There have been a number of news articles and letters to the editor (LTE) outlining some of the disappointing and capricious activities in Arlington. Many who have read the articles are relieved – someone is telling the story. When asked to write an article or LTE the overwhelming response is a fear of retribution from the county or APS — fear that their kids will be punished, they will be removed from commissions, or their contributions will be dismissed in other ways. Thus, the ArlWay website was conceived.
We believe that these pieces are an important part of the larger story and wanted to include them on the site. Unfortunately, free Word Press (we are all volunteers) does not allow two blogs. So the functionality that you will find on the blog posts of up-voting or sharing is not an option, but we hope that you follow the links to read the full pieces and come back to ArlWay and contribute your version of the story here – without fear of anyone knowing your name.
In the news update January 2020
- The County Manager issues an apology at 7pm on new year’s eve for a year-long construction project on Columbia Pike where the County failed to alert the public and, even more importantly, the the local business and residents directly impacted by the construction. The apology is nowhere to be found on the County Manager’s home page, public engagement or newsroom webpages. Instead, local media covered the story extensively and it showed up on the Columbia Pike project page.
- Infrastructure issues continue: Not one, but two sewage releases into Four Mile Run, on the 12th and 19th of January. There has been no update on the cause or resolution and the only mention of it is via an alert from the county.
- County demonstrates more poor negotiating skills with Amazon giving increased density for a measly $20 mil in affordable housing and almost no community benefits to offset local impacts.
- Arlington signs off on more home construction without any associated discussion on school seats, transportation, green space, or environmental standards. In addition, none of the homes were mentioned as meeting affordability standards — though they may address housing “needs for the missing middle.” Does missing middle mean townhouses or does it mean the cost of housing for a certain income bracket?
- Controversial APS School Boundary changes, again. “Community meetings are breaking down into yelling, and neighbors are trying not to feel pitted against one another. A former Arlington School Board member has weighed in, questioning APS’s stated decision not to factor demographics into the school moves.”
- County moves forward with a Missing Middle study as a reframing of affordable housing but without any definition on what might constitute a “middle”
- After County Board commitment to watershed and improved community engagement using data, County approves moving forward with widening the WO&D trail resulting in hundreds of trees being eliminated and more impervious surfaces being added
- It’s going on 11 months and our local referees are still unpaid
- County embarks on a County Utility Rate Study with another half baked survey that has no statistical significance
- ARLnow followed up on the Christian Dorsey bankruptcy filing, undisclosed campaign donations and so on and found that his excuses keep on coming.
- Refuting Arlington residents’ concerns publicly? Arlington took an interesting stance to try to refute concerns made by residents regarding stream restoration. But residents didn’t back down and responded to that Arlington with a rebuttal of their own. What is the goal of Arlington’s approach; to refute anything which could damage Arlington’s desire to keep up its Potemkin village? Or, should residents now believe that for every concern that Arlington doesn’t attempt to refute, that those concerns are valid?
- Friends of Upton Hills continues to document the decimation of the tree canopy for an unneeded parking lot. Hopefully we don’t have any rain storms this month.
In the news update November 2019
- APS and the School Board are on their heels trying to deal with the fall out of another boundary change to handle our overcrowded schools.
- Another storm, another power outage. Why can’t the middle of Arlington keep their lights on through storms?
- A continued assault on our natural water system
- Arlington County Board Member can’t answer Arlington’s approach to livability at the City Lab 2019 conference
- Newly re-elected County Board member declares bankruptcy but doesn’t publicly share until AFTER the election results.
- Arlington County loses an important influence seat on the WMATA Board- metro is arguably the most important infrastructure benefit, paired with location, making Arlington an economic powerhouse. “The Metro board on Thursday forced member Christian Dorsey to return a $10,000 campaign contribution from the transit system’s largest union and give up his finance committee chairmanship as punishment for breaking ethics rules regarding the donation.”
- No Arlington or NOVA news outlets covered the ethics of the County Board member’s prior to the election
- To top it all off, the poor infrastructure planning and management has resulted in a water main break that forces the densest portion of the county to boil their water and shuts down schools resulting in 23,000 students missing a day of school
- The Sun Gazette post by Scott McCaffery provides a petulant excuse for not informing the public of relevant information that may impact their vote. When our own Arlington media is unwilling to publish important information about Arlington County, take comfort in knowing you have www.thearlingtonway.org.
- In the news update September 2019
- announcing an equity initiative without any metrics to determine success or failure and a clear message from the public that there isn’t equity
- continuing to approve buildings that cover 100% of the lot, have no affordable housing, and do not have any environmental or energy initiatives (Westmont) and using policy as the reason their hands are tied
- marginalizing the neighborhood concerns about a lack of green space in the new Harris Teeter Public Space
- disregarding the state mandated floodplain at Benjamin Banneker Park
- creating a diversionary meeting schedule to discuss flooding in Arlington and why the staff and board won’t be doing anything about it
- voting to sell a public greenspace parcel in Rosslyn (property Q) that was deemed green “in perpetuity”
- not purchasing the parcel next to Glebe Elementary
- expressing platitudes for collaboration between Arlington and Alexandria
- opening up a request for public opinion on Marcey Road Park without providing any pictures, environmental assessment, or anything that would help inform the public’s comments
The Connection Nov 22, 2019
Chain Bridge Forest loses over 200 trees to developers.
One day in early fall, heavy equipment came and “just started pulling out the trees on a large wooded lot in Chain Bridge Forest.” Russ Pommer says, “We always knew the property owned by one guy since 1987 would be developed.”
