Friday, November 30, 2007

Barrett Parents Will Bring Voice to School Brd.

K.W. Barrett Elementary School parents will begin contacting the school board and superintendent via emails and letters in the coming weeks, attempting to sway a decision regarding overcrowding conditions in north Arlington elementary schools.

The decision to do this comes as the school board’s Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee draws its work to a close in December.

“This is the calm before the storm,” said Peter Constantine, Barrett’s representative on the ECCC at an informational meeting last night. He said in December, when the ECCC recommends solutions to the overcrowding, schools will be moving fast to get their ways, and Barrett needs to be prepared.

Peter Constantine.

The ECCC, made up mainly of parents and principals from all Arlington elementary schools, was largely created to ease overcrowding at Ashlawn, Glebe, McKinley, Nottingham, and Tuckahoe elementary schools, in the “northwest corner” of the county, school board documents state. Tuckahoe Elementary, on N. 26th Street, is already overcrowded according to the documents.

Last night’s meeting of about 30 parents, was calm—no yelling, no fingers in the air—as Mr. Constantine ran through the primary proposals that are out there and the “next steps” that he envisions.

The ECCC has two more meetings before it makes recommendations to the superintendent, Robert Smith.

Peter Constantine and Kevin Curtin answered questions about the ECCC processes and proposals from the group of about 30 parents at the Barrett cafeteria last night. Click to enlarge image.

Barrett parents must make their ideas heard “diplomatically,” focused around the guidelines that a Barrett committee made to the ECCC earlier in November, Mr. Constantine said.

The guidelines ask the board to maintain the strong tradition of school choice, while also allowing neighborhood students to remain at their neighborhood schools. As well, they should not be moved out of “walk zones” (areas considered a safe and reasonable distance for students to walk), and the siblings of current students should have first choice of Barrett (they should be “grandfathered” in). The guidelines also state that “Barrett values the diversity created by students from its neighborhood, cluster schools, Barcroft, and other transfer areas.”

Those guidelines will help form the content of emails and letters, Mr. Constantine said.

“Now, it’s important to say to the school board these principles are important,” said Kevin Curtin, Mr. Constantine’s alternate to the ECCC.

There was some discussion of whether the school board should only be emailed, or should people show up at the school board meetings now just to let them know that Barrett has interest and some ideas.

“If we went now, maybe we would stand out,” said Chris Giglio, a father of a Kindergartener.

Prinicpal Terry Bratt said no matter how they contact the board, “The message is definitely high ground and positive.”

The ECCC makes recommendations to the superintendent who then passes his recommendations along to the school board. Mr. Smith’s recommendations could be what the ECCC recommends, his own ideas or a mix, officials at the meeting said.

Therefore one parent, Cori Rattelman, recommended that Barrett push for ideas that would treat everyone the way Barrett parents would like to be treated. Her implication was that the superintendent might love an idea that would then be applied to a different school, and actually hurt Barrett.

The mother of two kindergarteners said, “We serve ourselves best and serve the community best when we focus on how we want to be treated.”

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 29, 2007

You may have noticed that I am not in much these days. I thought I would sneak away and catch up on reading and such during Thanksgiving Week, but that did not really happen--too much other stuff to take care of, including going with the family to Skyline Drive, where we saw this bear:

Then on Sunday, I came down with something that kept me in bed Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon I was shooting photos of the big trees coming down in Village 1:

What looks like the branches of a bush in the middle of this photo is actually the branches of the fallen tree. Click here to see a larger image.

But in my rush to bring you the best coverage of that day's work, I stepped in a hole and sprained my ankle (one of those where you hear and feel things grind and crunch). I remembered, after about 20 seconds of shooting a video with my cell phone, that the microphone was on, catching every curse and vulgarity I could spew as my ankle ached. I figured you didn't want to hear it, so no video.

One interesting thing about the tree coming down was the sound of the tearing as branches and roots broke, followed shortly thereafter by the smell of turned soil. The machines took the tree down in less than a minute.

Earlier today I shot this photo of some of the removed old-growth trees:

I also clicked this new view from the north side of the site. Last week, I wrote about seeing the trees and rear courtyard from the street for the first time in 60-odd years, now you can clearly see to The Chatham (high-rise in the background) and to the Arlington Oaks Community Center (the smaller, peaked-roof building in the foreground).

NO POLICE NOTES FOR BUCKINGHAM--two weeks in a row. Can we make it three?

One story since last week's update; scroll down to see it. The county has issued the Request for Proposals for the redevelopment of Village 3.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Village 3 RFP Is Out

Mary Curtius, a spokesperson for Arlington County, tells the HeraldTrib that the “Request for Proposals” for companies to redevelop Buckingham Village 3 was sent to “our list of developers late Wednesday." The RFP is now on the county’s web site, as well. The release of the RFP was slowed when the county manager's office asked to look it over before its release in early November.

