October 2022 newsletter

Newsletter

The October 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Visions of Our Community
By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA 

Arlington County and our communities are a great place to live due to the actions and hard work or many Ashton Heights and Lyon Park residents, who are still active members of our associations. We had visionaries in Arlington County who supported an approach called “The Arlington Way” which was an attempt to create full participatory governance process which is still represented on the many Commissions, planning committees, and processes today.

The Arlington Way has served us very well. The county lobbied for the metro and created wise zoning that allowed tall buildings along the metro lines and mid-level buildings stepping down up to our residential communities, which became a national model.

Aside from Metro, Arlington pushed multi-modal transportation including a network of bicycle paths/lanes, walkable communities with bumping in corners into intersections for pedestrian-friendly walkways, a bikeshare network, scooters, for awhile, hourly Zip cars, now Ubers, cabs and finally personal transportation with community parking zones around metro stops so neighborhoods can have access to their streets for parking.

Arlington has an extensive network of parks that are well kept, a tree canopy program that actually disperses trees to residents and a rather aggressive water management program at a time our climate is changing and our downpours are more frequent and heavier. Arlington has adopted a County Energy Plan (CEP), of whose commission energy committee I sit, which has been unanimously adopted by the County Board in two successive renditions addressing reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating adoption of energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric transportation, etc.

All these goals, policies and programs, have made our county and neighborhood a most wonderful place to live.

As Arlington has become urbanized and dense, our housing and rental prices have soared, as have the region’s. These realities force middle and low income people who work in Arlington in service industries (teachers, police and fire, etc.), to move farther and farther out and away from Arlington.

There has been a push to address this issue, and our Arlington County Board has embarked on a Missing Middle Housing study and a set of proposals on zoning changes to allow duplexes, triplexes, quadraplexes, and higher on residential-zoned lots in traditional single family neighborhoods. 

The study said these structures would cut Arlington tree canopy in half, and there are no zoning or code requirements to ensure Arlington’s stormwater management or building energy efficiency along with greenhouse gas reduction would be addressed.

Aside from undercutting key Arlington proposals, the push back has focused that the housing values, in fact, would not go down, but just allow developers and builders to extract much higher values out of existing residential lots. And as a by-product much higher street parking congestion, beyond the tree canopy and stormwater stresses mentioned above.

This has galvanized seven civic associations to have weekly meetings, as well as Zoom meetings with the County Board on every aspect of the proposals. Many of the civic association presidents have questioned why other initiatives are not used in Arlington, but used throughout the United States on Missing Middle Housing, such as the use of land trusts (used to preserve forests and wetlands). These can be utilized to aggregate tear-downs (older, smaller houses) to be upgraded and sold to middle income to address rising housing prices but also foster home ownership, as an example.

So far, aside from one board member, no one on the Arlington County Board seems interested in other, more proven programs. 

The Wednesday, October 19th Ashton Heights Civic Association meeting will feature a structured dialogue on Missing Middle Housing (MMH). As at our joint AHCA/LPCA September Candidates night, where questions were submitted and bundled for candidates, we will solicit questions, and package them to the pro and con speakers who will present on MMH. Please submit your questions directly to me at: solarsklar@aol.com.

The goal here is to develop a consensus that addresses the issues, without the downsides, into a more effective approach as we continue our dialogue with the County Board.

We have had a great dialogue on the AHCA listserv, and I am hoping to have a web survey as well so we can see where our AHCA membership leans and what sub-issues are important to all Ashton Heights residents. As always, thank you for your interest and involvement in making our community an even better place to live.

September 2022 Newsletter

Newsletter

The September 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Back in the Saddle – AHCA on the Move
by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

Welcome back! Autumn will be here soon, humidity will decrease, mosquitoes will decline, schools/colleges are open and “in person”, and the issues ACHA addresses will continue to accelerate.

As we ramp up, I want to thank a host of people within AHCA that donate their time to make our community stronger.

First, Amy Miller, our esteemed newsletter editor and Betsy Lyon, our listserv moderator who are critical in allowing us to receive and share information. Second, our new VP of Programs David Schutz, who lines up speakers for our monthly meetings.

Third, Ann Felker, who puts together our “Kids Inc.” column. The kids will be at our September meeting offering to do work of all kinds for all of us in this great community.

Fourth, our AHCA Development Committee Jack Spilsbury and his new Co-chair Alexander Tuneski and the hardworking committee members dealing with key issues.

