Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HeraldTrib Today: Oct. 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

It’s a bad day to be a witch, at least this witch in Arlington Forest!

Of course, it’s Halloween, and the kids at K.W. Barrett Elementary School had their annual walk through the neighborhood. I’ll have something up on that tomorrow—a lot of pictures to run through.

The bigger news: I posted endorsements for Walter Tejada and Mike McMenamin yesterday. Elections are Tuesday. Coverage: Tejada story; Tejada interview; Hynes story; Hynes Interview; McMenamin story; McMenamin Interview; Ruebner story; Ruebner Interview. (I was unable to reach Mr. Warren, the fifth candidate in the board race, for an interview.)

Still potentially bigger news: Buckingham Village 1, on the northwest corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing drives, will see demolition in the near future. Read the full story below.

A number of people asked me what the shed-like structure attached to a Village 1 building is. It is attached to the back of the building at 418 N. George Mason Drive, but it’s the shed anyone can see from N. Henderson Road near Barrett. Turns out it’s an addition to the complex’s maintenance shed, Micheline Castan-Smith told me. Now you know.

Another writer/blogger/columnist lives in Buckingham. He is Vic Socotra and lives in The Chatham, or, as he calls it, “The Big Pink” or even “The Island of Misfit Toys.” He’s been writing a number of pieces on the Buckingham redevelopment. If you email him, he’ll put you on his list, no doubt.

For the past two weeks I had been meaning to write that it was about time for Paradigm Development Corp., which owns the large dirtsward at the intersection of N. Thomas Street and N. Henderson Road, to cut down the brush that had grown up over the summer. Then, voila, I saw they mowed and planted grass. Excellent! Now, let’s just get rid of that large pipe/trough, and get the street lights working again, and I’ll be happy as a clam.

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: Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • Buckingham Demolition Just Around Corner
  • Police Notes for Bham (Happily, on the scariest day of the year, none to report!)

  • Headline's from Earlier in the Week:

  • Endorsements: McMenamin, Tejada
  • Breakfast with Walter at Rinconcito (the meeting with Mr. Tejada)
  • Mr. Tejada's Interview Responses (Affordable Housing is Key)
  • Police ID Man Found Dead
  • Mugging Victim Grateful for Neighbors (A slideshow with the recorded interview of Hugo Barrios who was mugged outside his apartment building in September.)
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    Village 1 Demolition Just Around Corner

    Demolition on five-and-one-half buildings in Buckingham Village 1 will begin as soon as lawyers representing Paradigm Development, its investment partners, the Virginia Housing Development Authority and Arlington County finish dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s on the building's financing.

    “If closing [on the documents] occurs this week, demolition will begin” this week, said Micheline Castan-Smith, the project manager for Paradigm. “There are no issues” for the lawyers to contend with, she said.

    Click for a larger image (provided by Paradigm Development Corp.).

    “Building A,” a four-storey, 234 unit apartment building (see a previous story here), will rise in the space. One hundred units will be affordable, Ms. Castan-Smith said. Families earning 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income, about $57,000 for a family of four, will qualify for the apartments.

    Ms. Castan-Smith said her company expects to complete the building by December 2009. As part of the agreement Paradigm made with Arlington County, the company cannot start construction of other buildings on the property until Building A is completed. However, during the process of making the park space and other roads associated with Building A, Paradigm may need to take down a couple more buildings, she said.

    The buildings being torn down covered 21 addresses, and the half-building that will remain has utilities for the rest of the complex running through it and therefore cannot be torn down yet, Ms. Castan-Smith said. People still live in the north half of Village 1.

    Construction workers along N. Pershing Drive are installing the conduits to run power underground both to the new building and to Arlington Oaks Condominium across N. Pershing. A handful of utility poles will come down, a construction worker said.

    A construction crew installs conduits for power and other utilities along N. Pershing Drive.

    Construction crews are expected to park on-site, not on the street, and the trucks that haul away the debris will run along N. Pershing Drive, N. George Mason Drive, Arlington Boulevard and Interstate-66, avoiding the intersections near K.W. Barrett Elementary School, Ms. Castan-Smith said.

    Map of the construction area. Click on lines and icons to see each of their descriptions.

    View Larger Map

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    Police Notes for Buckingham Oct. 31, 2007

    Nothing was reported by the police.

    So readers know, the police report comes out on Wednesdays before the police publish their report for the day, so this report always covers the preceding Wednesday through Tuesday (in this case: Wednesday Oct. 24 to Tuesday Oct. 30).

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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Endorsements: McMenamin, Tejada

    Let me just say first that I think at least four of the five contenders for the county board’s two seats this year would do a fine job on the board. The fifth is Joseph Warren, who I have only met briefly and was unable to reach for a candidate forum this year. He might be a wonderful man and perfect for the board, but I just do not know him well enough.

    That said, I had to pick two, and I was surprised when I read that my two are the same as the Washington Post’s picks. I’ll even admit that I like Mr. McMenamin for many of the same reasons that Scott McCaffrey mentioned when he endorsed Mr. McMenamin in his paper earlier this week.

    But here are my reasons, and I’ll start with Walter Tejada, Democrat, first.

    Mr. Tejada was instrumental in the Buckingham Villages redevelopment, helping to save at least some of the community’s open space and the community of people. It is clear that he knows the neighborhood and its people very well. He knows what groups meet here, and what a good number of the issues of the neighborhood are.

    I am a sucker for politicians who show up. Although I feel a little burned with Chris Zimmerman, who I endorsed last year, I do not fear that as much with Mr. Tejada who has too strong an interest affordable housing and issues of justice and diversity to disappear from this neighborhood for too long.

    This endorsement is not without its reservations. I have heard from people in the party and in the county government about the county’s budget problems. Mr. Tejada’s reputation is one that leans toward saying yes to a project and then thinking of the money. Frankly, I was not thrilled with his answer to the budget question I put to him during our interview on Friday. As well, I am hoping that we will see him at some of the other Buckingham events, such meetings of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, too.

    Still, he, like the rest of the candidates, is approachable and knowledgeable, and I think we should send him back for another four years.

    Mike McMenamin, Republican, is working on his second run for the county board, and his campaign last year and this year focused on tighter fiscal management of the county’s budget, and closer attention to neighborhood concerns. Tighter fiscal management has become a plank on all the campaign platforms this year, and I think that may partly be thanks to Mr. McMenamin’s push last year.

    Mr. McMenamin is very knowledgeable about the county’s workings, its budget and organization. As the outsider, he will be in a stronger position to question board actions. I am a big fan of vigorous debate, and, with his background, Mr. McMenamin is in a place to provide it.

    This, too, comes with its problems. During his “Meet-n-Greet” he focused quite a bit on the need to look at the schools’ budget. He mentioned other budget cutting ideas, but if he focuses too much attention on the schools, he and we may be disappointed.

    I want to say one piece about the other two candidates who I have gotten to know. The Green Party candidate Josh Ruebner is a smart, nice man who has a long life ahead of him in county politics if he wants it. He needs to get more involved in the county processes, joining commissions and attending more meeting for my taste. Still, I agree with his take on the Columbia Pike street car mess, but less so with the idea of a Housing Authority. I may come around on the Housing Authority as I hear details over the coming year.

    If I lived in a different neighborhood, I might just have picked Mary Hynes over Mr. Tejada. She is smart, and loved by the county; it is very hard to find bad news about her in the local papers. My choices leaned to Mr. Tejada because of his attachment to this neighborhood, and to Mr. McMenamin because I think we need a truly alternative voice on the board. I did not choose Ms. Hynes mainly because there are only two slots to fill.

