November 2020 Newsletter

Uncategorized

Our November newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

Building Consensus 2020 – Ashton Heights Civic Association by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

What makes me so proud of this Association and Community is how we slowly come to consensus on issues.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the State of Virginia Department of Health issued guidelines on Halloween. We had a resident, Emmilu Olson, step up to help coordinate a dialogue on how our community will celebrate Halloween and conform to the new guidance. Cory Capps on Jackson Street and over 30 other AHCA residents dialogued on this issue. We built a consensus to de-emphasize Jackson Street as a magnet for Halloween revelers this one year, have a parade and candy hand-out a day before Halloween to maintain the festive feeling for our children. We had some frank discussions and I am proud we were able to build a consensus, and Celia Slater helped us draft a press release which was picked up by ArlingtonNow.

Arlington County contacted us on the process to review neighborhood parking rules, and we have many views on on street parking, the role of apartment/condo residents, sharing expenses and access, and the comfort of easy access to park near where we live. Again, we have had wide ranging dialogues on the AHCA listserv and we will work to build a consensus. While there are many divergent views and priorities, I am so proud of the tenor of the discussions, respectful dialogue, and frankly, some very good points by all. I have no doubt we will forge a stance that embodies the best of Arlington & Ashton Heights.

And we are carrying all this out along with activities by the Development Committee, Transportation Committee, Housing Committee, Open Spaces and Tree Canopy Subcommittees, Safety & Security Committee, and Schools Committee – during a COVID-19 environment through limited personal meetings, zoom meetings, and listserv dialogues. Some hard work, good thinking, and in all cases moving towards building shared outlooks on all the various issues AHCA Committees and Subcommittees are dealing with every month.

And finally our AHCA 100th Anniversary planning committee led by AHCA Historian Jim Terpstra, but robustly supported by over 10 other AHCA residents, has had several dialogues and meetings to brainstorm, collect historical information. Again, please send any documents, pictures, and other memorabilia (or information on any) to Jim at terpstrajames2@gmail.com.

So as we enter this Fall 2020, probably facing another notchup of COVID cases, but always seeking ways to work with each other and help keep Ashton Heights one of the best places ever to live.

And I want to thank each and every one of you for contributing what you can, when you can. I know we are all busy, with families, work, and other obligations. But all of us within AHCA deserve some solid pats on the back – and I wanted to thank you all, and wish you a most Happy Halloween, and wonderful beginning of Autumn.

October 2020 Newsletter

Uncategorized

Our October newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

COVID, Halloween, and Aircraft Noise by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

As we limp along through this pandemic, except for a few issues, we seem to be in good shape. Arlington County tried to institute some sidewalk behavior modifications in the evening on the area bar/restaurant strips in Clarendon & Pentagon City, but withdrew them. And the Beer Lot at the corner of 10th Street North and Wilson Blvd is packed at half strength (350 people) — many without masks or social distancing. I have talked with the Arlington County Board members and County staff on this issue – it is well known. Our only goal here is not to become a “hot spot” in the future.

A related issue was brought up on how we handle Halloween, raised by AHCA member Emmilu Olson – and we both have contacted the County who is also seeking guidance from the CDC and the State of Virginia. That said, Ashton Heights and some of our high volume streets such as North Jackson St, should not wait. We obviously want to celebrate safely without putting our children, their grandparents, and all of us in the community at risk. I am sure we can come up with some viable approaches. See more on page 10 to get involved in the planning.

Arlington County has initiated, due in part, to our urging, legislative language through the efforts of Representative Don Beyer, to get the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to look at flight patterns to ease noise over our communities. It sadly does not cover government airplanes or any helicopters. We experienced a recent ceremonial very low flyover of a fighter plane tied to the Eisenhower Memorial ceremony on the Mall. We may need to apply some other tactics to ensure low flying, except for public safety, is the last resort and flight patterns be routed over The Potomac River or major highways including Route 66 and 395.

