Once again, filled with lots of information on what’s happening in our area. Don’t forget, you can get this Newsletter and email update in your in box and vote at meetings by becoming a member of the CCCA for $10 annually. Local businesses may become Associate Members without a vote.
President’s Corner May 18th Meeting and More Issues than Normal
On May 18th at 7:00, we will have a presentation by the County on Transportation. We will also have an in-person report from an Amazon representative on their HQ2. Lastly we will have a short presentation by Dweck on their new buildings. Join us in person at 251 18th St S or register in advance for this meeting.
Last week the County Board approved the Helix, three office buildings and the rest of the development for Amazon at PenPlace. Besides my comments before the County Board, NBC4 interviewed me.
The County is developing a new graphics tool for all things construction/development. There will be a meeting on Monday May 16th at 7:00. This should be a good tool for all residents.
The bringing down of Route 1 has generated several alternatives for 18th Street. VDOT made a presentation on Thursday and we will be having a meeting on the various choices.
The County is proposing to change the way Storm-Water is going to be billed to residents. Switching to a Storm-Water Utility will mean Crystal City Property Owners will see net bills will fall and single-family owners will see an increase, but the method of payment will change.
The Civic Federation is proposing numerous changes to the County Government Structure. For example, one recommendation is to increase the number of County Board Members from 5 to 7.
Many of you are aware of the ongoing VDOT feasibility study on Route 1 which began in October 2020. VDOT and the commercial community have not budged from the position that Route 1 should be brought down to grade, despite intensive efforts by the community and Livability 22202 to propose other options. VDOT’s Phase 2 Virtual Public Information Meeting on April 28 at 6:30 PM is based on this position.
SO WHERE ARE WE? ● Safety of crossing Route 1 for pedestrians and cyclists has been Livabiity22202’s primary goal for the last two years. You can read the background and learn about our efforts on our Livability 22202 website. Lowering Route 1 to grade with a traffic intersection at 18th Street poses the greatest risks; safety crossing Route 1 must be ensured. We do not believe that the current VDOT plan ensures such safety, especially at 18th Street. The VDOT proposal is inconsistent with Arlington County’s Vision Zero initiative. ● Livability 22202 has worked extensively with 2 pro bono urban architects to encourage VDOT to look more at the people side of this project than the car side. We want the best outcome possible for this feasibility study for the entire community: residents as well as commercial interests . ● Therefore, we have set forward 3 main priorities for Phase 2:
1. Ensure safety crossing at 18th Street with one or more proposals: a. Pedestrianize 18th Street (remove travel lanes on 18th between Eads and Clark/Bell to provide a park-like environment for cyclists and pedestrians and a safe crossing; include a Barnes Dance, where all traffic is stopped and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonally) b. Feasible bicycle/pedestrian underpass c. Bicycle/pedestrian overpass
2. Make the Right of Way on Route 1 overall 165’ to make an at-grade Route 1 a true boulevard.
3. Create a new park between 15th St and the multimodal facility and between Route 1 and Clark/Bell to connect the green ribbon open space areas in Crystal City.
Our proposed ideas offer an opportunity to create a “Green Ribbon” by pedestrianizing 18th Street between Eads and Clark/Bell. This element would ideally extend parks from Virginia Highlands park to the Water Park, given plans for the Metro Market park from 18th to Crystal Drive. But the 18th street crossing of Route 1 is critical for any Bike/Pedestrian pathway.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? ● Register for the April 28 VDOT Public Information Meeting on Phase 2. ● Talk up the meeting and the proposal to bring Route 1 down to grade with all of your friends and acquaintances so they are informed. ● Express your concerns and share your ideas at the meeting. ● If you agree with Livability 22202’s ideas, support them publicly and say so at the April 28 meeting and to friends and acquaintances. We have worked long and hard to defend community interests and seek the best outcome. This is your best opportunity to weigh in before the plans become ingrained in the system. ● Let the Arlington County Board know where you stand and ask for their support for the Livability 22202 positions
1. Save the Date: Our next CCCA meeting will be May 18. With all of the transportation projects in progress or being planned, we may focus the meeting on that topic.
2. What’s to Become of Route 1? Many of you are aware of the ongoing VDOT feasibility study on the Route 1. You can read the background on the Livability22202 website for the Route 1 working group, including the February 27, 2022, letter to VDOT. VDOT has now started Phase 2 of the study and is planning a Public Information Meeting on April 28. Register here. We don’t know yet what will be covered in that meeting, but we have been disappointed that VDOT discontinued the Task Force meetings with essential stakeholders. In the meantime, the Livability working group continues to engage with VDOT, the National Landing BID, the People Before Cars coalition, and JBG to develop creative solutions to the problems of bringing Route 1 down to grade. Safety of crossing Route 1 for pedestrians and bikers is our primary goal and lowering Route 1 to grade with a traffic intersection at 18th Street poses the greatest risks. Working with two pro bono urban architects, the working group has proposed consideration of three ideas: a) pedestrian/bike-only plazas on both sides of Route 1 at 18th Street; b) passageways under Route 1 at 18th for bikes and pedestrians that would connect to the Metro and c) a “blue sky” option for a bridge over Route 1 similar to Highline in NYC. We will continue to inform the community as the study progresses as we seek the best options for a safe crossing of Route 1.
