Thursday, January 31, 2008

All Is Quiet at the HALRB Meeting

The following are the latest drawings of potential redevelopment at the N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive intersection. The photos are an attempt to capture the same angle and distance as the drawings to give viewers a clear sense of what might come. They are not exactly the same, as that is probably not possible.

The drawings were distributed at last night's Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board meeting. Bob Moore, of Georgetown Strategic Capital (the potential developer of the site) and Scott Matties, of Cunningham Quill Architects, were on hand to present these latest ideas and take questions.

The discussion at the HALRB meeting was congenial, as both sides (the board and the developer) agreed that the buildings are moving in the right direction. The architect is going to try to lessen the abrupt change in height from the two storey buildings of the Gates of Ballston apartments to the planned buildings on the corner (see the first comparison, below, to get a sense of the difference in heights).

The board asked the developer to start thinking about the materials they would use on the outside of the large buildings, as well.

"That will tell us if the clothing will help hide the girth," said Board Chair Nancy Iacomini.

"Quote of the night," responded Bob Moore, during much laughter.

The basic plan with the property is to remove three commercial buildings from the west side of the N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive intersection (the CVS, El Paso, and Glebe Market buildings). They would be replaced with two buildings with street-level retail and three floors of apartments above.

Mr. Moore also said that his company plans to paint the buildings east of Glebe Road and to find ways to put in greenery on that side (the Cassianna Spa side) of the street.

Please find a list of stories below the illustrations.

Click to enlarge the image.

Click to enlarge the image.

Click to enlarge the image.

Related stories…
  • HALRB: Buildings Envisioned Are "Too Big"
  • Take the HeraldTrib Retail Survey
  • Will Sam Chon Retire? Nobody is Talking...Anymore
  • DRC to Discuss Glebe/Pershing Redevelopment

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  • Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    Letter: Thanks for Field Coverage


    Thanks for letting us know about this [Barrett to Get New Field]. Several of us have been trying for the past few years to get this done, looks like someone finally figured out that kids were unsafe outside.

    Robb Severn

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    Letter: Good Job on the Survey


    I'm so glad you put the survey together and out into the neighborhood.

    It is nice to know that the developer is interested in the results.

    Because of you, residents may have a direct impact on the development of the neighborhood. Bravo!

    Thanks Steve,

    Liz Vizard

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    HeraldTrib Today, Jan. 30, 2008

    The top story today covers the reconstruction of the K.W. Barrett Elementary School ball field. I cannot say anything more than what is in the story, so click here.

    I posted news about the impending destruction of the apartment building at 461 N. Thomas St. last week. In that post I said that garbage had been left out on the front lawn and sidewalk, which it had.

    461 N. Thomas St. Click to enlarge the image.

    Dittmar Companies, the owner of the building, wrote a quick email asking me first to clarify that the garbage was not left for long, and could I please post a photo showing a cleaned-up front lawn. The garbage consisted of items that tenants left behind in basement storage lockers, and was gone by last Friday. (See the original post by clicking here.)

    As well, a couple readers who are friends asked exactly where the building is, so I’m including this map that shows the building. 461 N. Thomas St. sits on the east side of the street between N. Henderson and N. Carlin Springs roads.

    Click the various icons for more information. And click here to view a larger map.

    The HeraldTrib Retail Survey has been a success. We are a little shy of 60 respondents, but as I told a friend this morning, I would have been happy with any number over 50, so I’m happy.

    I don’t know if any of you taking the survey checked out the comment at the bottom of the post (click here then scroll down), but Bob Moore of Georgetown Strategic Capital, the company that wants to redevelop the corner of N. Glebe Rd. at N. Pershing Dr., has added his blessing to the survey. He wrote that he is looking forward to what the community has to say.

    Originally I did not call or ask him about the survey because I really wanted it to be an independent creation, but I am happy to see that he wants the community input. The survey asks about what people in the community would like to see a redeveloped Glebe at Pershing corner.

    That said, I am trying to widen the dialogue by having the survey translated into Spanish. If I can get that done, I will make sure the link goes out at least to the people on-line at the Buckingham Community Center.

    If you have filled in the survey, but your spouse has not, make sure he or she does, and soon. I will shut of responses to this survey late Friday afternoon.

    Speaking of all this, the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board meets tonight. The only item on the agenda is the redevelopment of the N. Glebe at N. Pershing corner. See you there.

    A couple non-Buckingham items caught my attention that I thought you’d like to know about. The first is the story on-line at the Sun Gazette about the pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Arlington Blvd, just east of Glebe Road at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

    The second is an interview on WETA's "Author Author" program. The person interviewed is a friend of mine, Richard Peabody. He is an Arlingtonian, a professor, a writer and poet. (His poem “The Morton Salt Girl” hangs in the lobby of the Morton Salt Company Headquarters. I do not think Richard would consider that his biggest claim to fame, but it always makes me smile.)

    The interview talks about his publishing company, Paycock Press, and their series of anthologies by Washington D.C.-area women writers. His book of D.C.-men’s writing comes out this spring. In a shameless plug, I’ll let you know that I am in that one, so you’ll want to buy two copies. Here’s the link to the interview.

    Don’t miss the police notes. Scroll down for the link.

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

    Today's Headlines:

  • Barrett School to Get a New Play Field
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
    Headline's from Earlier in the Week:
  • Village 3 Has Five Suitors (The BV3 Working Group will try to pick the best one to renovate 16 historic buildings.)
  • A Sneak Peak at Arlington Art Center’s Latest Show (it opened Tuesday)
  • Take the HeraldTrib Retail Survey (nearly 60 people have taken this survey regarding the retail space at the Glebe/Pershing intersection—make sure you do it soon. The survey closes on Friday).
    Schools Headlines from Earlier in the Week:
  • Neither Smith’s Nor ECCC’s Proposal Wins Full Favor
  • Letter: APS MUST Plan to Increase Capacity
  • APS Elementary Schools Crowding and Capacity Links

  • Barrett School to Get New Playfield

    This post was edited after its original publication earlier today. The edits fixed a couple factual errors. In particular, this project is paid for under one new budget line. --ST

    The K.W. Barrett Elementary School’s field is going to get repaired this spring, if the budget process plays out as expected. Arlington Public Schools staff plan to use a new funding line in the schools’ budget to give Barrett and F. Scott Key Elementary School new playing fields in their backyards. The Barrett field has often been a combination of mud and puddles this school year. Key’s field is in similar shape.

    “I have no bad feelings that [the project] won’t proceed forward,” said C.R. Lyons, the director of maintenance for the schools.

    The $150,000 playfield maintenance and repair line is spent as part of the Minor Construction Major Maintenance process, which covers everything from playground equipment to interior painting of classrooms. Staff expects to split the money between the two schools, but it might not be split evenly. Mr. Lyons said there is a little money in reserve, as well, if the project runs over.