I have no doubt we can come together on these issues and influence outcomes – that is what any good civic association should do. And that leads me to the final point of AHCA celebrating our 100th birthday next year (2021). Jim Terpstra (terpstrajames2@gmail.com), our AHCA Historian is the lead for this effort. We need to collect older documents – AHCA newsletters, flyers, pictures that we can digitize and create a compendium to memorabilia tied to our AHCA history – so any of you that have been in Ashton Heights awhile, please search your files and send on to Jim. Also the newer pictures of AHCA under COVID, with ride by parties, street dancing etc., should be sent along to Jim as well.

AHCA has a great legacy and I am excited about how we can come together on our challenges and our celebrations – which makes this community so vital. In January 2021, I will have lived in Ashton Heights for 36 years and served as your AHCA president for the 10th year. It has been an honor and a wonderful experience being part of this amazing community. Be well, be safe.

SEPTEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER

Newsletter

Our September newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

Back on Track – Still by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

I wanted to send my warmest regards to everyone within Ashton Heights and our surrounding community, and hope you had a good summer and are safe and secure during this pandemic.

The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) has still been very active addressing a wide range of issues. I am happy to say that we will continue to email our AHCA Newsletter but we will also return to delivering it after we polling our coordinators Bea Camp and Julie Mangis as well as the volunteers that deliver the newsletters.

As you can see on the cover page, we will hold our first new AHCA Monthly Meeting (the third Wednesday of every month) using ZOOM coordinated by Emmilu Olson and Chris Armstrong. I hope you will participate and hear the short reports by our Chairs & Co Chairs of our eight AHCA Committees & Subcommittees and our two speakers.

AHCA is in the process of sending another letter to the County Board on “safety” approaches on North Kenmore Street since a child was hit a few months after a bicyclist was hit – emphasizing the need to speed up differentiate between ‘traffic calming’ and move to “pedestrian & property’ safety. We plan to keep up the pressure.

AHCA has been active on a range of COVID-19 issues, starting with the family help service established by AHCA Safety and Security Committee chair Christina Schultz, and interfacing with the County on crowding at the Beer Lot and other issues.

Development issues are always before us, as are tree canopy, affordable housing, schools, transportation & traffic, and open spaces/playgrounds. And I expect the challenges of COVID, smaller Arlington County budget resources — are all going to make our efforts harder. That said, why we have a civic association is to pool our human resources to track these issues, build community consensus, and interact effectively with the County, businesses, and community organizations.

Two issues we are preparing for, is how we interface and react to the Arlington County Water & Wastewater Utility Rate Study. We want to make sure rates are fair and that service and billing are also fair and responsive. The County has two proactive activities maximizing: 1) mail-in voting, and 2) insuring maximum participation in Census 2020. Right now we are just forwarding information, but we are very interested in ideas and approaches from anyone within the Ashton Heights community.

So welcome to Fall. Join us this month as we start-up our monthly meetings via ZOOM. And all, be safe!

May 2020 Newsletter

Newsletter

Our May newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

An Amazing Community – Great Spirit and Generosity by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

 I can’t express my appreciation for all the great work and camaraderie by our Ashton Heights community which is just overwhelming. Just too many to shout out, but I am listing the handful that comes to mind:

  • a group making masks for health workers
  • families giving out books for children and adults
  • on street dancing for children and us old folks
  • establishment of a buddy system for food and errands for those unable to leave their houses
  • listserv trading items that people in our community need
  • organizing a blood drive for COVID-19 patients

And it is wonderful seeing families walking, biking and playing together – chalk drawing on the street, skateboards and scooters and bouts of playfulness. This is our last newsletter before the summer, so I wanted to emphasize the breadth of commitment to our community.

The day-to-day actions we at AHCA are doing, all by volunteers, for AHCA Committees on traffic & street repairs, development & zoning issues, security and safety, schools, parks-playgrounds-open spaces, native plants & tree canopy preservation, affordable housing, water bills data collection, and those representing our community on the Arlington Commission on Aging, the Civic Federation, Neighborhood Conservation, Clarendon Alliance, etc. – are ongoing and also how we contribute to the well being of our community.

I want to thank all of you — everyone of you — for making Ashton Heights just a wonderful place to live.

I have no idea what will be the situation with this pandemic in September. We will begin again in September our AHCA newsletter for the Fall (thank you Amy Miller), but not sure whether it will be only electronic or handed out as in the past as a printed version too. I am also not sure whether we will be able to hold our monthly meetings (third Wednesday of every month) at the Clarendon Methodist Church social hall – if not we’ll explore a larger ZOOM meeting.

