November 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The November 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Community Involvement in Many Forms

By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

At our October AHCA monthly meeting, Arlington Police officers Aaron Queen presented on community policing and community crime statistics. Except for car larcenies and stolen vehicles, every other crime indicator is static or declining. We have routinely had liaisons from the Arlington County Police to cement a partnership between AHCA residents and ACPD to strengthen our safety, our communications, and our priorities. We had the new Arlington Police Chief, Andy Penn join our 100th Anniversary event at the Arlington Arts Center in October.

Our 100th Anniversary events went smashingly well, with huge turnouts at both events. There were over 200 AHCA residents at the Arlington Arts Center and over 100 people at our 100th anniversary AHCA tree tour and event. It was a success with major help from Ann Felker, Brooke Alexander, Trisha Gruesen, and Julie Mangis (and many others) and of course our AHCA Historian Jim Terpstra.

Our updated Ashton Heights Style Guide has been released on the AHCA website. Jim Terpstra and Jean Falvey presented the Ashton Heights Style Guide, reviewing the handout on the different housing styles and how they are morphing in different areas throughout Ashton Heights.

During November and December 2021 and January 2022, our AHCA Development Committee led by Jack Spilsbury will be busy coordinating within AHCA and with our sister civic associations our inputs to the County Board and staff on the proposed Clarendon Development and other development issues. Do not be shy in emailing Jack on thoughts and information to guide this process.

Thank you all for participating in our AHCA Committees, attending our AHCA Monthly meetings, attending our 100th Anniversary celebration at the Arlington Arts Center, and those who participated in the tree tour.

Our last 2021 AHCA monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m. sharp in the social hall of the Clarendon United Methodist Church on the corner of North Ivy Street and North 6th Street – enter through the door midway in the parking lot. Join us at 7 p.m. to mingle and help set up.

Our next AHCA newsletter will be delivered in January 2022. A special thanks to our Editor Amy Miller, our newsletter distribution team headed by Bea Camp, and to ALL of you within AHCA who distribute our newsletters, along with our AHCA Secretary Chris Armstrong who posts the AHCA meeting minutes and event notices onto the AHCA website.

A safe and happy Fall to all as we move into winter.

October 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The October 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Three Months Focus on the Ashton Heights 100th Anniversary

By Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

In our September AHCA meeting – our first in-person meeting in 18 months – we had the beginning of formal presentations on AHCA’s history. Our AHCA historian, went over a few of the reports on the beginnings of Ashton Heights, named after Ashton C. Jones as he massed land holdings in 1921. In 1892 the electric trolley was introduced and transformed rural Arlington into new subdivisions growing from 6,430 people to 10,231 people. Ashton Heights grew from 1910 -1930, with 1914 being the first County rule requiring approval of subdivision plans by the County Engineer.

Peter W. Dickson, historian, also presented, and offered his new book, Ashton Heights: It’s Origin and History (you may buy a copy for $10, Peter’s email: pwdbard@aol.com). On page 6, of his book, he recounts that by 1919, there were 45 homes on the 600 to 800 bocks of North Irving, North Ivy, North Jackson, and North Kenmore that eventually became the beginning core of Ashton Heights.

Saturday, September 25th was the AHCA Birthday Bash from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center. Again, this was a chance for our community to come together and celebrate not only our anniversary but our connections together making this community a better place, and coming through our ordeal of the pandemic. Kudos to Matt Hall, Ann Felker, and Julie Mangis among others to make this happen!

Saturday, October 2nd is the “Notable Tree Tour” coordinated by Brooke Alexander who heads our Tree Canopy & Native Plants Committee. Our tree canopy is what differentiates us from many other parts of Arlington – providing buffer from noise & pollution, habitat for birds and other wildlife, and has a cooling effect in light of changes due to global warming. Note: October 3rd is the National Solar Home tour, from 10:30 a.m. To 3:30 p.m., of which my 100 year old North Ivy Street house has been featured for the last decade.

