Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hope Picks Up Furlow Endorsement

Buckinghamster Patrick Hope has picked up the endorsement of Elaine Furlow, a former school board member and chair, his campaign said in a statement. Mr. Hope is running for the 47th district in the House of Delegates against four other contenders.

"Patrick is a careful listener and knows how to balance hearing our concerns with action and decision-making to get things done,” said Elaine Furlow in the statement. “Patrick works uncommonly well with people to solve difficult problems, and Arlington will be well served by having him going to bat for us in the state legislature."

Arlingtonians will choose the Democratic contender in a June 9 primary. Republicans have yet to field a candidate.

Mr. Hope picked up the endorsement of Ashton Height's Civic Association President Ted Bilich (from Feb. 19).

Buckingham Community Civic Association President Pat Hope recently picked up the endorsement of two county board members and a former delegate--read the Sun Gazette story here (from Feb. 17).

Adam Parkhomenko has won the endorsement of Al Eisenberg's sons; read the Sun Gazette's stories here (from Feb. 19).

The five candidates, all Democrats, in the race include:

Miles Grant; Patrick Hope; Alan Howze; Adam Parkhomenko; Andreas Tobar.

They all made news in the Connection on Feb. 3 and again on Feb. 25
andLocal Politics: Board Members Take Sides In 47th

Full Disclosure: I have known Pat Hope for years and consider him a friend.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HeraldTrib Today: Feb. 24, 2009

Christian Dorsey is a natural host…

“Voice Box,” hosted by Arlington activist and politico Christian Dorsey, made its debut last Thursday night on Arlington Independent Media.

A call-in show of local issues with a global perspective, “Voice Box” aired live to homes and was live in front of a small, studio audience.

I was on the panel of guests with three really smart people, all of us discussing new media and democracy.

Other guests included Julie Germany, executive director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet; Adam Lynn, policy coordinator at Freepress; and Margaret Tseng, assistant professor of History and Politics at Marymount University.

I’ve got to say that Mr. Dorsey is a natural host. It was his first night with this show, and he handled it with aplomb. Bummer that no one called in, but the studio audience was great, a nice mix of people, and some nice questions.

“Voice Box” will air a new show monthly. If you missed the first, don’t sweat as rebroadcasts of the inaugural episode will run until March 19 (Comcast channel 69 and Verizon channel 38 in Arlington):

Tuesdays from 7:30-8:30p.m.
Thursdays from 6:30-7:30p.m.
Saturdays from 10:00-11:00p.m.

My take on the HALRB decisions…

The neighborhood has been hopping this week. The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board fielded two big questions last Wednesday regarding redevelopment of the area.

One request pretty much killed the redevelopment of the Buckingham Shopping Center, and to the Village3 project, they gave a bit of the “go-ahead.” The county board votes on a portion of that redevelopment tonight (I’ll be watching that on TV starting at 6:45); see the story by clicking here or scrolling down.

A strong handful of people weighed in with comments on the story of the HALRB’s decision not to support the Buckingham Shopping Center redevelopment. Read the story and comments here before you read my take:

I can see both sides, and I write that not meaning to be politic or mealy-mouthed. I’ve watched this process since it began mid-2007; I’ve covered numerous meetings, and I have to agree with board member Gerald Laporte who said the vote shouldn’t surprise anyone. As early as their December 2007 meeting, the HALRB had trouble with the massing—the height, width and length of the buildings.

The HALRB never made any overtures to liking the scope of this project. It was always just “too big.” I think they could be convinced that something smaller could happen at that corner, but I don’t think that they would have ever liked what the developer, Georgetown Strategic Capital, was offering. I agree with them somewhat, too. I understand why they feel the buildings just were not right for that corner. Four-storeys of red brick and smallish rectangular windows look very institutional (read: prison-like), but that was what Georgetown Strategic felt was left to them.

That’s where I see Georgetown Strategic’s point. Although the board never showed any love for the plans, I never heard the board members say flat-out that they would not support four storeys on the buildings (recall that the plan was to raze the CVS, Glebe Market and El Paso buildings and replace them with two large buildings housing ground floor retail and three floors of apartments above).

It was as if the HALRB kept waiting for Georgetown Strategic to draw-up plans for significantly smaller buildings (something the developer says was economically unfeasible), while Georgetown Strategic kept hoping that the HALRB would learn to love a four-storey building if they could just find the right combination of design and materials. Neither was ever going to happen.