Fifth, a tag team of myself, Ken Matzkin, Brooke Alexander and Jack Spilsbury, working with our five sister civic associations on Missing Middle Housing (MMH), that is now before the County Board and will have huge impacts on our community.

Sixth, our other AHCA Committee Chairs: Safety and Security (Christina Schultz), Housing (Matt Hall, Christina Schultz), Open Spaces – Parks, Playgrounds, Neighbor Conservation (Chris Horvath), Tree Canopy and Native Plants (Brooke Alexander), Schools (Greg Morse, Caroline Rogus) and Transportation/Parking (Patrick Lueb).

And finally, the AHCA Executive Committee (ExCom) who work year round in coordinating our programs, policies, and key issues – Scott Sklar, (President), Dave Schutz, (VP Programs), Jim O’Brien (Treasurer) , Chris Armstrong (Secretary), Doug Williams (Treasurer), and At-Large – Jim Feaster, Ken Matzkin, David Philips and Jim Richardson.

I have many more to thank (next column) – but the point is we have many neighbors working together to make Ashton Heights a better place to live.

And this brings me to the hot upcoming issues we need everyone to pay attention to this September.

  1. MMH – the county is holding hearings this month on a plan to allow duplexes, triplexes or quadplexes on residential lots to theoretically attract middle income buyers. The civic associations are working towards limiting the size of these buildings to the same height and footprint of housing now allowed, protect tree canopy, and potentially try other approaches that might be more successful in allowing middle income to own where they live in Arlington.
  2. Development on our borders – four buildings and hopefully one park – AHCA is fighting for a park on the County-owned block and atop the fire station, while we are aggressively addressing design, tree canopy, set-backs, tapering, MMH, underground parking, among other issues on the four buildings in the process of County approval.
  3. Neighborhood parking rules and issues – there are problems with neighborhood parking rules and equity. We are working with residents and the county to work out the kinks.

These issues will determine our community’s future – the way we look, live, and interact. And we need you all to be knowledgeable, interface with appropriate AHCA committees and the ExCom, and share input to the county at county meetings, and via the web site.

These are busy times, and now more than ever, we need to band together to navigate these issues, to make our community and neighborhoods as livable and enjoyable as possible. I look forward to working with everyone in our community towards this goal.

May 2022 Meeting Minutes

Uncategorized

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, called the meeting to order at 7:34 PM.

AHCA Update

Scott Sklar thanked everyone for their participation in the civil association, and thanked Jim Feaster and Cynthia Davis for handling food and logistics for the meeting. He also thanked the AHCA executive committee for their work – including outgoing at-large members Cole Deans and Patrick Lueb, as well as incoming members Dave Schutz and David Phillips. Along with Scott, Doug Williams (Treasurer), Jim O’Brien (VP of Membership), Chris Armstrong (Secretary), and at-large members Jim Feaster, Ken Matzkin, David Phillips, and Jim Richardson all comprise the executive committee. 

Scott highlighted the following individuals and their work for AHCA:

  • James Terpstra (Historian)
  • Committee chairs Jack Spilsbury (Development)
  • Christiania  Schultz (Safety & Security, as well as Housing)
  • Matt Hall (Housing)
  • Patrick Lueb (Transportation)
  • Greg Mors and Carline Rogus (Schools)
  • AHCA newsletter editor Amy Miller
  • AHCA newsletter distribution coordinators Bea Camp and Julie Mangis, as well as the volunteers who make distribution possible. 
  • Listserve moderator Betsey Lyon for “herding cats up a hill” 
  • Kids Inc. Entrepreneurs coordinator Anne Felker
  • Brooke Alexander (Tree Canopy and Native Plants)
  • Open Spaces, Playgrounds, and Parks – outgoing representative Brent Burris and Lutz Prager, and incoming chair Chris Horvath
  • Issue leaders Martha Casey (COVID response) and both Martha and Erin Neal (Ad-hoc bar noise group), Polly Hall (Career Center), Stacy Snyder (Arlington School representative), Chris Lewicki (Civic Association Planning for Spout Run Watershed representative), Rita O’Brien (AHCA nominations), and both Dave Schultz and Ken Matzkin (Civic Federation).

Scott also noted and thanked the Arlington County Police Department (and their dogs!) for the long history of support and attendance, and Tracy Wines and Jen London with the Clarendon United Methodist Church for hosting our monthly meetings and special events. 

