• Please Join the Arlington Greens on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Community Room of the Arlington County Fire Station 2 Ballston, 4805 Wilson Blvd Arlington, VA 22203

June 21, 2016

Westover historic preservation efforts–meet with success in first step

Residents of Westover area and Arlington Greens went to the Arlington County Board on June 18 asking the board to initiate a study of local historic district protection for the Westover Village and to temporarily block any more demolitions of apartment buildings there. The board agreed to begin the process of historic study of Westover, but would not agree to temporarily block more demolitions.

Over the past 2 years about 7 apartment buildings were demolished in Westover, eliminating about 70 market rate affordable units. These apartments have existed for about 76 years and were surrounded by many hundred year old trees and vegetation. In their place will be million dollar townhouses with virtually no green space and virtually the entire surface area paved over.

The county government will hold a public community meeting in July to explain the legal process of designating the current national historic district of Westover Village as a local Arlington historic district. With a local historic district, buildings could not be demolished without being offered for sale to another investor for one year.westover apts demolition april 2016 pic2

Here is a map of the current national historic district of Westover:

Scan_Pic0064

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May 18, 2016

Saving Historic Westover Village–Community meeting Tue. May 31 at Westover Public Library

SAVE HISTORIC WESTOVER FROM DEMOLITION
Community Meeting Tue. May 31, 7 PM at Westover Library

Many historic Westover apartment buildings over the past year were demolished, evicting residents and destroying green space and 100-year old trees. Westover has been designated since 2005 as a national historic district in a futile effort to protect our buildings and neighborhood from excessive development, but this did not stop this senseless demolition. Residents want the county government to now protect existing buildings from demolition by designating the Westover area as a county historic district.

Come to a neighborhood meeting to find out how we can together maintain the current historic neighborhood of Westover with its trees, green space, and 75-year old buildings, and its mix of small commercial properties, homeowners, and renters as it has been since 1940.

Where: Westover Public Library

When: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 @ 7 PM

Who: Joan Lawrence, chair of the Historic Architectural Review Board
(HALRB) will describe obtaining local historic district protectionwestover apts demolition april 2016 pic2

Sponsors: the Arlington Greens and the Westover Civic Association
For more information: Email Info@greensofarlington.org

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May 5, 2016

Historic moderate rental Westover apartments demolished to make way for luxury townhouses

westover apts demolition april 2016 pic2

westover apts demolition april 2016 pic1Approximately five 76 year old garden apartment buildings in the historic district of Westover are being demolished this spring to make way for townhouses to be sold for close to a million dollars. These approximately 60 apartments (mostly one and two bedroom units) in these buildings were rented for moderate income renters. Even though these historic buildings are over 75 years old, well maintained graceful structures with many older trees surrounding (including some 100 year old trees), and are in the center of a National Historic District, they were bulldozed down to the red clay to make way for million dollar townhouses for the well to do.

These market-rate affordable garden apartments are privately owned; the owner demolished them and is putting up luxury townhouses that can be done “by right” under the existing zoning and since the county government refused to intervene to save them under its historic preservation ordinance. Last year about two blocks away another 4-5 historic garden apartment buildings were demolished to make way for similar high end townhouses. There are fewer than 3,000 private affordable rental apartment left in the entire Arlington County, and in one demolition, the county lost 60 more units.
The county board has stubbornly refused to use historic preservation status as a means to keep older apartments and older detached homes throughout Arlington.

Today developers routinely bulldoze off an entire property including all trees even if 100 years old and put up monstrous sized McMansions and ugly townhouses like these. The tree canopy and green space in many Arlington neighborhoods is much reduced; graceful 60 or 70 old houses are dwarfed by looming McMansions that are gigantic energy hogs and spew rainwater the used to percolate into the soil into the streets and onto neighbor’s properties.

An Arlington Green member asked the county board to designate to extend county historic preservation to the entire Westover Historic District to prevent future demolition of historic properties and surrounding green space. Under the county historic ordinance, an owner seeking to demolish a building must seek offer the property for sale for one year prior to such demolition allowing another owner to emerge to keep the property intact.