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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Breakfast with Walter at Rinconcito

    The days before the elections quickly run, so it turned out that Walter Tejada and I couldn’t find a good date for a quick “Meet-n-Greet” in order to let Buckinghamsters have their chance with him. Instead, he and I sat down to breakfast on Friday at Rinconcito Chapin in the Buckingham Shopping Center. Mr. Tejada had chosen the place, and I knew from an email group I belong to that the owners of the shop support him—he has had political events there over the past month. When he arrived, he was greeted warmly by a small handful of people.

    He apologized for missing my emails regarding a “Meet-n-Greet,” and I apologized for not pursuing him more fully. We each ordered a #1 off the lighted sign over the grill—eggs over, fried plantains, refried beans, and a baked corn tortilla of some sort, crispy. I had to admit to not being a huge fan of Guatemalan food, although I love a good fried plantain. I was surprised by the beans, very good. Haven’t been in years, but I plan to go back.

    We had a nice conversation, for about an hour. His responses appear in the story below. As always, the questions are edited to get to the point (I’m known to ramble), and the responses are all quotes, with “ums” and “ahs,” unnecessary asides or repetitions removed.

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    Tejada: Affordable Housing is Key

    Democratic county board member and candidate Walter Tejada interview with Steve Thurston (of the HeraldTrib) on Oct. 26, 2007. The interview questions were edited for length and clarity, the responses were edited for length, interruptions or unnecessary asides. All words are quoted. –Steve Thurston

    HeraldTrib: Looking back over the four years, what are you happiest about, what are you most proud about?
    Walter Tejada: Probably the variety of people that now are more familiar, who understand more how to engage in civic life in the county….There are different ways for volunteering in a your local neighborhood like the Buckingham community, you know, the Buckingham Volunteers for example, helping them, and plugging them in different things. Working with the Buckingham Youth Brigade, the Latin-American Student Association from Washington Lee [High School], Latinos in Accion at Wakefield [High School], and working with the…community redevelopment center to see what resources we can identify for them. Then, of course the Community Role Models…what started out…with a handful of people is now over 1,000 strong today…. What we’ve found is what people wanted is like sort of a hit-and-run. They want to have a choice where you come some place and if you didn’t like it you leave, and you never ever have to come back. Fine. But what’s happened is a lot people have come to events, like a fundraiser for a non-profit,… and they end up being regular volunteers….That’s exactly what we wanted to do. You sort of get people’s feet wet so that they can then on their own make a choice of whether they’d like to be involved…I have some who’ve already asked me, “What do you need to do to be on a [county-wide] commission?”…
    Looking back, you’re not going to see a headline on the things I’m most proud of, you’re not going to see it in the newspaper….A county board member needs to have more, responsibility, more self-responsibility is how I would put it, to strengthen the community infrastructure.

    HT: The Buckingham reconstruction was expensive, and from what I understand the money has made it very difficult to do this sort of thing in the near future. I know you were very involved in the negotiations. But given the expense and that kind of thing, I was curious if you would still do it again or in the same way?
    WT: Well, I would always be open to try something different if it will meet the criteria I set out in this order, particular to me. One, preserve the community, the people. Two, preserve affordable housing because it might not be one with the other sometimes. Three, preserve historical designation. And fourth, affordable home ownership. Those are the four components that I set out to do….I had gotten involved even more deeper in this community as a result of something called Arna Valley where literally thousands of Arlingtonians were kicked out from south Arlington near [Interstate] 395. I was one of the rabble-rousers at the time, trying to keep that from happening….I vowed then that someday I would do something about it. So I was fighting then from the outside, now I’m fighting from the inside, but I’m still fighting….

    If there was another way to reach that where we preserve the community, bring it to the table, let me look at it, fine, we’ll evaluate it.…The one thing to remember here is these things are not easy…you bring people together, and you look at options, and you form them, and you hammer out what’s really within our reach and see if there’s something that we all can win and come out of it….I brought the developer [Paradigm Development Co.] to the table, and Chris Zimmerman also worked very hard along side….Regrettably, we’re in a position where we have to be able to find incentives for the developer to work with us in order to protect the community, and I don’t like it. It’s a fact of Virginia law….

    I said, if we’re going to lose something where those luxury townhouses are going to go up, and if we’re preserving the community, and we’re keeping Buckingham Village 3 and we’re keeping most of Buckingham Village 1, and this development will take awhile before that happens, and the community will be there, you know, that’s not a bad deal.

    Now, is it cheap? Of course not. It’s going to cost, and anytime that we wait for more time to go by, I don’t see anything that’s going down in price, do you?

    HT: No, but what I was curious about though, let’s say next week we get news that there’s another developer who’s saying I’m going to go and redevelop another low- or moderate-income housing project, the county’s not really in a position to take that on, is it?
    WT: We have limited options, but we have options….We don’t have public housing in Arlington. It has been discussed before. There’s talk about a possible housing authority. I’m open to the conversation.

    HT: You’re probably the most open to that idea of a housing authority on the board.
    WT: Steve, if there’s a silver bullet for the affordable housing crisis, I want to find it. There isn’t such a thing so far….I’m not a fan of public housing, having lived in Brooklyn and seeing what the projects were like….I actually like non-profit management when it’s done effectively. We have some successes. Virginia Gardens is one. AHC does a terrific job in that project. I’m not sure they’re doing quite as well in other projects.

    Like the Gates [of Ballston]?
    Correct….I will point out where things need to be done better, and I’ll give credit where it’s due.

    HT: Let me take you off the affordable housing track for a second. At the corner of N. Glebe and Pershing, men wait to get jobs, and some get drunk, vomit, urinate and defecate outside. The question always comes back to me, do we need more day-laborer sites in Arlington? We have the SEEC (Shirlington Employment and Education Center) on Four-Mile-Run. Do we need something more “up county”?
    WT: Right now, I’m not convinced of that. I’m the one that led the way for the Shirlington Employment Education Center, before I came to the board. I was a founding chairman of SEEC….Since I’ve been on the board, we’ve put the pavilion there to give it more resources and keep it within that area as well. I think that’s the place where everyone should be going….First of all, we’re going to do a lot of things here [referring to the reconstruction of the corner at N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive]. With that will come some adjustments in outreach to encourage folks to go.

    HT: Will there? Is there county money for this?

    WT: Some of these things can be done informally….I have encouraged always the Buckingham Volunteers [based in the Buckingham Outreach Center on N. 4th Street] to help with this kind of thing. This is the kind of thing that they can be…empowered to help their own community by tackling this kind of situation.

    So should they [the men waiting for the jobs] be doing all this terrible allegations of quality of life thing? No they should not.

    HT: It’s probably 40 guys who get jobs from that corner. What are the chances that even during reconstruction of the corner they’re suddenly going to say, “We should be going to the SEEC center.”?
    WT: Well, I’m one that doesn’t believe in giving up….I think that now that we’re going to do the renovations is a great opportunity to tell them that this [SEEC] is where you ought to be….There’s a whole range of stuff that goes on at SEEC….There needs to be more education on that. If they’re just standing on the corner here, whereas over there they might get job leads and self-empowering skills, people need to understand that.

