May 13 Panel: State of Preservation in Arlington
Tue, May 13, 7pm – 9pm GMT-04:00
The Fillmore Room, Boulevard Woodgrill, 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
May 13 Panel: State of Preservation in Arlington
Tue, May 13, 7pm – 9pm GMT-04:00
The Fillmore Room, Boulevard Woodgrill, 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Subject: Don’t cut the Autism Program for Arlington middle and high school students!
Please sign the petition to stop proposed cuts to the Autism program for Arlington middle and high school students. The School Board is proposing to cut seven positions from this very successful program which helps students with Autism take all of their main subjects in regular classrooms. The board is cutting $271,000 at a time when the number of young people diagnosed with Autism is increasing. The cuts would hurt 58 children who are currently in the program at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, H B Woodlawn, Washington &Lee High School, and Yorktown High School, as well as many future students now in elementary school who will be entering the middle and high schools in coming years. We believe the program is good for all students, who benefit from having peers with special needs supported in their classrooms.
In addition to signing the petition, there are two more ways you can help.
First, please forward the petition link to your friends who live in Arlington. And spread the word throughout Arlington through listervs and other communication networks. Every new signature on the petition generates a message with comments sent to each School Board member. We’re trying to reach 1,000 signatures by May 8.
Second, please join us at the Public Hearing on the School Budget on Thursday, May 8 — arrive at 7:00pm at 1426 N Quincy Street — to speak (if you like) or just show your support. Families and hand made signs are welcome. Bring as many friends as you can. Please RSVP at this link http://bit.ly/1h9O7Ob.
With all of the heartfelt support that people are giving, we’re more and more hopeful that we can persuade the Board to reject the cuts and instead work with parents and teachers to evaluate and expand the program to more children and schools.
Gordon, Julia, Peter, Liz, Maria, Margaret, Maria, Doina and all of the other Concerned Parents of Students with Asperger’s/Autism
The petition site change.org requires that people be 13 years or older to sign the petition
Background: The Arlington School District is proposing to cut 7 staff members from the District’s successful Autism program for middle and high school students. The $271,000 in cuts would hurt our children by making it harder for them to participate in regular classrooms with their peers who are not in special education. Arlington’s middle and high school Autism program is successful because the 58 students who currently participate receive social skills instruction from teachers who understand Autism and Asperger’s, and direct support from assistants in regular mainstream classrooms. All students, with or without disabilities, benefit from increased attention and the expertise of the staff. Cutting more than half of the assistants would undermine the program. With the number of children being diagnosed with Autism rising, we need to expand, not cut, successful programs. Here is a report put together by parents about the program and its success.
Early Thoughts on Proposed Redevelopment of the Wilson School from Mark Antell, longtime Rosslyn civic activist
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.
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.
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.
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.
The May meeting of the Arlington Greens will be held on Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 PM at the usual meeting place, the community room of the Ballston Firehouse located at George Mason Drive and Wilson Boulevard.
An agenda will be email out to all AGP members a few days before the meeting. The public is cordially invited to attend but only members are entitled to vote. Membership is open to all Arlington residents, normal dues are $25 a year, but there are lower dues for students, seniors, and low income persons.
We asking all Arlington Greens to bring new or unused sample toiletries to our next AGP meeting which will be held on Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 PM at the usual meeting place the Ballston Firehouse Community Room (Wilson Blvd and Geo. Mason Drive).
We agreed at our April meeting to collect as many as possible and give them to the ASPAN homeless shelter program which still support homeless people in the summer months thought their shelter is now closed. So if you have any sample sized shampoo, hand soap, shaving cream, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. that you may have picked up while staying at a hotel or motel, please bring them on May 1.
You can also go to the dollar store or Shopper’s food warehouse and find full size bottles of shampoo, shaving cream, etc.
chairman – AGP
Open Letter to the editor of the Washington Post April 15, 2014
from AGP chairman John Reeder
It is commendable that the City of Alexandria and Arlington County are attempting to preserve existing affordable rental housing in Arlington, but the article overstated the number of truly affordable units created in two apartment complexes recently, and overlooked how inadequate are the housing programs in these two jurisdictions (Patricia Sullivan, “For thousands looking for affordable rentals about 200 more in Northern Virginia,” April 12). The Serrano Apartments in Arlington and the Hunting Terrace Apartments in Alexandria, the Post indicated, together will add “more than 200 units,” but the actual affordable units added are closer to 60.
In exchange for $16.5 million in Arlington local funds (and probably tens of millions of more dollars in Federal tax credits), the developer of the Serrano is providing only a net new 64 apartments that meet the “affordable” definition under HUD regulations out of the 280 apartments in the building, i.e. affordable to households making 60 percent or less of the area median income.
The Alexandria project is much worse: only 24 affordable apartments out of 443 new units. Since 115 units of the now existing Hunting Terrace Garden Apartments will be demolished, and probably 20 percent or so rented for affordable levels (a one-bedroom rate of $1,200 a month), the Alexandria project will add a net zero affordable apartments. Bottom line for the two projects: about 64 new affordable units in Arlington and none in Alexandria.
The cost to Arlington County and local taxpayers to add 64 net affordable apartments will be $250,000 per apartment. These apartments are so expensive that only persons making generally above 60-percent of the area median income or $64,000 for a family of four qualify. Tenants making $30,000, 40,000 or even $50,000 a year cannot rent these new units.
According to data of the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research, the City of Alexandria has the least affordable rent apartments in the State of Virginia and the entire Metro D.C. region. Arlington is the second least affordable place. This is no accident, but a deliberate policy in both areas.