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October 13, 2015

AGP Statement on development plans for Wilson School/Rosslyn Highlands Park

AGP Statement on development plans for Wilson School/Rosslyn Highlands Park

wilson school photo2

The Arlington Greens approved the following position on the development plans for the Wilson School and Rosslyn Highlands Park area at its October 1st meeting.

The Arlington Green Party condemns both the process and results of recent government decision-making concerning the public land around the Wilson School and Rosslyn Highlands Park

Process: Final decisions were made during secret negotiations* between government and developers long before the public process began. Because the outcome was predetermined, the public process disregarded longtime local community requests in framing a draft proposal**, and disregarded local community responses to the draft proposal. Secret agreements and ignored input; that’s not consistent with the way government should function in a democracy.

Outcome: The Wilson school area is the only substantial family recreation area within easy walking distance of the nearby neighborhoods***. No urban planner would recommend intense development of the site. And yet that is what will happen. The historic elementary school will be torn down and replaced by a much larger structure. Parking lots and small fields and one story buildings will be replaced with skyscrapers. Greenspace in the heart of a city will be paved over, parkland will be given over to development, and families will have reduced playspace – these are astonishingly bad outcomes.

———————
*Secret negotiations and disregard for local community input
See letter from Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park dated June 16, 2014.
http://arlington.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=784&meta_id=132793
also: Personal Communication with Katie Elmore and Stan Karson, local civic association designees to the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) process.

**Long time Community desire to save green space and historic space
-Many presentations to the APS and County Boards by Mark Antell and Stan Karson, local civic association contacts for Wilson School for over a decade.
-Arlington County Civic Federation resolution recommending preservation of the Wilson School Playfields, endorsed 2007 and reaffirmed in 2014.
-Historic Architecture and Landmark Review Board recommendations in 2007 and 2014 that Wilson School be designated an historic site.

***Wilson School / Rosslyn Highlands Park the only substantial recreation area within easy walking distance of the surrounding neighborhoods. Look at the map.

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April 19, 2015

Observations from Mark Antell, a longtime Green and community activist on the County Board’s meeting on April 18 on the Wilson School Building in Rosslyn

Wilson School

Wilson School

I attended the County Board meeting this AM (April 18). Almost all business was focused on my neighborhood greenspace: the Wilson School and adjoining Rosslyn Highlands Park. To no ones surprise, the plan emerging from today’s meeting remains: ‘knock down the historic school, cede parkland to a developer (in exchange for his building a firestation). Walt Tejada was the sole dissenting voice, a tongue far less silver than the rest of speakers, but far more honest.

I was particularly disturbed by Mr. Vihstadt’s arguments. He spoke highly of the “robust” (his words) Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) which the county set up to engage the community on plans for this site. But WRAPS wasn’t ‘robust.’ Most of my community, most community activists throughout Arlington, know that WRAPS was a staged event to provide cover for a prearranged deal. Most WRAPS meetings occurred after the County had already secretly signed an MOU to cede land to the developer. On one occasion the WRAPS process slipped and allowed citizens a poll. Participants voted overwhelmingly against putting a road through a diminished Rosslyn Highlands park. But the road is still in the plans.

I recommend we think long and hard about ever endorsing Mr. Vihstadt again.

Mark Antell

Rosslyn resident and long-time member AGP

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January 28, 2015

Arlington Greens urge county board to expand recycling and ban styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, but board refuses

Arlington Greens Audrey Clement and Miriam Gennari spoke at the county board hearing on Jan. 27, 2015 urging the board to strengthen the proposed ordinance on solid waste and recycling at apartments and businesses in Arlington. Gennari spoke to the board and presented the AGP position on improving recycling and solid waste management in Arlington as follows:green recycling bag2

Unfortunately, the county board refused to heed the requests of Arlington Greens to modify the proposed ordinance and unfortunately single use plastic bags and Styrofoam will continue to litter our environment and be burned in our trash burn facility emitting dangerous gases. Billions of plastic bags litter our oceans, streams and planet, and Arlington Government once again passed up an opportunity to eliminate a harmful and unnecessary pollutant.