I think the HALRB was right that the buildings never really looked like "Buckingham" buildings--and I was not in love with the plans myself, but I see Georgetown Strategic's consternation.

The HALRB could have put the kaibosh on the fourth floor months ago when they first realized that the plans were not changing significantly and they weren't liking it.

Now the question is whether anyone (even Georgetown Strategic) will take another crack at it.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Arlington to Enter Lease with Telesis for BV3
  • Police Warn Arlingtonians of Scams
  • Letter: Ashton Heights' Bilich Endorses Pat Hope for 47th House of Delegates Race
  • Buckingham Shopping Center Redevelopment Dies in HALRB Hands
  • ">Ethiopia Highlighted at Barrett Library Night
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    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Arlington to Enter Lease With Telesis for BV3

    The deal paves the way for Arlington to buy Village 3 from Paradigm Corp., the current owner by its March 19 closing date.
    This story was corrected slightly on Feb. 24; two numbers were corrected. Sorry for the confusion. --ST

    The Arlington County board is set to OK a lease with Telesis Corp., the redeveloper of Buckingham Village 3, at the board’s recessed meeting Tuesday Feb. 24. This paves the way for the county to buy the land and buildings of Village 3 from Paradigm Corp. and its partners, the current owners of the property. Closing date for the sale is March 19, capping a process that began in 2006.

    Although the county manager’s report to the county board supports the plan, officials from Telesis still met at the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board meeting on Wednesday to request a vote of support from the HALRB.

    Wanting to follow the “Arlington Way” of getting as much community buy-in before the county board meeting, William Whitman, a Telesis vice president, said after the meeting that he wanted to know that historic changes were OK and to “secure their support.”

    The request was granted, and the HALRB decided the best way to handle this was to write a letter to the county board, but the details of the letter took some time to figure out.

    Doris Ray spoke on the need for accessible housing in the Village 3 project. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The HALRB wanted the letter to express general support for the direction the redevelopment was taking, without appearing to support any particular modification at this point.

    Telesis is proposing to redevelop Village 3 in much the same way that AHC, Inc. redeveloped the Gates of Ballston; this makes it less risky for the HALRB to support the concept, people around the table said.

    The project includes additions on the backs of buildings and using some of the basements to create new apartments or expand current ones. Telesis hopes to enclose breezeways on the property. A couple tot-lot playgrounds are planned, as well as a new, below-ground community room.

    One proposal that came under a bit of fire Wednesday was the number and size of the additions. Five additions were approved months ago, and Telesis last month asked for four more. However, the new ones clogged the backyards, in the HALRB’s opinion, so Telesis asked this month only for two more, but larger, additions. The board wanted the shape of those to change.

    Also at the meeting were people representing the disabled, who need affordable housing at a higher rate than other people, said Doris Ray, a member of the county’s Disability Advisory Commission.

    “As you consider the historic and architectural features, please also consider that this is a project that will provide some significant number of affordable housing units,” Ms. Ray said. Most of Village 3 will be affordable for rent or sale.

    “Affordable housing is very important, but the need for it to be accessible is more important,” she said.

    Putting affordability and accessibility together in one project is tough, she admitted. She asked for ramps to the first floor, especially where there was only step to the stoop, lever door handles, and wider doorways where possible.

    Board members were quick to say that they control only the outsides of buildings, but that they would encourage accessibility where possible.

    The developers said they would look into it.

    How the sale and resale works is this: Although the county will buy and own the property and buildings, Telesis will own the improvements to the buildings and will be able to rent the buildings and grounds from the county while they rent the units to tenants, said David Cristeal of the county’s planning division, in a series of interviews and emails.

    “The county has to close on this property by March 20, period,” Mr. Cristeal said on Feb. 13. The cost is $34.5 million which will be paid for with a short term note from SunTrust bank and about $625,000 in AHIF funds, a tax-and-fee supported fund the county uses for affordable housing projects. Mr. Cristeal could not release the details of the note from SunTrust.

    The lease for Telesis is 75 years, with the option for a five year extension. The details of this lease were still being worked out and were unavailable for print, as well.

    The plan is that some of the 140 apartments would be converted into tenant-owned units, either a condominium or a co-op. If that happens, the county would have to sell the land and the buildings, Mr. Cristeal said.

