Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BV Vote; Art and More Art; Police Notes

Thanks for checking out the Herald Trib Today.
Headlines for today:
· County Board Set to Make BV Official, Finally.
· No Public Discussion on Art Removal: “A Slap in the Face.”
· “Give and Take” Gave and Took
· Police Notes for Bham: Do You Know These Men?
· Get Connectioned

Headlines from throughout the week:
· Police Seeking Two Burglars
· Two Weeks, No Food, Get Lucky (and off we go…)
· Bloggers Up to My Ears
· K-9 Unit Searches for Gun in B-ham
· Herald Trib Makes the Sunday Source, June 3
· INVESTIGATION: Gates of Ballston, After Major Renovation Some Tenants Feel Harassed
· Quick Financial Picture of The Gates and Arlington County

Sorry I can’t just hot link each headline, you must scroll down. Be sure to check everything out, and remember that I’m posting regularly throughout the week, now, so check back before next Wednesday to see what’s going on.
Planned stories:
· Concerts in the Parks
· Treasurer Endorsement.

Board to Make BV Official, Finally—Votes Set for Saturday
The County Board is set to take up Buckingham Village and finally vote on the purchase of Village 3, and approve the site plan “Scenario 8” in Village 1, this Saturday at their regular meeting. They will also vote on expanding the county’s historic district to cover Village 3, extending N. 3rd and N. 4th streets, and rezoning one small section of Village 1 to match the surrounding property. Buckingham is item number 44 during the regular hearing.

The decisions that were made between last summer and the first signs of spring this year feel almost like ancient history as the board was scheduled to approve all the decisions in April; the votes were officially set for June, but staff thought they might get the information completed by the May board meeting. Both times, the votes were delayed as county staff worked out details with the owner of the property Paradigm Development Companies, and their partners.

Barring any sudden changes, “It’s a happening thing,” said Mary Curtius, a spokeswoman for the county.

Micheline Castan-Smith of Paradigm, who has been working on the project for months was cautiously optimistic. Although the vote is nice, “the hard part is still ahead of us,” she said. She is looking to the coming months as Paradigm gets ready to relocate families who live in the buildings scheduled to be razed. Paradigm hopes to have a schedule for relocation and a company chosen to help with that by Saturday, she said.
The first buildings to be torn down are those along N. Pershing Drive between Culpepper Garden Apartments and N. George Mason Drive.

But are they happy for the vote?

“Well,” Ms. Castan-Smith said, laughing, “see us on Saturday.”

The county board meeting begins with public comment at 8:30a.m. with the regular meeting beginning no earlier than 9. The meeting is also streamed live via the Internet.

Here’s the Skinny on the Decisions
Buckingham Village 2 is the large dirtsward at the corner of N. Henderson Road and N. George Mason Drive. It is being developed “by right” meaning that it doesn’t play significantly into the negotiations of the past year. That tract will consist of dozens of market-rate townhouses (sorry, that’s townhomes—when they hit a bazillion bucks, they become “homes”).

With BV2 out of the way, consider Village 1: it sits between N. Henderson Road (across the street from the K.W. Barrett Elementary School), N. George Mason Drive, N. Pershing Drive and the Culpepper Gardens Apartments. All of the buildings in BV1 will be razed and replaced. Along N. George Mason Drive will run a line of townhomes. Behind them will sit two large apartment buildings, four storeys each with hundreds of apartments, most at market rates, but some will be affordable.

Village 3 will look much like it does right now, as it will be protected by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board. BV3 sits on N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street. All of the units there will remain affordable. Those buildings will be gutted and renovated with central air conditioning. Some might receive additions similar to the changes being completed at The Gates of Ballston. A pool might be put in.

An interesting turn of events hit the news earlier this year when it was announced that the county (or a company acting on their behalf) will purchase the entire village and resell them at affordable prices.

I’ve written on this topic way too many times to list/link them all here, but here’s a few dates you might check out: Dec. 10, 2006; Jan. 24; Feb. 14 and 28; April 18. These posts have links to others. Enjoy!

No Public Discussion on Art Removal: “A Slap in the Face.”
I reported here that the art long-planned to adorn the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive had been nixed by the county staff as they design and implement a plan to renovate that corner. See the May 23 post.

The news had come from William “Bill” Roberts, who is heading the project for the county. In an email to Buckingham Community Civic Association President Patrick Hope, Mr. Roberts had written, “When we took the streetscape plans to the Historic Affairs Board, we couldn't get them to approve the proposed sculptures (they didn't think it was compatible with the surroundings) and VDOT was also giving us problems about the sculptures being a hazard and the property owner wanted nothing to do with it. In the meantime, the artist had become ill and the county's art curator left for another job. It was becoming so problematic and holding up the rest of the project that we decided to concentrate on getting the streetscape built.”