Position of the Arlington Greens on the proposed ordinance

January 27, 2015

Dear Esteemed Arlington County Board Members:

The Arlington Green Party is excited that the Arlington County Board is looking to improve its already successful residential solid waste program. Like all programs, there is always room for improvement and the Arlington Greens would greatly appreciate your consideration in the implementation of our suggestions.

Arlington County: Bans Plastic Bags
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality states that the County Board has the legal authority under Virginia law to ban single use plastic bags. The Dillon Rule does not bar the Arlington County Board from a “bag-ban” so long as taxes are not levied on bag use. In other words, Arlington County can ban plastic bags as a policy as long as it is not monetarily punitive.

Arlington County: Adopts a Styrofoam-Free Policy
Arlington County is as forward thinking as neighboring Washington, DC and Montgomery County and could be the ecologically correct example to the rest of Virginia in banning Styrofoam from Arlington County events. Further, events using independent coordinators could be required to follow Arlington County’s stricter standards of waste management.

Arlington County: Provides Additional Enforcement
As part of stricter waste management policy, we recommend more code enforcement personnel. These dedicated individuals are also tasked with safety enforcement such as the citation of “Inadequate lights at public corridors and stairways” in residential buildings and ensuring that individual property owners upkeep their homes and sidewalks, which neglected “might endanger the health or safety of other residents of the County.” It is clear that for these individuals to also adequately supervise commercial and multi-unit residential building recycling and waste management, the office of Code Enforcement would require additional staff.

Arlington County: Creates a Seal of Approval for Sustainable Practices
The Arlington Green Party is eager to collaborate with Arlington County Board and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services to develop guidelines of sustainable and achievable practices. With this list of guidelines, new and existing businesses could be encouraged to implement concrete changes that would affect the environment in positive ways; these forward-thinking businesses could be commemorated or otherwise incentivized, luring consumers to Arlington County businesses.

Thank you for your consideration,
Marie Pellegrino Arlington Green Party Chair
Sandra Hernandez Arlington Green Party Co-Chair

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November 7, 2014

Rosslyn residents protest Wilson development of park, Sat. Nov. 8, 8:30 am at Key Elementary

Development,environment,Events — @ 10:43 am

wilson school photo2
Rosslyn residents gather to fight elimination of Wilson School greenspace

The Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) has proceeded over the past year toward its pre-designated conclusion to develop the Wilson site (School, Park, Playfields). The WRAPS recommendations are terrible for the Rosslyn community: preservation is dismissed, most of the site would be intensely developed with access roads and tall buildings; and very very little open space would be preserved for park and recreation. This in a community which is densely populated and provides limited public green space.

Upcoming on Saturday (tomorrow) starting at 8:30 AM at Key Elementary, county staff will lead a four and one half hour (!!!) presentation of WRAPS plans including some limited opportunity for citizen comment.

Rather than sitting through hours of power-point nonsense, a few of us plan instead to stand at the entrance handing out printed notices bearing statements like:

“Preserve Wilson School and Fields”

“Develop our Park ?? That’s Nuts !”

“Preserve our limited Green Space !”

I recommend people come to the meeting timely; grab a sign; hold it up awhile once you get inside; and then leave. You’ll do something to save our park, and you’ll save your Saturday for family and personal responsibilities.

Mark Antell

Co-chair of the CivFed Parks and Recreation Committee

CivFed delegate from the North Rosslyn Civic Association

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August 26, 2014

Smoke and mirrors on Arlington County Board environmental record

Development,environment — @ 8:56 am

Letter to the editor, the Washington Post from AGP chair John Reeder

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette boasts (Aug. 24, “Why Arlington joined the battle against climate change”) about Arlington’s record on climate change.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-arlington-joined-the-battle-against-climate-change/2014/08/22/3bb5a146-2314-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

But in truth, Arlington’s environmental record is pretty shabby. Board members favor high-intensity, high-rise buildings despite their increased demand for electricity and water, while allowing developers to expand building footprints and increase paved surfaces. Some recently built county buildings are energy hogs, having failed to include state-of-the-art solar and geothermal systems (examples can be found on the Washington-Lee and Yorktown High School campuses). Arlington’s heat sink has increased rapidly as the mature tree canopy and green space have disappeared.

house with solar

LEED certification, for which developers receive “bonus” density, is oftentimes mostly cosmetic and lacking in solid environmental benefits. The Arlington County Board’s “smart growth” policy has triggered overdevelopment and the conversion of Arlington’s lower cost residential areas into neighborhoods only the wealthy can afford. This policy has forced thousands of moderate-income residents to flee to Woodbridge and beyond, exacerbating the very sprawl smart growth was supposed to halt and increasing traffic congestion and greehouse gas emissions.