    HT: Change of subject again, over to the Lubber Center. It’s not ADA compliant. It has senior citizens programs housed on the second floor of a building with no elevator, yet it never makes it up to the top of the CIP to get funding. Does something need to be done there?
    WT: Of course. The answer’s yes. Having been there multiple times, I’m very familiar with Lubber Run Community Center. And I’m aware of all the ADA issues; I’m aware of no elevator….At Lubber Run, we need to redo it, the whole thing needs to be redone.…[T]here isn’t any proposal on the table, so don’t get scared that somehow the county’s concocting something, there’s nothing, and that’s part of the regrettable part of it….I would like to at some point, put it in the CIP track, but to be honest, I don’t know when that would be....There’s a big discussion about Wakefield High School, the Career Center, Thomas Jefferson which is not far from here, and of course we’ve got a multitude of roads projects and neighborhood conservation issues, water management….We’re doing a whole lot already….$565 million to renovate our water pollution control plant, for example, that’s not chump change, that’s seriously investing.

    HT: That was part of a court order, though, right?
    WT: Well, we’re under a court decree, yeah, right.

    HT: It’s semantics there.
    WT: For all intents and purposes, indeed it is a court order. We’d much rather do this than have it forced upon us, and the possibility of 23,000 households in the Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church area affected, adversely affected. So we need to do it now. So Lubber Run, it will be something that we will continue to see if it will be done. I think the people who are interested in making that happen will need to speak up in the future. In particular, prior to the CIP productions.

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    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Police ID Man Found Dead

    Arlington Police released the name of the homeless man found dead on Arlington Boulevard at N. George Mason Drive on Oct. 15.

    No cause of death has yet been determined for Rene Vaquez, 60, a white Hispanic male, police said, adding, there were no signs of foul play. For the original post about this, click here.

    Mugging Victim Grateful for Neighbors

    Hugo Barrios was mugged outside his apartment on N. 5th Street, Friday Sept. 21. (See the original report here.) The assailants, two African-American men, used pepper spray but could not steal anything before they were chased off by Miles Grant (writer of the Green Miles blog) and his girlfriend Lauren Uranga. They were not caught.

    The interview with Hugo took place in October at the Ballston Commons Mall. The interview with Mr. Grant and Ms. Uranga took place at Mr. Grant’s apartment on a different day. The interviews have been edited for time and organization.

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    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    HeraldTrib TODAY: Oct. 24, 2007

    "Meet-n-Greet" Turnout "astounds"; MickeyD's; Police Notes

    We had another great “Meet-n-Greet,” Monday, this time with Mary Hynes, a Democrat running for the county board. Four Buckinghamsters showed up, plus a couple that Ms. Hynes brought along in case anyone needed English to Spanish translation. We must be the fastest growing political event in Arlington!

    Walter Tejada’s camp has been contacting me about setting up a “Meet-n-Greet” with him. Mr. Tejada is the only incumbent running for the board. Somehow my invitation emails back in August and September were missed. We’re seeing if we can get together now. It might end up that it’s just an interview with me (with the transcript posted, of course). I’ll keep you posted.

    I walked by the McDonald’s on N. Glebe Road at Arlington Boulevard the other day and saw this:

    From that rubble should rise this:

    I lifted that image from the county’s economic development web site. They have a great overview of the project, so I will not add my own at this point. Read theirs here.

    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: Thurston).

    Today’s Headlines:

  • Fastest Growing Political Event in Arlington!
  • Police Notes for Buckingham (of course, with map).

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Mary Hynes: Drawing on Schools Decisions to Help Her in County Decisions (the transcript of her “Meet-n-Greet”)
  • South Arlington Civic Associations to Hold Debate
  • Missed Item from the Oct. 13 County Board Meet
  • Buckingham Bridges OK (with map)
  • Letter: Ex-Pats Reading, Would Participate!

  • The Fastest Growing Political Event in Arlington!

    That’s right, the HeraldTrib’s “Meet-n-Greets” must be the fastest growing political events in Arlington. Although the change from the “Meet-n-Greet” with Mike McMenamin to the “Meet-n-Greet” with Mary Hynes, Monday, was only up 400 percent (the increase from Josh Ruebner to Mr. McMenamin was an infinite percent), the growth in total numbers, 4 people, astounds.

    “The rise of 400 percent in just one cycle of the event really amazes me,” said Steve Thurston, the HeraldTrib editor. “I couldn’t be happier.” (My homage to Scott McCaffrey.)

    The event, Monday Oct. 22, was a casual get-together in a circle of chairs over coffee, cake and cookies. Ms. Hynes opened with some remarks and took questions for about 90 minutes.

    If you get a few Buckinghamsters in a room, too, the questions get right to the difficulties facing our neighborhood—increased traffic, affordable housing, what to do with the proposed miniature golf site and day labor issues.

    A pared-down version of the questions and answers appears a couple stories below (scroll down, or click this link). Much of the discussion was a conversation, often with the attendees speaking as much as, and over, Ms. Hynes, so the questions and responses required some editing.

    The responses Ms. Hynes gave are verbatim in the text below, with portions removed to save space. I wanted all three of the attendees to have about the same amount of space on the blog. The questions generally are edited from the remarks a few people made at once, followed by Ms. Hynes’ response.

    Suzi Pulliam, Mick Pulliam, Mauricio Trujillo

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    Police Notes for Buckingham

    To deter car theft, police have planned a FREE vehicle etching program for Nov. 3, at the Arlington Assembly of God, 4501 N. Pershing Drive (just west of The Chatham condominium building). Trained engravers will etch your vehicle’s Identification Number (VIN) into the windows of the car, or the windows or fairing of a motorcycle. According to the press release, this deters the thief, and makes it less likely that the car’s windows will be used at a “chop-shop.” Police also say a vehicle with the etching may be eligible for lower insurance rates.

    Oct. 19: Robbery, 4300 block of N. 4th St. Between 10:40 p.m. and 10:48 p.m., a 26-year-old man was assaulted by a suspect known to him. The suspect struck the victim with a glass bottle and took his bicycle.

    Oct. 16: Felony Hit and Run, N. Glebe Rd at Arlington Boulevard. Around 7:18 p.m., a Toyota van and a Nissan coupe were stopped in the left lane of northbound Glebe Road over Arlington Boulevard, waiting to turn left onto Arlington Boulevard, westbound. A Honda sedan was traveling in the left lane behind the Toyota and Nissan. The Honda failed to stop in time and struck the Toyota, pushing it into the Nissan. No injuries were reported but there was significant damage to the vehicles. The driver of the suspect Honda fled the scene on foot. The investigation is ongoing.

    View Larger Map

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Mary Hynes: Drawing on School Decisions to Help in County's

    Democratic county board candidate Mary Hynes interview with Steve Thurston (of the HeraldTrib) and community members (at the HeraldTrib) on Oct. 22, 2007. The interview questions were edited for length and clarity, the responses were edited for length, interruptions or unnecessary asides. All of Ms. Hynes responses are quoted. The community members engaged much more in a discussion rather than a “Question and Answer.” The questions marked “Community Members” below are a summary or amalgam of the discussion. –Steve Thurston

    HeraldTrib: Tell us why you’re running.
    Mary Hynes: ….There are three things that I think we’re going to have to work on, regardless…The first one is how are we dealing with our aging infrastructure, our sewers, our water, our streets, our sidewalks….The second thing is affordable housing….I do want us to keep having places that work well for the folks that have been living in garden apartments and are of lesser means. But I also see this huge hole in our housing stock of garden apartments that people rent, and then when you want to buy there’s really nothing in that starter category anymore….The third thing that I think we have to keep our eye on is what’s happening in human services.….We partner with a lot of non-profits. Some of those non-profits deliver essential services to folks. Some of them are not as economically healthy as I would like to see; they’re not able to offer their employees benefits sometimes, and yet they’re providing essential services.