    “We agreed this year to look at playground needs district-wide,” Mr. Lyons said, and to repair items that were broken. Barrett and Key school fields moved to first on the list. Under a different budget line last year Randolph and Claremont elementary schools had their fields repaired, he said.

    A snowman stands on the Barrett field earlier this month. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Stone removal and planting will begin this spring, and the field will not be usable through the summer in order to give the grass time to grow and establish itself. Mr. Lyons said they have not gotten to the details of how much of the grass in Barrett's backyard will be replaced, but he said staff plans to look at the whole space, not just the baseball field.

    The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources handles field scheduling for non-school activities, such as summer T-ball. DPRCR did not return phone calls yesterday and this morning regarding the summer use of the space.

    Barrett physical education teacher Robert McLaughlin said he was happy to hear that the field was scheduled for renovation as it would allow him to plan more events outside.

    The biggest change he has seen is that the children often play soccer on the blacktop near the basketball courts. He said he’s waiting for a ball to fly over the nearby fence.

    Also, the field can take days to dry off after rain or snow, so he has had to change plans, to move activities indoors or change which day they head outdoors.

    “Kids are going to get dirty” especially this spring when they head outside to play soccer on the dry, dusty field, Coach McLaughlin said. He has been teaching at Barrett for five years, and last year was the worst year for the field, he said.

    A group of older men began playing soccer on the field, at all times of day.

    “They just don’t care,” Coach McLaughlin said, adding that they seemed to have a “live for today” attitude.

    Principal Terry Bratt said she did not recognize anyone in the group of adults.

    “No parent I recognized, no teenager I recognized,” she said, adding that many arrived in cars.

    “I don’t know where they were coming from,” she said. They began arriving last spring and kept coming through this fall, she said. She spoke with them many times and was in contact with Arlington County Police Department’s “Community Policing” program. She said the players would leave when she told them to, but they would be back, sometimes during school or extended day (after school) hours.

    “It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t get them to leave,” she said.

    At times, they would be playing on the field while a T-ball game was underway. T-ball coaches would try to share the space. The men’s cleats tore up the field.

    “It’s not meant for soccer, it’s meant for children to play with sneakers,” Mrs. Bratt said.

    She said that protecting the new field will be difficult. The fence cannot be locked or groups allowed to use the field will not get in after hours or on the weekends.

    Many parents are looking forward to a new field.

    Dan Redmond talks to his son, Alec, about safety near a hole behind the baseball backstop in Barrett's playfield. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “Oh, good!” said Dan Redmond, a Barrett parent, when he heard the field was going to be renovated. His son, and many others, likes to explore a hole behind the baseball backstop that Mr. Redmond worries is a hazard.

    Mrs. Bratt, who was unaware of the hole until it was mentioned for this article, wrote in an email that she would be looking into it.

    The public schools budget moves through a lengthy process starting next month. It is finalized by April at which time reconstruction can begin, if the lines for this are approved.

    Next year, two more schools will get fixed, Mr. Lyons said.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a friend of Dan Redmond’s. As well, the phone calls to DPRCR were yesterday afternoon and first thing this morning. They have not gotten back to me, but when they do I'll update you if there is more to this story. –ST

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    Police Notes for Buckingham, Jan. 30, 2008

    Jan. 29: Stolen Car 5300 block N. 2nd St. Tag Number: VA AMM4810. The car was a 1994 dark blue Honda Accord.

    Jan. 27: Attempted Burglary, 200 block of N. Glebe Rd. At approximately 1:52 a.m., someone slashed the screen on an apartment window. Entry was not made into the apartment.

    Jan. 26: Burglary, 300 block of N. Thomas St. At approximately 4:30 a.m., the resident of an apartment saw someone reach into his window and take his wallet.

    View Larger Map

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    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Village 3 Has Five Suitors

    Five companies are vying for the chance to redevelop Buckingham Village 3, according to the county’s David Cristeal. Five companies have submitted official bids, though Mr. Cristeal said they are still waiting to get a little more information from a couple of them.

    “They all look pretty comparable, pretty good,” he said.

    A committee of about 20 people—from housing and tenant groups to county staff in the housing department—will review the proposals during February. Review of the proposals will be followed by negotiations with the top applicant or applicants.

    “I think we’re hoping for a recommendation that would go to the [County] Manager [Ron Carlee] and to the commissions in May, or May/June,” said Mr. Cristeal, who chairs the review committee.

    Village 3 sits north of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street. The plan is for a developer to renovate the units and either rent or sell the apartments at perennially affordable rates.

    A complex deal made with Paradigm Companies and their partners, the current owners of the property, and finalized last June, allows the county to buy the property and allow another company to purchase the structures for redevelopment, all for about $32 million. The county has a window from March 2008 through June 2009 to finalize that portion of the deal.

    “We’re on track,” Mr. Cristeal said. “That’s the window that is still ahead of us.”

    Unknown is whether the meetings to discuss the proposals will be open to the public.

    Related stories…
  • Village 3 RFP Is Out
  • Draft RFP for Village 3 Is Topic of Discussion Today
  • Buckingham Village 3 Sale and Resale to Be Studied

    View Larger Map

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  • Monday, January 28, 2008

    Sneak Peek: Arlington Arts Center's New Show

    The "Collectors Select" show runs January 29 to March 29 with a reception Friday Feb. 1.

    Jeffry Cudlin, the director of exhibitions at the Arlington Arts Center, let me in for a sneak peek of the "Collectors Select" show opening tomorrow. I snapped a few photos with my cell phone, which of course do not do the works justice, but they give you a sense of what's happening there.

    "The Arlington Arts Center has collaborated with notable area collectors to create six distinctive exhibitions, each exploring a different theme or aspect of contemporary art practice," their web site says.

    You cannot see the marble blocks tied into the string ("wire" the web site says), but look to the shadows and see the large buldges. The lines spill onto the floor in a limp heap. Art by Barbara Liotta, curated by Heather and Tony Podesta.

    Click to enlarge the image.

    Mr. Cudlin said this piece, by exiled Argentinian Leon Ferrari, is processed similarly to architectural blueprints. The heliographs "reflect on the political oppression of the Argentinean military dictatorship in the 1980s," the web site says. Ferrari's pieces are curated by Daniel Levinas.

    Click for a larger image.

    Graffiti art adorns the walls of Tiffany Gallery, where floor-to-ceiling Tiffany glass windows hang. I could not get closer for the photo since the carpets in the room had just been shampooed. Still, the work, painted onto canvassed walls, is impressive. The sun was shining through the lead glass rather strongly when we stood there, and the opulence of color grabbed me. Artist Tim Conlon, curated by Philippa Hughes.

    Click to enlarge image.

    Related stories and sites…
  • Arlington Arts Center

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  • Friday, January 25, 2008

    Take the HeraldTrib Retail Survey

    You’ve seen surveys on other news web sites, no doubt. Generally they’re insipid, asking things like whether the media’s coverage of Britney Spears is “Too much; Too little; Just right.”

    Not here at the HeraldTrib.

