CCCA August 2021 Newsletter

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Highlights:
1.  National Night Out August 3:   The three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, Crystal City–have joined with the National Landing BID to co-sponsor National Night Out in the Summer House and park at 101 S. 12th Street. National Night Out is a community-police awareness-raising event in the United States, held the first Tuesday of August.  It’s a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.  We will have fire trucks, police cars, food trucks, games, music, and lots of goings on.  Thank you to Amazon for sponsoring the refreshments!  Although no more vouchers for food are available via the RSVP due to an overwhelming response, you can still visit the park and join the festivities.

2. Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center Opening Soon
Around mid-August the new Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center will open! We’re excited to see everyone return to the water. Once the new center is open, it will become the home for all Arlington County Parks & Recreation aquatics classes and private swim lessons, including the 55+ aquatics programs. There will be an array of aquatics offerings this fall, pending COVID-19 guidelines. Online registration begins at 7 a.m. for gymnastics classes and 7:30 a.m. for all other programs on Aug. 4. View our online registration guide.  Also look for the 55+ Guide eNews in August; fall registration will open for 55+ County residents on August 18. For more information, click here. We anticipate being able to provide more aquatic offerings and look forward to utilizing the amazing new space! There are over 200 parking spaces available when you arrive. If you have questions regarding Parks & Recreation 55+ aquatics programs or the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, please contact Allison Cheek at [email protected].
 
Tour of Aquatic Center for 22202 residents
We are coordinating with the Facility Manager  a tour of the Aquatic Center on August 18 and 19.  Register on Sign Up Genius as tours are limited to 20 people each.  If the tours fill up, the County might agree to additional tours the next week.

3. Two deadlines for feedback (see newsletter articles):

  • August 15:  CC2DCA Project Needs and Purpose Assessment
  • August 23:  Pentagon City PDSP Study First Draft

CCCA General Meeting July 21, 7-9 pm

Plan to attend the Crystal City Civic Association meeting on Wednesday, July 21, 7-9 pm to learn about the revised JBGS plans for Crystal Plaza 5 (2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd) on Block M in Crystal City. Virginia Tech is being postponed due to a scheduling conflict. See the flyer here.

The revised JBGS plans will be submitted soon, and the new LRPC and SPRC process for these buildings will start after this summer. The two planned buildings will both be residential. You can find the prior, withdrawn plans here: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/2250-crystal-drive/

We will have a discussion of the VDOT recommendation to bring Route 1 down to grade and why the 22202 civic associations call it “incomplete.”

Although not confirmed, we’ve asked a county speaker to explain the requirements for high rise building inspections.

Please preregister to attend the virtual CCCA meeting: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZMpde2vrjMsGNbYKSe2rNszWy06v…

HUG Inauguration Ceremony July 26

Community holds inauguration ceremony, harvests produce at new Arlington park garden

The Livability22202 Open Space Working Group and Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) hosted a small ceremony and media event July 26 to inaugurate the Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) in Virginia Highlands Park and to thank our donors, volunteers, and the County for their support.   We’ve been in operation at the HUG now for going on a year and have already donated more than 100 pounds of produce to various charities, with the goal of reaching 250 by the end of the year.  The pilot project has been very successful.  There were 3 speakers: Carol Fuller, the Open Space Coordinator for Livability, David Sachs for FOUA, and County Board member Libby Garvey. This was followed by a harvest of produce available in the garden on that date:  peppers, cherry tomatoes, beans, parsley, and basil. Previously, harvests included red and green lettuce, Swiss chard, bok choy, beans, cucumbers, and herbs.  National Landing BID President and CEO Tracy Gabriel represented the largest financial donor and also gave words of thanks. The Sustainable Scoop videotaped the event

But none of this would be possible without our wonderful donors who contributed funding and in-kind donations.  As of mid-July, volunteers had donated 433 hours of service to the HUG, the equivalent of $11,690 in labor hours.  We invited all of our donors, volunteers, and County coordinators.  A copy of the invitation letter is attached here. The July 2021 progress report is here. To learn more about the HUG and volunteer opportunities, please visit https://arlingtonurbanag.org/project-hug

CCCA General Meeting July 21

Plan to attend the Crystal City Civic Association meeting on Wednesday, July 21, 7PM to learn about the revised JBGS plans for Crystal Plaza 5 (2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd) on Block M in Crystal City and to hear an update on plans for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus on Potomac Avenue in Potomac Yards – Alexandria: https://vt.edu/innovationcampus/about.html

Please preregister to attend the virtual CCCA meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87424708622….