But all that aside – the generosity and initiative of all of you, are making a great difference. So I salute you and wish you a safe and healthy Spring & Summer.

April 2020 Newsletter

Newsletter

Our April newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

COVID-19: Our AHCA Community by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

Well you can imagine we have lots of COVID-19 related challenges, but we are moving through them. As your AHCA President, I have had lots of communication with the County on issues, services, etc. As they are officially announced, I send them on the listserv. Some important info for you:

Arlington County Announces New COVID-19 Call Line – Community members who cannot find the information they need on the County’s website or through other resources, should call 703-228-7999 for assistance.

Arlington County & Virginia Hospital Center Open A New COVID-19 Drive Through Test Center – A temporary drive-through COVID-19 sample collection site at 1429 N. Quincy Street. Physicians with symptomatic patients can send orders to the Virginia Hospital Center outpatient lab electronically in EPIC or via fax to 703-558-2448. Once they have received a physician’s order, patients should call the VHC COVID-19 Scheduling Line at 703-558-5766 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Patients must schedule an appointment before visiting the collection site. Please keep your physician’s phone number on the wall near your telephone and in your pocket as well.

This brings me to REQUEST #1 – if you know a neighbor who is new to the area or not usually using the internet, please cajole them to join the AHCA listserv. Communications are extremely important at this time. Requests should be e-mailed to the AHCA listserv moderator, Betsey Lyon at etlyon410@gmail.com.

The AHCA April monthly meeting has been canceled (see box). We have to see how the coming months are as to whether we can reschedule future meetings.

Our AHCA Safety & Security Committee Chair Christina Schultz has an important column in this newsletter (page 3) on our AHCA Community Help and Service approach for helping those in Ashton Heights who are unable to leave and need food, medicines, and sustained periodic checking upon. We already have some volunteer names but more will be collected along with use of a formal request form (forms.gle/U8FjEmoDpWgD5ySo6). If you want to volunteer by being paired with a family/person, fill out the appropriate form: high risk (https://forms.gle/PbvhhiYUsT92xawv8) and low risk (https://forms.gle/Xpw2kR7wuAMWiDWp9).

AHCA has a very high ratio of 65-and-older age group, and we have many with immune system deficiencies that make them more susceptible (such as diabetes, heart & lung disease, cancers, etc), handicapped/special needs, single parents, etc.

REQUEST #2 – if you have neighbors in these categories, call them or e-mail them – check how they are, let them know of this effort — as a community we do not want ANYONE left out of this safety net, not one.

And finally, REQUEST #3 – if you have any other ideas, concerns, etc, please email me directly at solarsklar@aol.com, or call me at home 703-522-3049. I have already received quite a number of emails/calls and I appreciate them. I have seen some wonderful suggestions on the listserv, but wanted to highlight three:

1. Order in from local vendors routinely – please lets keep our special businesses viable during this ordeal,

2. Short, socially distanced activities like dancing and bike riding for kids (and adults) is important .. safe social interaction is needed, and

3. Leaving books and other activities for pick up is wonderful to share – reduce clutter and provide an activity for another.

From what I see, most people are social distancing, friendly when walking by, my own neighbors are amazing (since I am way over 65) to make sure I am OK and have food – just the attributes that make this such a great community. The more we help each other, the better our community will make it through this unprecedented event.

I am certain we will as a community meet these new challenges. And again, I want to deeply thank so many of you that have already volunteered, offered to volunteer, keep our Civic Association functioning, and those for reaching our to your neighbors in your community.

Be well, Be safe. Many thanks.

March 2020 Newsletter

Newsletter, Uncategorized

Our March newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

Five Trends in Arlington: Ashton Heights “Front & Center”

by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

As we move into Spring, I am feeling the need to encourage a creative dialogue. I am not advocating one way or the other on the points below, but using this column only to stir discussion.

Trend #1: Housing Density and Affordability. Discussions in Richmond and with the Arlington Board are not only addressing affordable housing, but the nature of residential neighborhoods. Many of us strongly want to keep the single home character of our community, yet others see multiplexes, townhouses and other approaches to offer a variety of living approaches to allow more flexibility, affordability, and livability.

