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.
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. Save the Date: CCCA Annual Meeting, November 17, 7-9 pm. So far, we’ve confirmed that we will have our annual CCCA elections and a presentation by Amazon on its operations in 22202 and its plans for PenPlace. Stay tuned for details in early November
2. Construction Alert: On October 9-10, 18th Street between Crystal Drive and Bell Street will be closed to accommodate installation of construction cranes for the 1900 Crystal Drive development project. Construction will not be very noisy, but will start at 3 am on Saturday and 7 am on Sunday and last until 9 pm. Traffic engineering services will provide traffic control and ensure pedestrian safety.
3. COVID Booster Shots: Arlington County Public Health is now offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to certain people at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series. Appointments are required at Arlington Public Health Clinics. Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find additional locations and appointments near you. Pharmacies are offering them too. And don’t forget your flu shot.
4. Metro Proposals: Be sure to read about the six multibillion-dollar alternatives to improve the capacity and reliability of the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.
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
COVID has shown us how important it is to have parks, trails, and open spaces. Yet 22202 is very lacking in those amenities, except for Virginia Highlands Park and Long Bridge Park. The Livability22202 working group created an open space report in December 2020, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. There is so much more to be done. This is not a roll up your sleeves and dig the ground working group. We are looking for your ideas and input. Join the working group: email [email protected] for more details.
As demonstrated by three recent meetings, we’re starting to have an impact. See the current status here: https://livability22202.org/open-space/ But it’s soooo important to expand membership of the working group to ensure participation, not only geographically across 22202 but also demographically, with emphasis on renters in high rise multifamily buildings needing access to open space. And not just during the COVID pandemic, but year round. An Arlington County Civic Federation White paper shows residents in multifamily units have some of the least access to open space in the County.) Not a surprise to us, is it?
So many issues, so many meetings, so little time! We need members to become and stay engaged.
Highlighting Upcoming Meetings: Please attend the following and lend your ears and voice to ongoing work. These are our most important activities right now.
March 2 Livability Open Space Working Group Meeting (discussed below) The meeting will be mostly informational. If afterwards, you’d like to stay engaged, great! But join us March 2 to learn what’s happening and where you could join in, if you’d like to. We really want/need to expand the working group membership, to promote diversity (demographics, housing, opinions?).
March 3 VDOT Public Meeting on Route 1 Feasibility Study (discussed below) Is this what we want for Route 1 in National Landing? Come to the VDOT public meeting on March 3rd and find out!
March 9 Sustainable Mobility for Arlington (SUSMO) meeting at 7:30 (discussed below) Come learn what is wrong with the proposed Crystal City Bike Network.
March 17 CCCA Meeting The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has agreed to provide a video and PowerPoint update on all the work that is being done at National Airport and which is expected to be completed by summer 2021. Stay tuned for more details. The Arlington County Police Department will also present on crime statistics and car jackings.
A key priority for livable space is to foster environmental sustainability. To achieve this, we need to strategically increase the amount of natural open space and improve the tree canopy, with a focus on reducing heat island intensity, improving stormwater management, and increasing urban biodiversity. Emphasize the incorporation of biophilic design elements into site plans, including private and public space, and the application of biophilic approaches to integration of the built and natural environments. Needs and opportunities abound for open space and connectivity in 22202.
Throughout the first half of 2020, neighbors gathered through a series of discussions, including a community-run workshop on February 22, 2020, to develop a comprehensive agenda on open space. The workshop brought together some 65 community members and experts to examine open space issues organized around four topics:
Connecting residents to the natural world and enhancing biodiversity throughout 22202
Re-envisioning Virginia Highlands Park as the backyard for the Pentagon City community
Developing a holistic approach to planning Crystal City Parks
Exploring the possibility for a nature trail extending from Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary through the wooded parcel along the George Washington Parkway to the southern end of Crystal City
The final report of the workshop examines the principles for holistic planning needed to strengthen connectivity, natural ecosystems, and community-building in open space in the 22202 zip code area. It provides observations and recommendations for initiating a sustained collaboration with other stakeholders invested in the success of our community, including property developers, owners, county staff, and commission members. As stated in the Livability22202 Action Plan, November 2019: “A commitment to livability means a focus on factors that promote ecological sustainability and human health and well-being.” View the final report, the Fact Sheet, and the press release.
Livability22202 continues to explore how to develop a network of green corridors and parks that will connect residents to nature and natural areas to each other. Subsequent to the workshop, we focused on imagining casual use and event space at Virginia Highlands Park, created a naming map to show the possibilities of community-centric facilities in natural areas, and began a Highlands Urban Agriculture garden (HUG) as a pilot project. Our recommendations for Crystal City parallel those resulting from the BID and JBG-sponsored Crystal City Parks community engagement. Overall, our recommendations will feed into the eventual County process for creating and upgrading open space in the 22202 area.