At our October AHCA meeting, Jim Terpstra will discuss the Ashton Heights Style Guide, first published in 2003, to go over the unique house styles that principally make up a good portion of Ashton Heights residences. Also at our meeting on Wednesday, October 20th, we will have presentations from the Arlington Hospital Center and their Foundation, an outstanding Arlington institution.

So that brings me to what the Ashton Heights Civic Association’s (AHCA) role is today at this point in our first 100 years. From my view, AHCA’s focus has been to “keep the character of Ashton Heights as we grow and urbanize, so as to maintain our unique comfort, safety and livability”.

To do that our AHCA Committees composed of members of our community are doing the following:

▪ Development – ensure development in and around Ashton Heights protects light as well as protects against noise, maximizes open space, tree canopy, on street businesses and services, and enhance sense of community

▪ Housing – assure affordability and livability, track County initiatives

▪ Open Spaces – increase and enhance our parks and playgrounds

▪ Tree Canopy & Native Plants – significantly increase tree canopy and utilization of native plants

▪ Safety & Security – maintain dialogue with Arlington County police, inform community of crime & safety challenges and trends

▪ Schools – improving teaching and facilities, preserve walkability to schools, and enhance safety traveling to and within schools

▪ Transportation – embrace traffic calming, protect neighborhood parking, increase bike lanes and paths, pedestrian walkways, and noise reduction

These functions are essential to keep the best qualities of our community. So in this celebration of our 100 years, let us also rejoice that we are actively engaged to preserve, protect, and evolve for the upcoming 100 years.

I wish you all a happy and safe autumn. And look forward to seeing many of you in person at our Notable Tree Tour and at our monthly in-person October meeting.

September 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The September 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Back on Track: Full Speed to Autumn by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

Activities have been full speed this summer, but before I get into that detail, we have had some wonderful cooler mornings in the 60’s with low humidity. So unlike a Washington, DC area summer – very nice! That said, we have had some residual tree mite bites from our earlier influx of cicadas, and it appears the eye infections and deaths of birds have receded, which is good news.

As of this August printing, our host at the Clarendon United Methodist Church (CUMC) has yet to establish a policy for public meetings held at the church. Please check the AHCA listserv or the AHCA website for information on our Fall AHCA meeting, to be held on Wednesday, September 15th at 7:30 p.m. – It will either be held in the social hall of CUMC or via Zoom.

We still have COVID-19 Delta issues to deal with. Good news is Arlington County is over 63.4% vaccinated, higher than the national average. (https://data.news-leader.com/covid-19- vaccine-tracker/virginia/51/)

The State of Virginia will be imposing certain vaccination requirements for state employees that I assume counties and cities will follow. Please visit Arlington’s COVID dashboard for stats and facts. And all questions COVID goes to AHCA’s Martha Casey: mlcasey@oacpc.com.

All our AHCA Committees have been working through the summer. Brent Burris who Chairs the Open Spaces Committee is working with Arlington County on the opening event of Mosaic Park, which our association has been the guide and vanguard. Brooke Alexander who Chairs the AHCA Tree Canopy & Native Plants Committee has been active on Arlington planning meetings, as well as County plans on park upgrades and replanting.

Our AHCA 100th Anniversary Committee, chaired by Jim Terpstra, has also been working hard and planning a celebratory event at the Arlington Art Center with free food and celebrations. Note: They have yet to adopt my amazing idea of a giant cake where Ashton Heights founder Ashton Jones jumps out, but I am hopeful.

The AHCA Development committee led tirelessly by Jack Spilsbury has been involved in both the Long Range Planning Committee activities and the Clarendon Sector Planning Activities. The Committee is very active, and of course, all with strong opinions. But the good news is that Ashton Heights is the focal point and has enlisted the surrounding Civic Associations to join us to strengthen our position for more open space and park, building setbacks and tapering and for more light, among other requests. A shout out to Jack, especially, for being innovative, working long hours in this zero-pay job, and spending time assimilating every ones’s ideas and concerns. And the Committee has also been great, and the Association owes you much for your attention to detail, principle, and for putting in the hours. So, thank you on behalf of our community.