Trend #2: Climate Change: Trees, Energy, and Buildings. The Arlington County Board voted unanimously in November 2019 on an updated Community Energy Plan (CEP) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Clean Air Act regulated emissions, and significantly increase energy efficiency and renewable energy. Aside from announcing a contract with Dominion for over 100 MW of solar, efforts to nudge builders and developers to incorporate these approaches significantly in their projects and buildings since residential (26%) and non-residential (53%) buildings use 79% of our energy. More pressure on how our buildings are built, renovated, and how we behave in them, are going to be ever increasing. Native trees are also in this game plan for soaking in carbon, providing food and shelter for wildlife, and softening the urban character of our community.

Trend #3: Convenience & Personalization of Transportation. We all know Uber/Lyft, scooters, well-marked roadways, bike lanes, and density around Metro stops, all address not only traffic, but convenience, and livability. We can have food delivered by any restaurant, Amazon and others drop off any goods, and more and more in-home and in-office services are at our fingertips. How that impacts personal time, comfort, and family is being studied by many.

Trend #4: Multi-use Spaces and Buildings. Our schools and government buildings are not only used for their prime use, but also for community meetings, the arts and education. And now we are seeing private buildings, have public meeting space in the lobby, the NRECA building used for public meetings, as does AHCA and Little Beginnings Day Care share the Clarendon United Methodist Church facilities.

Trend #5: Aging in Place. The older population in Arlington – those ≥65 years of age – grew more rapidly than the rest of the population in each of the last three decades. It will continue to grow rapidly and at a faster rate. Northern Virginia’s older old population, those ≥75 years of age, is the region’s most rapidly growing population group. Growth in this age group will exceed 50% in each of the next two decades. Yours truly, is planning to age-in-place in my home. This means more walkable community, in-house services, and more county and various association tailored programs to my demographic.

I hope, as a community, we can discuss how we fit best into these trends among others not mentioned, so as to be proactive on addressing our future. Only through shared vision, community dialogue, and volunteer time – can we create a joint vision to help drive our consensus visions to reality.

Details of Ashton Heights 100th Anniversary plans for next year are underway (see page 4). We have had some very prescient Arlington residents and leaders that helped fashion the community we have today. This perspective should help all of us and guide all of us on pathways to the future.

We have a great community and we have a long road to further many past and present great ideas to make it an even better community.

Happy Spring!

February 2020 Ashton Heights Newsletter

February 2020 Newsletter

Newsletter

Our February newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

 

Getting into Full Swing – Making Ashton Heights Stay Great (As Always)
by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

 As January dashed by, the biggest issues we are facing are development, crime, water rates, and roadways. Our intrepid AHCA Crime & Safety Chair Christina Shultz put out a detailed memo about the Arlington County police presentation at our January meeting. The recent rash of automobile incursions in Ashton Heights cars are almost all in unlocked vehicles. The only smashed windows were tied to two visible – computer and purse – on the car seat in commercial parking areas. No use of wireless fob number theft devices has been reported or believed to be in use. So two basic guides – check & lock your car every evening, and leave nothing of value visible.

We also advised on the listserv roadwork beginning on Pershing Drive and soon, some continued work on Wilson Blvd. approaching 10th Street North. AHCA also submitted a formal letter to Arl. Co. on traffic calming on N. Kenmore St. AHCA Transportation Committee Chair Patrick Lueb has been following, dialoguing with the County, and fact finding on planter design options.

Due to great work by Barbara Taylor (bet2713@gmail.com ), we have collected data from 71 residents whose water bills were over 100% higher. We have submitted the aggregated data to the Arlington County Board, and with other civic associations to show a statistical quantification of the problem. AHCA will be pursuing this issue, since it has been an ongoing problem that is not solely tied to water leaks, as County staff maintains.

AHCA has also been dialoging with the other Arlington civic associations who have contacted Arlington County Board members about the need to revisit the Zoning Ordinance provisions for lot coverage, height, and setback of single-family homes — and also to ensure compliance with these restrictions as homes are actually built.