Scott then introduced Marty Swaim, who led a conversation on racism as a learned behavior, how it became part of our local institutions, and how it can be eliminated. Marty is available for sit down longer conversations with Arlingtonians on the history of racism in Arlington and what we can do to eliminated it. Her presentations include 5 or 6 short 8-10 minutes talks, along with materials, and is a very interactive conversation. She can be reached at mswaim111@verizon.net.

The meeting adjourned promptly at 8:06 PM, and was followed by drinks, snacks and camaraderie.

Respectfully submitted, 

Chris Armstrong

Secretary 

April 2022 Meeting Minutes

Uncategorized

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, called the meeting to order at 6:35 PM.

AHCA Elections

Scott Sklar called for the AHCA Nominations Chair to read the slate the slate to serve as AHCA Officers and At-Large, composing the AHCA Executive Committee (ExCom), also thanking Rita O’Brien for her service in that role. He also thanked Dave Schultz and Dave Phillips for stepping up at the last minute, as well as Jim Terpstra for his new role.

Following these notes, Rita O’Brien called for a vote and the following AHCA Officers and AHCA ExCom members were elected unanimously during the meeting: 

AHCA Officers

President  – Scott Sklar solarsklar@aol.com

Vice-President for Programs – Dave Schutz porgschu@verizon.net

Vice President- Membership – Jim O’Brien jimob1@verizon.net,

Secretary – Chris Armstrong – carmstrong07@gmail.com

Treasurer – Doug Williams – dwilliam@kpmg.com,

At-Large: 4 positions

Position #1 – Jim Feaster – jimfeaster1@gmail.com,

Position #2 – Ken Matzkin  – kenmatz1@gmail.com,

Position #3 – Jim Richardson – jabrichardson@verizon.net,

Position #4 – David Phillips – davidphillips1@msn.com,

AHCA President Scott Sklar thanked Cole Deines. and Patrick Lueb, who served on the  AHCA Excom. Also, Brent Burris for serving ably as the AHCA Chair of the Open Spaces Subcommittee. He also advised that Jim Terpstra,  AHCA Historian, will join the ExCom as an Ex-Officio member and Chair an AHCA History Group (terpstrajames2@gmail.com).

Community Development

Scott Sklar discussed how AHCA has “drawn a line in the sand” and coordinated with four other Civic Associations to send letters, sign on to a press release, and present at the Clarendon Sector Plan, Long Range Planning Commission, and the Arlington County Board for a 40,000 sq ft park on the county-owned block around and atop the fire station.  AHCA also aggressively supports “affordable housing” but not as another large building on this block but as part of the five buildings to be built soon in the Clarendon Sector. He lauded AHCA Development Committee Chair for his hard work in coordinating this effort along with able support of the AHCA Development Committee, and enlisting and working with our four other sister civic associations. Jack Spilsbury, AHCA Development Committee Chair explained the issues further, and noted

AHCA President Sklar (5 minutes) and AHCA Development Committee Chair Spilsbury

(3 minutes) will be testifying before the Arlington County Board the following weekend.

AHCA Native Plants & Tree Canopy

AHCA Native Plants & Tree Canopy Chair Brooke Alexander introduced the featured speaker Alda Krinsman from Audubon at Home Coordinator for Arlington on “Wildlife Sanctuary, who gave a captivating presentation and Q&A.

Newly AHCA appointed Chris Lewicki as the AHCA representative on the Joint Civic Association Planning effort on the Spout Run Watershed and County Planning Committee, briefed the AHCA members on this effort, and future Arlington County planning issues on watershed management.

The meeting adjourned promptly at 9:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted, 

Chris Armstrong

Secretary 

May 2022 Newsletter

Newsletter

The May 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

President’s Column by Scott Sklar

This April, I was asked by the Arlington “Committee of 100” to make a presentation on Clarendon Development with a vision from a high level. I decided to wind some other issues into that vision because several issues need to be addressed in tandem.

The Arlington Way “Adrift”
Many of our long-time AHCA members have been actively involved in Arlington planning processes such as Long Term Planning, GLUP (general end use plan), and Sector Plans, taking many months and in some cases years. We are witnessing many of these efforts substantially changed at the very end with little input. Now obviously some issues change, I ask, “Why spend years on a deliberative process if it can be “end gamed” in the last few months?”