Other notes, AHCA also pushed for the crossing walk light on North Irving St across 10th Street North which has been installed (which took years). Thank goodness for the little wins.

I need to apologize for yet another hack on our website, even after we upgraded to a higher cyber-protected host, where a similar e-mail address to mine went out to you asking for gift cards. Again, I will only “ever” ask for whiskey in bottles. We will try to address again.

As I do every fall, I ask you to email me with any ideas, suggestions, or concerns. The Association is here for all of you. I would be remiss if I didn’t add what a great community we live in, and it has been great to work and interact with each and every one of you.

A most happy Fall 2021. Be safe.

May 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The May 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Shout Out to an Amazing Community and Civic Association by Scott Sklar, AHCA President

I want to thank you for supporting a solid team for the Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) Executive Committee for the 2021-2022 year. I am now serving over 10 years as your President, it is wonderful serving you and with a great group of talented and caring people.

Since this is our last newsletter before the summer, I decided to use my column as a “shout out” to a number of volunteers that make the AHCA such a great organization which ultimately makes our community such a wonderful place to live. These volunteers devote their personal time, at the same low salary rate of “$0”, and deserve acknowledgement. I am sorry I cannot include everyone in the space provided, please do not be offended on omission – there’s plenty of room for kudos in subsequent editions.

New Executive Committee (AHCA ExCom) – Winners

We’re mostly the same old crowd with one addition and a switcheroo. But each and every one provides a valuable service to the association, and as a group, the AHCA Executive Committee follows many issues weekly, votes on actions monthly, and is the heart and soul of AHCA. Jim Feaster – VP for Programs, Jim O’Brien – VP for Membership, Doug Williams – Treasurer (since 2004!), and Chris Armstrong – Secretary. The At-Large Excom members: Cole Deines, Patrick Lueb who also Chairs the AHCA Transportation Committee, Ken Matzkin – who was our VP of Programs, and Jim Richardson who had Chaired the Development Committee for many years and then was VP of Programs this past year. This group has immense breadth and depth of experience, works well together, and are all very approachable – feel free to e-mail them with thoughts and ideas – their e-mails are on the third page of our newsletter.

Leaving

Jodie Flakowicz has served as our AHCA Secretary, as an ExCom officer and now is serving as the AHCA Nominations Committee Chair for 2021 . Dave Phillips, our heroic CoChair of the AHCA Development Committee who brought on CoChair Jack Spilsbury. He built the Committee as a very strong influence on County decision-making and built a solid dialogue with County officials. Emmilu Olson who stepped up as our coffee provider when we had in-person AHCA monthly meetings, and then stepped in to coordinate our monthly AHCA Zoom meetings.

Stood-up and Performed

My biggest shout-out in this department is Christopher Armstrong who took over scheduling our AHCA Monthly Zoom meetings and other civic association meetings. And, he took over Carmen’s job to coordinate advertising for our AHCA newsletter. Then he volunteered to run for AHCA Excom as the Secretary, and recently stepped up to coordinate the AHCA Board web elections – a four-fer, wow! Amy Miller who jumped in to fill an empty slot as our AHCA newsletter editor – I mean it’s amazing! I don’t know about you but I think the newsletter gets better all the time. Christina Schultz who Chairs our AHCA Safety & Security Committee pushed to have an AHCA effort on Housing. She suggested, and Matt Hall agreed to be the AHCA Housing Committee chair with Christina as Vice Chair, and they hosted a session on Middle Housing. Thanks Matt for stepping up as AHCA’s newest Committee Chair, and Christina for pushing on key community issues on two fronts.

Martha Casey proposed to lead an information service on COVID to keep AHCA members up-to-date on the State of Virginia and Arlington County policies and programs, and availability of vaccines. She worked with Lyon Park Citizens Association to set up a joint assistance service to help people in obtaining appointments for vaccines.

Jim Terpstra our long time AHCA Historian, who now is leading with a great group of members our 100th AHCA Anniversary celebration this year. He is working with AHCA residents: Jim and Rita O’Brien, Ann Felker, Julie Mangis, Brooke Alexander, Betsey, Lyon, Peter Bard, and Tom Petty.