That got a couple people in Buckingham wondering exactly why they were not included in that process and what happened to the money appropriated for the art.

“The civic association was never brought in,” the BCCA’s Mr. Hope said, adding later, “This is really sort of a slap in the face.”

“We would have proposed [something] amenable to the them,” Mr. Hope said, “I would have liked that opportunity.”

He wondered if another proposal would work and said he hoped that the art is something that can be resurrected.

“[The art] was part of the funding package. Funding was approved. It was not a money issue,” Mr. Hope said.
I am waiting to hear back from other county staff for more details on this. I’ll let you know what they say.

“Give and Take” Gave and Took
Surprisingly, Cory Wagner’s sculpture “Give and Take” is not full of trash, even though it was designed to be taken apart by visitors. I first reported on his piece on April 11 [you may need to scroll down after clicking the link—stupid blogspot], during Mr. Wagner’s installation as part of Arlington Arts Center’s “Sculpture on the Grounds” exhibition. The theme for this installation is “disintegration.”

At the time, he told me that the balls sitting in cups at the top of thin steel poles were supposed to be taken, with the taker leaving behind something as well. He said that he hoped people would not leave trash.

Mr. Wagner filled each cup with a glow-in-the-dark sports ball. The glowing starry nature and the game balls represented childhood dreams, he said. He thought we might be watching as childhood dreams disintegrated into the hard reality of adulthood.

But maybe what we do when we see a fantasy like this is to hang onto a piece of the dream. Sure, some people have left what might be trash: a stick in one cup, a rock in another, a seed pod in another, a water bottle (or perhaps they were saying something about nature?).

At the same time, visitors had a Mardi Gras party theme going with beads and small plastic dolls; or a game theme with tennis balls and Wiffle Balls; or a basic creativity theme with lots of crayons. One has the umbrella from an exotic drink in it. One Wiffle Ball was inscribed with a sharpie marker, “I will always remember this moment” and signed by Katherine, Steven and Anita P. Silver.
Children have been leaving behind drawings that the staff of the Arlington Arts Center has been collecting to keep it out of the weather, Mr. Wagner said in a recent interview. He said that they’ll ask, “Are you sure this is what should be happening?” He said he loves it.

“It’s kind of grown beyond me. I find that rather exciting,” he said.
For someone, the cup runneth over.

The person anchored the cup to a wicker basket, like a basket to a hot-air balloon. The cup now holds a small basketball, and the basket holds the baseball card of White Sox Outfielder Gary Redus, a butterfly keychain and a figurine of a girl with a butterfly net.

“The aesthetics of the piece are beyond my control,” he said about the overall look of the exhibition.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 22.

Police Notes for Buckingham
Do You Know These Men? Arlington Police Seek Identity of “Athletic” Burglary Suspects
June 3: Two men broke through the roof and ceiling of the First Cash Pawn shop at 89 North Glebe Rd., tearing out numerous ceiling tiles on their way into the building, said Det. Steve Gomez with the Arlington Police Department. They exited back through the roof with cash and small items easily carried, but it’s unclear exactly how they got back up, Det. Gomez said, adding that it was “athletic.” Apparently, they broke through some venting to access the building. has reported that it might be tied to similar crimes in Alexandria.

The police have released video photos of the men and hope to release more from a video camera that caught them at the Mr. Wash carwash before they hit the pawn shop, Det. Gomez said. Police are looking for help in catching the thieves:

Crimes Unit is seeking the public's help to identify two men who broke into and stole merchandise from a business in the Ashton Heights neighborhood of Arlington.

Anyone who recognizes either of the suspects or has information about this burglary is asked to call Detective Lisa Roosa at (703) 228-4169.

If callers wish to remain anonymous, they can call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Callers to Crime Solvers do not have to give their names and do not need to testify in court.

May 31: Robbery by Force, 400 block of N. Thomas St. At approximately 9:25p.m. a man on a bicycle was approached by two unknown men. One of the men began hitting the victim in the face while the other took his bag which contained cash and a large amount of phone cards, a police report said. The two suspects then fled on foot. The victim was transported to a local hospital with injuries to the face, head, and hand. Suspect #1 is described as a black male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 150 pounds, wearing a white t-shirt. Suspect #2 is described only as a black male.

Get Connectioned…

Read my latest column (“Steve Thurston: T-Ball Coach”) in the Arlington Connection.
Remember: if you live in the 22203 zip code, call the Arlington Connection and get a FREE subscription to the paper: 703-917-6465. Right now we don’t have enough Buckinghamsters subscribing so the bulk mail takes forever—Sign Up Now!

If you just don’t want another piece of mail, grab a copy at Murky Coffee in Clarendon, Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike (the original joint near S. Courthouse Road), or the Barcroft Sports Center on Four-Mile-Run Drive (near S. George Mason Drive).


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