    The law prohibits Arlington from acting as a landlord for housing. Although the county’s policy has encouraged low-income housing, its only power to make that happen has been these sorts of deals. If the county were to create a housing authority, this deal would possibly be subject to change, Mr. Cristeal said.

    Last November, voters handily struck down a referendum creating a housing authority with two-thirds of the vote going against it. About 70 percent of Buckinghamsters and Arlington Foresters voted against it while Ashton Heightsans voted against it 3 to 1.

    Under a memorandum of understanding agreed to by the county and Paradigm in July 2006, while Buckingham Villages 1 and 2 have begun redevelopment, Village 3 was placed under the county's historic protection and would be sold to the county for resale to another developer.

    Related stories…
  • Additions, Basement Apartments and "Roosevelt Room" proposed for Village 3 (Feb. 2, 2009)
  • Telesis' Plans for BV3 Called "Very Responsive" (Nov. 21, 2008).

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  • Police Warn Arlingtonians of Scams

    The Arlington County Police Department's First District is experiencing a rash of fraud cases and identity theft. These cases often involve home repair scams, individuals knocking on doors asking for a glass of water, or claiming that their car ran out of gas and they need a few dollars, ACPD has reported.

    In one case a resident lost over $100,000 in a scam involving fraudulent home repairs that did not take place. The victims of these incidents have primarily been our senior citizens, an email to various civic associations said.

    Arlington police Det. Crystal Nosal said the police are investigating.

    Police warn with the warm weather around the corner, solicitors may come around your neighborhood looking for work or offering to repair driveways, landscaping, roofs and mortgage refinancing to pay for the repairs. When in doubt please check with the State Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963.

    Remember if you see suspicious activity in your community please call the Police Departments non emergency number at 703-558-2222.

    The Arlington Sheriffs Office is offering a program called “Safety for Our Seniors” the objective is to check on the physical welfare of registered seniors living alone or disabled. If you know of a senior citizen that should be a part of this program, please have them call 703-228-4460 to register.

    The First District includes much of north Arlington, including Arlington Forest, Ashton Heights, and Buckingham.

    Related links…
  • First District Map

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  • Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Letter: Ashton Heights' Bilich Endorses Pat Hope


    I have gotten a lot of questions about whether I plan to stand for election to the Virginia House of Delegates for the position that Delegate Al Eisenberg has so ably filled in recent years. I'm writing to let you know that, as I announced at a neighborhood civic association meeting last night, I do not plan to join the race to fill Al's seat.

    I deeply appreciate the encouragement that I received from so many of you. Under different circumstances, I would be sorely tempted to run. Once I learned that my friend Pat Hope was definitely running, however, I realized that I could continue to focus on my community priorities knowing that, in Pat, there was a candidate in the race who can solidly represent the interests of the 47th in Richmond.

    In my role as president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, I have worked closely with Pat in his similar position in the Buckingham neighborhood. Pat's experience, though, goes far beyond the Buckinghams. For those of you who don't know Pat, give him a hard look. You will like what you see. He's a proven leader throughout Arlington. He is a long-time resident of the 47th who understands the special issues facing our neighborhoods. He is a man of his word. As you make your decision about who to support in the increasingly crowded Democratic primary, consider who has really lived and worked in our district, who has walked its streets and represented its neighborhoods, who has demonstrated leadership across a broad range of experience, and who has actually advocated across the full breadth of issues facing our community. In each case, you will find that Pat stands out. Despite some other fine candidates in the race, there is no one more qualified than Pat to represent the neighborhoods that make up the 47th.

    I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to advance the issues we care about. And I hope you will join me in supporting Pat Hope for Delegate.

    All the best,

    Ted Bilich
    Ashton Heights Civic Association

    Arlingtonians will choose the Democratic contender in a June 9 primary. Republicans have yet to field a candidate.

    Buckingham Community Civic Association President Pat Hope recently picked up the endorsement of two county board members and a former delegate--read the Sun Gazette story here (from Feb. 17).

    Adam Parkhomenko has won the endorsement of Al Eisenberg's sons; read the Sun Gazette's stories here (from Feb. 19).

    The five candidates, all Democrats, in the race include:

    Miles Grant; Patrick Hope; Alan Howze; Adam Parkhomenko; Andreas Tobar.

    They all made news in the Connection (from Feb. 3).