The revised JBGS plans will be submitted soon, and the new LRPC and SPRC process for these buildings will start after this summer. The two planned buildings will both be residential. You can find the prior, withdrawn plans here: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/2250-crystal-drive/

CCCA July Newsletter

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1.  Call for Civic Engagement!  We are a very dynamic area, with lots of apartment dwellers coming and going.  That means also that our CCCA officers and volunteers come and go!  So we are looking for more folks to join us as observers or officers in the CCCA Executive Board.  You don’t need any special skills, just a little bit of time and a lot of civic interest. It’s a great way to get engaged in your neighborhood and learn what’s going on.  It also really looks good on a resume.  Please contact me if you’d like to discuss joining the team in any capacity:  mailto:[email protected].

2.  SAVE THE DATE:  July 19 CCCA General Meeting: Plans are still being worked out.  But we plan to have JBG Smith to come back to talk about development updates for Crystal City, including their draft revised plan for 223 S 23rd Street and 2250 Crystal Drive.  Virginia Tech has agreed to come talk about their plans for Potomac Yard.  VP Chris Wimbush will also explain the work the Civic Federation is doing on exploring a possible new governance plan for Arlington County.

3.  VDOT Feasibility Report is Incomplete and Unsatisfactory:  After 10 months of study and public meetings, VDOT released its feasibility report on Route 1 at the final Public Information Meeting June 16. No surprise: the recommendation is to bring Route 1 down to grade. The Livability Working Group released a press release on June 27. Read the full text on the Livability22202 website:

The Arlington 22202 Civic Associations united in Livability22202 find VDOT’s Feasibility Study of Route 1 Multimodal Improvements to be incomplete.  It raises further questions, fails to address a number of community concerns, and recommends a traffic pattern that, by VDOT’s own recognition, reduces safety.  If Arlington County and the state proceed without addressing these concerns, our community will be further divided by a dangerous, wide road that puts cars before pedestrians and bikes.  The Associations urge Arlington County Board not to approve the study when submitted unless these larger questions and concerns are addressed.  

4.  Reminder of upcoming feedback deadlines (see details in Newsletter):

  • July 9 Feedback deadline for: 
    • 15th Street/Clark Bell Realignment Project
    • Crystal City Bike Study
    • Army Navy Drive PBL Missing Link Study
  • July 12 Comment Deadline for VDOT Route 1 Study

Livability22202 Route 1 Working Group Rejects VDOT Study

After 10 months of study and public meetings, VDOT released its feasibility report on Route 1 at the final Public Information Meeting June 16. No surprise: the recommendation is to bring Route 1 down to grade. The Livability Working Group released a press release on June 27. Read the full text below:

The Arlington 22202 Civic Associations united in Livability22202 find VDOT’s Feasibility Study of Route 1 Multimodal Improvements to be incomplete.  It raises further questions, fails to address a number of community concerns, and recommends a traffic pattern that, by VDOT’s own recognition, reduces safety.  If Arlington County and the state proceed without addressing these concerns, our community will be further divided by a dangerous, wide road that puts cars before pedestrians and bikes.  The Associations urge Arlington County Board not to approve the study when submitted unless these larger questions and concerns are addressed.  

Background:

VDOT is finalizing a Feasibility Study of Route 1 in Crystal City, in partial compliance of the HQ2 agreement between Amazon and Virginia.  VDOT recommends an at-grade urban boulevard to replace the current overpasses at 18th and 15th streets.  VDOT estimates that bringing Route 1 to grade will cost $180 million, but that estimate excludes many related costs..  The VDOT project website is at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/route_1_multimodal_improvements_study.asp.  The meeting recording and slide deck from the third public meeting are available through this page: https://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern_virginia/route_1_multimodal_improvements_study-third_virtual_public_information_meeting.asp

In what respects is the study incomplete?  Why is further study needed?

1.  Safety:  The study does not achieve VDOT’s own number one Project Goal:  safety for all traveling along and across Route 1.  VDOT admitted that there are tradeoffs and safety is one of them.  No safety analysis was done (e.g., the Highway Safety Manual), and the study does not meet Arlington’s Vision Zero or Master Transportation Plan standards.  Safety research generally shows that there will be safety issues for any signalized arterial with more than 5 lanes, with speed above 25 mph, and more than 40,000 vehicles/day. This study recommendation does not meet those standards.  What can make crossing Route 1 safe for parents and students if a new school is built in the area? How will pedestrians who are older, more frail, or with mobility, cognitive, or sensory impairments cross safely?