Both jurisdictions over the past two decades have embraced development policies designed to displace residents and tenants making under $60,000 a year. Both operate expensive and largely ineffectual housing programs and refuse to adopt new housing approaches that could cost effectively keep or add affordable units for lower income and working people already living there.
Note.–this is personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily repreent the views of the Arlington Green Party.
John Vihstadt, an independent candidate for Arlington County Board, won election to an open seat in a special election held on Tuesday, April 8. The Arlington Green Party endorsed John in January, and provided volunteers and other help to him in an effort to get him elected as the first non-Democrat on the county board in 15 years.
Vihstadt was called a “fusion candidate” since he received support from the Arlington Greens, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and independents. Arlington Greens felt that he championed some of their local policy issues, in particular ending two huge proposed wasteful vanity projects, a trolley up Columbia Pike scheduled to cost taxpayers more than $300 million, and an aquatics center in Crystal City projected at more than $60 million in taxpayer funds.
Arlington Greens chairman John Reeder said he and other Greens enthusiastically supported Vihstadt, and believe that his election may bring in more transparency and fiscal accountability in Arlington where the Democratic Party till now had a monopoly on all elected positions. Reeder said that Arlington has more pressing needs for public funds, particularly for building more affordable rental housing, more school classrooms, and fixing aging public infrastructure in Arlington. Greens supported a public housing authority referendum last year in Arlington in an effort to finance more affordable rental housing.
For more information, read Patricia Sullivan’s article in the Washington Post
chairman the Arlington Green Party
Arlington Greens endorsed independent John Vihstadt for election to the vacant seat on the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, April 8. We urge all Arlington voters to support John: we feel he supports many of the same issues that Greens have for many years and will be a welcome addition to a county board with only Democrats.
If you are not going to be able to make it to the polls on Tuesday, April 8th, or even if you work outside the County, you can vote absentee early now. You can go to 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 320, Arlington, VA 22201 and vote 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. today, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. tomorrow or 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday. There is NO early voting this upcoming Monday. This will be a close, low turnout, special election, so every vote matters a lot.
It’s now less than a week out – remember to vote Tues., April 8th at your normal polling place, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m
For more information on John Vihstadt, go to www.voteforvihstadt.com
The Washington Post this week described an eonomic study of the benefits of building the Columbia Pike trolley as being highly beneficial to developers and landowners, but of course used past economic data that reflected a commercial offic space boom prior to 2012 that has come to a screeching halt.
The county spent $98,000 for this study which of course supported the county board’s view.
If this is such a great deal to invest well over $350 million, why don’t the developers and commercial landowners along the Pike pay for it? This is a classic ploy to get the public to pay for something that benefits private landowners. The building of such a trolley will take five years and involve massive traffic backups and inconvenience for Arlington residents.
Moreover, if the county has to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars just to preserve what little affordable rental housing is left on the Pike, as well as public infrastructure to support more residents and businesses, the $310 million to $750 million in new local tax revenues will disappear rapidly.
Former Arlington County board member Chris Zimmerman who was the chief patron for the trolley made clear from the beginning that his primary objective for the trolley was development, not transportation.
Another major flaw of this study is of course that it assumes that favorable commercial office space and luxury apartments market will continue at its pace of the past ten years. The trolley was proposed more than 10 years ago when development was occurring at a rapid pace; Arlington avoided the effects of the 2008 recesssion owing to higher military/national security spending. Now that spending is dropping like a stone, federal government contracts dropped over a third in the latest quarter in the Metro DC area.
As to the development goals of fully developing the Columbia Pike area, no one seems to pay attention to what is happening in the already developed areas of the county–Crystal City, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, and yes even to Courthouse, Clarendon, Va Square and Ballston. The commercial office vacancy rates there range from 25 to 15 percent and are rising. In the fourth quarter 2013 there are the equivalent of 22 empty office buildings just in Rosslyna and Crystal City areas (see related article on office space glut below).
Why would any business lease space farther out on the Pike when there is abundant vacant space along the Metro rail corridors? Even building new luxury rental apartments and/or condos along the Pike may be a bad idea. Without high paying military contractors and the military, renters cannot afford to pay these
Open letter from AGP webmaster John Reeder to Arlington County Board, March 14, 2014
Yesterday during a break while on jury duty at the Arlington Courthouse tenth floor, I looked out the window and recognized below the roof of the new county building that will house our long needed homeless shelter and county employee office.
Would it be possible given that this building and utility systems must be totally redone, to add solar panels on the roof and/or a green roof, both of which would reduce its carbon footprint and the cost of electricity?
Such a solar system would be a significant public example of the county government leading the way as an environmental model. It appears the roof of the building has unobstructed south view, perfect for solar panels.
By the way, I would like to add that I and the Arlington Green Party have long supported a year round homeless shelter, despite what individual Green members may have stated recently about their personal views. The year round shelter with the ASPAN office a long overdue step in our affordable housing program. I applaud the opening of this shelter as soon as possible, and would support keeping the current shelter building open until the new one is ready.
However, as you are aware, there are virtually no places in which to located many of the clients of the homeless shelter. Our group homes and group townhouses are totally full, and there are few if any vacancies in our committed affordable apartment (CAFs) and these will not accept previously-homeless people making well under $30,000 a year. There are seven vacancies in our CAF apartments this month, and the minimum income needed is around $34,000.
Moreover, many of the homeless have mental and/or addiction issues so that realistically they need to be placed in a specialized residential program outside the shelter. Right now these longer term residential programs are totally full. You need to fund more group homes and group town houses.
thank you for your attention to improving the new homeless shelter,