    Community Member: How do we maintain housing “mixed” by ethnicity and socio-economic class?
    MH: …It is the greatest challenge that we have. And the tools that we have, I think, as a county are pretty limited. There’s no way, for instance, when you’re talking with folks to say, as other places do, you know if you redevelop in this way, so that we have a mixture of affordabilities and a mixture of sizes, we can give you a tax break up front. There’s no way for us to do that right now in Virginia, and yet that’s a tool that works in a lot of other places to hold housing in a mixed environment. Some of this we’re going to have to keep working very closely with the legislature and the governor on.

    CM: I am a little curious as to where you stood with the Paradigm development. Was it something you’re in favor of, or, perhaps, may have had a different opinion? [The speaker was referring to the redevelopment of Buckingham Villages 1 and 3. –ST.]
    MH: I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of that deal at all. I certainly supported holding onto as many affordable units as we could figure out to do, and I do support finding ways to do affordable home ownership. How that’s all going to fit together there, I don’t know as much about it as I, perhaps, ought to….It’s an expensive precedent, we cannot afford, I don’t think, to do that in every place that an owner is willing to not go to the maximum density.

    CM: How do you feel about affordable housing as it is spread throughout Arlington right now?
    MH: I think we’re going to have to get smarter about spreading it out. Finding the right strategies to do that is going to be the sort of forward thinking that we need to do, whether it is allowing things, commercial areas on these other roads to get a little higher so that we can have some housing. Another idea that I’m interested in…they call them accessory dwelling units, really basement apartments or garages in single family neighborhoods that become a small apartment…. We’re not going to solve it only on the corridors.

    CM: With all of this increased density throughout the county, what will the impact on the infrastructure be, and who’s going to monitor that? You’re talking about putting more people into garages and basement apartments, it’s a hidden kind of thing.
    MH: …We’re under a court order to upgrade our sewer treatment plant and deal with that…and it’s a capacity issue as well as an upgrading of the technology that manages the sewer. We have major storm water maintenance issues in this community, and the county board has begun to address that, but it’s going to continue to be an issue.…We need to get a really strong matrix in place that says as we do this development, these are the ancillary things that we need to pay attention to.

    HT: You live in Lyon Village, and I believe you were on the first group of people to fight against “The View at Clarendon” the mixed-use redevelopment of the First Baptist Church.
    MH: I would characterize it slightly differently. The Baptist church was kind of moving along, it was supposed to get to the county board, and the county board decided that they would have the manager convene a working group of neighbors, housing advocates and church people to work through the issue. I was one of the two neighborhood representatives to that round table….We tried to come to a consensus position….Lots of people have different perceptions of what happened. In the end where I came down was that I believe that 10 storeys was too tall for that location. I was very grateful that the manager preserved the three-storey portion of the building that’s the day care center….But the 10 storey portion is across from a number of single-family homes. And the zoning change that was necessary to allow that 10 storey building changed a 30-year agreement…that the neighborhood had come to rely on.…In the end, no compromise was reached, and so the board voted for it, and then the neighbors sued. I have not had a role to play since the roundtable really ended.

    HT: So you weren’t part of the suit?
    MH: No. No.

    HT: My big question with affordable housing, with density is that nobody wants encroachment in their neighborhoods, but don’t we all have to suck it up a little?
    MH: In any community process, Steve, I think that’s true, you cannot satisfy everybody….One of the ways that I’d like to see us proceed moving forward is to help neighborhoods envision what might come….In the system we have now, you might hear about [developers’ ideas] long after the developers have gone to talk to the county, and there might be one or two things on the table. What I think would be much more useful is a process that’s kind of like what they did on Columbia Pike, where the neighbors sat down and said, “Gosh, if this is going to redevelop, and if it revitalizes, we might get some more services, and we might get some housing, or some business incubators,”….So let us think about what the economics would be of encouraging a developer to build the kind of thing we’d like, and then what more are we willing to give to help afford those things that we might like. And do it long before the developer comes in so that the community is kind of coalesced around the notion of these shapes and these kinds of services would be important to us.

    HT: What sort of pressure would you put on communities to say, “You’ve got to do your part too?”
    MH: I think that it does have to be said. And I think we also have to listen carefully to what neighbors say. You know, change is hard, and people say “no” in the beginning….But somebody else owns this [property] and we can’t say “no.”….The more information I gave people [at school board functions] and the more they had the opportunity to understand sort of the landscape, the more willing they were to participate. It’s when they feel like you’re holding information back or the deal’s already done that you get the cynicism, people really dig their heels in.

    CM: A mini-golf course has been proposed for the space at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street. This is a time when county staff has come to the community and said “A mini-golf course is what is needed.” The county board often just rubber stamps what is given to them from staff. Could you comment on that?
    MH: I think what I was known for, Bernie, on the school side was asking a lot of questions. And saying to the staff “How did you reach this conclusion?” “What goals are you trying to accomplish?” “How does this fit into what else is going on?” And I plan to do that if I’m elected to the county board.

    CM: The county staff is suggesting a General Land Use Plan change for the Bob Peck site to allow a taller building and more density. The staff has been pushing this all along. Once you start changing the GLUP, it opens the door to too much revision.
    MH: One of the things that I’ve learned, Bernie, living where I’ve lived for so long is that the real history is in the neighborhood people….The county will say, “We’re going to do this,” when in fact there’s a lawsuit that says “No, you really can’t do that.” I’ve learned to ask the people in the neighborhood…

    The battles that we’ll have to face in the future is that some change is going to have to come….Bob Peck is a great example….There’s a death [in the Peck family] and all of a sudden people are saying, “Well how does this now fit in the fabric that’s built up around it?”…I am not of the mind that things have to be as high as we possibly can think about it, nor as dense as we possibly can. I want to make sure that we’re thoughtful and careful about where our transitions are. I think what we’re seeing now is a willingness by many on the county board to undue those arrangements for a variety of reasons, some of which I don’t understand….I think that site [the Bob Peck site at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard] is going to be a huge challenge….

    I think affordable housing makes it harder to have a rational conversation because it brings a whole set of people in who, they really don’t care what happens, if in fact we get some more affordable housing because they feel it is such an important crisis, and we should be willing to do just about anything to solve it….I can promise you that I will ask the question everytime: “Who’s at the table? Is everybody who ought to be there involved and participating? Are we sending the notices even if people aren’t showing up?” I learned that on the school side.

    CM: If the Glebe Market goes away in a year or so, and day laborers congregate there, where are they going to go? (If the space currently planned for the mini-golf course becomes a park only with trees and benches, how do we stop people from going there?) There’s a need to look at what’s going on with that piece of property now within close proximity to the actions a few block away. Where are you on day laborer sites?
    MH: I was really supportive of the opening of SEEC [the day laborer site in South Arlington]….I thought it met a whole lot of needs, and it dealt with what was getting to be a pretty unruly situation….I guess I didn’t know that people were gathering up here….Well maybe we do need to look for another location….

    There is [a domino effect]. The people who live in the neighborhoods are often more aware of these kinds of issues that anyone of us can be on the county board.

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    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Civic Associations to Hold Candidate Debate

    The county board candidates will debate Wednesday Oct. 24, 7p.m., in Room 110 of Wakefield High School.