3. Construction to start for Transitway on 12th and Crystal Drive April 4: A notice went out March 25. But remember that beginning the week of April 4th, Arlington County contractors will initiate the construction work for the first segment of the Transitway Extension to Pentagon City. The work includes the installation of two new transit stations at Crystal Drive & 15th Street S, and 12th Street S. & Long Bridge Drive, along with street improvements along 12th Street S. between S. Eads St. and S. Clark St., and the intersection of 12th Street S. at Crystal Drive. See details in the Newsletter.
On April 8 VDOT replied point by point to the Livability22202 February 27 letter on our concerns and questions about the Feasibiity Study for Route 1, but does not appear to have been moved by any of our arguments beyond what they have already agreed to. See the letter here. However, one positive step was a meeting that took place between VDOT and Livability22202 representatives on April 11 to hear the proposals from urban architects Brian Harner and Gus Ardura for passageways across Route 1 at 18th street. See the proposals here. Be sure to register for VDOT’s April 28 Public Information Meeting here.
The VDOT team studying ways to “improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1” presented to the CCCA on January 19 (see website). Phase 2 will cover a number of new studies and probably continue until February 2023. The next Public Information Meeting is planned for late March or early April, but we were told that VDOT will not restart the Task Force meetings in Phase 2. As follow up, on February 27, the Livability22202 Working Group on Route 1 forwarded a letter to VDOT with comments and requests for the Phase 2 process. We have specifically asked VDOT to 1) restart the Task Force in which the Working Group participated during Phase 1; 2) reconsider the Livability 22202 hybrid proposal for Route 1 – with Route 1 at grade at 15th and remaining elevated from 18th; and 3) collaborate with Livability22202 on Exploring a bike-ped passageway under an at-grade Route 1 at 18th Street: .
Registration is now live for the Plot Against Hunger Spring Garden Kickoff, organized by the Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA). Join us at Central Library on March 12th from 10 am until 2 pm for our annual Spring Garden Kickoff event, “Growing Together: Let’s Dig In!”
* “Growing with Climate Change,” an expert panel discussion
* Garden tours and demonstrations
* Seed and seedling giveaways
* Tool clinic and tool swap
* Opportunities to engage with garden experts on a host of topics
Note: Our Livability22202 Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) is one of the garden plots.
2. Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) Season Opening: Calling all Volunteer Gardeners. Following on the very productive 2021 year gardening at the HUG next to the tennis courts at Virginia Highlands Park, we’re preparing for spring planting. Come join us March 13 from 1-3 pm for our first work day of the season. We will be 1) reinstalling the irrigation system connected to the water tanks; 2) demonstrating seed planting in peat pots for the garden and handing out seeds; 3) cleaning up the area, including leaves and weeds; and 4) adding compost to the rings. We’ve already assessed what wintered over, fixed fencing, discussed what plants to grow this year. We have kale and chard that wintered over in covered plots and we want to say “hello” to them. Bring some seeds to share or suggest for planting. It’s going to be a good year at the HUG.
The HUG Instagram account has gone live. highlands.urban.garden Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) is a collaborative project with Livability22202 sponsored by the @nationallanding, @arlparksrec and the Crystal City Rotary Club to develop a demonstration urban garden. @arlingtonfoua is managing the project and providing design and technical expertise. The small-scale garden demonstrates modern, sustainable agricultural practices such as modular, low-impact design principles, sustainable water management practices, and incorporates smart technology to collect agriculture metrics. A team of neighborhood volunteers help install, maintain and manage the garden. Follow to see more HUG updates and details on getting involved! #urbangarden #urbangardening #plotagainsthunger #garden #urbanfarming
3. Tell Arlington County How to Spend Its Capital Improvement Plan Budget:Share your thoughts on how Arlington should invest in major infrastructure for the future. Your input will help inform the proposed 10-year Capital Improvement Plan to be presented in May. Read the information and share your thoughts now through March 15! FYI, the 3 civic associations in 22202 and the Crystal City Citizens Review Committee have emphasized open space and parks. Particularly critical, we need construction funding put into two Crystal City Parks: Center Park (connected to the 1900 Crystal Drive construction) and Metro Park on 18th Street between the existing and proposed Metro entrances. If not funded in the CIP, we’re going to be looking at mud and holes for a long time. Please add your support for the parks.
4. Water Park:
Deconstruction of the park infrastructure that needs to be removed has started. About 8 trees that needed to be removed, either because they were weak or in the way of major infrastructure, have been cut down in the Water Park; ones that will be saved have tree protection fencing around them. It may look terrible right now, but the plan requires many more trees to be planted than were there before. The Mt. Vernon Trail is to remain open. Construction in that section of the park has not yet started – may happen by late March. JBG is looking for potential retail tenants for the kiosks – with focus on locally owned, small women and minority business owners.