The RFP asks for, “an experienced development team to partner with Arlington County to rehabilitate the existing 140 units at Buckingham Village 3 and to design and implement an affordable housing program that encompasses home ownership and/or rental opportunities for a range of income levels.”

Village 3 sits inside the square of N. Pershing Drive, N. Thomas Street, N. 4th Street, and N. George Mason Drive.
View Larger Map

The RFP not only asks for companies to redevelop the units within the limitations of historic designation and with sales and lease in mind, but to “explore opportunities to increase the number or size of units while delivering a minimum of 140 affordable units." “Bump out” additions to some buildings are mentioned in the RFP—five locations have tentative approval. In the past, housing advocates have said using basement space might be a possibility.

None of the 16 buildings can be destroyed, and any additions or subtractions (from “tot lot” playgrounds to trees) must be approved by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.

As well, tenants on the working group, which produced the RFP with county staff, have asked for:

  • Individual [utility] meters for each unit/household
  • Remove boilers and replace with (non-boiler) heat and air conditioning systems
  • Energy star appliances such as new refrigerators
  • Gas stoves
  • Reuse and refurbish existing wooden floors where possible
  • Where carpets are used, use colors that do not soil easily
  • “Tot Lots” in existing common areas
  • Community meeting space on the property

  • Some of these items (such as the color of the carpet and the gas stoves) have come in as a reaction to the renovation of Gates of Ballston, which uses electric stoves and beige carpets. Residents there have complained of the stoves which overheat, they say, and of carpets that are too easily soiled.

    “The County will retain ownership of the land in order to guarantee affordability for the long-term,” the RFP states. However, due to state law, the county cannot own the buildings; however, it can own the “lease structures” David Cristeal, in the county's housing division, has said in the past.

    The proposal will be evaluated on “Vision,” “Housing Program Concept,” “Proposed Financial Plan,” and “Experience and Qualifications of Developer and Development team,” the RFP states.

    Although the RFP states there will be a time for public input, it does not list who will be evaluating the proposals, which was a mild point of contention between the residents on the Village 3 Working Group and the county staff.

    Deadline for the proposals is Jan. 18, 2008.

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    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 21, 2007

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Short post today, with the kids home from school. Still, I wanted to wish you and yours a happy holiday. What a way to start it: No Police Notes for Buckingham this week (not bad Buckinghamsters).

    Of course, some of the big, big news is the buildings are coming down in Village 1. I have some photos and grainy video of it in Demolition of Village1 Begins in Earnest and in Buildings Come Down Along Pershing.

    On top of that, I have one bit of news to report--nothing too huge, but worth a mention: I have been talking to a couple Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra board members about the idea to shake up the whole N. Pershing Drive at N. Glebe Road corner, and they're interested.

    The post office was originally the Buckingham Theatre. (Click to enlarge image.)

    If you missed last week's post on the subject, you can click here before continuing to read. The skinny: I thought it would be a great idea to bring art to Buckingham by moving the post office out of the old Buckingham Theatre and into one of the two new buildings being planned for the CVS and Glebe Market sites.

    Into the newly-emptied theatre would arrive the BPO.

    None of us are taking this farther than it is. I have communicated with two people from the board. They had a meeting last night where they would bring this idea to the full board. More on that next week.

    Also, as all of you know, I have no power in any decision-making. This means that as nice as I think my ideas from last week are, the people actually involved might just laugh and walk away. Still, I have calls out to them, and we'll see.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    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).

    Headline's from Earlier in the Week:

  • Buildings Come Down Along Pershing (A rear courtyard is fully visible from the street for the first time in 60-odd years.)
  • Amenities of the newly-arriving Liberty Center in Ballston (a report from the Hyde Park newsletter).
  • Demolition of Village1 Begins in Earnest
  • HeraldTrib Yesterday (a few items of interest that should have been mentioned last Wednesday but weren't).
  • Letter: Bring Art to Bham.
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    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Buildings Come Down Along Pershing

    (Click to enlarge image.)

    Commuters on their way home this evening along Pershing Drive will see a drastically different landscape than they did this morning. The building in the 4300 block of the street is coming down as this is being posted.

    (Click here to enlarge image.)

    The raw footage in these videos was shot with a cell phone at about 2:00 p.m. A man sprayed water from a fire hose onto the maw of the cement crusher and the debris pile as the machinery tore into the building, knocking down the brick walls, crumbling the cement floors. The claw ripped at the body of the building and tendrils of wires and piping held on then were torn free. The wooden rafters splintered from the roof.

    Later, a bulldozer came in to move the debris piles as men sifted through the bricks and steel girders.

