Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 11/20/2019

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:32 pm.  

Scott announced that this is the last Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting of 2019.  

Christina Schultz of our Crime and Safety Committee reported that according to Arlington County Police the level of gang activity in Arlington has gone down.  They feel the use of school resource officers has helped with this decline.  She is going to look into if the Ring Doorbells may be a way of sharing information about suspicious activity in our neighborhood.

Jim O’Brien the Vice President for Membership is willing to take our membership dues!  He will report on the status of our membership next month.

Jim Richardson the Vice President for Programs mentioned that in January our speaker will be Arlington County Board Member Matt de Ferranti.  In February it will be the co-owner and Editor of Arlington Magazine Greg Hamilton.

Brent Burris of our Playground and Parks Subcommittee mentioned that the status of what is happening with the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee is about the same.  With respect to the water garden being proposed at the North Oakland St. and Pershing Dr. intersection – apparently it has stalled over disagreements at the county level over the proper width for the street.

Scott thanked Carmen Kosik our Advertising Representative for her diligent work getting advertisements for our newsletter and made a plea for help in finding a new newsletter editor.

Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Committee reported that 16 new trees were planted in Ashton Heights this past week funded by the Arlington County Tree Canopy Program and planted by the county.  She is now looking for applications from anyone who would like to get a tree from this program this coming Spring. She will be happy to meet with you to discuss possible locations for this tree and to help with your application.  She will be coordinating this process with the county.  The deadline to submit your request to her is November 30, 2019.  She handed out a list of available types of trees.  

A question from the floor regarding the trees that were taken down next to the Art Center on Monroe Street.  Are there plans to replace them?  Brooke mentioned that in the Sector Plan includes plans to widen the sidewalk at that location, which will not leave room for trees at this same place.  She will look into it further.

Another question from the floor about what is happening at Clay Park off of Highland St.  The park had been fenced off and most of the trees and all of the equipment was pulled up.  Why were we not notified of this?  Brooke will look into this also.

Patrick Lueb of our Transportation Committee mentioned the residents on North Kenmore St. have put together a petition with 20 signatures requesting traffic calming measures be installed along their street.  Apparently Kenmore is the latest cut thru to get to Wilson Blvd/Pershing Dr.  Speed bumps may or may not still be used for traffic calming and stop signs are not being used for such efforts.  A suggestion from the floor to have a traffic circle installed.  They would like more police presence to study the situation.  Our police, the last year or two, has had a major staff shortage, which has been helped lately with a number of new hires coming on board this past year.

During our discussion of this issue, it was mentioned that the Google App “Waze” apparently offers North Kenmore Street as a way to get through the neighborhood.  Some thought to petition “Waze” and Google to stop this practice.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) owns Route 50 and has been focusing on traffic turning left into Ashton Heights.  They are looking into input from residents for possible solutions in early 2020 on their website.  Patrick will try to get representatives from the county and VDOT to come to one of our meetings before the deadline for our input for this problem.  

Jack Spilsbury of our Development and Zoning Committee mentioned that there are a couple of developers working up possible projects in some of the Clarendon area that is to be redeveloped.   One is a hotel proposal for the Silver Diner and Beer Lot along with a residential rental project in one of the nearby spaces.  He hopes to get one of these developers to come to our January meeting to share what they are planning.

Jack and Ken Matzkin have been taking the initiative and reaching out to owners to some of these properties (Wells Fargo Bank, the Verizon site and Mr. Wash) being developed and keeping in touch, so we can stay on top of what may be happening to these properties.

The owner of The Highlander Hotel on Wilson has an agreement with CVS to allow a store to be built on this site.  They are not entertaining options from anyone else right now.  There will be a proposal from CVS to the county soon.  Most likely the CVS currently on Wilson will be closed and will reopen on the Highlander Hotel site, which will allow more parking.

A question from the floor about cleaning up the Dominion Substation in Clarendon, which seemed unlikely. 

Jim Feaster who is part of the Arlington Commission on Aging mentioned that their focus is on how Arlington can be more age friendly and able to provide more resources to residents aging in place.

Mark Blacknell mentioned that he would like Arlington to find ways to attract younger Arlington County residents to AHCA meetings.  He feels we need to work some strategies to attract younger residents.

Scott McPartlin with the Arlington County Parks and Recreation Office gave us a Mosaic Park Update.   Mosaic Park started out as an idea back in the 1970s and in the 1990s the idea started to take shape.   Now Phase One is under construction and will open in the 2nd quarter of 2020.  The area for Phase Two remains, for now, a parking lot at Gold’s Gym.  ACHA President Sklar asked everyone to give him a round of applause for his great work since the beginning of this project.

Brooke Alexander asked to see the list of trees and perennials being proposed for the Phase One site.

A question from the floor was asked about if members of the Parks and Recreation Office actively reach out to neighborhood civic associations, when any of their projects would impact some of these groups.  Scott McPartlin himself tries to reach out to neighborhoods that would be impacted by his projects that he manages, and did not know why we were not contacted by the project manager for the Clay Park Project.  He is  happy to find out who the project manager is and will have them contact the members of our Playgrounds and Park Subcommittee.

Zack DesJardins a Bikeshare and Scootershare Planner for MetroBike is the Arlington County POC on Scooter Trial and Police on Enforcement.  He gave a talk about the new county regulations for e-Scooters that the Arlington County Board just approved.  The state law allows anyone 16 or older to use an e-Scooter; the user agreements for all the companies providing e-Scooters in Arlington requires users to be 18 years old.  Parking corrals have been established on a number of county streets to encourage people to park e-Scooters at these locations, though e-Scooters can be parked all over.  Concerns regarding no requirements for helmets to be worn and injuries, while operating these scooters were brought up from the floor.  Supposedly approximately 78 crashes have been reported, but am unable to verify because most emergency rooms will not release injury reports to the public.  DC e-scooter staff are trying to get injury information from emergency rooms.

The meeting was adjourned a bit after 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, November 23, 2019.

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