    The candidates will make brief statements, followed by responses to questions from the audience. School board candidate Abby Raphael will also make a statement and respond to questions.

    Want to read up on the candidates' positions? Candidates' responses to questions from FOSA are posted on the FOSA blog.

    Sponsors include: Friends of South Arlington, Claremont Citizens Association, Douglas Park Civic Association, Barcroft Schools and Civic League, Alcova Heights Civic Association and Columbia Heights Civic Association.

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    Missed Item: Another Loan Subordinated

    An item was left out a week ago, Friday, from the “Meetings, Meetings…” story. The county board also had on the agenda (and subsequently approved during its Oct. 13 regular meeting) an increase in the subordination of the loan it made to AHC Inc., to build the community center currently under construction near the corner of N. Glebe and N. Henderson roads.

    Similar to the item that was reported, this simply means that the $8.5 million loan the county made in November, 2004, to AHC is even more subordinate to other loans from other lenders. The county’s subordination has moved from $50 million to $53 million.

    David Cristeal, in the county's housing division, in a subsequent interview wanted to make sure people understood that the loaned amount is not increasing either in this case or in the case of Buckingham Village. Also, this subordination lasts only during the construction of the community center.

    The only threat to the county’s coffers is if AHC Inc. or Buckingham M.I. Limited Partnership should default on the loans. Monies paid would be paid in order of subordination—the more subordinate the county’s loan is, the less likely it would be paid. The county is satisfied that the projects will pay off.

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    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Buckingham Bridges OK

    Check the map and click the pushpins to see the state of Buckingham’s bridges. All are in good health, and are not causing VDOT or the Federal Highway Administration any concern.

    Two of the three have “Satisfactory” ratings. The Glebe Road bridge over Arlington Boulevard has a “Fair” rating. That’s nothing to be concerned about, said Doug Hecox with FHWA.

    “Simply put, it means it’s not in any danger….It’s normal,” he said. In the 1 to 9 rating system, 9 is pretty much a new bridge that has seen little traffic, and below 5 is when the bridge starts to need more attention. “Five is normal, very, very ordinary,” he said.

    The Glebe Road bridge is scheduled to be torn down and widened. This has been a long delayed project, which included a new exit ramp on west-bound Arlington Boulevard. In one earlier plan, the used car lot and its purple office building were to be taken over to allow for a merge lane.

    “Efforts for replacement and widening of the superstructure, previously begun in 2000 and 2001 and then postponed due to a lack of funding, are again underway and the project is currently scheduled for advertisement in 2011 to 2012,” wrote VDOT’s Nicholas Roper in an email.

    View Larger Map

    Bridge information provided by Nicholas Roper, VDOT.

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    Letter: Ex-Pats Reading, Would Participate!

    Hey Steve,
    I have been reading your blog, including the notes about your political "Meet-and-Greets," and I want to assure you that Ana Maria and I would have gone if we did not live in South America. :)
    Brian and Ana-Maria

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today: Oct. 17, 2007

    The next (and final) "Meet-n-Greet" is set for THIS MONDAY (Oct. 22) with Democrat, board candidate Mary Hynes. Please make an effort to come. Although attendance at the most recent "Meet-n-Greet" was up an infinite percent (!) from the first Meet-n-Greet, I’d still like to see if we could do better!

    Mi Pueblo, a restaurant on N. Glebe Road just yards from Arlington Boulevard is re-applying for their permit to play music; it is a yearly hoop they jump through, fyi. As well, it looks like the corner of N. Pershing Drive at Arlington Boulevard—next to Ft. Myer—is going to go under heavy construction soon, hotel space upgraded, more retail, and such. All this is according to county documents.

    As always, you can click each link below to read that story, or just scroll down from here, and each story will appear as you go (do that, especially, if one of the links below doesn’t work—then email me to tell me it doesn’t work! Thanks to those of you who have already done exactly that.)

    Today’s Headlines:

  • “Over in the Jungle” at Barrett’s Library Night (See the Slideshow; it is a HeraldTrib first!)
  • Police Notes for Buckingham. A man is found dead on Arlington Boulevard at George Mason Drive.

    Headlines from earlier in the week:

  • Board Approves Contract for Pershing/Glebe Intersection (related story--"Meetings..." below).
  • “Meet-n-Greet” Attendance Up Infinite Percent! (It’s a bit of Colbert Report headline writing)
  • McMenamin Says Get Back to Core Problems, and Look to the School’s Budget (The “Meet-n-Greet” interview transcribed.)
  • Mary Hynes Next on the “Meet-n-Greet” list—Don’t Miss this FINAL EVENT on Oct. 22, 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Friday Morning Rush Hour Steamrolled
  • Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings—Catch up on what the county is doing in our neighborhood.

  • Poison Dart Frogs to a Scavenger Hunt: Barrett's Library Night

    The morpho butterflies flitted and the poison dart frogs hopped through the song “Over in the Jungle” during K.W. Barrett Elementary School’s Library Night last night. About 100 people, moms and dads, kids and siblings, teachers and staff, packed into the school’s library to celebrate books, and learning and culture.

    Maria Elena Prieto led everyone in the song—all 11 verses!—about different animals and what they do. The parrots squawked and the howler monkeys hooted. Ms. Prieto is the lead teacher for ESOL health, primarily at the 3rd grade level.

    Afterwards, students and their families perused displays of different countries from around the world, Russia and China to Egypt and Honduras. The fun was a “scavenger hunt” where students answered questions about the different displays.
    See the slideshow for a snippet of the song and some photos.

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    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Police Notes for Buckingham Oct. 17

    Oct. 15: Found Body, Arlington Boulevard at N. George Mason Drive. Around 1:36 p.m., police responded for a report of a man who was found deceased in the woods next to the roadway. The victim, a Hispanic male, appears to have been homeless. At this time there does not appear to be any foul play involved. The case is under investigation.

    View Larger Map

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    Board Approves Contract for B-ham Intersection

    As expected, the Arlington County Board approved the contract with A&M Concrete Corp. to begin renovation of the intersection of N. Glebe Road at N. Pershing Drive. (See last Friday’s story on it.) The contract would have simply been recorded, along with 30-some other items ratified by the board in one fell swoop on Saturday Oct. 13, save for Board Member Jay Fisette.

    He wanted to highlight the fact that this contract was a long-time in the making; the project has been in planning and development, with very little improvement to the intersection itself, over the course of seven years.

    After all that time, this vote proceeded without controversy because there was nothing left to say, he said.

    “This rises well beyond non-controversial to making people ecstatic,” he said.

    That all the easements necessary to proceed have been signed by the property owners and county, and that all the approvals from the Virginia Department of Transportation have been received, and construction can begin, was significant, he said.

    William “Bill” Roberts, who has been leading the project for the county, said in an interview today that the project can get started after the county and A&M Concrete have finished the last of the paperwork. Usually, work starts about a month after the contract has been awarded, Mr. Roberts said.

    A&M Concrete will build new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, most likely starting in November and completing at most six months later. Other work on the corner includes new bus shelters, lights, trees, reconfigured parking lots and other components.

    “The best estimate is that it will take less than a year to complete,” Mr. Fisette said.

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    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Meet-n-Greet Attendance Up Infinite Percent!