The Ole Reliables

Bea Camp coordinates the newsletter distribution (a thankless job) and all the volunteers who deliver the newsletter. Bea delivers to six “mid-level” distributors, who then package smaller amounts for the block captains. Julie Mangis keeps the lists. (See a full article of thanks to the newsletter delivery team on page 11 of this issue.) Ann Felker who prepares the student jobs page in our newsletter monthly, helped co-coordinate out AHCA yard sale, and is active in our 100th anniversary celebration preparation.. Betsey Lyon – our listserv moderator who helped us transfer from Yahoo to Google, and it works seamlessly. We have over 600 residents on our AHCA listserv!

Honorable Mentions

Jack Spillsbury joined as CoChair of the AHCA Development Committee which takes a huge amount of time covering very many actions and issues. In 2021, he assumes the role as it’s sole chair, and coordinates with a great group of AHCA residents who have been very active on these issues for a long time: Brooke Alexander, Cole Deines, Joan Fitzgerald, Julie Mangis, Ken Matzkin, David Phillips, Jim Richardson, Julia Tanner. Rob Liford, a name most of you don’t know, maintains our web site accounts and helps us not get hacked as often.

And most importantly – all of you – our members! Your participation on the listserv, on the committees, at the monthly meetings and at special AHCA and County events makes this all come together. I know we are all busy raising our families. working, errands, etc, — so this public service is all on top of that — but it does make a difference.

So, thank you each and every one of you, and have a wonderful and safe summer!

April 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The April 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

The Future of Ashton Heights by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

In our March AHCA meeting, we heard Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey present on Missing Middle Housing, discussing a multi-year process where the Board has started to look at affordability, housing equity, and options in Arlington County. She stated quite rightly that “change is inevitable.” In fact, housing has changed quite a bit since Arlington’s founding. As we celebrate Ashton Height’s 100th anniversary this year, we will learn about that in more detail.

I have lived in Arlington since 1980 and moved into the house I live in now on N. Ivy Street in 1984. Arlington has changed pretty radically from a sleepy suburb into an urban suburb. In my last column, I acknowledged much of what has been done right has been due to leaders in our civic association along with our sister associations on the planning and guidelines that have been formalized and enshrined in the County planning process. The reason we have open spaces, tree canopy, pedestrian friendly walkways & bikeways, and preservation of residential neighborhoods has been in large part to this effort. These features are really what make Arlington and our area, an especially wonderful place to live.

And as we all know, these decisions impact traffic, crime and safety, affordability, schools, taxes, parks and open space, etc. At the same time, as we urbanize, land prices and housing prices rocket upward, and so we face a future of being a neighborhood of the richest rather than as being more eclectic and diverse.

Before we all take sides and move into our respective positions, I ask everyone to take a deep breath. This process started by the Arlington County Board and brought ably before us by our new AHCA Housing Committee chairs Matt Hall and Christina Schultz, is to envision and balance how Arlington evolves. There are lots of trade-off as we all know. For instance, we may form a consensus that multi-family and duplexes along thoroughfares rather than cement buildings (like CVS) may be an appropriate buffer and address housing affordability issues. And frankly, more commercial space that may stay partially vacant in the post-COVID world, may shift more tax burden to residential owners. I am not taking a position here, just offering that there are many sides to these issues.

The Ashton Heights Civic Association (AHCA) is going to continue what we have always done with development, traffic, schools, open spaces, tree canopy and safety – build some common knowledge as our AHCA Housing Committee started, and slowly build a united consensus that we can articulate clearly to Arlington County. To do this correctly, our Housing Committee needs some volunteer time, and also needs some listserv and monthly meeting time to keep this dialogue going.

We have been able to forge a consensus and articulate our positions over many issues, which has made the Ashton Heights Civic Association well respected, and in most cases “listened to”. So as always, let’s work together to forge consensus and a vision. We are lucky to live in such as great community and have so many people willing to offer their thoughts and time, and put in some elbow grease to make this an even better place to live.

So thanks and welcome Spring 2021 to a hopefully safer and more joyful year.