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    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Amenities of Ballston's Liberty Center (Opens Early '08)

    This portion of the Hyde Park newsletter was sent from Tom Lauria, the condominium's president. His subject line says Buckinghamsters might be interested, and I think they would be. This is one building my son and I used to ride past regularly on my bicycle when it was still a huge ditch, to watch the trucks and men working like ants in the bottom. Clearly, Hyde Parkers are looking forward to this. Read on. --ST

    Hyde Park Newsletter, December 2007

    New Retail Amenities heading to Liberty Center

    As workers put the finishing touches on the striking Liberty Center complex on Wilson between Randolph and North Quincy, it's time for a preview of the street-level retail that will soon be just steps away. Developer John Shooshan attended the last HP Board of Directors meeting to forecast his company's plans for the Metro bus yards (to be chronicled in "Ballston Update" next month) and to welcome us to the new restaurants and shops soon coming to Liberty Center.

    When: Early in 2008, we will see some exciting new businesses open. Of course, there's an obligatory bank. This time it's HSBC, right at the corner of Randolph and Wilson. While they seem to be popping up everywhere, Ballston's critical mass of new banking facilities is appropriate for a prosperous city center. Nearby, a new branch of downtown DC's successful "Marvelous Market" will bring some of the area's best fresh breads and cheeses to Ballston. And in a neighborhood that has no less than four Starbucks coffee shops, the coming of "Saxby's Coffee" from Philadelphia is a nice change of pace.

    What’s New: The success of "Bruegger's Bagels" along the Northeast corridor is due to their product's authenticity: they make genuine, New York-style, kettle boiled bagels. The new Liberty Center location will feature creative sandwiches, ciabattas and wraps, but it's those warm, fresh bagels that will have Hyde Parkers trundling down Randolph or Quincy on Sunday mornings.

    Nicest feature: Quickly now, can you name a good seafoodrestaurant in Ballston?
    If you're drawing a blank, you'll be happy to hear that "D.C. Boathouse," the very popular white-tablecloth seafood restaurant on McArthur Boulevard, is opening second branch in Liberty Center. The 7,000 square foot establishment will soon hang its familiar "crossed oars" logo on our side of the neighborhood. There seems to be other retail venues possible within Liberty Center, but the developers are off to a terrific start with the establishments already on board.

    The are of the liberty center is in blue.

    View Larger Map

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    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Demolition of Buckingham Village 1 Has Begun

    A building near 4411 N. Pershing Drive is the first in Buckingham Village 1 to be destroyed as part of the redevelopment of the Buckingham Villages Apartments. The building was removed from a rear courtyard near the alley that runs between Buckingham Villages and Culpepper Gardens assisted living facility.

    The building is one of five-and-one-half buildings that will be destroyed in the first phase of demolition to make way for a four-storey, 234 unit apartment building. One hundred of the units will be rented at affordable rates. (For a recent story on this, click here.)

    View Larger Map

    The building itself was demolished either late last week or earlier this week, and crews have been working to remove the debris since then.

    (This video was shot with a cell phone video camera, so the quality is very low.)

    More stories, video and photos will be coming,though readers may have to be patient and wait until after Thanksgiving. Editing the sound and higher-quality video together will be time consuming.

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    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    HeraldTrib Yesterday: Forgotten Items

    My flight of fancy into the arts yesterday got me so wound up I forgot to cover a number of small items that I thought you might want to know about.

  • Deferred until the Nov. 27 Arlington County Board meeting is a discussion of the Bob Peck site and its rezoning. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. The item, originally set for Nov. 13, was a request to advertise for public comment on that item (#23).

  • One more item on the arts of Buckingham: the restaurant Mi Pueblo at 77 N. Glebe Road (near the Mr. Wash carwash) had their weekend music license renewed—they play karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. This (item #13) was part of the block of items passed by consent at the Nov. 13 board meet.

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  • Letter: Bring Art to Bham.


    I often wondered about that house in the middle of the block on Glebe surrounded by the Gates. What a great idea to house a museum there! I am in favor of reopening the Buckingham Theater as well. If there are to be new buildings on the corner, let the market and the post office, as well as El Paso and the other businesses that make up our neighborhood be in bright new quarters.

    I am happy to hear that you are excited about putting the arts right here in Buckingham. The rich people have theirs. We, the people of Buckingham, while not rich and of very modest means, appreciate the arts too. We have talented kids in the youth group who paint very well. And a place to showcase local artists is a fine idea. A theater group is a great idea too.

    There is more to Buckingham than affordable housing. While it is one cause, it isn't the only one. I am glad to hear of your support for the arts. This neighborhood is rich in history. A museum could showcase all of the best of Buckingham through the years.

    Bravo, Steve.

    Pate McCullough

    The writer is a board member of the BU-GATA tenants association. If you are interested in more feedback on this topic, check out the "Art on the Four Corners" story and comment. --ST.

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    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today, Nov. 14, 2007

    It’s the art issue of the HeraldTrib this week. Completely by happenstance, I must add.

    It started last Wednesday evening when the kids and I went to see “Peter and the Wolf” at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It was a “Family Literacy Night,” giving families whose children go to “Title 1” schools the chance to see live theatre. Lots of fun; the review is below.