    The survey, linked below, asks you for input regarding the potential redevelopment of the intersection of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive.

    Drawings I have seen, showed a lot of open retail space, and I got thinking we in the neighborhood (and nearby places) should at least let the developer know what we think, give them some ideas about what might work in that space.

    The survey, therefore, asks you about three general areas of retail: restaurants, grocery, and general retail (stores/offices). It won’t take you but about five minutes, and will be a wonderful way to blow-off a little steam and have some mid-afternoon fun.

    I should say that the developer has no idea that I have thought this up. The developer might have already leased all available space. The developer might not care what we think. But that won't stop me from telling him.

    I also will say that I recognize that the answers here will most likely skew white and middle-class, in a neighborhood that is very Latino. Still, I think it’s worth getting some input.

    Click Here to take the HeraldTrib Retail survey

    Not familiar with the whole redevelopment? Here’s the skinny:

    Georgetown Strategic Capital is hoping to tear down three buildings on the west side of Glebe (the buildings that currently house CVS/Ravi Kabob; Glebe Market; Popeyes/El Paso/Woofs) and replace them with two larger buildings with retail space on the ground floor and apartments above.

    What will stay (according to the latest I have heard):

  • Everything east of N. Glebe Road (from the post office to Cassiana Spa)
  • El Paso Café
  • Woofs! Dog Training
  • CVS
  • Ravi Kabob (on both sides of N. Glebe)
  • Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits
    What will GO (according to the latest I have heard):
  • The Glebe Market (the grocery store on the corner)

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  • Neither Smith's Nor ECCC's Proposals Wins Full Favor

    Last night's working group meeting was intentionally long on discussion, short on decisions.

    They might not have agreed on what constitutes an overcrowded school, or how long “short term” use of a trailer is, but one thing the Arlington Public School Board and Superintendent Robert Smith agreed upon last night was that the superintendent’s proposal to ease overcrowding at a few north Arlington elementary schools will not be implemented as written.

    APS School Board Chair Ed Fendley at last night's meeting. (Click to enlarge image.)

    Neither will the recommendations of the Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee, a group formed by the school board last February. One decision they could agree on was that no decision would be made regarding overcrowding at the Jan. 31 school board meeting, but they would have a plan by the Thursday Feb. 14 meeting.

    At the end of a three-hour working group session, watched by about 70 people from the public, the board could not even agree on which proposal to work from and amend. The superintendent’s proposal largely relies on shifting the schools’ boundaries to solve overcrowding at Tuckahoe Elementary School and others, while the ECCC recommendation largely relies encouraging parents to send their children to “cluster schools” where there is space to absorb them.

    “It doesn’t matter to me which one we work off of, so long we address what we discussed here tonight,” board member Frank Wilson said. He had been vocal all night in wanting to make sure the board stays focused on easing Tuckahoe’s problem of overcrowding. “I want to see this translated into a deliverable.”

    (Click to enlarge image.)

    The discussion moderated by Chairman Ed Fendley was not intended to bring consensus but just to get a sense of how highly school board members prioritized a variety of issues. The board often asked for input from APS staff, and ECCC Co-Chairs Anne Steen and Daphne Miller. Since it was a working group, audience members were not allowed to address the board.

    Mr. Fendley said the conversation would be among board members, adding later that he did not expect to get “universal acclimation” on any issue at the meeting.

    Board Member Libby Garvey, whose husband died of a heart attack Saturday, was not present at the meeting.

    Much of the meeting was spent trying to define terms.

    How long is “long term” when planning to ease overcrowding?

    “Your operational definition of ‘neighborhood’ would be?” asked Superintendent Smith. Is a “neighborhood” for the school the same as “neighborhood” as defined by a civic association, board members wondered.

    Mr. Wilson said it could be boundaries such as Columbia Pike or I-395, but it can be defined “in many different ways,” he said.

    The meeting, as intended, ran long on discussion, but short on specifics.

    New school board member Abby Raphael wanted to define what problem they were trying to solve.

    “There have already been a couple comments about Tuckahoe, and that’s clearly a school that’s…projected to be the most overcrowded, but…there are a number of other schools that are projected to be overcrowded as early as this fall,” Ms. Raphael said. “So it would be helpful to know what problem it is we’re trying to solve.”

    Mr. Fendley responded that “that’s on our list” of issues to be discussed. Number 9 was “How to determine when crowding becomes a problem.”

    When they got to that topic, School Board Vice-Chair Sally Baird said that she thought schools entered “Red Zones” of overcrowding when the use of trailers (or “relocatable classrooms”) might be of use for a couple years before finding a more permanent solution.

    Mr. Fendley said, “I feel deferential to school communities in this.” He added that he wanted to respect the school community’s feelings on whether they considered themselves “overcrowded.”

    Superintendent Robert Smith at last night's meeting. (Click to enlarge image.)

    But that begged the question of whether something should be done anyway—would parents whose children had grown into a school that became overcrowded not feel the crowding as badly as new parents coming in?

    On the issue of “walk zones,” whether children should attend a school they can safely and easily walk to, Ms. Baird said, “I feel we’re moving away from preserving walk zones…Whatever we do, we [should] preserve walk zones.”

    “Walk zones are not going to be the solution to everything,” Mr. Wilson replied. “That’s extremely important to neighborhoods for me” but it is not everything.

    But even there the question of definition became, “What is a walk zone?”

    Mr. Fendley said crossing an arterial road, such as Wilson Boulevard, Glebe Road or Arlington Boulevard is not a walk zone, he said.

    Mr. Fendley told those in attendance that there is no policy on grandfathering but that it was a common practice among previous boards.

    “In all kinds of different ways,” Superintendent Smith, added quickly. His proposal allowed grandfathering for rising fourth and fifth graders and their younger siblings who already attend the school. Students not already enrolled in a school would go to wherever the new boundary would send them.

    Ms. Raphael brought up the idea of different grandfathering schemes for different schools. Would grandfathering regarding the students from Barcroft Elementary, a school with a year-round schedule, who attend K.W. Barrett Elementary be the same as that of students at F. Scott Key School and Clarmont Elementary, the county’s Spanish immersion schools. Would the grandfathering in those schools be the same as that of students affected by a simple boundary change, she wondered.

    “I haven’t worked out where I am on all this, but I think we need to be thinking about [it],” she said.

    “What’s wrong with keeping the family together?” Mr. Wilson asked.

    Regarding where and how pre-K students are educated, Ms. Baird asked if there was an advantage to having students taught in the schools; she wondered if having a central location was as good for that population.

    Although the benefits of pre-K education have long been shown through research the superintendent said, “The question of whether there’s value added in pre-K is a well-answered question. The question of whether you have it in one location or another, I think that’s probably less clear, although I’d be glad to be persuaded that there’s some research on that that I’m not aware of.”

    The room discussed for quite some time the need for continuity for the students, but wondered if that is more important than other questions of maintaining walk zones, or using trailers.