5. PenPlace Park:
The proposed redevelopment of the PenPlace block in Pentagon City will include a 2.5-acre public space, detached retail pavilions, and underground vehicular access and parking garage. The proposal includes a variety of inviting public spaces. Some of the proposed components include an amphitheater facing a spacious central green, a forest grove and other amenities to complement the convenience of retail pavilions and restaurants located throughout the site. The proposal also includes room for a dog run, a market promenade, and outdoor seating. The park plan is part of the overall site plan for PenPlace and will come to the Board for final approval in April.
6. MetPark Park:
Despite recent weather, spring is on the horizon and work is progressing across the two-acre park. Crews recently formed concrete footings in the children’s park area in preparation for upcoming installation of playground equipment. Clark Construction is looking forward to seeing the park evolve over the next few months!
7. Crystal City Metro Plaza:
Work continues on the Crystal City Metro Plaza enhancements – a collaboration with JBG SMITH and the National Landing BID to improve the plaza. The Harmony Mural was installed last fall with work continuing on the upgrades to the plaza including new seating, lighting, and other upgrades. Completion is anticipated for late April 2022.
8. Cherry Blossom Kite Festival:
Sat., March 26, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Virginia Highlands Park. The National Cherry Blossom Kite Festival comes to Arlington! This will be a day of fun for the whole family – free and for all-ages – and the event will feature food trucks, live entertainment, games, art projects, inflatables, fitness and more to celebrate spring and our great Arlington outdoors. Free kite kits will be handed out to the first 100 attendees. No registration required. Learn more here.
9. Roaches Run: At the May 2021 CCCA meeting, the Superintendent for the National Park Service told us that the two studies of upgrading Roaches Run had essentially been forgotten. He told us that if we want to do anything with Roaches Run, we must launch a campaign with the County for that purpose. The BID has been approached by George Washington University about the possibility of bringing Roaches Run into National Landing, and a few of us are planning to work with them on this project. This will be a huge slog. But stay tuned for more details in the future.
Seeking a New Newsletter Editor Your CCCA Newsletter Editor is trying hard to retire. Time for new blood, ideas, and innovative format. If you’re interested in writing the monthly Newsletter, let us know at [email protected]. Glad to provide training and all the necessary contacts.
In Memoriam: Many of you may not be aware that the widow of Robert H Smith, who built Crystal City, lived here in the north part of Crystal City until her death December 9, 2021. Clarice Smith was an artist and DC philanthropist who donated to many causes. Her husband died in 2009. We say goodbye in the Newsletter.
1. Message from Your President: A big thank you to everyone who made January’s Meeting a success! We had a presentation by VDOT on the proposed changes to Route 1. Then a discussion panel with Carol Fuller, Pam Van Hine, and Arthur Fox, led by Brian Harner. Lastly, we had a presentation by the County Mental Health Director- Carol Layer on their resources. All the presentations are on the CCCA website. Our next meeting will be in March and we are open to suggestions for topics!
2. REMINDER: Annual Dues Payment Now Overdue: NOTE: If you have not paid your 2022 annual dues, this is the last Newsletter you will receive by email. Annual dues are paid for the calendar year, so payment of $10 will be due no later than February 28 for members to remain on the mailing list as voting members to receive the monthly Newsletter and Updates. Renew online by PayPal or send a check to our new Treasurer Steve Miller, 1300 Crystal Drive #408S, Arlington VA 22202. A confirmation email will be sent by February 28 to all those who have paid their 2022 dues.
3. Seeking a New Newsletter Editor: Your CCCA Newsletter Editor is retiring. Time for new blood, ideas, and innovative format. If you’re interested in writing the monthly Newsletter, let us know at [email protected]. Glad to provide training and all the necessary contacts.
Arlington County is initiating a new study to help guide future development for Pentagon City, with coordinated planning and transportation components. The study will help define Pentagon City’s capacity for future growth by evaluating alternative redevelopment scenarios and their resulting impacts on the capacity of the existing, committed, and planned transportation system, infrastructure, public spaces and community facilities. This will result in a Plan Document, which conveys new land use policies, redevelopment principles, and supporting urban design guidelines for future growth within Pentagon City.
With the commitment of Amazon to develop their east coast headquarters in Arlington County, for the first time in its history, the 1976 Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) is anticipated to approach full build out. Future growth will require additional development potential to be allocated by the County Board in order to enable redevelopment and/or major improvements. Since the fall of 2020, Arlington County has been leading a strategic community planning process for Pentagon City to reevaluate long-term goals for this important area with an emphasis on its transportation network. Informed by the community’s recent work on livability, the Planning Study includes broad participation from residents, businesses, community groups, and stakeholders. See the Project Page here for the latest information.