    Also below is today’s big story on the sculptures that will not be a part of the Glebe Road and Pershing Drive intersection renovation.

    I had been thinking about that story for months when I was out to breakfast Friday morning with Vic Socotra at RinConCito Chapin (literally translated that name is “The tiny bowlegged place.” I’m guessing it means something closer to “The little sitting spot.” I think “chaps,” which one wears sitting in the saddle somehow is related to Chapin, but I digress—they have great refried black beans and fried plantains).

    He and I got talking about the neighborhood (he has a long, at times odd, history with the place that he’s trying to put into a book) and about the house on Glebe Road, just a little south of Henderson Road. It’s one that is historic and could not be significantly renovated into a community center, so AHC, Inc., which owns the Gates of Ballston and that little house, does not know what to do with it.

    The Buckingham Museum
    Now, they may have already made plans, but I’ll be on the phone later today to figure it out. If they have not, however, Vic and I were saying it would be perfect for a Buckingham Museum. Think about it; it could be historical, but also could have space for neighborhood artists (such as Ubaldo Sanchez who helped the Buckingham Brigade kids paint the mural on the side of the Glebe Market), or artists with ties (culturally, ethinically, what have you) to the people of Buckingham.

    Maybe there would be space for readings, or a writer’s group, or something similar. The county library already offers events at the Buckingham Center on N. 4th Street, why not shift some of the activities to a space in our own museum when that center closes?

    Once that flood-gate opened, I thought, Sheesh, let’s go whole hog on this. When will Buckingham have a better chance to offer arts and cultural spaces to the neighborhood than now? Think about it for a second. Go on, think:

    Georgetown Strategic Capital is planning to redevelop the corners of the N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive intersection. The earliest ideas that have been bandied about include knocking down the CVS and Glebe Market buildings (and possibly the El Paso/Popeye’s building) and putting in four-storey buildings of mixed use retail and housing with an affordable component.

    Bring Back the Buckingham Theatre, Baby!
    So this is my idea: Move the post office across the street into one of the new buildings. At one time, the post office was where El Paso Restaurant is, and the post office was a theatre. Let’s bring it back! (The owner of Georgetown Strategic once told me that he saw a Daniel Boone flick at that theatre.)

    Instead of movies, though, I am picturing a small, black box type theatre that could show the “-tets,” octets and smaller (I don’t really know what kind of space they have inside that building). Or show one-person acts. Blues nights. Jazz Nights. Bolivian dancers. Ecuadorian bands. Ritmo Latino! High school garage hip-hop bands (I know the county used to have a contest for garage bands).

    Maybe it would seat 80 people. I don’t know. But it would also house the offices of a local troupe, maybe the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra? Most likely, the space would not be big enough for a full orchestra, but why not have it full of offices with a space for a Chamber or, as I said, a “-tet.”

    Come on, dream a little!
    What would it say about Arlington that we’re investing in the arts not where the rich people are, but where the lower-middle-class people are? What sort of inspiration would we be putting into the heads of kids in the neighborhood? Hell, I feel inspired just writing about it!

    Buckingham is going to be, for at least another 30 years, a low- to moderate-income neighborhood. Most likely it will be an immigrant community, too. What better way for those of us who have lived in the States all our lives to get to know those people who are new here than to have us share in cultural activities? This could be a chance for high art without gentrification!

    So that’s my big idea; you may have others…
    I just think that having some cultural connection with all this redevelopment would be grand. What do you think? Feel free to comment below, or send emails to

    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:

  • What Will Happen with Art at Glebe and Pershing
  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Pilfered Papers on N. Thos. St.
  • Peter and the Wolf Delightful
  • Letter: Pat Hope Deserves Credit
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    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Art on the Four Corners

    When the N. Pershing Drive intersection with N. Glebe Road is all renovated, sometime next year, it will have etched glass on the bus shelters, but for now the art will end there. Four large sculptures planned for the corner will not be a part of the intersection, and the county has not made significant plans to replace them.

    “The artwork for [this] project will be the bus shelters that our arts work program designed,” said Angela Adams in a voice mail last month. She works in the Arlington County Public Arts Program. The word “Open” will be etched into the glass in various languages. Bus shelters in other neighborhoods have similar etchings.

    When first reported here in June that the work of sculptor Judy Sutton Moore had been cancelled, Lois Athey, who sat on the original committee that picked Sutton Moore, said the story was the first she heard of the cancellation. Ms. Athey is a civic activist who works with tenants in Buckingham Village and the Gates of Ballston.

    Pat Hope, the Buckingham Community Civic Association president, called the news of the lost art a “slap in the face.”

    County staff involved in this discussion said the main problem with the artwork was its size and style for the historic corner. The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, which regulates changes to the corner, largely killed the idea, officials have said.

    However, Michael Leventhal, a historic affairs coordinator for the county, could not find the minutes from the particular HALRB meeting in which the art was discussed and dropped. Therefore, no one could say for sure whether people from Buckingham were on hand to discuss the decision.