    The school board has a working group session next week discussing the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools program, a pilot program in some schools. The superintendent, Ms. Raphael, and Ms. Baird spoke to the notion that the program does not need its own space in a classroom, but can taught in the students’ regular class. The rooms freed by moving FLES out of its own room might ease some of the crowding.

    At the end of the evening, Mr. Wilson said, “It think we have had a very healthy and good discussion,” but he added that he did not want it to be regurgitated next week. He wanted to get down to decisions, and wanted to know what the next steps were.

    The board needs to get to the “nitty-gritty” Ms. Raphael said. “I think we need to get to another level of detail”

    Mr. Fendley reminded the board that next week they have another work session and before that time, he encouraged the board to reflect on the discussion, and to share their views with each other.

    CLICK HERE for more schools coverage...

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    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Letter: APS Must Plan to Increase Capacity

    Hey Steve,

    What's been screaming out to me, the elephant in the room, is the pure demographics/population problem here - and the inanity of even considering boundary changes to solve the problem (can we say short-sighted?).

    Did you see the recent AP article talking about how the US is one of the only developed nations that still has an increasing population (immigration mostly)? [Against the Trend, U.S. Births Way Up]

    I mean, the capacity issue is not going away, can't just be "fixed" as everyone keeps saying. It's a moving target, and the School Board better very seriously consider PLANNING to increase capacity by use of existing facilities, especially ones that were originally built to school the baby boomers whose kids are now the cause of the overcrowding (duh! Reed, etc.). I mean, this plus immigration, it's already a tidal wave of new kids.

    That's already obvious, then you add Tejada's push for accessory dwelling units, and it just opens the flood gates on population increase in the county. My guess is that policy won't get too far, however, and in no small part due to the school crowding.

    These are the things I wish people were saying.

    Talk later...
    John Marston

    For a list of regularly updated information about the schools and crowding, click here. --ST

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    Arlington Public Schools Crowding and Capacity Links

    This list is updated regularly.
    Related stories from the HeraldTrib…
  • Plaintiffs in School Board Lawsuit Will "Wait and See" (June 3, 2008)
  • School Board Votes to "Punt and Buy Time" (Feb. 15, 2008).
  • Neither Smith's Nor ECCC's Proposals Win Full Favor
  • Letter: APS Must Plan to Expand Capacity
  • Smith's Plan: Barrett Loses Programs Gains from Ashlawn
  • Letter: County, Support Our Choices
  • APS Chair Ed Fendley Speaks to Barrett PTA
  • Barrett Parents to Bring Concerns to School Board

  • Related stories from other papers…
  • Judge Kills Arlington Schools Redistricting Plan (Examiner May 31, 2008)
  • Technical Issue Invalidates Part of School Redistricting Plan (Sun Gazette May 30, 2008)
  • Superintendent Proposes Scaled Down Boundary Plan (Sun Gazette Feb. 1, 2008).
  • Back To The Drawing Board (Connection Jan. 30, 2008)
  • School Board Sets Another Hearing on Boundary Issues (Sun Gazette Jan. 25, 2008)
  • School Officials Mull Timing of Boundary Decision (Sun Gazette Jan. 25, 2008)
  • Column: We’re Going to Have to Squish Some Toes (Connection Jan. 22, 2008)
  • Reversal of Fortune (Wilson School considered for elementary school. Connection Jan. 22, 2008.)
  • Parents Up In Arms, Out In Force (Connection Jan. 22, 2008)
  • Arlington parents criticize plan to shift school boundaries (Examiner Jan. 19, 2008)
  • School Boundary Proposal Provokes an Outcry (Washington Post Jan. 19, 2008)
  • Superintendent's Boundary Plan Panned at Hearing (Sun Gazette Jan. 18, 2008)
  • Arlington County School Board to Hear Massive Redistricting Plan (Examiner Jan. 17, 2008)
  • Superintendent Proposes Shifting 600-Plus Elementary Students (Sun Gazette, Jan. 15, 2008).
  • Crowding Committee Makes Recommendations (Arlington Connection, Jan. 8, 2008)
  • Date Set for Public Hearing on School Boundaries (Sun Gazette, Jan. 6, 2008)
  • 2008 Could Bring Elementary-School Boundary Battles (Sun Gazette Dec. 27, 2007)
  • Boundary Clash (Arlington Connection, Nov. 6, 2007)

    Related Sites from the Public Schools…

  • APS Officials Release Progress Report from Crowding Project Team (May 30, 2008).
  • Update on Arlington Public Schools Elementary Boundaries (May 29, 2008. This press release from APS explains the failure of the Feb. 14 decision in Arlington Circuit Court.)
  • Final Motion Accepted by APS School Board, Feb. 14, 2008 (Two-page MSWord Document)
  • School Board Agenda for Feb. 14 meeting; boundary issues are on the agenda.
  • Sign Up to Speak at the Feb. 12 Public Hearing.
  • Working Draft Questions (Three-page MSWord memo from Superintendent Robert Smith's staff to Dr. Smith. It covers boundary issues, especially regarding Pre-K.)
  • Revised Proposal Items (released Jan. 30, 2008) from Robert G. Smith, superintendent.
  • School Board will hear more public comment Wed. Jan. 23
  • Superintendent to Present Recommendations for Elementary Boundary Changes on Jan. 17 (The APS press release.)
  • APS’s Enrollment and Capacity of Schools page
  • ECCC’s Recommendations and Proposals (a 74-page MSWord Document)

  • The dark lines on the map show current boundaries. The colors show which planning units (portions of neighborhoods) go to which school under Superintendent Robert Smith's proposal. (Click to enlarge the image).

    The dark lines on this revised map still show current boundaries. The purple shaded "planning units" (portions of neighborhoods) are ones to be moved under Superintendent Robert Smith's latest proposal (released Jan. 30, 2008). (Click to enlarge the image).

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    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    HeraldTrib Today: Jan. 23, 2008

    We have a couple items to report this week, with many more expected for next week; I’ll keep you posted, as you know.

    First of all, the apartment building at 461 N. Thomas St. (just north of N. Henderson Road) will be coming down, to be replaced, most likely, with another, larger apartment building. The story is below.

    We have police notes.

    Also, I am very happy to report that on our companion site (the H&H Report), we have our first guest bloggers—Cole and Leo (6 and 4, respectively). The H&H Report is a reviews site for kids, by kids. It’s something we set up just a couple weeks ago, and the response so far has been very good.

    A number of you have tried to post comments, but could not because you do not have gmail accounts. That has been fixed. Now, anyone can post. I will be looking at those comments, though, and pulling anything that I deem inappropriate.

    We have three reviews up there now. The two latest are “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep.” Last week’s post included “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” (which has a new comment).

    Make sure you check out the posts, and then get your kids to write something for it—reviews of movies, plays, DVDs, books, events, whatever. Email me what you have.