2.  Traffic:  VDOT admitted that option 3 for bringing Route 1 down to grade will make traffic worse by diverting it onto side streets. If Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures could indeed reduce traffic as they assert, then why aren’t they being implemented now?  There needs to be a true analysis of regional travel through the corridor as well as transit capacity.  How will traffic from Glebe Road via Route 1 to I-395 be managed? How will the County manage traffic diverted onto our local streets to prevent gridlock and keep all of us safe?

3.  Urban Design:  This is an unambitious design that looks only at a small section of Route 1 in isolation rather than taking a holistic approach to the corridor to the Alexandria County line.  It thus disregards significant stretches of Route 1, Glebe Rd., and the proposal for the airport access road in the Crystal City Sector Plan (CCSP). Likewise, the design makes no effort to ratchet down traffic entering the community, instead including 7 lanes on 15th St–the same number on Route 1 itself currently.  Good urban street design would design changes on intersecting streets to change behavior of drivers as they turn off the highway. Why is the focus only on 18th and 15th  Streets, without addressing the 23rd Street intersection and points south?

4.  Impact on community:  The study ignores what is proposed in the approved CCSP for 15th Street, 18th Street, and the airport access road.  There is tremendous value created for developers, by opening up frontages on such lots as 1800 Bell St, but besides future real estate tax revenue, this project does not deliver any sort of improvement to the community. Rather, removing the 18th and 15th Street underpasses without providing adequate safety measures reduces community access across Route 1.  Increasing traffic diversion on neighborhood streets affects quality of life and safety. Will the proceeds from any public land sales be sunk back into the project, rather than be used for a public purpose in the community?

5.  Process:  The study failed to follow a number of project development procedures that would normally be followed for a project of this scale. Normally, we would see alternatives generated, reduced to a number of feasible alternatives, and analysis conducted to create a chosen alternative that best meets the purpose and need for the project. Here, a CCSP alternative, the development community’s preferred alternative, and a no-build were the only options evaluated. Shouldn’t a project of this scale and impact require a full consideration of options and input from the community from the earliest stages of the project through its completion to ensure community priorities are incorporated? 

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dream big.  Isn’t limiting the project to the current VDOT recommendation an epic fail?  Moreover, VDOT’s estimated cost of $180 million for an at-grade option does not include many related costs, such as relocating the transit stations and bus routes, traffic mitigation measures, and the potential pedestrian bridge/tunnel.

The Livability22202 Civic Associations urge Arlington County to take no action on this proposal until a more holistic study is done that addresses these questions and issues.  If you would like to discuss this, the representatives listed below are from the local civic associations and are engaged in this study.

Livability22202 Update on Schools and Day Care

Update June 23, 2021: The 3 civic associations sent a letter June 23 prepared by the Schools Working Group to the County Board voicing support for the Board’s attention to development of a plan for the creation of more K-12 seats in 22202. It calls for the County to conduct focused engagement with APS with the near-term aim of siting an elementary school within walkable distance of a significant percentage of children in 22202. It calls for a long-term plan in next year’s CIP to address capacity issues at Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School, through construction of existing facilities or new and innovative solutions leveraging partnerships with industry and commercial real estate developers. This follows on the following April 21, 2021, letter to APS and the Superintendent of Schools.

Update April 21, 2021: The 3 civic associations sent a letter April 21 to the Superintendent of Schools and School Board members, with copies to the County Board members, identifying our concerns regarding school capital improvement projects for the upcoming FY2022 APS CIP. This letter reiterates concerns that the 22202 Civic Associations have been voicing for several years to the County and to local developers. The need for school seats at all levels is critical as South Arlington, and particularly National Landing, continue to see new development and increased residential units being built.  Our elementary, middle and high school are already near or over capacity and face substantial seat deficits in the next five years if nothing is done to increase capacity. APS must begin the process of planning for a new elementary school in 22202, and start developing creative solutions to solve the capacity issues at Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School.

New Park at S Eads and Army Navy Drive

 The final draft of the Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines for the New Park at Army Navy Drive and South Eads Street has been posted here. Many thanks to the community members who have provided feedback on this project since September 2020. The final draft plan includes many new amenities including a pollinator habitat, a shade structure– and even an outdoor fitness area. The draft final plan for the park will be considered by the County Board as a consent agenda item at the Sat., June 12 regular meetingLearn about meeting procedures then review the agenda and access the meeting when it starts here.