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    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Bham Shopping Center Dies in HALRB Hands

    Developers hoping to raze and rebuild half of the Buckingham Shopping Center went to the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board meeting tonight asking for a simple up-or-down vote on the size and scope of the project.

    Architect Scott Matties addresses the HALRB at the meeting. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “What we’re looking for tonight is an overall vote of confidence,” said Bob Moore, a principal of Georgetown Strategic Capital, the developer.

    But in the end, after 15 or 20 minutes of discussion, it was clear to the board members around the table that even taking the vote was not necessary.

    “I think this building is just too big,” said board member Charles Craig.

    “I still think it’s too much of a wall,” said Linda Simmons.

    “The massing [the overall size and shape] of the building is better, but I still think there’s still too much fourth floor,” said Robert Dudka, adding later, “There’s nothing about these buildings that says ‘Buckingham.’”

    “I think you’re hearing around the table a pretty strong reaction to the massing,” said HALRB Chair Isabel Kaldenbach-Montemayor, with some chagrin in her voice.

    The plan would raze the CVS, Glebe Market, and El Paso Café buildings on N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road and replace them with two four-storey buildings of ground-floor retail and residences above.

    A clearly angry Mr. Moore called the process “non-collegial” and said, “There’s a total inconsistency here.”

    He argued that over the year that this process has gone on his company made the changes that the HALRB asked but that people on the board have changed. “It’s a continually revolving door of opinions.”

    He said that the HALRB drew pencil lines on models they had brought in, and his company revamped the design to match those lines.

    He pushed on with what he had to say as Ms. Kaldenbach-Montemayor tried to interject.

    Then he stood up, grabbed his coat and left with a curt “Thank you,” just as she started to speak.

    For the record, though their primary audience had left, people around the table still spoke and said they felt they had acted consistently and that they had done the right thing by not supporting the proposal.

    Board member Gerald Laporte said he has been silent for much of the Buckingham Shopping Center discussions, but he has listened. He said, “This vote doesn’t surprise me at all…I don’t think this should be a surprise to anybody.”


    Ethiopia Highlighted at Barrett Library Night

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

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    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today Feb. 14, 2009

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    HALRB to take Up Telesis and Georgetown Strategic This Week

    Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board will take another peak at a couple Buckingham projects this Wednesday.

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Georgetown Strategic Capital faced serious criticisms at the December HALRB meeting. They hope to raze the CVS and Glebe Market buildings and replace them with four-storey, mixed use buildings.

    The height of the building, the set-back from the road, the amount of available parking and the placement of landscaping all came under fire. At that time, Georgetown Strategic said the restraints on the project were making it less economically viable.

    Telesis Corporation, the company that has won the right to redevelop Buckingham Village 3, will present its latest plans. Telesis hopes to keep the buildings in tact, but wishes to add additions to some, basement living spaces in others and a community center in an unused room underground. Read about the January meeting here.

    Both groups have appeared before the HALRB and its sub-committee, the Design Review Committee in the past.

    The meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:30p.m., but the discussion on Buckingham issues is scheduled for just after 8p.m. Anyone who wants to speak on these, or any, issues must sign-up at the start of the meeting.

    The Arlington County Board is set to take up some other issues regarding Village 3 next week. More later.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • The U.S. Census Needs Help from Arlington Foresters
  • Police Notes.
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    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Census Needs Foresters' Help--EVENT TODAY

    Arlington Forester Karen Scheer is helping to recruit people to canvass for the U.S. Census of 2010. She asked that I post this, and I do so happily (if a bit belatedly):

    The US Census Bureau is currently seeking residents of Arlington County to help us conduct the 2010 Census. Applications will be accepted on Friday, Feb. 13 at Lee Center, Room 201, 5722 Lee Highway. Retirees are encouraged to apply. A basic skills test will be conducted at that time.

    For more information, call: 571-730-6390.


    Police Notes Feb. 6 to Feb. 12

    No links today to the reports on the Arlington Police Web site as the reports are not posted, for unknown reasons; these reports are taken from the email notice that the Arlington County Police Department sends out. The reports covered include the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. --ST

    Feb. 8: Robbery, 200 block of S. Glebe Road. At 10:15p.m., three unknown suspects approached a man at a bus stop. One of the suspects hit the man with a bottle and they took the man’s wallet. One suspect was a white Hispanic male, and the other two were African-American males. All three were wearing dark clothing.

    Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime. Click here to view larger map.

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    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today Feb. 8, 2009

    Ashton Heights’ Bilich May Enter the Fight for the 47th…

    In a story about Alan Howze’s entry into the race for the 47th legislative district (he’s the fifth to enter), the Arlington Connection’s David Schultz also mentioned that Ashton Heights Civic Association President Ted Bilich was considering a run. I’ll admit this was news to me. Read David’s full story here.

    I was a bit snarky, but it wasn’t a joke…

    Scott McCaffrey, editor of the “Big Dog” newspaper, Arlington's Sun Gazette, wondered on his blog if my rather snarky comment on the Jan. 25 HeraldTrib Today was in jest. I wrote:

    “A Jan. 12 article in the Wall Street Journal reports that David Lereah, a chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, was asked to make his predictions rosier than they really were, especially just before the housing market hit crisis levels.

    “The Journal wrote: ‘[Mr. Lereah] says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts -- then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. ‘I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to,’ he said, looking out his window to his tree-filled yard in this Washington suburb.’

    “Funny that Scott McCaffrey has not written about any of this in the Sun Gazette.”

    A bit snarky, I’ll admit, but my point is this:

    The Sun Gazette covers the real estate market more than any other news source in Arlington. If the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors says he was pressured to make his analysis of the numbers rosier, perhaps the Sun Gazette should give a call to the economist and others in the industry and find out for itself if the Sun Gazette has been misled.

    The sort of reporting the WSJ ran makes me wonder if the Sun Gazette’s coverage is accurate. A note from the editor saying that he has looked at the issue and has made adjustments as needed would go a long way to making me trust the paper. If no adjustments are needed, then explain why not and write that.

    Newspapers do this sort of thing whenever they find out a source has gone sour, even if it is just sour grapes.

    Had Scott McCaffrey done this, he would have also found the correction and clarification the WSJ ran which says Mr. Lereah was not asked really to cook the books when projecting, but just to make the current numbers look nicer than they were. All of that is worth a phone call or two, I think.

    Instead of running a story about this, however, the “Big Dog” talked about how far he can reach when he urinates (read the blog post here). That is both gross and off-topic.

    Generally, when newspapers talk about being dogs, they talk about being watchdogs protecting their readership. When you’re a watchdog, nobody cares how far you piddle, just that you’re guarding the house.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Headlines Since the Last HeraldTrib Today:

  • Mosaic Park Upgrade Includes Water, Other Elements (Feb. 7)
  • Mosaic Park Public Meetings (There is still time to get your point made; see the story).
  • Additions and Basement Apartments for Buckingham Village 3 (Feb. 2).
  • BCCA to Meet with Developer (Jan. 26)
  • Police Notes Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 (None!)
  • Police Notes
  • Labels: ,

    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    Mosaic Park Upgrade Includes Water, Open Space, Playground and Walking Elements

    It was not all happiness at the first of two public comment meetings for the Mosaic Park upgrade, but for the most part the comments from the few people to show up were positive.

    County staff and park designers from Oculus-DC are taking a final round of public comment this week and next before presenting their final master plan ideas on Feb. 19. (See times and places below.)

    “This is the master planning,” said Don Hoover of Oculus, describing the current drawings as the skeleton of the future park. “In the future will be a more detailed design process.”

    This plan was presented on Feb. 4. Purple is synthetic surfacing for play areas; yellow is hard sidewalks; blue is the water channel. The rain garden (not connected to the water channel) sits in the lower left-hand corner. The dark line is a low wall that helps direct walking routes but will also be used for sitting. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The park runs north and south between N. Quincy and N. Pollard streets, and will separate mixed-use development on the N. Quincy side from the established residential Ashton Heights neighborhood on the N. Pollard side. The Shooshan Companies, the developers of the Quincy Street mixed use project called Founders Square, are paying $4.5 million for park development in exchange for higher density in their project. That five-building project of residences, businesses and restaurants sits between N. Quincy and N. Randolph Streets, east of the Ballston Commons Mall.

    “This park is really the seam between urban and residential,” Mr. Hoover said.

    For that reason the Quincy Street side has more walking and sitting elements. The sidewalk along the street is separated from the park by a grass berm, but just inside that berm will be places to walk, sit, or have lunch for people on their midday breaks. On the east, N. Pollard, side of the park the focus is more on family fun with a playground area, and an open play space. This side is largely covered in synthetic play surfaces, rather than grass.