    If you move from zero to any number, the rise, no matter how small, is an infinite percent. So, with the arrival of Pat Hope, the attendance at yesterday’s Meet-n-Greet with Mike McMenamin (Republican) rose by an infinite percentage over the attendance at the Meet-n-Greet for Josh Ruebner (Green) on Sept. 30. Mr. Hope was the only attendee; he is the president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association and a Democratic precinct captain for Buckingham.

    I did not realize either that Scott McCaffrey on his blog at the Sun Gazette wrote about my getting Skunked! at the Josh Ruebner Meet-n-Greet, and he said it was that I’m realizing the limits of the blogosphere.

    I’m not sure that’s true. I knew that getting people to come would be tough, and I was surprised and chagrined now with two bad turnouts (Mary Hynes is next Monday—Let’s do this people!), but I’m not sure if it’s totally an uncaring readership, or a readership that doesn’t move at the blog editor’s whim.

    I am not expecting people to ask “How high?” when I say “Jump.” I knew this would be a tough sell, at least partly because the nature of the blogosphere is one where, as Howard Dean’s team learned, they read and get excited but do not DO.

    But I have received a handful of apologies from people who did not go to Mr. Ruebner’s event, and one person even wrote in advance to apologize that she could not make yesterday’s! I know, too, that many of the people who read this blog cannot make it—kids, school, working out-of-town, etc.

    Mr. McMenamin and I were talking and he said he was not feeling the pressure this year that he did last year when he first ran for office. The sense of urgency among the voters just does not seem to be there.

    Yesterday, we fought a nice day, the Redskins-Packers game, and perhaps some voter ennui. Eh, what are you going to do?

    By the way, if we hit even two people next time with Mary Hynes (Monday Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m., Arlington Oaks Community Center), that would be a 100 percent increase in just one cycle of the event. We’d be “The Fastest Growing Political Event in Arlington.” I love statistics.

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    McMenamin: Do Basic Needs First, Look Closely at School's Budget

    Republican county board candidate Mike McMenamin’s interview with Steve Thurston and Pat Hope (at the HeraldTrib) on Oct. 14, 2007. The interview questions were edited for length and clarity, the responses were edited for length, interruptions or unnecessary asides. Pat Hope, who was also present at the event asked as many questions as did Steve Thurston. Mr. Hope is the Buckingham Community Civic Association president and a precinct captain for the Democratic party in Buckingham.

    HeraldTrib: Why are you running?
    McMenamin: The fact that they [county board and staff] came out and they did that walking tour three years ago and they saw that for 15 years we needed that four-way stop sign in my neighborhood, yet it fell on deaf ears. A couple times they’ve referred to it, and nothing’s ever been done about it.….

    And we had a condominium building episode that was just out of the world of craziness. The actual builder came to our neighborhood, showed us the plans before he did anything, got buy-off from the neighborhood. He was going to overpark the building. He wasn’t going to put the entrance or exit on Monroe Street, which is the side-street….The county wouldn’t let him complete the project that way. They threw up more barriers then you could ever imagine. They wouldn’t put the entrance or exit on Lee Highway because they said it would be dangerous. They wouldn’t synchronize lights for us. They wouldn’t do anything inside the community in terms of putting up signs that say “no right hand turn.” We got nothing out of it. The builder was going to do everything in the world….Those are the two impetuses for why

    I’m running, because I don’t think they’re listening to us anymore.
    You can see that what happened with the First Baptist Church…where they changed the entire county zoning law for that church in a one month period after the [Virginia] Supreme Court case came down, and that was just plain wrong.
    There’s no real outside opinion or thought coming into the process and saying, “Oh, wait a second.”…

    HT: If you were to win, you would be one Republican of five board members. You were just saying a lot of the decisions now from the board are 5 to 0 or 4 to 1. So now they might be 3 to 2; that’s still not a win for your side. Where would you see that ability to change that 3-2 against your side to a 3-2 for your side?
    MM: To tell you the truth we’re seeing it this year. What I ran on last year and what Josh [Ruebner, Green Party] ran on last year are the issues that they’re [Democrats are] running on this year. I ran on infrastructure improvements such as paving roads and fixing storm water drainage system problems, and putting the money back to where it needs to be put…lo-and-behold take a look at Walter and Mary’s literature [Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes are democrats running for county board] that’s what it is this year.

    The other issue was affordable housing that Josh ran on. Guess what Walter and Mary’s issues are? They’re affordable housing and infrastructure updating….Having run, we’re having an effect on what the county is doing, at least what its saying….

    There used to be something called “green rods” in the budget. Back five, six years ago the county manager used to have to come forward with a budget, and he had pages marked inside the budget where he thought programs could be looked at that might need to be cut. That all stopped. Well, if we could go back to that system…maybe we could put the idea into people’s heads that, “Hey, maybe we should look at this stuff.” If people…realize that maybe we could do better at this, and this, and this, I think you’re going to get the votes to follow with you.

    Pat Hope: On the issue of the Clarendon Baptist Church, would you have opposed it in the end?
    MM: I was the only one who came out in support of the community on February 24 because I just thought it was wrong because I don’t think that’s the Arlington Way. The Arlington Way is that you have to listen to the community and by doing it within a one month period you changed the entire zoning law, and I don’t think that’s legal….Would I do it again? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would oppose it.

    HT: [Editor's note: this question was corrected after it was first posted to show "Lyon Village" NOT "Lyon Park" as first written.] I am wondering if there wasn’t some “NYMBYism” (not-in-my-backyard) going on there. That is, were the people of Lyon Village saying they liked the idea of affordable housing, but using the zoning changes as a way to keep it away from their neighborhood? It sounds like you don’t see it that way.
    MM: My issue with it is the fact that it can be done almost anywhere in the county now from what I understand. If there’s a church that’s in a community somewhere that wants to build a condominium,…they can do it.

    PH: The Lubber Run building is not ADA accessible. It’s the second most visited park in Arlington County, and it’s the only community center accessible by metro. What would you do to bring Lubber Run up, at a minimum to ADA compliant, and at a maximum (what I’d like to see) a state-of-the-art facility?
    MM: Because I sit on Fiscal Affairs, I know about the ADA non-compliance….And I think it’s going to cost the county…$1 million a year for the next seven years to get these buildings into compliance….I think we really need to get that building up to compliance, and the rest of the buildings up to compliance so people can enjoy the benefits of what we have out there.

    We have a problem with the bonding situation that we’ve got ourselves into in the county because we’re at the threshold of bonding and building right now. We’ve got to get some things done. Westover library…they’re supposed to build the Cherrydale Fire Station. North Tract? I’ve never understood the allure….There are a lot of things that need to be done in this county.

    PH and HT: You could raise taxes to fund projects. I know that’s the third rail. What do you think of raising taxes given that we’re stretched on our bonds as it is and the state does not have a stream of revenue for us?
    MM: This is where I come from: the truth of the matter is that we’re running a lot of people out of the county right now because of the taxes that they’re having to pay on their homes. We have to tax at 100 percent of assessed value of homes there’s no home owner’s exemption yet in place, and that will be two years before that happens….[The board] has raised spending by over a quarter of a billion dollars in the last four years. The budget is over a billion dollars, right now….

    I have kids that go to the schools in this county. We have great schools….Forty-eight percent of the budget every year goes straight to the schools because the county board decided they didn’t want to be in charge of setting that budget anymore….[The school board is] doing their own thing with the money….That’s where we have to start taking a look. Because if you’ve got a budget over a billion and some dollars, they’re strapped to the gills because the schools are taking such a big chunk of it and you’re squeezed so tight.