    I have to point out the comment to this post about streetlights that ran last week. I had written that lights were out at the corner of N. Henderson and N. Glebe roads. The commenter ("Neil") gave a link to a county site, appropriately named "The Street Lights Report Form," that lets you tell them where lights are out. Excellent, and thanks, Neil.

    One last thing. Check out the site later this week as I will have a survey for you to take—it will ask about the retail space at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road. Look for it, it will be fun.

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

    Today's Headlines:

  • Thomas Street Building to Be Replaced
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
    Headline's from Earlier in the Week:
  • Superintendent Can't Laugh Off Criticism
    Links to Our Companion Site, The H&H Report, a blog for kids, by kids:
  • "The Water Horse:" Good, but Too Scary for the Littlest
  • "Alvin and the Chipmunks:" Funny
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

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  • Thomas Street Building to Be Replaced

    This building, at 461 to 469 N. Thomas St. is, slated for demolition. (Click to enlarge image.)

    The apartment building at 461 N. Thomas St. is being prepared for demolition, and the process for what will replace it is on-going, said a Dittmar Company representative who preferred to remain nameless.

    “We’re in the process of working on plans as we speak. They haven’t been finalized,” the representative said, adding later that it would be some sort of multi-family, market-rate apartment building.

    Garbage left after the building's evacuation is set outside 465 N. Thomas St. (Click to enlarge image.)

    Today, garbage and junk left over from the building’s evacuation is piled on the sidewalk near the front doors.

    Demolition is “very much a function of the time it takes to terminate utility service” which is out of Dittmar’s control, the representative said.

    County zoning will not allow for a high-rise in that space, but the plan will be to put a larger building in place.

    “Any developer is going to strive to maximize the use of the property. If you don’t do that, it doesn’t make any sense,” the representative said.

    According to the Arlington County Zoning Office, the building is being redeveloped “by right” meaning the company that owns the property, listed as “461 Thomas Street LC,” can redevelop the property as they wish, so long they stay within established county guidelines.

    “I believe they’re just doing it by right. I don’t believe thy have any applications in on that property,” said Colin Dentel-Post, in the zoning office.

    The property is zoned as an apartment district, meaning that the company can build single family homes, townhouses, apartments or condominiums, Mr. Dentel-Post said.

    Thirty-three units maximum can fit on the 40,040 square foot lot, but any buildings cannot exceed either four storeys or the 40 foot height restriction, Mr. Dentel-Post said.


    Police Notes for Buckingham Jan. 23, 2008

    Jan. 17 to 21: Larceny from Auto (Series, various locations). From Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, GPS units were stolen from cars parked in the following locations: 1500 block of S. 28 St., 2400 block of S. Glebe Rd., 600 block of S. Walter Reed Dr., 4400 to 4500 blocks of Arlington Blvd., 1200 block of N. Troy St., 2300 block of N. 11th St., 1300 block of Ft. Myer Dr., 2700 block of Arlington Blvd., 4300 block of Old Dominion Dr., and 700 block of N. Abingdon St.

    Jan. 15: Burglary, 500 block of N. Randolph St. Sometime between 3 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 1:40 p.m. on Jan. 17, someone took cash from a safe in a restaurant. Two suspects were seen. Suspect 1 is described as a black male, approximately 50 years old, 6 feet 3 inches tall and skinny. Suspect 2 is approximately 30 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall, “chubby,” wearing a hat.

    Jan. 16: Felony Hit-and-Run, Arlington Boulevard at N. Pershing Drive. Around 1:40 a.m., a pedestrian was trying to cross Arlington Boulevard at N. Pershing Drive when he was struck by a silver four door vehicle. The vehicle fled the scene in an unknown direction. The victim was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

    View Larger Map

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    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Superintendent Can't Laugh Off Criticism

    Fendley calls Dr. Smith's proposal "terrible."

    The mood started light for Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Robert Smith last night. He knew most of the 200-some people in the room wanted to complain about his proposal to change the boundaries of 18 elementary schools when he said, “Greetings,” brightly into the podium’s microphone.

    The audience murmured back a half-hearted answer.

    He feigned surprise at the lackluster reception, and the group laughed, allowing the mood to lighten for the first order of business, to honor 19 Arlington teachers who received national certification honors and a standing ovation from the crowd.

    After that, he didn’t laugh much, or more precisely, he didn’t laugh at all.

    And who could blame him? With 38 speakers on the agenda, and only two vaguely praising the work of Dr. Smith and his staff, he did not have much to smile about.

    Although school board members at the end of the night said they thought the discourse of the evening was civil, parent after parent had stood at the microphone to tell the superintendent off.

    The Barrett contingent: Melanie Wilhelm and Peter Constantine sitting in front of Kevin Curtin, center, at last night's school board meeting. Click to enlarge the image.

    None of the attacks was particularly personal, but people did not pull punches, using phrases such as, “substandard product,” “travesty of a plan,” “the nuclear option,” “not what’s best for the children of Arlington,” and “Dr. Smith’s proposal deserves a failing grade.”

    One speaker said he expected better from Arlington’s best paid staffer. Another man cried.

    “I’ve seen enough to come to some conclusions,” said School Board Chair Ed Fendley at the end of the evening. “One is the superintendent’s proposal is a terrible proposal.”

    Dr. Smith's proposal would move about 600 students in 18 Arlington elementary schools. K.W. Barrett Elementary School's population size would remain about the same as it would lose about 40 students and gain 40. The gain would come as two of Ashlawn Elementary's "planning units" (sections of neighborhoods) would join Barrett, and some of the loss would come from losing the students who come to Barrett from within the Barcroft Elementary School boundary.

    Barrett PTA's position paper, page 1. Click to enlarge the image.

    Before the meeting K.W. Barrett Elementary School PTA President Melanie Wilhelm said, “Our main concern is that we keep those Barcroft [Elementary School] families who have chosen us.” Three speakers from Barrett reflected that in their remarks to the board.

    Under the superintendent’s proposal, only rising fourth and fifth graders (students who are third and fourth graders this year) and their siblings who are in the school currently would be “grandfathered” into a school. This could mean that parents who have rising fourth graders and a child in his or her last year of preschool this year might be sending their kids to separate schools this fall. Many people said the county should honor the decisions parents have already made.

    Position paper, page 2. Click to enlarge the image.

    Fifteen families at Barrett who live within Barcroft’s boundary would not be able to attend Barrett next year under Dr. Smith’s proposal.

    “If he’s about choice,” Ms. Wilhelm said, pointing at Dr. Smith’s chair, “he’s got to respect that choice.”

    A position paper circulated by the PTA stressed three main areas of concern. They asked that the school board respect historic school boundaries and walk zones as much as possible; encourage school choice as a way to alleviate crowding and increase diversity without disruption; and honor the choices that families have already made.

    Speakers had three minutes to address the school board last night. In the video below, I chose two 30-second sections as a representation of what each person said. It is not intended to be a complete rendering of their statements. Peter Constantine is reading from the Barrett PTA position paper.--ST

    The School Board is expected to make a decision on the recommendations at either the Jan. 31 or Feb. 14 meeting.

