.”
“He suffered from a life fraught from opportunity gaps,” O’Grady said. “We will never know the legacy William Lee would’ve left if not for the institutional bias that existed at that time — exactly what we hope doesn’t happen in our school system.”
Of course, support for the name change was far from unanimous. Many of the school’s older alumni fiercely opposed the name change, and have spent the last few months working to block the move — some even backed a legal challenge by three current W-L students, but a judge struck that lawsuit down on procedural grounds in December.
Tempers also flared on the renaming committee itself, with three members ultimately resigning in protest and claiming they were inappropriately barred from debating the possibility of leaving the name the same. And through the entire process, alumni have claimed that the Board misled the community about how they planned to conduct the change.
“You should all be ashamed of yourselves,” said Dean Fleming, vice president of the W-L Alumni Association and a vehement name change opponent. “There’s a much better way to do this.”
But the Board has long vigorously defended its methods, and Kanninen took time to once again stress that members followed “a proper procedure and process.”
School officials hope to have the name change fully in place by the time the 2019-2020 school year kicks off, and W-L staffers say they’ve already been hard at work identifying which signage and uniforms will need to change now that the new name is ready.
But with the final vote finally cast, the school system will now embark on the task of smoothing over hurt feelings and preparing the community for the switch. Board Chair Reid Goldstein assured all in attendance that the switch is “not going to change your diploma, it’s not going to change your education, it’s not going to change you as good citizens or representatives of Arlington Public Schools and the high school you went to,” but many feel the process of reconciliation will be a tricky one.
“You should make use of this opportunity to educate W-L students, parents and alumni,” Thornton Thomas, a freshman at W-L who served on the renaming committee, told the Board. “And if you do that, you might find people are much more accepting of the decision that you make.”
Board members are well aware of the challenges they’ll face on that front, and they’re hoping that even name change opponents can pitch in to start doing a little healing.
“There has been a great deal of emotion on all sides around this renaming,” Van Doren said. “It’s time to come together and remember this is still a great community, a great school with great students and great alumni… Let’s come together now and move forward together.”
Plans to transform the old Arlington Education Center into a new wing of Washington-Lee High School are taking shape, with early designs calling for 24,600 square feet of classrooms in the renovated building.
Arlington school officials hope to someday add space for 600 high school students on the site, the former home of the Arlington Public Schools offices at 1426 N. Quincy Street. But first the School Board needs to sign off on a full renovation of the building, in order to welcome students in time for the 2021-2022 school year.
The Board is set to approve “educational specifications” for the facility at its meeting Thursday (Jan. 10), which sketch out the general requirements for the building’s new design. While the exact details still need to be worked out, these new plans will guide the final design work for the space.
In all, the current draft of the specifications mandates that the building will be home to 16 traditional classrooms, three classrooms designed for science classes, a standalone science lab and two rooms designated for physical education classes.
The Education Center should have the capacity for anywhere from 581 to 594 students under these plans, a key addition in high school classroom space as officials wrestle with the best way to tackle the county’s swelling enrollment numbers. The school system is also set to add room for another 1,050 high schoolers at the Arlington Career Center, as leaders have debated the efficacy of building a fourth comprehensive high school in the county.
Another 3,800 square feet in the Education Center will be set aside for office space, with a 4,000-square-foot common space and 400-square-foot “digital library” also included in the plans.
The rest of the $37 million renovation effort remains a bit up in the air.
A key question officials will need to resolve in the coming weeks is how best to free up parking on the site — according to documents prepared for the county’s Public Facilities Review Committee, planners are currently recommending that the school system reopen an existing lot on the site and allow room for 70 new parking spaces, but they’re also weighing the best strategies to open up bike access to the campus and move attendees out of their cars.
Arlington Public Schools leaders are also still trying to sort out how to connect the Education Center to the rest of W-L’s existing facilities.
The school system’s initial plans called for a new entrance to the Education Center that would help connect with a new set of stairs and ramp, which would make it easier for students to reach an access road known as “Generals’ Way.”
But planners have also begun considering the prospect of building a bridge to connect the Education Center to the northern half of W-L’s main building, documents show. However, officials have yet to settle on exact specifications for the bridge, or decide on where it would meet W-L.
So long as the School Board gives the green light to these “educational specifications” Thursday, officials plan to spend the next month finalizing the project’s budget and final designs. The Board is then set to sign off on those plans in February, and construction would start by 2020.