Arlington County, to its credit, surveys resident’s attitudes, but these community input surveys inadvertently limits views and expressions. As Joan Fitzgerald has highlighted to the AHCA Development Committee, polling has been changed from the affected area of the County to the entire County. County polling needs to be divided into two polls: 1) all Arlington residents, and 2) affected neighborhoods. Those areas of the County most affected by a particular plan need to have their own input.

Arlington is not Keeping up with Densification
As your Civic Association president, I get called with problems daily. Some examples follow. Clarendon businesses have approached me extremely concerned that parking between Northside Social and the Church will be removed – where are people out of Clarendon going to park?
• not everyone is going to Metro or Uber
• beyond the bar crowd, those in the suburbs or commuting thru Arlington before they go home need access to underground paid parking in EVERY building.

Good news: The Red Top construction which is building #3 of free-standing buildings with a total of 580 residential units and nearly 3,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space on the site, has 468 underground parking spaces, according to a county news release. (The Red Top Parking Lot construction now underway is the third of these three originally approved in 2015) but with another eight buildings being built, we will need more.

Rooftop restaurant and bar noise has increased from three calls per month to fifteen calls per month – residents being awakened from sleep in the middle of the night CONTINUOUSLY, where police have been responsive but are being constantly called to remediate noise – this is unsustainable. Our county manager has rebuffed the AHCA request to better empower police and code officials “on site” in evenings and hopefully issue fines – and the County is soliciting public input from all public sectors in May.

The Future of Clarendon
Nine new buildings – two are being built now and seven will be built, will totally remake Clarendon. The transformation will be huge. AHCA believes that Affordable Housing is necessary, but not in one singular building but rather within EACH of these nine buildings (Note: the one being built on the corner of Washington Blvd and Kirkwood St. has some). Every new building should have a floor (or more) dedicated to making Arlington livable for a wide array of incomes.

Arlington is not keeping up with other advanced municipalities. Interlacing within the bulls eye density – open space is needed for: community (or rooftop) gardens, larger social events, picnics, and recreation and a real community center. Alternative suggestions by staff and Board that sites on North Quincy, Maury Park or Hayes Park suffice (which are 15 minutes) away is sheer nonsense and misses the point. For the first time ALL five civic associations in-and-around Clarendon have united on the Clarendon Sector Plan for a 40,000 sq ft park “on and around” the fire station on the 10th Street North block which is the epicenter of these large soon to-be-built buildings. We need to all thank the AHCA Development Committee and especially its Chair Jack Spilsbury for enlisting our four sister civic associations.

It would be inexcusable to endorse more tons of cement within the Clarendon vortex (nine large buildings) and actually believe this is advanced development without this signature open space – it is not.

April 2022 Newsletter

Newsletter

The April 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Red Lines in the Sand by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) has been one of the leaders in looking towards the future. Our association leaders in the 1960’s and 1970’s fought to ensure tapered zoning from the metro stations to the residential neighborhoods, tree canopy expansion, and open spaces as Arlington became an inner suburb.

It was wise then, and it is wiser now.

Joining four other civic associations, we have drawn a line in the sand on the block where the fire station sits, to have it a mixed-use park, including the roof of the new firehouse other than development. We have rejected that the spot of land where a tiny used car lot and some Arlington-owned houses and an area of no-parking area between the Northside Social coffee shop and the church suffices for mixed use in the future. There is a difference between some open space, and some community picnic, playground, and other activities in a large space in what will be a high concentration urbanized setting in the near future.

We have also rejected the idea that this site become another giant building of which some will be dedicated to Affordable Housing. To be clear, AHCA supports affordable housing – and we are strongly prodding the Arlington Board to include it in the other five giant buildings being reviewed now to be built in the Clarendon area within the next two years. But the park on the 10th Street North site is as important to those in affordable housing as it is to our five neighborhoods represented by the five civic Associations. AHCA is standing our ground.

AHCA has also been working with those in our community affected by roof-top noise from various bars and restaurants in Clarendon and along Wilson Blvd. The Arlington County Police have worked with us pro-actively on Don Titos and other restaurants. But institutionally, the Arlington code enforcement staff are the ones that need to be given extra hours with pay, rather than police, to visit these sites at night when the complaints are filed. These issues are not really police matters, but code enforcement matters – and again AHCA is making clear that as we urbanize even more, these issues will get worse, not better. So we need an expansion of enforcement with pay, for those who can ensure commercial behavior fits the guidelines and those within our community can sleep at night. Another line in the sand.