    Citizens may also comment by email to,. Copies of all emails will be shared with all School Board members.

    This list is updated regularly.
    Related Sites from the Public Schools…

  • School Board will hear more public comment Wed. Jan. 23
  • Superintendent to Present Recommendations for Elementary Boundary Changes on Jan. 17 (The APS press release.)
  • APS’s Enrollment and Capacity of Schools page
  • ECCC’s Recommendations and Proposals (a 74-page MSWord Document)
    Related stories from the HeraldTrib…
  • Smith's Plan: Barrett Loses Programs Gains from Ashlawn
  • Letter: County, Support Our Choices
  • APS Chair Ed Fendley Speaks to Barrett PTA
  • Barrett Parents to Bring Concerns to School Board

    Related stories from other papers…

  • Parents Up In Arms, Out In Force (Connection Jan. 22, 2008)
  • Arlington parents criticize plan to shift school boundaries (Examiner Jan. 19, 2008)
  • School Boundary Proposal Provokes an Outcry (Washington Post Jan. 19, 2008)
  • Superintendent's Boundary Plan Panned at Hearing (Sun Gazette Jan. 18, 2008)
  • Arlington County School Board to Hear Massive Redistricting Plan (Examiner Jan. 17, 2008)
  • Superintendent Proposes Shifting 600-Plus Elementary Students (Sun Gazette, Jan. 15, 2008).
  • Crowding Committee Makes Recommendations (Arlington Connection, Jan. 8, 2008)
  • Date Set for Public Hearing on School Boundaries (Sun Gazette, Jan. 6, 2008)
  • 2008 Could Bring Elementary-School Boundary Battles (Sun Gazette Dec. 27, 2007)
  • Boundary Clash (Arlington Connection, Nov. 6, 2007)

    The dark lines on the map show current boundaries. The colors show which planning units (portions of neighborhoods) go to which school under Superintendent Robert Smith's proposal. (Click to enlarge the image).

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  • Letter: Good Review, Hazel


    This is a wonderful movie review of Veggie Tales. I am so proud of you for writing such an excellent report. I am sure you have convinced many people to see this new movie. Maybe you have discovered a new career -- a movie reviewer.

    Ms. Schneider

    The writer is referring to the Hazel Thurston's review of "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" on our companion site, The H&H Report, a blog of reviews for kids, by kids. The writer is Hazel's second grade teacher at K.W. Barrett Elementary School. --ST

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    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    HeraldTrib Today: Jan. 16, 2008

    Elementary school realignment was the big news this week (see the stories below), but it’s a week that’s seen big news on all fronts.

    For instance, I was planning on covering more on the Elementary schools stuff Monday morning when I received a phone call from Harold Graves, the Buckingham Station Post Master, who said they had opened their new lobby and wondered if I wanted to take pictures. You can take a virtual tour—see the link below.

    A work crew installs a sewer main on Monday. (Click to enlarge the photo.)

    Monday found N. George Mason Drive down to one lane southbound at N. Henderson Road while a work crew installed a sewer main.

    On top of that, I was putting together the Police Notes for today when I saw a press release that hopes people would help find a burglar who stole cash from a Harris Teeter office. See the youtube video the police released, below.

    My kids also launched a related blog of their own (The H&H Report) that reviews kids movies, books and events from their point of view. It’s for kids by kids. The review of “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” is there now.

    Consider this a general “call for reviews” to all the kids of parents who read this blog. Have your kids write what they think of in-theatre movies, DVDs, books, museums, music, etc, etc., and email them in. My kids and I will run them. (Barrett teachers—I’ll run the stuff from your classes—email me for more information:

    And finally, Mr. Chon, owner of the Glebe Market just might not retire. That story is below.

    There’s other stories and letters and everything—big week here at the HeraldTrib.

    Scroll down.

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

    Today's Headlines:

  • Is Sam Chon Retiring? No One Is Talking…Anymore
  • Florida and Michigan, I’m With You!
  • Police Notes for Buckingham including security video from a Harris Teeter burglary
  • Lights Out at Henderson/Glebe. Could someone tell the person who handles lightbulbs?

    Headlines Regarding School Overcrowding:

  • Meetings and Links Regarding Overcrowding (A nice full list of where to go to get information.)
  • Smith’s Plan: Barrett Loses Barcroft Gains Part of Ashlawn
  • Letter: County, Support Our Choices
  • Letter: Look for Overcrowding Report Tomorrow

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Post Office Opens New Lobby—Take the Virtual Tour
  • Letter: Squirrels Are Hawk Sushi
  • NEW FEATURE: The H&H Report (a movie, book and event review for kids by kids)
  • Hawks Eat Rats (and Squirrels) in Buckingham

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  • Meetings and Links to the Boundary Debate, Enjoy!

    You'll have to come back for a real story here, but I thought I'd give you this connectivity, anyway. --ST

    The School Board is expected to make a decision on the recommendations at either the Jan. 31 or Feb. 14 meeting.

    Citizens may also comment by email to,. Copies of all emails will be shared with all School Board members.

    Related Sites from Around the Web…
    Click to enlarge image.

  • Superintendent to Present Recommendations for Elementary Boundary Changes on Jan. 17 (The APS press release.)
  • APS’s Enrollment and Capacity of Schools page
  • ECCC’s Recommendations and Proposals (a 74-page MSWord Document)
    Related stories from the HeraldTrib…
  • Smith's Plan: Barrett Loses Programs Gains from Ashlawn
  • Letter: County, Support Our Choices
  • APS Chair Ed Fendley Speaks to Barrett PTA
  • Barrett Parents to Bring Concerns to School Board

    Related stories from other papers…

  • Superintendent Proposes Shifting 600-Plus Elementary Students (Sun Gazette, Jan. 15, 2008).
  • Crowding Committee Makes Recommendations (Arlington Connection, Jan. 8, 2008)
  • Date Set for Public Hearing on School Boundaries (Sun Gazette, Jan. 6, 2008)
  • 2008 Could Bring Elementary-School Boundary Battles (Sun Gazette Dec. 27, 2007)
  • Boundary Clash (Arlington Connection, Nov. 6, 2007)

    The dark lines on the map show current boundaries. The colors show which planning units (portions of neighborhoods) go to which school under Superintendent Robert Smith's proposal. (Click to enlarge the image).

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  • Lights Out at Henderson/Glebe

    This light, and its twin at the intersection of N. Glebe and N. Henderson roads, is out.

    I know that quite a few county staffers read this blog, so I'll just put out there that two streetlights at the corner of N. Henderson and N. Glebe roads are out. Both are on the west side of Glebe, one hangs over Henderson, the other over Glebe.

    If someone could tell the person who handles lightbulbs, that would be wonderful.

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    Will Sam Chon Retire? Nobody Is Talking...Anymore

    Sam Chon, the owner of the Glebe Market might just not retire. In this space in the past, I have written that he would. I waited months before reporting it, and finally only did so when Bob Moore, of Georgetown Strategic Capital in a Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board meeting, said Mr. Chon was planning retirement.