    “The BCCA was never consulted and there was no attempt to compromise the proposal to make it acceptable to HALRB,” Mr. Hope wrote in an email last month.

    The project has been more than seven years in the making and has become “the project from hell” said Mr. Leventhal during an interview in September. Others have called it by similar names.

    Only last month could the county finally hire a contractor, pledging over $800,000 if needed, to begin the process of redeveloping the gutters, sidewalks and crosswalks at the intersection. Other improvements, requiring other contracts, include more trees, fancier light posts and the bus shelters. In the past year, the utility wires have been moved underground.

    Drivers should expect to see signs on Glebe Road announcing the road work soon, and the construction can begin two weeks after the signs go up, William “Bill” Roberts, the county’s project manager, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

    This project has a long, tortured history, with too many cooks in the kitchen. VDOT controls the Glebe right-of-way, and therefore can veto decisions on lane widths, turn lanes and signals on the corner. (The rule about the signs going up for two weeks before work begins is VDOT’s rule, Mr. Roberts said.)

    Although Jenco Group, of Arlington, owns much of the property on the corner, there are other owners and investment partners all who needed to sign easements to allow the work to go forward. Not all were eager to sign, Mr. Roberts has said in the past.

    The plans themselves had to go through public review at the start, and the HALRB can control what is seen on the landscape.

    When the HALRB had misgivings about the art, it became a layer of frustration that county staff did not want to deal with both Mr. Roberts and Mr. Leventhal have said.

    As well, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Leventhal said the artist had gotten sick. For her part Ms. Sutton Moore could not remember ever being sick.

    “I tell you what,” she said with recollection yesterday, “I did have surgery during that period of time, but that’s like a month, maybe six weeks, of recovery.” Since then, she has finished many projects, she said.

    Mr. Leventhal, who sat on the committee that chose Ms. Sutton Moore, said that planning was a bit nonsequential in order—they had art before they knew what the corner would look like. It was the artist’s ideas for the corner that made the county realize they would need to underground the utility wires, he said.

    “She really had the most interesting stuff,” Mr. Leventhal said. “She just didn’t do the same thing several different times.” He said Ms. Sutton Moore looked to the neighborhood and found inspiration in the immigrant experience.

    In a profile in the Buckingham Independent News, the predecessor of the HeraldTrib, Ms. Sutton Moore talked about conducting research for projects like this, studying the architecture and talking with the neighbors. The story was also naively upbeat with an expected completion by the end of the summer of 2003.

    Her plans included humanistic figures in boats and other modes of transportation, people who were arriving here, immigrants. Yet it was modern, and stainless steel with bronze, geometric. Not historic. Her figures—not quite “people”—often look similar to stainless steel bowling pins.

    Ms. Sutton Moore said in an interview yesterday, “All I know is that the design was approved by the people who lived in the neighborhood. They gave their support to it....And the public art committee approved of it.” She said she had heard the project hit roadblocks, but never really understood why it died. “I was very disappointed that the Arlington project fell through,” she added later.

    Her sculptures, are often large, 20 feet tall or more.

    “Was any of the sculpture going to fit on the corner?” Mr. Leventhal said people asked.

    The idea of the large sculptures appealed to the committee when they chose Ms. Sutton Moore’s work, Mr. Leventhal said. “I don’t know if we’d do it again that way…at the time it was great.”

    In a voice mail last month, Ms. Adams said, “Our Research shows that we paid Judy Sutton Moore just over $1,000 to do design work in 2002 for the Buckingham four corners project.”

    Mr. Roberts said he has been in contact with Mr. Hope about bringing more art back to the four corners.

    In his email, the civic association’s Mr. Hope wrote, “My effort will be focused on trying to come up with something that would be distinctly Buckingham and acceptable to HALRB. It suddenly has become our project, but I think we can do it.”

    Until then, however, the bus shelters are planned.

    “I think the bus shelters will be a beautiful addition to the intersection,” Ms. Adams said in an interview yesterday.

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    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Nov. 6: Indecent Liberties with a Minor, 100 block S. Glebe Rd. On Nov. 6 around 4:37 p.m., a man exposed himself to an 8-year-old girl. The suspect, Kener Chavez-Lopez, 37, of an unknown address, was arrested and charged with Indecent Liberties with a Minor, and was held on a $7500 secured bond.
    View Larger Map

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    Monday, November 12, 2007

    The Pilfered Papers of N. Thomas St.

    Karen McMillan just might buy a small, hidden video camera to catch the thief who steals the Washington Post from her Thomas Street front porch some mornings. The thief does not take her Wall Street Journal or New York Times, and pilfers mainly the Post on weekends and certain week days, sometimes just pulling out the advertising supplements. The thefts have been occurring for several months, she wrote in an email.

    Washington Posts have been disappearing from this block of N. Thomas Street.