On a personal note, many of you may know I sit on Arlington County’s C2E2 Commission’s Energy Committee, and many of us are pushing for an Arlington County Climate Coordinator to be appointed to ensure that the myriad of Arlington agencies and programs row in the same direction of the unanimously approved (twice) Arlington County Community Energy Plan (CEP). Again, drawing a line in the sand for our Arlington’s resilient future.

There has been some pushback on all the above by Arlington’s various commissions and committees. I have gotten many calls. But these issues are too important to “just go along for the ride”. It affects our quality of life, and frankly, some personal control of our local environs. So, we’re hanging tough. But not just to be tough, to be vigilant – it’s our community, and if we don’t fight for it – Clarendon can transform into the cement, shaded, lack-of green of Ballston (just walk along North 9th Street in the cement wind tunnel to experience the effect).

I want to thank AHCA’a Development Committee and the AHCA Committee Chairs and CoChairs of our other Committees who have all been important leaders in directing and protecting our community’s future. And I look forward to hearing your ideas, and having you work within our AHCA Committees as your time allows.

February 2022 Meeting Minutes

Uncategorized

AHCA Meeting – 2.16.2022

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 6:32 PM.

42 participants. 

General Update

After thanking everyone for attending the AHCA meeting, Denny from Bunny Hop detailed the upcoming Bunny Hop 5K on April 23rd. The run will end with a block party at the Clarendon Methodist Church parking lot. Registration is open at – www.arlingtonbunnyhop.org

Jack Spilsbury gave an update on the Clarendon Sector plan, and Scott praised Jack’s hard work to organize AHCA sistercivic organizations on matters such as the fire house on 10th Street and attempts to ensure a park is included in the new plans.

Brooke Alexander spoke regarding Native Plants and Trees. Individuals should get in touch with her if you are interested in trees and getting a consultation on your yard and trees that would do well in it. 

On general neighborhood planning, Scott spoke on the idea for a “dual track” plan that both incorporates all residents of Arlington but also gives special consideration to those who will live next to any development plan and cope with the consequences for years to come and remain in the county. He also noted CVS’s plans to build at the recently-demolished motel site at the end of Kenmore St.and expects CVS to close their Clarendon location on Wilson BLVD. On another note, the planned park which was originally to be 43,000 square feet is now being reduced due to the addition of affordable housing. 

Representative Don Beyer

Represented Don Beyer joined the meeting, along with Noah Simon, his Director of Constituent Services. He highlighted the infrastructure bill that was enacted into law in 2021, which is projected to result in 17,000 new or improved bridges in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Rep. Beyer also touched on the following matters:

  • Thanks to the U.S. Postal Service reform bill, service is expected to remain at 6 days a week. AHCA members mentioned experiencing as much as two weeks without service. 
  • The COMPETES Act, or “China bill,” is the largest investment in basic research in American history, and quadruples the budget of the National Science Foundation.
  • Build Back Batter – while Congress still works to determine a path forward, the part of the bill most likely to be enacted deals with climate change through new policies incentivizing electric vehicles, as well as solar and wind power.
  • Inflation – Rep. Beyer noted that the largest single part of inflation statistics have been increases in car prices, which have begun to come down.

Scott praised Congressman Beyer for have federal language inserted for the GAO study and his active leadership and involvement with the federal agencies on aircraft and helicopter noise over Arlington, VA.

  • Helicopter noise in Ashton Heights – he noted that this area has a confluence of military, park police, and other Federal government helicopters, as well as county law enforcement. He has initiated a Government Accountability Office study on the matter.
  • Airplane noise – he is working with the FAA on the issue of airplane noise, and ensuring no flights are over the area after 10 PM. 

Arlington Police Chief Andy Penn

Arlington County Police Department’s (ACPD) new Police Chief, Andy Penn, will complete his 30th year with the Department in April. He began by saying how much he values the relationship between the community and the Department, and noted how blessed the Department is to have a committed and professional staff. As with all police departments, the ACPD has room to grow and can continue to improve. He discussed the Police Practices Group, which conducts external reviews of policies and procedures around mental health, traffic, alternative dispute resolution, and other matters. The Department has implemented many of its recommended changes, and is still working on others, out of a commitment to reflect the values and expectations of the community it serves.   