    This was something I had heard from a few county staff members, and the staffers at the HALRB meeting did not refute what was said. As well, citizens of Buckingham had told me about it over the past months. I was foolish to write it without verifying it.

    At the HALRB meeting, Mr. Moore had said his company was looking to “pocket stores,” such as Trader Joe’s and Yes! Organic Markets to fill some of the space in one of the new buildings that Georgetown Strategic is planning to build. These buldings would replace the CVS, Glebe Market and El Paso/Popeye’s buildings.

    The Glebe Market. (File Photo. Click to enlarge the image.)

    When I caught up with Mr. Chon, 65, earlier this month he said he was “half-and-half” decided on retirement. For him, though, non-retirement might mean closing the Glebe Market and working at a Giant, he said.

    However, he also said that he had asked for 3,000 square feet in the new buildings. At the time, he said, “I think they’re going to give it to me.”

    Then I called back Mr. Moore, a principal at Georgetown Strategic, and asked if he was aware that Mr. Chon thought that the Glebe Market was still in play.

    "That's not correct,” Mr. Moore said, adding that Mr. Chon had a letter. "These are things that are really not related to you,” Mr. Moore said, shortly before cutting off discussion on this topic. He did not go into the details of the letter and said all of the negotiations for space were “confidential.”

    Mr. Moore did say that Georgetown Strategic and Mr. Chon had discussed a bagel shop that Mr. Chon might run with his son.

    Last night I went to confirm this with Mr. Chon, who smiled and laughed a bit, and said, basically, “no comment."

    On Another Note...
    Mr. Moore said that his company is still working on the designs of the buildings, and was happy with the reaction the designs received at the Design Review Committee meeting in January.

    "It had a very positive sort of step forward as of last week," as committee members, he said, liked what they saw and had specific ideas for improvements.

    Mr. Moore said that the idea to add a second level to the Suntrust Bank and Buckingham Florist buildings on the east side of N. Glebe Road at N. Pershing Drive was unfeasible.

    Related stories…
  • HALRB Says Envisioned Buildings West of Glebe "Too Big"

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  • Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Florida and Michigan: I'm With You In Spirit

    You know, the loss of Bill Richardson from the presidential race has me thinking about how I’d run the show if anyone would let me. We’d do it in shifts, over the course of three months. All the states would have a primary or a caucus (whichever floats their boat), with states getting mixed into a group first by size and then by area.

    States with few electoral votes would be in the first two groups. They’d have their fights on the First and Last Tuesday of February; I think in here we’d place the “single-digit” states, the ones with 9 or fewer electoral votes, your Alabamas (9), your D.C.s (3), your Maines, New Hampshires and Wyomings (4, 4, 3).

    That’s 30 states, or 15 per Big Tuesday, or 158 electoral votes, total. Those two groups would be geographically diverse (mix New Hampshire with Wyoming and D.C.).

    But that’s not the best part of my idea. The best is that the 15 that go on the First Tuesday this year go on the Last Tuesday of February four years from now. They flip and flop like that every cycle. (And maybe we’d have to divvy it up into three groups of 10 and do it over six weeks, instead of four.)

    Your March states would include your 10s and 20s, to 21, or 233 of the electoral votes. That’s 17 states, from Pennsylvania (21), to Arizona (10), Michigan (17) and Massachusetts (12). Again, divide them into two groups with Second and Fourth Tuesdays in March. Again, you flip which group goes first every election cycle.

    That leaves the biggest four: Florida , New York, Texas and California (27+31+34+55= 147 electoral votes). They go all in one swoop, or we could even break them up (Fla./Calif. and N.Y./Texas) and do the same in April as we did in February and March.

    See, I can totally understand Florida’s exasperation. Why should some waitress in New Hampshire get to meet every presidential candidate since Johnson, while a similar waiter in Florida never meets any? And why always New Hampshire? Why not Wyoming, Alabama or some other smallish state? Let the hash-slingers of Delaware meet the next Leader of the Free World for once.

    Why should Iowa and New Hampshire, every year, get to force one or two people out of the race before Virginia even gets a chance at him or her?

    Florida, in my little outline, would still come up in the last batch of primaries. But I’ve been thinking a few things on this. The first is that Florida probably wouldn’t feel quite so badly if they knew that more people had had a shot at the candidates, and second that a head-to-head bout like the Clinton/Obama meet might still make it down to Florida. With the candidates actually having to go to many different states and think about a full platform (not just “ethanol is the Holy Grail of American Energy Policy, Iowans”) they might just hit on things the larger states like Florida care about.

    The other option, if the Big Four get snooty, is to mix them in with some of the other mid-level states. Make the middle group 10 to 20 electoral votes, and 21 to 55 in the final, or something like that. And I’m not against the idea of mixing it up even more, with some double-digit states in with the single-digit ones, or allowing one of the bigger groups to be on one of February's Super Tuesdays in some sort of rotation.

    There are other ideas out there like this, no doubt, and I know I’m not the first to ask the question of why New Hampshire gets all the luck. But why don’t the major parties do this (other than they don’t read the HeraldTrib)? They don’t care if we all have a voice. It’s set up to keep the powerful in power.

    Don’t believe me? Look at Virginia Republicans. The Republicans will vote in a caucus to make Jim Gilmore their candidate for Senate, keeping Tom Davis at arm’s length. That will get them the candidate the higher-ups in the party want (but boy is it going to be a blood bath. Warner will tear him to shreds come November.)

    And I’d love to say the Democrats are better in all this, but you know they’re not.

    None of the Big Three Democrats have actually campaigned in Uppity Michigan because Michigan went against the party and bumped their primary to yesterday. That's what wanting to have a fair shake gets you--nobody.

    Michigan Democratic leaders don't seem to care, however, if the Democrat I heard on NPR is right. They're doing this as a protest to change the primary idiocracy. I'm with you, Michigan, I'm with you!

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    Police Notes for Buckingham Jan. 16, 2008

    Jan. 7: Burglary, 600 block N. Glebe Rd. About 9 p.m. a man pried open an office door of the Harris Teeter, then pried open a desk drawer and stole an undisclosed amount of cash, police reported on Jan. 11. No one was hurt in the theft, said Det. Katie Rounds, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department.

    The police have not made an arrest and do not have a name of the suspect yet, Det. Rounds said. The suspect on videotape is about six feet tall, black, with black hair. (See the video below.)

    “He possibly left the area in a white SUV-style vehicle,” a police press release says.

    Harris Teeter is offering $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and successful capture of the thief, the press release says.

    "The detectives had pulled the report" and used it in their investigation before anyone else got a hold of it, Det. Katie Rounds said, explaining that was the reason the burglary occurred on Jan. 7, but was not reported on the police web site until Jan. 11.

    The police have released all the information that they have at this point, she said. Anyone who recognizes the suspect or has information about this burglary is asked to call Detective Lisa Roosa at (703) 228-4169.