    Now last year, you remember when the human services problem happened, they were having to lay off employees and doing all kinds of stuff, that’s how close to the margins this county’s budget is. And you figure look at all the money we’re paying in taxes, something’s got to give here soon. Somebody’s got to start making the decisions, and doing the right thing….We’ve got to put the money where it’s needed for the schools, and make sure the kids are taken care of and we keep our high test scores and things of that nature, but we also have to make sure that we do the priorities in the county such as fixing HVAC systems at H.B. Woodlawn….

    Let’s baseline this stuff. Let’s get the capital projects done. Let’s take another look at the way the schools are getting the money. Let’s try and look at it across the board, and let’s see where we are at the end of the day, and then let’s move forward and trying to get the needs of the county met. We’ll do the basic needs first, such as getting our roads paved and making sure our kids are educated adequately, get the storm water sewage problem taken care of, get our infrastructure needs taken care of, and then we should move along and take a look at issues you were talking about like Lubber Run and places like that.

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    Mary Hynes Meet-n-Greet Monday Oct. 22

    County Board candidate, Mary Hynes (Democrat), will speak to Buckingham residents at a community forum hosted by the Buckingham HeraldTrib

    Monday Oct. 22, 7 - 9 p.m.

    The forum will be held at the Arlington Oaks Community Center, 4490 N. Pershing Dr. (at the corner of N. Pershing and N. 2nd Street, across N. Pershing from Culpepper Gardens). Parking is limited to on-street, so walk if you can.

    Ms. Hynes plans to bring a Spanish-language interpreter with her, so Spanish speakers are encouraged to attend.

    Food and beverages will be served.

    Ms. Hynes was a 12-year school board member and its chairman. She stepped down in December and started a run for county board in January. She was instrumental in changing the school construction system in the county, and is lauded by many in the county for her attention to detail (a notion supported by the density of her web site) and her understanding of complex problems in the schools.

    The county’s infrastructure, affordable housing and “green” initiatives top her list of issues on her web site. She is calling for the creation of a task force to reexamine infrastructure priorities in the county and is for expanding solutions similar to the county’s day laborer site near Four-mile-run.

    “When individuals break the law in Arlington, they should be prosecuted and if found guilty punished appropriately regardless of their immigration status. If during legal proceedings County officials conclude an individual is in the U.S. illegally, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service should be contacted,” her web site says. She has a primary focus of hers on the health and safety of Arlingtonians, her web site says.

    The general election is Tuesday Nov. 6, with 13 seats from school board to Virginia Senate up for grabs, including two places on the county board. Five candidates are vying for those two seats.

    Traffic Steamrolled Friday Morning

    Traffic on N. George Mason Drive was unexpectedly slowed by construction crews as they completed the resurfacing of the street in the intersection of N. Henderson Road.

    The crew was to have completed resurfacing during the night, but police shut them down because of a noise complaint, and one of their machines broke down, said Ed Byrd, the construction manager for the county who was on the site.

    They had completed the north-bound lanes between N. 4th Street and N. Henderson during the night. All that remained were small portions around the intersection itself, Mr. Byrd said.

    Mr. Byrd said he gave the go-ahead to shut the lane down despite rush-hour to allow the crews to finish up the piece that remained. After the shut-down, the crew worked from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m.

    The road had been defaced over the summer by townhouse construction at that corner.


    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings!

    And why you should care.

    County Board:
    Gutters, curbs and sidewalks. That’s what Buckingham gets, and no doubt most people reading this will consider this fantastic news. The county board is set tomorrow during its regular meeting to vote on a contract to pay A&M Concrete Corp., a certified minority-owned business in Dulles, Va., just over $750,000 for new sidewalks, curbs and gutters at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive. With contingencies and other fees figured in, the cost could run to nearly $900,000.

    The county manager, Ron Carlee, has given his blessing to the project; the county board usually follows his direction.

    This is just the beginning of a major project to revamp that intersection, including new lights, bus stop shelters, and entrances and exits to the parking lots. If all goes as planned (but it has never gone as planned in about seven years and counting), the project should be completed next spring.

    A man waits to cross the road from the Glebe Market parking lot which has lost much of its sidewalk.

    After you slog through the technical jargon and geek-speak, you learn that the county will be voting on whether to allow a loan they approved in June to be made more subordinate than it already is.

    The county in June made the loan of $7 million to Buckingham M.I. Limited Partnership to facilitate construction of Buckingham Village 1’s affordable housing component.

    Village 1 sits on N. Pershing Drive, west of N. George Mason Drive and runs north on George Mason to N. Henderson Road. The demolition of buildings will begin soon, as many are already encircled with fencing.

    The $7 million loaned from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund was scheduled to be subordinate to the about $18 million in financing that was made by contractors, banks or other investment partners. This means, basically, that should the project default, Arlington would not start collecting until after the other $18 million was paid. The county manager is recommending that the county change that threshold to about $42 million to satisfy lenders. The county manager is OK with this and is recommending approval. More on this next week.

    Site Plan Review Committee:
    The SPRC is meeting Monday, and you should care, according to Buckingham gadfly Bernie Berne, because they are looking at changing the county’s General Land Use Plan in order to allow for redevelopment of the block on the northwest corner of N. Wilson Boulevard and N. Glebe Road, where the Bob Peck Chevrolet building and the Staples office supply store are.

    In an email, Mr. Berne, wrote: “The developer is asking for both a change in the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) and in a rezoning that would permit the greatly increased height and density that it is proposing. Such a change in the GLUP would set a precedent for the neighborhood. There have been no changes in the GLUP for any site within the Ballston Sector Plan since the County Board approved the Sector Plan in 1980.

    “The County Board usually only changes the GLUP in an area that has a Sector Plan during a comprehensive review of the Sector Plan. However, the Board has made exceptions to this policy when a developer offers something that the Board wants, especially when the County Manager and staff supports the GLUP change. In this instance, the developer is proposing to provide affordable housing on the site as an incentive for the Board to change the GLUP.

    “The developer is most likely aware that the County Board approved a site plan that greatly increased densities for the site that Buckingham Village I occupies in exchange for an affordable housing component in a new project on that site. The developer of the Peck-Staples site clearly hopes that the Board will do the same thing for the Peck-Staples project.

    “A change in the GLUP for the Peck-Staples site would set a precedent that will greatly increase traffic in the Buckingham neighborhood. Further, the highest height and density of the project will be at the corner of Wilson and Glebe, which is the corner of the site that is closest to the Buckingham neighborhood. Thus, the Buckingham neighborhood would experience a significant impact from this project.”

    Meet-n-Greet—SUNDAY, 2:00 p.m. Arlington Oaks Community Center—with Mike McMenamin, a Republican running for county board.

    Food and beverages provided.

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    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today: Oct. 10, 2007

    The second of three “Meet-n-Greets,” this one with Mike McMenamin, is THIS SUNDAY, 2:00 p.m. at the Arlington Oaks Community Center. Mr. McMenamin is one of two Republicans running for a seat on the county board (two seats are up for grabs). I have met him a couple times in the past, and I must say that even if you do not like his politics, you very well might like him.

    This is a great opportunity for you to figure out if you do like his politics. I’m bringing drinks and food, so COME!

    The FINAL “Meet-n-Greet” is Monday Oct. 22, 7-9 p.m. with Mary Hynes, the former school board chair making her first run for county board as a Democrat. More on that one next week.

    Along those lines, the Friends of South Arlington blog (I believe it hails from the Douglas Park area), has a nice Q&A with the candidates. FOSA sent out and email and then posted the answers. Check it out.