ACPD is focused on four key initiatives – crime control and prevention, transportation safety, community engagement, and now, wellness and safety. The new initiative, which Chief Penn began, is focused on taking care of those who are in the police force and making sure they have the resources they need.

Chief Penn also created a new division within ACPD – Community Engagement. The new division is to ensure ACPD engages in the community at all levels, including youth outreach, business outreach, and community outreach. This work also involves a Community Police Academy and Teen Police Academy.

ACPD faces some challenges, including an officer shortage. After 50 officers left the Department last year, ACPD is currently 42 officers short. New officers currently being trained face a year delay from joining the Department to being functionally in the field.

Chief Penn also highlighted his focus on transparency and making sure that incidents, arrests, and other crime statistics are online and searchable. He noted that auto theft is currently down over last year, with the exception of the theft of catalytic converters. Auto larceny is largely related to unlocked cars.

The Business Outreach office is tracking calls regarding noise complaints, including those involving Don Tito’s, and working with Code Enforcement on the matter. 

In response to questions, Chief Penn said 33% of ACPD officers live in Arlington. He would like to see more, but affordability is a challenge. He also responded to a question on jail deaths, mentioning that he could not talk about recent incidents but that ACPD, the Medical Examiner, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney are all working together on the investigations. He also responded to comments about reporting speed violations on the ACPD website, issues with scooters being left on sidewalks, and tickets related to safety inspections.

Scott thanked Chief Penn and everyone for attending. The meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Chris Armstrong, AHCA Secretary, February 17, 2022.

March 2022 Newsletter

Featured, Newsletter

The March 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

As we focus as a community on the daily challenges of development, traffic, noise, open space, schools, tree canopy, housing, and safety & security – we need to focus on the bigger picture and some of the larger driving issues in our county and community.

This March we have two key players in that bigger picture. Our Congressman Don Beyer who sits on the Joint Economic Committee and the House of Representatives House Ways & Means Committee (tax-writing committee) and the House Science, Space & Technology Committee. His legislation was adopted to fund a study on aircraft and helicopter flights over Northern Virginia. He is a senior player in Congress and this gives us a chance to discuss not only the low-flight noise over our neighborhoods but also the timing and focus of federal infrastructure funds coming into Northern Virginia.

We also have our newly-appointed Arlington County Chief of Police Andy Penn, who attended our 100th anniversary celebration and spoke at our February AHCA meeting. Car thefts and break-ins, catalytic converter thefts, as well as intermittent acts of violence are increasing. With that in mind, I have met with him and we need to/will jointly work together to drive our destiny.

I am personally convinced that the AHCA needs to raise the stakes on how Arlington County carries out development and transportation planning. These two issues significantly impact our quality of life. Our AHCA Development Committee Chair Jack Spilsbury, backed up by a great team, has begun a process on working and driving our sister civic associations on the ongoing development issues in-and-around our neighborhood. Joan Fitzgerald, who is active on the Development Committee, has raised several times that the weight of the neighborhoods near specific projects have been watered-down in how the County polls community input. And we need to re-assert those most effected in a parallel input process. I am personally convinced that is an essential component to re-assert our interests into these more complicated, intense, and significant project planning and adoption.

I plan to begin an Association dialogue and implementation process that will start at the upcoming March meeting, but also discussed on the AHCA listserv and in future AHCA newsletters. Again, our quality of life, health, comfort, and livability are impacted by these decisions. And Ashton Heights, along with our sister civic associations, need to seize the initiative to assert more influence over these County actions.

As always, it is a pleasure and honor to serve as your AHCA President. Enjoy the last few weeks of winter.

February 2022 Newsletter

Newsletter

The February 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Development Marches On – Cold Weather – Good Cheer

By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

The development process marches on focusing on the Clarendon, Courthouse and Pentagon City areas of Arlington. As AHCA Development Committee Chair Jack Spilsbury relays, we are in a full court press working with our sister civic associations, to maximize open space and native trees, lower building heights with setbacks and tapering, provide underground parking and walkable vibrant communities and neighborhoods.

Noise and traffic are also ramping up. Our AHCA Safety & Security Committee Chair Christina Schultz describes our working with affected neighbors on noise issues from area bars with the Arlington County Police. And we are also following traffic calming measures by the County to make sure our communities are walkable, students walking and biking to school are safe, and noise and speed are reduced.