March 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

The March 2021 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email editor@ashtonheights.org.

Community Benefits – The “Arlington Way” by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

What makes the Ashton Heights community so amazing is its long history of participating and leading within Arlington County on development, transportation, education and other issues. In fact, much of the uniqueness of living here has been a visionary set of leaders within our community who have put their visions, along with some sweat and tears beginning in the 1960’s, into a citizen’s participatory process which we call “The Arlington Way.”

In my ten years at the helm of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, I am always amazed at the breadth and depth of our members on the key planning issues. But I am also amazed about what I will term as “County Drift,” where a few years after a multi-year collaborative process, the planning processes within the County seem to discard the prior-approved consensus so we have to gear up to weigh-in on the issues again and again.

Nothing seems more open to this than the development and parking planning now underway by County government.

In redevelopment, the County allows developers to receive certain waivers if there are clear “community benefits.” In the proposed Clarendon Sector Plan, there appears willingness to allow heights above the mandated 110 feet and higher building densities without “community benefits.” So what are the community benefits we have fought so long and hard for? (I quote from the listserv from a sample of our association leaders long involved in this area: Joan Fitzpatrick, Brooke Alexander, Julie Mangis, Ann Felker, and others.)

Greenways: The existing greenway between Irving and Ivy Streets is almost adjacent to this proposed development! It is not irrelevant. We have already experienced one attempt to penetrate this important buffer. Having the greenway form a buffer along the northern edge of our neighborhood is absolutely necessary to define our boundary. And why should we retreat from the Greenway concept, which originated here in Ashton Heights? The County actually incorporated it into the GLUP based on our recommendation.

Building height: It is important to remember that the 110′ maximum was predicated on getting community benefits in return. So far, we have not been apprised of any proffers that would justify the 110′ height, much less the 128′ height. I think AHCA has done a good job of articulating our concerns about height and density, but I might consider including language regarding FARs (floor-area-ratios).

Building setbacks: Address light and imposing structures over our residential community. Here, we were informed that building step-backs present architectural challenges, including plumbing, electrical and other infrastructure issues. It was as if developers are resisting the step-back requirements. We need to challenge the 165′ measurement from our neighborhood regarding the 1:3 taper. We need to be vigilant about the tapering, transitions, step-backs and set-backs lest they, too, get modified. We are reminded of the time when developers told us that building residential buildings wasn’t “economically feasible.” So they got away with building the Rosslyn office canyons, which we’ve been trying to fix ever since.

Open space: A hotel terrace, at whatever level, provides any benefit to those of us who live in Ashton Heights. There is no plan for open space in these proposals, with the possible exception of the linear park replacing Fairfax Drive adjacent to Northside Social and St. Charles Church. It’s not clear to me whether that area would be paid for by the county or whether developers would be expected to provide the park as their community benefit.

A similar set of issues appear to be happening regarding parking strategies that were established as the Metro came through Arlington so that neighborhoods near Metro stops (we have three in Ashton Heights: Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston) would not have commuter cars parking all day in our neighborhoods, so our residents living in these areas can park on their own street. Luckily, the Arlington County Board has held in place the program for the existing neighborhoods, good news. However, what is not good news is that developers are now allowed to put in less “inbuilding” parking for condominiums and apartment houses with the assumption that these people will not use their own vehicles, but utilize Metro. We can argue if that is true, these residents will have visiting relatives, friends, service workers and vendors that need to park as well.

I raise these points not to be whiny, but rather to illustrate that our community involvement has driven our area to be a great place to live. But that also requires the sweat and tears of an earlier time be taken on by newer and younger residents so as to keep the assets that attracted all of us to live in Ashton Heights.

We will be celebrating AHCA’s 100th Anniversary this year – where we all can learn, laud, and celebrate these achievements.

But I hope as we do, and many of you who read this newsletter and participate in the listserv, can build perspectives and join in on an outstanding legacy.

February 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

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

COVID, Economy and Safety – by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

The core issue on everyone’s mind is how long we are all going to endure this pandemic and when we will all be vaccinated. And I understand this being over 65 myself.