    Planners made the argument that the surface will hold up better and longer than grass, but Ashton Heights resident Marty Spitzer called the park, “over-engineered and over-designed.” It is more than the community needs, he said. “It’s the only place within a mile” he said of the park as it currently stands, “to kick a ball.”

    “You can do virtually anything that you can do on grass” on the synthetic surfaces, said county planner Scott McPartlin, “It’ll still stay nice.”

    Mr. Spitzer argued that the space have more grass, and less of the synthetic materials. “This doesn’t meet with the needs of the community,” he said, adding after the meeting that he just wants a place he can bring his children to play Frisbee.

    Marty Spitzer, foreground, and Don Hoover listen to another participant at Wednesday's meeting. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Ashton Heights Civic Association President Ted Billich was a voting member of the Mosaic Park Planning Team. “It isn’t just the neighborhood to the east,” indicating that northern section of Ashton Heights, he said, “There are a lot of constituencies here.”

    The planning team was a group of citizens, county planners and business groups, including three people from Ashton Heights and one each from the other surrounding neighborhoods and groups. The park is part of the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

    The plans include two water elements. The first starts as a fountain on the upper west side and flows down a channel to a reclamation pond that would have mosaic tiles as its bottom. The other is a rain garden, a place to collect run-off rain water from the hard surfaces of the park and grow succulents.

    Both elements would be interactive, Mr. Hoover said.

    “Will kids get wet? Absolutely they will. It’s sort of the nature of this,” Mr. Hoover said.

    Larry Finch, Arlington’s Urban Forestry Commission chair, asked that the designers find a way to allow canopy trees, such as oaks, to grow. That requires more permeable surfaces and earth underneath the sidewalks if the roots will have room to spread and will have the ability to get water.

    “You might think of two or three places where you could have really big trees,” with mulch out to the drip line (the circumference of the branches), Mr. Finch said.

    The current park is mainly open space with a small rock climbing wall and a dome climbing structure in one corner. In 1995 the county redesigned the park; at that time, the focus was on a field for “fulbito,” (or “little soccer”) for area children, especially from the Buckingham Village Apartments, to play. The plan still makes room for fulbito on the synthetic surface.

    Planners believe that all power needs for the park’s water pumps and lights can be gotten through solar and wind producers. Examples at the presentation showed solar panels and small propellers that looked very much like sculpture. That would correspond with the sculptural nature of the planned climbing structures. Even the ground around the play area will be “sculpted” with undulating hills and valleys, all covered in the spongy synthetic surface.

    This first phase of the park is shaped a bit like a lower case “h.” Phase2 requires the county to buy the upper right corner of the “h,” a space currently housing the Gold’s Gym at N. Pollard and Wilson Blvd. Should Phase2 ever come to pass, it would have open grass and a half-court basketball court.

    Although it’s generally frowned upon by the Society of Professional Journalists to have a reporter offer comment in these meetings, I just couldn’t help myself. I told those gathered that a park in New York City has a water feature similar to the one conceived here. The channel that the water follows in NYC, however, is a scale rendering of the Hudson River from its headwaters in the Adirondack Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I said, and people were quick to see where my thoughts took me, that this one could look like the Potomac River, ending on the Chesapeake Bay. --ST

    Upcoming Meetings: County staff and planners will present the plans again at a meeting Tuesday Feb. 10, 7p.m., NRECA building, Room CC2, 4301 Wilson Blvd.

    The final master plan will be presented on on Feb. 19, 7p.m., DHS building, 3033 Wilson Blvd., Rooms 7E and 7F.

    Related stories…
  • Founders Square and Mosaic Park (Oct. 16, 2008)

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  • Friday, February 06, 2009

    Police Notes for Jan. 29 to Feb. 5--None!

    Covering the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhood. --ST

    On occasion people will see that there are no police notes but they will have seen police activity in our area. They point this out to me. At times, there have been mistakes in reporting (from the police or me), but usually, no crime was committed.

    For instance, if the police show up at a home for a domestic disturbance, but they do not arrest anyone, no police report is listed on the county's web site, so I have nothing to report here. Car accidents in which no one is at fault are similar situations. --ST

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    Monday, February 02, 2009

    County Announces Mosaic Park Community Meetings

    Community Meetings
  • Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 7:00p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 7:00p.m.