    Police posted this store video to showing the man walking through different portions of the building:

    Jan. 11: Burglary, 400 block of N. George Mason Dr. Between 6 p.m. on Jan. 10 and 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, someone broke into a locked shipping container on a construction site and took a large amount of copper wire.

    Jan. 11: Assault, 600 block of N. Glebe Rd. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a 51-year-old woman was walking down the street when a group of young men ran up behind her and pushed her to the ground. The suspects fled on foot. The victim sustained several cuts and bruises and a more serious injury to her right arm.

    View Larger Map

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    Post Office Opens New Lobby

    P.O. Boxes in the new lobby will be accessible only during normal business hours.

    The post office opened its doors to a newly renovated lobby yesterday, with more changes to come over the next two or three weeks. The teller windows have moved to the back of the building, and walls in the old lobby will be removed enlarging the lobby considerably, officials said.

    Citing excessive vandalism, officials said that the lobby and the post office boxes will not be accessible after 5 p.m. when the staff leaves the building. Harold Graves, the Station Postmaster, said maybe as much at 10 percent of the traffic comes to the post office after 5 p.m., but it was not enough to be able to keep the station open after hours.

    As well, he and Arlington Postmaster James “Jamie” Congleton said the post office will not get an APC (an machine that allows people to stamp letters and packages without waiting for a teller) because the station does not have the traffic for it. USPS requires that a machine gets about $4,200 a week of use. Buckingham, the postmasters said, is nowhere near that high.

    Everyone interviewed said they liked the new setting, except one woman who said, basically, that it is a post office, what is the big deal. The more usual response from people inside talking to the postmasters or to me was much more positive. --ST

    Take the virtual tour…

    Related stories…
  • Post Office Changes--Missing Copier a Harbinger of Changes to Come (HeraldTrib, June 2007)

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  • Monday, January 14, 2008

    Letter: Squirrels Are Hawk Sushi

    Hey Steve,

    I have seen the hawk (thought it might be a falcon) numerous times in the neighborhood. One time I saw it having squirrel sushi in a tree in my courtyard.

    Talk to you later,

    James Vandeputte

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    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Letter: County, Support Our Choices


    I feel for Connie [Connie Sherman, quoted in yesterday's story]. She just went through the process of choosing a school and if this passes she would have to go through it all over again. I don't know why it's considered OK to grandfather in fourth and fifth graders but not the younger kids. Once you're there, you're invested. Moreso with the younger ones in that they have just made one big change in their lives so why should they have to make another one so soon? If grandfathering applied to all current students and their siblings then boundary changes might not be so emotionally charged.

    If Arlington Public Schools offers us a system of choice, then they need to support our choices.

    Enid Dunbar.

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    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    Smith's Plan: Barrett Loses Barcroft, Gains Part of Ashlawn

    Smith's plan cuts at least 40 from Barcroft and other classes, gains 42 from Ashlawn.

    Many Barcroft Elementary School students and three other classes, over 40 students in all, will leave K.W. Barrett Elementary School at the end of this year if the recommendations of Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Robert Smith are accepted by the school board. He will formally present these recommendations to the board Thursday Jan. 17. A public comment session has been set up by APS for Tuesday, Jan. 22.

    In recommendations released late Friday, Mr. Smith said he studied the ideas posited by the Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee, a group of 25 community representatives from all the elementary schools in Arlington. However, the tight adherence the ECCC paid to keeping the school boundaries the same was largely ignored in his recommendations.

    Given that many schools lost entire planning units (sections of neighborhoods) under the plan, Barrett Principal Terry Bratt said, “I thought we came out really well.”

    She said she views the superintendent’s recommendations as another part of the overall overcrowding discussion. The school board does not have to follow the recommendations made by the superintendent or the ECCC.

    “I don’t want to lose anybody, but I thought overall, I thought we came out well,” she said, given that none of Barrett’s eight planning units was removed. Two planning units, 42 students according to the report, formally in the Ashlawn School boundary would move to Barrett under the plan.

    Although Peter Constantine, the Barrett representative to the ECCC said he believes Mr. Smith was thoughtful in his approach, he said the superintendent’s recommendation “clearly is intended to fulfill the charge, but it ignores the bigger issues that the Arlington community has said they value.” That is, walk zones to neighborhood schools, and diversity among others. Under the ECCC plan, no boundary changes were made.

    Mr. Constantine also admitted that the superintendent is facing the same basic problem the ECCC faced, that of easing the crowding either by offering as many choices as possible, or by changing boundaries. He said it was a difficult decision.

    Black lines show original boundaries. Color coding shows which planning units go together. Click to enlarge the image.

    “The ECCC really did put a primacy on not moving boundaries,” Mr. Constantine said.

    The recommendations had leaders at Barrett scrambling. A PTA meeting has been set for Monday night to address the issue.

    “Barrett is going to move quickly to review, and decide what course of action it intends to take,” Mr. Constantine said.

    Barcroft Elementary School is the only school in Arlington on a year-round teaching schedule, and parents in its boundaries have had the option to send their children to Barrett Elementary. About 15 students at Barrett live in Barcroft, according to numbers from earlier this year.

    Under Mr. Smith’s proposal, only Barcroft fourth and fifth graders, along with their younger siblings, would remain at Barrett. This issue of “grandfathering” in students from other schools has been a hot button on the ECCC.

    “I think Grandfathering is going to be an issue,” as the discussion moves forward, Mrs. Bratt said.

    Connie Sherman’s son, Bradley Pollard, is a kindergartener in Mrs. Golden’s class. They live in the Barcroft neighborhood.

    “It sucks, that’s my reaction,” Ms. Sherman said of the recommendations. Under the plan, Bradley would attend either Barcroft or Randolph elementary schools.

    She said she felt “pretty in tune” with the work of the ECCC, and that rumors she heard about the grandfathering first said Bradley would be OK, then it was third grade she heard as a cut-off, and now it’s fourth grade and higher.

    She said she would not have chosen Barrett last spring if she’d known this was going to happen.

    “I guess what bothers me most about it is Bradley is already in Barrett. He already loves the school…He’s already made a bunch of friends,” she said. Moving “is going to be really difficult for him.”

    Related Sites from Around the Web…
  • APS’s Enrollment and Capacity of Schools page
  • ECCC’s Recommendations and Proposals (an 74-page MSWord Document)
    Related stories from the HeraldTrib…
  • APS Chair Ed Fendley Speaks to Barrett PTA
  • Barrett Parents to Bring Concerns to School Board
    Related stories from other papers…
  • Crowding Committee Makes Recommendations (Arlington Connection, Jan. 8, 2008)
  • Date Set for Public Hearing on School Boundaries (Sun Gazette, Jan. 6, 2008)
  • 2008 Could Bring Elementary-School Boundary Battles (Sun Gazette Dec. 27, 2007)
  • Boundary Clash (Arlington Connection, Nov. 6, 2007)

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