Leaving politics aside, we have four issues. Coordination with states proactively by the federal government, coordination by the state with Virginia cities and counties and Arlington County coordinating with all of us. I had issued a brief from Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz at our January 2021 AHCA meeting. And to put it bluntly, the feds were unclear with the state, and Virginia bypassed Arlington on providing first doses via CVS/Walgreens for nursing/old age homes, and Virginia Hospital Center (VHS) for healthcare workers, first responders and a third of our teachers.

Now that is changing, in part, with vaccines going to counties, not hospitals, and the counties working with their hospitals and other healthcare providers. While this resulted in cancellations for those that signed up for vaccines with VHC, I expect that as vaccines come in, those appointments will be re-set ASAP.

The fourth issue, is that vaccine supplies have been limited, putting strains all over the country. The vaccine companies are having problems scaling up supply . Hopefully soon, a third “one dose” vaccine will be available.

With all these questions, we have a volunteer Martha Casey, who will coordinate timely information both through our monthly newsletter and our listserv. Any questions and suggestions, please contact her directly. Thank you, Martha. I am also in contact with the county on these issues, so if you have suggestions that you believe I should be inputting to the county, please email me directly: solarsklar@aol.com.

On a related issue, our local businesses are hurting. I personally am making an extra effort to buy food, goods and services right here in Arlington. Most are surviving on razor-thin margins. So if possible, please buy locally. I understand not everything can come from local businesses, and there are other considerations that come into play. Do what’s best for you and your family.

And I would be remiss not to re-emphasize that wearing masks, washing hands and sanitizing is very essential. Even those vaccinated can still convey the virus with unwashed/sanitized hands or even spreading droplets from others — so as tiring as this all is, please keep your resolve.

I feel very safe here in Ashton Heights – we have a caring community. And I want to thank all AHCA members for not only stepping up to the challenge but helping others in our community. Makes me very proud. Have a safe and joyous February.

January 2021 Newsletter

Newsletter

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

Ashton Heights – 2021 Will Be An Exciting Year For Our Community by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

As with the rest of the country, dealing with COVID, it has been hard with children out of school, small businesses hurting or out-of-business and constraints on how we see family and friends. Our political leaders in Richmond and Arlington have done an admirable job, conforming with science and health guidance while balancing the economic needs of the State and County. That said, I have been very proud of how our community has behaved throughout these hard times. With the vaccines coming in this year, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel hopefully by the summer to return somewhat close to normal.

As you’ve read a few times in our AHCA Newsletter, the 100th Anniversary of the Ashton Heights Civic Association is in 2021 and we are looking for your help in digging up old newsletters, pictures and reports in the past so that we can assemble these artifacts, retell the memories, and celebrate ourselves as a community.

Seems a perfect way to reset our Ashton Heights community to energize ourselves for the future. See AHCA Historian Jim Terpstra’s January 14th Zoom meeting (7 p.m.) on page three of this newsletter.

As we enter this new year and a significant portion of us are working routinely out of our homes, you might want to consider joining our AHCA Standing Committees – the email addresses of the Committee & Subcommittee Chairs and CoChairs are on the next page – and these issues will be revved up in 2021 after the COVID lull of 2020. Even if it’s just tracking the issues in a more detailed way, it’s worth your time. Some areas to consider – Development, Housing, Open Spaces (Subc on Park & Playgrounds – Tree Canopy & Native Plants), Safety & Security, Schools, & Transportation (including Parking & Pedestrian-Street Safety).

I am also looking at some AHCA themes for 2021 to attract the interests of younger residents – so those of you in your 30’s and under – please drop me a note (solarsklar@aol.com) on issues and programs that are important to you. It is critically important that our Association covers the priorities of all groups within our membership — and am happy to hear ideas and suggestions of any type.

I want to thank everyone within the Association on your camaraderie and respect for each other during these difficult times. And also for your time in being involved in all aspects of our community to make Ashton Heights such a wonderful place to live. I wish everyone a Happy New Year 2021 and may this coming year be full of joy, peace, health, and prosperity.

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.