#Then it went up for sale in early 2018. Carol Lynn MacCurdy who lives at 3853 N. River Street remembers her husband wrote to County Manager Mark Schwartz on Sept. 8, 2018 highlighting his concern with the need to protect diminishing forest and the County’s lack of an innovative and flexible approach to development. She says he received no response.
Arlnow September 11, 2018
In recent weeks, Arlington County and its school system have sought to charge ARLnow hundreds of dollars to fulfill public records requests, or simply not responded to them — and others around the county have noticed similar issues accessing public documents.
The county has asked for more than $1,140 in all to provide records in response to three requests by ARLnow under the Freedom of Information Act, using accounting practices that raised eyebrows at one of Virginia’s open government watchdog groups. In another case, Arlington Public Schools has gone more than a month before providing any response to an ARLnow FOIA request, missing a state-mandated deadline by weeks.
Other reporters and political activists told ARLnow they’ve received even larger bills, or similarly been stumped by radio silence from the county on the requests. Read more
Washington Post September 4, 2019
There is a whirlwind of change afoot in Arlington Public Schools: The appointment of an interim superintendent and the search to fill the position permanently; the hiring of the newly approved chief diversity officer position and of several senior staff positions vacated in the 2018-2019 school year; the anticipation of Amazon adding students to already overcapacity schools; and ongoing debates about education policy and practices in Arlington County. We seek to project a unified voice about shared concerns and have come together to form Black Parents of Arlington. Read more
Insidenova August 28, 2019
During the planning process, the local civic associations insisted that the massive new edifice conform, more or less, to the footprint of the current building. But plans for the new school show that the western corner of the property, behind 19th Street North and North Madison Street, will be virtually denuded of its majestic tree canopy.
APS will be destroying 40-plus trees on the entire site, with the promise to plant little new ones, primarily around the new staff parking lots. They are planning to pretty much clear-cut the massive trees – healthy, mature, beautiful and home to many kinds of fauna – well away from the construction, and not replace them. Read more
ArlNow, April 16, 2018
An Arlington environmental group is claiming that Arlington’s recent tree canopy assessment is misleading. The tree canopy study found that, from 2011-2016, the tree canopy increased one percent to 41 percent. The Arlington Tree Action Group claims that the two percent margin of error on the county’s study cancels out its findings. A press release from the tree group also notes that the county failed “to emphasize a decrease from the 43 percent recorded in 2008.” Read more
#CountyBoard, #parks, #process, #transparency
Insidenova, Sun Gazette Newspapers July 19, 2018
While simultaneously trying to disentangle themselves from a wave of vocal neighborhood discontent, Arlington County Board members on July 18 agreed to move forward with a temporary relocation of the government’s salt dome that had precipitated the angry community reaction.
The 5-0 vote was on a merely procedural motion – setting a public hearing on the matter for late September – but given the immediate need to replace the existing salt-store facility, it effectively cleared the way for county staff to begin moving immediately on the project.
“We have to move forward. There is not a ‘no-action’ alternative,” sighed board member Erik Gutshall, who like his colleagues had been inundated in days leading up to the vote with complaints from neighbors of the Old Dominion Drive facility, demanding they find another way to address the issue. Read more #CountyBoard, #parks, #process, #transparency
The Washington Post, November, 9, 2018
Arlington is a national leader in many areas, from digital prowess to millennial meccas, but a recent project to revitalize a historically African American community dulls the shine. A flawed public-engagement process illuminates what governments and civic volunteers should avoid. Read more
#CountyBoard, #parks, #process, #transparency
Washington Post, July 13, 2019
Alexandra Lettow was near tears as she described the losses her family suffered in Monday’s flooding to neighbors and county officials gathered at a home in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood. Destroyed this time were the family’s appliances, the heating and air-conditioning system, the hot water heater, a couch, her son’s Xbox, a television and more. It was at least the seventh time the neighborhood had flooded in 19 years. “We took a home loan out last year to repair the basement from the last flood,” Lettow said. “We have no more money, and we have mold growing down there.” Arlington officials on Saturday said initial reports put uninsured residential and business losses at more than $4 million. Read more
#CountyBoard, #environment, #infrastructure, #planning
Insidenova, July 31, 2019
The Sun Gazette’s July 25 editorial mistakenly lets Arlington County government off the hook for its failure to properly manage stormwater and control flooding. Read more
#CountyBoard, #environment, #infrastructure, #planning
Arlnow, August 20, 2019
For parents with black children in Arlington Public Schools, hope and wariness accompanies the experience. Like other families, we have hopeful expectations about our community’s excellent schools. We read the headlines. APS Named Top School System in Virginia for the second year in a row. Four of our high schools are ranked in the top 2% of schools nationwide. We hope our children will also be beneficiaries of that excellence. Yet, the data tells a different story. It tells a tale of (at least) two school systems in one County. One which offers countless advantages to white children, the other which offers far less to black children. Read more
#schools, #planning #race
Sun Gazette October 24, 2019
Arlington governance often takes the form of kabuki theater – where misdirection is king and little ends up the way anticipated by those who don’t understand how the plot will play out.
But those who know the score will not be particularly surprised at how the government’s interactions with the e-scooter industry are playing out:
• Step 1: County Board members and top staff spend months screaming that they and their constituents are outraged by some of the behavior of riders and the firms that supply vehicles to them, and promise retribution.