Democrats like Fisette play environmental politics while excluding independent and third-party voters from meaningful participation that might result in actual improvements to Arlington’s environment. We need leaders in Arlington who support genuine green principals, not ones who just pretend.

John Reeder
Chairman of
the Arlington Green Party

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May 6, 2014

Arlington Preservation meeting–May 13 Panel: State of Preservation in Arlington

Development,environment — @ 3:22 pm

environmental earth with hands

May 13 Panel: State of Preservation in Arlington

When

Tue, May 13, 7pm – 9pm GMT-04:00

Where

The Fillmore Room, Boulevard Woodgrill, 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

For more information, go to Preservation Arlington, Inc. that is sponsoring this panel discussion
www.preservationarlington.org
environmental earth with hands

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April 28, 2014

Early thoughts on Proposed Redevelopment of the Wilson School in Rosslyn

Early Thoughts on Proposed Redevelopment of the Wilson School from Mark Antell, longtime Rosslyn civic activist
wilson school photo2
Some History
In the 1980s through the mid 1990s, the Wilson School building did not host a school. But the playfield was maintained, and it was heavily used evenings and weekends by the community. By 1997, the school building was back in use, as a ‘swing space’ for elementary schools undergoing renovation. The playfield however, was rendered unusable by trailers.
Over the last decade, Arlington Public Schools (APS) and Arlington County Government have proposed several initiatives to densely develop the Wilson School property. North Rosslyn Civic Association has opposed such proposals with a consistent message that the Wilson Site should be used for education and community service. We’ve been fortunate to receive strong support for that position from RAFOM (the Civic Association south of Wilson Blvd.), and from a number of civic-minded individuals and organizations throughout Arlington.

Now
Today, the school is underutilized. It hosts only two programs, the delightful Mongolian School* program on Saturdays, and a once a year ‘holiday fiesta’ for our low-income families. Otherwise the Wilson School is unavailable for adult education or other community use. Also, the playfield is largely unusable.

The Current Proposal
APS proposes to build a new school on the property and to provide a functional playing field. Detail is lacking, but below I provide my early take on what we, the nearby residents, should regard as positive about this proposal; what we should regard as objectionable; and what we need answers about.

Pluses
The most positive feature of the new APS proposal is that it uses the Wilson site appropriately, for education. Parents of students will form a powerful lobby to assure that developed and recreation space are optimized. The community would gain meeting space, adult education space, and both outdoor and indoor recreation space. For way way too long we’ve not had a playfield in our community. Here’s a chance to get one.

Minuses
The Wilson School is an historic building. A new building will likely possess little of the charm, and little if any of the history.
The proposed new middle school would be many times the size and height of the current Wilson School. It would add substantial density affecting traffic, parking, views, etc. This would be the first ‘urban school’ in Arlington, and in my experience, APS staff does a horrible job the first time they tackle anything. We will do ourselves and incoming students a great service if we sharply question this project before it is ‘set in concrete.’

Unknowns / Questions we should raise early on, before they become issues
What happens to our pedestrian path, sitting area, small playground, and basketball court? It’s not clear. I understand that the future of these existing green/recreation areas will be discussed in a separate process, the West Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS). It might be a good idea to ask that study to examine whether the Wilson Firestation should be replaced at its current location, or whether it might be better to use that land for additional playspace for the very large school planned next door.
The new school will, inevitably, schedule some activities outside normal school hours. Which school resources (gym, meeting space, educational space, playfield) will be available for community use, and when will they be available?
It would also be a good idea to decide if we, the nearby residents, want the playfield to be available for use after dark.

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