    “During the week, the delivery person throws the paper as early as 4 a.m. If I pick up the paper by 5:30 a.m. it is out there. If I sleep in and pick it up around 6 or after, it is often gone, but not everyday,” she wrote. As well, she wrote that her neighbors have also had papers stolen.

    According to Ms. McMillan, the distributor has said other people have had their papers stolen on her 200 N. Thomas St. block as well. Javed Qureshi, the Washington Post distributor in the 22203 ZIP code, did not return phone calls for comment.

    For their part, the Arlington County Police Department said that people who have this sort of theft can file a report. However, the police will ask up front whether the people, if a thief is caught, will want to press charges, said Det. Kathryn Rounds, in the media relations office.

    Until the total number of thefts reaches $200, the charge is only a misdemeanor, Det. Rounds said. For a lot of people, the small theft and light punishment of a misdemeanor is not worth the hassle of court, Det. Rounds said.

    For smaller “nuisance crimes,” she said sometimes it is just easier to find a way to prevent it rather than pursue it. Perhaps the paper can be delivered elsewhere on the property where it is more secure, she suggested.

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    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    A Delightful "Peter and the Wolf"

    The actors in last night’s production of “Peter and the Wolf” were silent, while the familiar sounds of strings, horn and oboe spoke for them. My second-grade daughter loved it and cowered, a little, in her front row seat as the cat tried to catch the bird and duck. That scene fit incredibly well with the music, and came to life in a way I have not seen in years, maybe ever. Really, really well done.

    My daughter said this morning that it was tied with her other favorite plays.

    It was a strong production, combining the talents of Classika Theater, with federal Title 1 monies distributed by Arlington Public Schools. Children from any of a dozen elementary schools that use Title 1 funds were eligible to attend the show at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. But, like last year, only a few hundred people came, and many of them were parents. The missing families missed out.

    I am always struck by the ingenuity of the people who produce plays. The duck, dressed in white with feathers in her hair, was amazingly “duck-like,” waddling and wiggling tail feathers.

    The bird, in a black dress with red petty coats and red on her arms, made me think of a red-wing black bird.

    Two smallish, rolling backdrops made up the “set.” A fence was painted on one side of each, trees on the other. Show them one way, and Peter was locked in his grandfather’s backyard; flip them around, and he was outside walking with the animals.

    I did have a couple smallish complaints (everybody’s a critic).

    We sat in the front row, all the way stage left, and at times, especially for the wolf’s capture at the end, one of the rolling sets was right in our line of site. Pushed another five feet either back or further to our left, and we would have been fine.

    I can appreciate not wanting the actors to speak, but the production really needed a little narration, to give the basic story line, especially for the youngest in the audience. I sat behind my children, and I leaned over the seat between them to explain what was happening a couple times, and they seemed happy to know.

    Even though they might not have known the story that well, my kids loved the slapstick, and were scared at the right points. Overall, like last year, it was just a lot of fun.

    Title 1 money is provided through the No Child Left Behind law to schools with a certain percentage of students requiring free or reduced lunches. Some schools, such as K.W. Barrett Elementary School qualify as a school for the money; others, such as F. Scott Key Elementary School, have Title 1 programs, but do not qualify as a school. A dozen schools in Arlington get some money.

    One percent of the money provided to the school must engage parents as well as the students; the plays are one of a few ways APS meets that requirement. Library nights are another way.

    Sheryl Leeds, the Title 1 coordinator for APS, said she was happy with last night’s attendance. Still, I think Arlington parents could do a better job of getting to this one.

    Peter and the Wolf:

  • Directed and Choreographed by Nicholas Allen
  • Costume and Sets by Evgenia Salazar
  • Adapted by Nicholas Allen.
  • Peter: Liam Malakoss
  • Duck: Elizabeth Parsons
  • Bird: Laura Rocklyn
  • Grandfather/Wolf: John C. Waldron

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  • Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Letter: Pat Hope Deserves Credit


    I would like to give credit to Pat Hope, president of BCCA [Buckingham Community Civic Association], who was handing out sample ballots at 7 a.m. when the early risers went to vote. I will say the gym was pretty empty but a few of us voted before work.

    Ilene Gerber

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    HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 7, 2007

    Well, the elections are over; see the Buckingham precinct returns below. One interesting surprise for me: Josh Ruebner, Green Party, took 80 votes this year in the Buckingham precinct. He took 81 votes last year. This year, however, Buckingham only cast 957 votes for the two seats on the county board. Last year it was 1347 votes for one seat.

    Mr. Ruebner’s take was not only very interesting for its unchanged number (was someone sick this year?), but also for the fact that he gained two percent in the process.

    Mike McMenamin’s bid for the office moved in the opposite direction. His 215 votes this year was only about 22 percent of the total, where his 357 last year was about 26 percent in Buckingham. My endorsement obviously helped.

    By way of comparison, in 2003, the last year the full legislature was up for re-election all-at-once, about 25 percent of all registered Buckingham voters cast ballots; only about 19 percent turned out this year.