We transferred to our new listserv platform seamlessly. Thank you for the hard work Betsey – please see the full article on page five of this month’s newsletter.

The AHCA Development Committee has been meeting with the county on these main in-process developments: 1. TCS project on Wilson (Beer Lot to Silver Diner). 2. Joyce Motors redevelopment on 10th street 3. Status of third development (Wells Fargo site) 4. CVS project – zoning/rezoning issue on three lots; environmental issue; arrangement for meeting with group of nearby residents on permitting (lighting, traffic, vegetation barriers etc). 5. Hotel (Randolph and 5th); Mr Wash: Status. AHCA Development Co-chairs David Phillips and Jack Spilsbury are always open to input and guidance.

MORE THANK YOU’s from all of us at AHCA — Debby Chin, owner of The Baking Q, has been donating food at our monthly as she tests the market place for its product line of desserts. If you like something and would like to place an order, please contact Debby (debbychin@me.com) for more information. Thanks to Greg Morse who has also been bringing in healthy snacks for the meetings.

Carmen Kosik (emailocity@gmail.com) has been successfully getting ads for the newsletter so we can expand it slightly, and deserves our kudos for this important task. And Ann Felker (gr8est9@gmail.com) has been coordinating the Kids Page in our newsletter that helps employ our youngest members in ways that help our community. Thanks so much!

Wishing you a happy Winter season, here in Ashton Heights!

January 2020 Newsletter

Featured, Newsletter
Ashton Heights January 2020 Newsletter

Our January newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments, send them to editor@ashtonheights.org.

2020 – An Exciting Year for Ashton Heights and Arlington County by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

Some good actions have happened by the end of 2019. Clarendon Circle, the convergence of Washington Blvd, Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd. and Fairfax Drive is basically finished – meaning roadways are clear from construction, noise, and traffic slow downs. And the commercial center evolves, with wider sidewalks, safer street crossings, and clearer traffic patterns.

Arlington County has kept taxes flat, added some clarifications for scooters while adding to bike lanes, and the County Board unanimously adopted an update to the County Energy Plan which will result in more clean energy, less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, creating a healthy environment for all of us.

The Ashton Heights Civic Association is strong. The best news is we finally have a new newsletter editor, and I would like to heartily welcome Amy Miller and please feel free to e-mail her with comments and suggestions. I also want to add my thanks again to Jeanette Wick who stepped in a second time as our interim AHCA newsletter editor. AHCA has a new Committee on Housing and is Chaired by  Matthew Hall and Co-chaired by Christina Schultz. Thank you both for stepping up to cover this critical issue.

Another highlight worth noting is the formal dialogue process with Arlington County initiated by the Co-chairs of the AHCA Development Committee, so we can be proactive about development decisions rather than just be reactive. As mentioned in our last newsletter, our Co-chairs of the AHCA Schools Committee along with other AHCA volunteers are actively involved with County school facilities planning committees. And our other AHCA Committees of Crime & Safety, Open Spaces & Playgrounds, Tree Canopy & Native Plants, along with Transportation are all diligently following their issues, interacting with County staff and AHCA members.

So I am happy to report that we are covering most of the major issues confronting our community. That doesn’t mean we have resolved every issue exactly our way, but we have a solid organization and process to sustain member involvement and dialogue to help drive issues more in our direction. That said, we can always use more volunteers not only on standing committees, but also on sub-issues either within our existing AHCA committees (listed on the inside page of this newsletter), establish new task-oriented committees or create subsets of existing committees. Please feel free to contact me, or anyone on the AHCA Executive Committee at any time.

And that brings me to the last issue for AHCA, that in May 2020 we elect new officers. I have been advised our AHCA Secretary who issues our monthly meeting minutes will need to be filled, and I have been actively looking for someone from our community to shadow me so they can take the reins in 2020 or 2021. Establishing an orderly transition is essential for AHCA as we have grown, and issues become more complex and intense. So don’t be shy, please feel free to drop me an e-mail on these positions, as well as other issues within our community and within AHCA.

That said, I am excited about the upcoming year, and look forward to hearing from many of you. Enjoy the winter and hope to see you at our annual AHCA membership meeting this Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 7:00 PM at the Clarendon Methodist Church Social Hall. Happy 2020!