    You’ll notice something a little different with the Police Notes today—they’ve gone high-tech with a Google map that points to the block (not the exact address) of each type of crime. You can still read the details of the crime, above the map. Click the pushpins to see the date, crime and block.

    I’m working on the color-coding system. Generally, green is the least bad, and red is the worst (thankfully, no reds today). A dot in the center of the pushpin means two charges were filed, according to the police.

    Finally, last week I was at an API seminar (thank you Montgomery College for paying), in which we talked about innovative storytelling (especially web-based, hence the Google map). That’s put me behind with everything. So, I’m punting. Barely anything here today, but keep tuned, I’m back and am trying to get reorganized to keep this blog up the what it was last summer. Don’t give up on me yet!

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    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Police Notes for Buckingham, Oct. 10, 2007

    Oct. 8: Larceny, 100 block N. Thomas St. Sometime between 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 and 8:00 a.m. on Oct. 8, someone stole copper piping from the laundry room of an apartment building.

    Oct. 6: Robbery/Malicious Wounding, 4300 block N. Pershing Dr. At approximately 2:30 a.m., a 32-year-old man was outside of his home when he was attacked by a group of men. The suspects could only be described as Hispanic as they had their faces covered. The victim had his wallet taken during the attack and sustained non life-threatening injuries. The suspects fled the scene on foot. One suspect, Nelson Majano, 18 of Arlington, was later located and charged with Robbery and Malicious Wounding. He is being held with no bond.

    Oct. 6: Malicious Wounding, 4100 block N. 4th St. At approximately 3:08 a.m., a 24-year-old man was walking in the area when he was assaulted by several men. He was treated at a local hospital for a non-life threatening head injury. The suspects left the area in a car. The investigation is ongoing.

    Oct. 9: Stolen Auto, 4400 block Henderson Rd. Tag Number: VA JER-4505. The car was a 1995 Honda 4-door, gold.

    Oct. 9: Stolen License Tag, 500 block N. Piedmont St. Tag Number: VA ZFX-1941.

    View Larger Map

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    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Buckingham HeraldTrib Today Oct. 3, 2007

    Quite a bit on the site today. As always, you can just scroll down from here and see everything (it’s all here), or you can click the links below. So long you read, I don’t care how you get there!

    Look to the right hand column and scroll down a bit to find the new Arlington-specific, Google-powered, Search Engine. It’s lots of fun to use; the links that Google finds are all in Arlington—government, arts, news, schools, etc.—so you know if you type in “Ballston” you won’t get links in Oregon, or something.

    It’s a beta version of the search, and I’ll be updating which sites get searched all the time. The one annoying part is that currently, you hit search, wait for the page to regenerate, and then SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN the page to see the results. (Sorry for that, I’m trying to get it fixed, but haven’t had the time, just yet.)

    I had higher-than-normal traffic on the blog Monday, which makes me think people were interested in what happened at Josh Ruebner’s “Meet-n-Greet” which was completely unattended. I’m glad people do really care, but as I wrote in “Skunked,” Buckinghamsters have to show up to these events to let officials know we really do care.

    Don’t forget: TONIGHT—DRC MEETS regarding the N. Glebe Road intersection with N. Pershing Drive.

    Today’s Headlines:

  • Police Secure POA for Glebe/Pershing Corner
  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headlines from Earlier This Week:

  • Skunked! No one came to the Josh Ruebner “Meet-n-Greet”—read my reaction, and the comment at the end of the story.
  • Ruebner Continues Call for Housing Authority. Read the interview with Mr. Ruebner. Email to get a transcript.
  • McMenamin to “Meet-n-Greet” in Buckingham. Check your calendar now for this event, Oct. 14.
  • TONIGHT! DRC to Meet Regarding Glebe/Pershing Redevelopment.
  • Is This Fall?
  • Letter: Writer is FOR Mini-Golf Outside Ballston Mall Make sure you check out the comments at the end of this one—it have gotten a few.
  • Letter: Chicken Meatloaf Unveiled! You may recall the story about the PTA potluck—well, the chef of the mystery dish responded. Excellent.

  • Police Secure POA for Pershing/Glebe Properties

    Arlington police have secured the power-of-attorney to ban people from the four-corners shopping areas at N. Glebe Road and Pershing Drive, if those people are conducting illegal or disruptive activity. Anyone banned will not be allowed back on the property for a year, said Officer J. Mike Lutz in an interview yesterday.

    “I just received all notarized documents and will be relaying the information to our road officers. Hopefully, we can begin to see a difference in quality of life issues in the near future,” wrote Ofr. Lutz in an email on Sept. 20.

    “We’ve actually made a few arrests on it,” Ofr. Lutz said yesterday.

    The POA stems from meetings residents had with county officials in July.

    Officer Lutz said police went to the property owner, Jenco Group, so that business owners could tell customers that it was not their decision.

    “It’s not the businesses who are being the bad guys,” Ofr. Lutz said, allowing them to keep as many legal customers as possible.

    With this power, police who find people drinking alcohol or urinating on the property can arrest the people and ban them from returning.

    “Now we don’t have to arrest the same person over and over,” he said. But can those banned still enter the property if they are conducting legal activity? “They lost that privilege,” he said.

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    Police Notes for Buckingham, Oct. 3, 2007

    Sept. 30: Malicious Wounding, 700 block of N. George Mason Dr. At approximately 9 p.m., a 38-year-old man was assaulted by two men known to him. The suspects also cut the victim’s right wrist with a broken bottle. Mario Rodriquez, 34, and Carlos Rodriquez, 28, were arrested and charged with malicious wounding.

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    Monday, October 01, 2007


    I cannot think of any way to put this but to put it: no one showed up for the Josh Ruebner “Meet-n-Greet” yesterday afternoon. Granted, it was gorgeous day, and football was on. I was not expecting a heavy turnout, but having no one show (of course, my worst fear) was a killer.

    I’ll admit embarrassment both at having him and no one else there, and having to admit that on this blog. Mr. Ruebner was very understanding, and after an interview, he left for other campaign stops.

    I’m also embarrassed for us in Buckingham. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting the whole neighborhood to turn out, but if this is how we’ll be come election day, we’ll deserve the disinterest from the county that sometimes we get.

    Issues of pedestrian safety and public drinking get people’s dander up and get them to a couple meetings. But it can’t stop there. I am afraid the energy those issues generate will disappear into people’s homes.

    It must become something more public, more active.

    Coming out to events where you can meet with candidates is one way to do that—even the candidates you don’t think you agree with. So is joining the Buckingham Community Civic Association—their meetings often draw just a small group (the next is Monday Nov. 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington Oaks Community Center). Sit in on a Buckingham Village 3 Working Group meeting; go to the DRC meeting regarding the redevelopment of the N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive intersection.

    We have two more “Meet-n-Greets” scheduled. The next is with Mike McMenamin, a Republican, running for a second time. We’ll meet him on Sunday Oct. 14, 2:00 – 4:00. Now, I must insert here that a woman from the Chatham showed up at about 3:00 p.m. yesterday, about 20 minutes after Mr. Ruebner left. She, like I, was surprised that no one came, and had really wanted to meet Mr. Ruebner. Fashionably late might be too late, people.

    We meet with Democrat Mary Hynes on Monday Oct. 22, 7:00-9:00 p.m. I’ll have more about her in a week or so.

    Please come to these; I’ll bring the cookies.

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