    The couple of people interviewed at the Buckingham polling station (the K.W. Barrett Elementary School gymnasium) said they did not have any burning desires, no issue or person who drew them strongly to the electronic ballot box.

    A woman who only gave her first name as Amy said she just votes every time. Joe Griffith of Thomas Street said he has moved back to the area and is three months in Buckingham (liking the convenience of the neighborhood). He checked out the Washington Post coverage the night before the election and swung in to vote.

    The other county board percentages in Buckingham:
    Tejada (D): 41 percent.
    Hynes (D): 37 percent
    Warren (R): 11 percent

    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:

  • Barrett’s Halloween Parade (it was a lot of fun—short and sweet)
  • Police Notes for Buckingham

  • Headline's from Earlier in the Week:

  • Buckingham Votes (But just barely.)
  • Read the Daily Socotra (Buckinghamster’s daily column about the neighborhood)
  • Police Bring HEAT to Bham
  • Draft RFP for Village 3 Topic of Discussion

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  • The Barrett Halloween Parade

    Not really sure why the slide show (below) took so long to put together. I would love to say that the quality of the sound recording and editing took that much time, but you wouldn't buy it. A week later than planned, here is the Barrett Halloween 2007 slide show.

    The parade started in the basketball courts in the back yard of the K.W. Barrett Elementary School, wound down N. Park then N. George Mason drives. The line of young’uns turned right immediately onto N. Henderson Road. They entered the Culpepper Gardens property by the main gate on N. Henderson, then snaked through the building and out through the back door (the same one used on election day). They walked back to the school along N. Henderson and entered through the front doors. Police were on-hand to stop traffic along the route.

    I must say that I much prefer this Halloween parade to the F. Scott Key Elementary School parade. In that parade (my daughter attended Key during kindergarten and first grade) the kids snaked through the Courthouse neighborhood, stopping at about 20 or more retail spaces to collect treats. Halloween in Arlington, as you know, can often be a hot prospect, and the hills in Courthouse are rather large for five year olds. An hour later, when that parade was over, I and the kids were hot and tired.

    A mother on the Barrett parade route this year said she would not mind a Key-school-style parade if that were the only candy the kids were getting, if they would not then head out All Hallows Eve to grab candy from the neighbors.

    I imagine that’s why they do it at Key. It is a Title 1 school, like Barrett, and half the school speaks Spanish as a first language at home. For a good number of those students, the Key school parade might be the only candy they get. It is nearly impossible in some apartment complexes to go Trick-or-Treating.

    If we did not have friends who let our kids carpet bag in their neighborhood (Bluemont) every year, we would only go to about four doors in Arlington Oaks. Of course, Buckinghamsters can head to Ballston Mall on Halloween, and Lubber Run Community Center always has some sort of celebration.

    By the way, my two children raked in nine pounds of candy. Eeeeeef. Dear Bluemonters, my children and my dentist thank you.

    As with other slide shows on this site, the sound and images have been rearranged.

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    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Police Notes for Buckingham Nov. 7, 2007

    Nov 5: Robbery, 600 block N. Randolph St. At approximately 7:43 p.m., a 27-year-old man was pushed off of his bicycle by four men. The victim’s cell phone was taken during the incident. The suspects fled on foot eastbound on Wilson Boulevard. Three of the suspects were described as black males, 20 to 30 years old, approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall, 180 pounds, with black hair, wearing black jackets and black jeans. The fourth suspect was described as a middle-eastern male with long black hair, wearing a white T-shirt and black jeans. The victim suffered minor scrapes to his leg.

    Nov. 1: Felony Hit and Run, Arlington Boulevard at George Mason Dr. Around 6:53 p.m., a Honda Civic was westbound on Arlington Boulevard approaching George Mason Dr. The driver of the Honda stopped for traffic when a white SUV struck the Honda from behind. The SUV fled the scene. The driver of the Honda sustained minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

    View Larger Map

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    Buckingham Precinct Notes

    These photos tell the story. This first one is the space where people normally stand to hand out sample ballots:

    And this one is the space where the people walk to enter the K.W. Barrett Elementary School gymnasium to vote:

    Finally, this one, slightly out of focus, is the gym. OK, it is the gym at about 1 p.m. But it was rather empty after business hours, too:

    Only 18.84 percent of registered voters in Buckingham turned out tonight to help send Mary Hynes for her first term to the county board and Walter Tejada back for another four years.

    Arlington Forest fared a little better at 29.52 percent.

    At 5 p.m. just 500 people had voted at the Buckingham precinct, and only another 129 voted before the polls closed at 7 p.m. In all fairness, some people handed out materials at Buckingham, and Geoff Schwartzman, Mike McMenamin’s campaign manager, was still “optimistic” at the entrance to the Arlington Forest precinct. (In one of life’s little ironies, the Arlington Foresters vote at Culpepper Gardens, located in Buckingham, and Buckinghamsters vote at Barrett, in Arlington Forest.)