  • You can attend any of the meetings above (same content). Both allow time for public content, and Q&A.

    NRECA Building, Conferene Room CC2
    4301 Wilson Boulevard(Corner of N. Taylor St. & Wilson Blvd.)

    Community Presentation

  • Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 7:00p.m.

  • 3033 Wilson Blvd, Rooms 7E and 7F

    County staff will present the final proposal at this meeting.

    Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural
    Resources is holding public meetings to present and discuss the
    conceptual plan for Mosaic Park.
    Learn more by visiting the PRCR website at

    You may also contact the County’s project manager,
    Scott McPartlin, by calling 703-228-0929.

    We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations upon request, please call 703-228-0929 or TTY 703-228-4743.

    View Larger Map

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    Additions,Basement Apts., "Roosevelt Room" Propsed for Village 3

    It was a largely friendly meeting at the Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board meeting Jan. 21, when Telesis Corp. made their case for how to renovate Buckingham Village 3. The units will be rented and sold at affordable rates (affordable at 60 percent of Area Median Income for rentals, 80 percent for purchase). The plan’s concepts—excepting that of the community center entrance—seemed to meet with approval of the board even if the details did not.

    (The HALRB has a strong mandate from the county government, as I heard a member say years ago, “We don’t approve concepts, we approve specifics.” If a company cannot get the details past the HALRB, the project does not happen. For a number of reasons, I was not on hand for the full meeting; if tempers flared, I missed it. –ST.)

    Six breezeways in the buildings—those patio spaces conjoining two buildings—will be walled-in and the space there used for the sunrooms in the apartments. Some of the breezeways are only accessible by crawling through windows, Telesis reported. This was a case of the HALRB liking the idea of making the spaces more useable but not liking the bead-board look of the exteriors.

    The company is asking to build a total of nine “bump-outs,” additions off the backs of the buildings that would change about 20 two-bedroom apartments into three-bedroom apartments.

    They are looking to put stand-alone apartments in some basements as well as create a downstairs space attached to apartments above them. The plans include two tot-lot playgrounds, but the swimming pool, part of an earlier plan, is gone.

    One proposal for Village 3 included the "Roosevelt Room," a glass-enclosed entryway to a basement community room. (Drawing by Wiecek and Associates Architects and Planners. Click to enlarge the image.)

    The idea that drew a lot of attention was the plan to build a below-ground community center in a large, unused boiler room. According to a memo from county historian Michael Leventhal, the former boiler room is two storeys below grade.

    The problem that made board member Nancy Iacomini roll her eyes (that sight was priceless) was the entrance to this space.

    To cover the stairs and protect people waiting for the lift while also providing natural light to the below-ground space, the architects from Wiencek and Associates conceived of a small building rather like a greenhouse, brick-and-timber-framed with glass walls and ceiling. They are calling the community room the Roosevelt Room for Eleanor Roosevelt who was friends with the original developers of the property, and who visited here and championed the garden-style apartment living.

    “The wood is just driving me nuts,” Ms. Iacomini said.

    Buckingham Village 3 falls under the protection of the HALRB as part of the agreement between Arlington County and Paradigm Development Corp., the current owner of the property. In that agreement, Village 3, on the northeast corner of N. Pershing and N. George Mason drives, will be sold this March to the county who will retain ownership of the property, while it sells the buildings to Telesis.

    At that point, Village 3 becomes part of the Buckingham Village Historic District, which protects the Gates of Ballston, the Buckingham Shopping Center (at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive), and Historic Ballston Park in Ashton Heights.

    This was part of the same agreement in 2007 that allowed for Paradigm to raze Village 1, on the northwest corner of N. Pershing and N. George Mason, and replace the garden-style apartments with two, four-storey apartment buildings and a series of townhouses (the first apartment building is under construction). Telesis, of Washington, won the contract to buy and renovate the buildings last year and is a developer committed to low-income, but nice-looking, redevelopment, according to their web site. Telesis applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness on the property on Jan. 7; meeting with the HALRB is part of the process to win approval of the certificate.

    Related stories…
  • Telesis’ Planning for BV3 Called Positive (Nov. 21, 2008)
  • County Board Votes on Buckingham Vilages (March 21, 2007)

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