Due to COVID19, USPS mail service has been seriously delayed and disrupted. I have contacted our regional Post Office regional management about the problem as well as our Congressman, Don Beyer. We are now being tracked by senior USPS management. Staffing is low due to both USPS management changes (not good news) and COVID19 (also not good news). But I do expect the situation will ease and services get better.

This May, we will be electing our AHCA Executive Committee (ExCom) and we will need someone to step-up to fill Jim Feaster’s position as Vice President of Programs. This entails lining up speakers for 10 AHCA monthly meetings, half of which are suggested by the AHCA ExCom, AHCA committee chairs, and AHCA members. Please contact me (solarsklar@aol.com) or Jim Feaster (jimfeaster1@gmail.com) on any aspects of the job. This is a great way to help our community.

We will start our February AHCA meeting earlier to host our United States Representative, Congressman Don Beyer. We have been working with his office on moderating airplane and helicopter noise (he has legislatively gotten language for a study), and as I mentioned earlier, interceding with the USPS on service reliability. This meeting will be a great time to ask questions to our Congressman, so please join us.

Winter weather is here – which means freezing pipes, ice & snow on sidewalks, stoops, driveways and roadways, higher utility costs for heating. So here are some links to address some of these issues:

▪ Arlington County – Snow Removal: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Emergency/Weather/Snow-and-Ice/Snow-Removal-Phases
▪ Snow issue form: https://gis.arlingtonva.us/mapapps/snowpublic/index.php
▪ Arlington County Snow Activity Map: https://snowmap.arlingtonva.us/SnowOps/SnowActivityMap/#12/38.8810/-77.1000
▪ Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) which provides guidance on energy savings: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Sustainability-and-Environment/Energy

So be safe, have fun, and hope to see you at our earlier time 6:30 p.m. SHARP for our February Monthly AHCA meeting at CUMC on Wednesday, February 16, 2022!

Ashton Heights - Pet of the Month

January 2022 Newsletter

Newsletter

The January 2022 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

2022 Opportunities and Challenges

By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

Virtually every community issue we cover is about to be in overdrive in 2022.

Open spaces and parks are at the center of AHCA’s input to the Clarendon area Arlington County planning – where on our border several large buildings will be going up, and we want to make sure we have ample park and open space (and native trees). AHCA is at the lead and “in the center” of that dialogue, with Committee Chairs Brook Alexander, Brent Burris, and Jack Spilsbury leading the charge.

Development has always been our most time-consuming focus, and the AHCA Development Committee has been in the forefront. Our Development Committee Chair, Jack Spilsbury, has garnered support of the four other civic associations that surround Clarendon to coordinate our priorities and presentations. And the Committee members are all active and engaged in the effort of Clarendon redevelopment on building set-backs, building tapering, open spaces, and underground parking as essential components – a great group of active community members – thank you.

Our Safety & Security Committee, chaired by Christina Schultz, has an ongoing liaison with the Arlington County Police Department whose representatives report at AHCA’s monthly meetings. Car thefts and car incursions are becoming more common – we need to lock our vehicle doors and not idle our cars and leave – as the fastest cure for this problem. Violent crime has not increased, but has so in areas around Arlington County – so we need to remain vigilant.

Transportation has the same issues of pedestrian safety, bicycle lanes, traffic guiding and calming. We have roadway and walkway projects along North Glebe Road in play, and issues being followed by AHCA Transportation chair Patrick Lueb.

Schools issues are followed by Committee Co Chairs Gregory Morse and Caroline Rogus – and major issues seem to be steady, but they will report as needed and are open to any input from Ashton Heights residents.

Housing issues are a hot topic by the Arlington County Board as its Middle Housing report has been issued, and AHCA Housing Committee Chairs Matt Hall and Christina Schultz are participating and tracking.

Aside from the formal committee work, I have been dialoguing with members of the Arlington County Board, and the new police chief Andy Penn, as well as with our sister civic associations.

I am pleased we can have our AHCA monthly meetings back in-person at the Clarendon United Methodist Church social hall on the third Wednesday of every month, or this January 19th. If you have ideas on speakers and program issues, please contact our VP for Programs Jim Feaster.

And now that we have celebrated Ashton Height’s 100th anniversary, I need to re-emphasize that it is up to us to preserve and enhance our community, so it evolves as the great place it is to live, work, play. The work we do as a community is essential. Thank you for being an AHCA member, and all that you do.