    Buckingham Precinct Notes

    County Board:
    Walter Tejada(D): 392
    Mary Hynes (D): 352
    McMenamin (R): 215
    Warren (R): 108
    Ruebner (Green): 80

    School Board
    Raphael (D): 490

    Clerk of Court
    Ferguson (D): 421
    Kelly (R): 144

    Commonwealth’s Attorney
    Trodden (D): 493

    Arthur: 479
    Strasburg: 91

    Commissioner of Revenue
    Morroy (D): 493

    O’Leary (D): 472

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    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Read the Daily Socotra

    I'm giving another plug to Vic Socotra, a resident of "The Big Pink" (aka The Chatham condominium). His piece today, is especially nice. Check it out here.

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    Police Bring the HEAT to Bham.

    Nora Trodden receives detailed instructions explaining where to place her VIN sticker at Saturday's HEAT vehicle identification program. Cars wait for their window etchings behind her. The event, sponsored by state and county police, was free at the Assembly of God church parking lot.

    Arlington and state police brought the HEAT to Buckingham on Saturday with the Vehicle Identification Number etching program. The program, Help End Auto Theft, etches the VIN into vehicle windows in order to deter theft, and to keep the glass from being used in a “chop shop.” People who brought cars to the Assembly of God parking lot, 4501 N. Pershing Dr., could have any window or sunroof etched for free.
    Police work on the computer system at the HEAT event.

    The day had a bumpy start, when computers went down, but the police were able to get back up and running.

    Nora Trodden, a certified dog trainer, said she just bought her BMW motorcycle, and thought it was a good idea to get it registered. Motorcycle owners get a series of stickers to apply to various parts of their bikes.

    Before etching the windows, police check the registration and the owner’s license for theft. Last year, police found a stolen car, said Det. Rich Conigliaro, of ACPD’s Criminal Investigations Division. The owner, in Philadelphia, did not want the car back. Police helped the current owner, who was not the thief, fill out all the proper paperwork to keep the car, Det. Conigliaro said.

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    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Draft RFP for Village 3 Topic of Discussion Today.

    A draft “request for proposals” asks potential developers of Buckingham Village 3 to buy the property with help from the county, renovate all the buildings under the watchful eye of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, and figure out a way to sell at least some of the units at perennially affordable rates.

    The RFP will be the topic of conversation today at 1 p.m. between the county manager’s office and the co-chairs of the Buckingham Village 3 Working Group, which drafted the RFP.

    Neither Caridad Palerm nor Kathleen McSweeney, co-chairs of the working group, know exactly what the topics of the meeting will include, and the county does not want to discuss its ideas until after meeting with the chairs.

    Ms. Palerm and Ms. McSweeney had some ideas.

    “It [this RFP] makes them nervous on two fronts,” Ms. McSweeney believes. “It sounds expensive. Obviously, that’s a concern. [And] we’re used to the whole rental thing.” The county knows how to manage affordable rental housing plans, but she said, “The fact that we’re asking for some elements of home ownership…at an affordable rate, I think is new.”

    Since the RFP is a draft, it was not released, but Ms. McSweeney said some of the other items got into the details of what the inside of the units would look like, including installing gas—not electric—stoves, and having separate water and power meters leading to each unit.

    Developer representatives at a working group meeting a couple months ago said they preferred an RFP with that sort of specificity; it makes their jobs easier, they said.

    However, Ms. McSweeney acknowledged that they are asking a lot, and the county might be worried that no developer would step forward to take on the challenge.

    Ms. McSweeney, who twice said how grateful she was that the county set-up a working group to help with this, hoped that the county only had modest, “wordsmithing,” changes to the proposal.

    Ms. Palerm wondered if the county was worried about the make-up of the selection committee, the committee that will select the winning bid. She is Executive Director of BRAVO, a tenant group.

    The current make-up of the selection committee is this: Save Buckingham Coalition, and Arlington New Directions Coalition together have one vote. BU-GATA and BRAVO, tenant organizations, together have one vote. Individual tenants from Village 3, who participate through the whole process of reviewing the proposals fromdevelopers will have one vote in the block. The Arlington County Housing Commission has 1 vote.

    Three county representatives have one vote each. Each of the three county offices, Housing, Management and Finance, and the county attorney have one vote a piece.

    “We are concerned with the composition of the group because in the end, those are the people” who will choose which company redevelops the neighborhood where these people will then live, Ms. Palerm said. “It’s basically because we think that people who are living there should have more votes.” She is not sure if the county management agrees with her on this.

    The Buckingham Village 3 Working Group stemmed from the agreement, finalized last June, between the county and Paradigm Development Corp, the owner of the property. In that agreement, Village 3 became part of the Buckingham Historic District while Village 1 is set to be torn down. Village 3 sits on the northeast corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing drives.


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