Tree Canopy Decline Since 1973


Our Shrinking Tree Canopy – What is to be Done?

Ashton Heights has been a green oasis in the center of Arlington for decades.
Unfortunately, our oasis is disappearing!

Look at the tree canopy maps thru time:

At Ashton Heights Civic Association’s (AHCA) September meeting, we examined
the available tree canopy studies of Arlington, including Ashton Heights. Tree
Canopy studies were done in 1973, 1985, 1997, 2008, 2011, and 2016. The
County expects to do another survey in 2023.
These historical maps are below.

More maps coming soon.

What is to be done??

At the Sept AHCA meeting we started to discuss strategies to restore our oasis.
Join David Summers and me this winter. We will convene a committee to flush
out ideas. Let us know if you are interested in helping by emailing me at .

Brooke Alexander

Ashton Heights Civic Association Tree Canopy and Native Plant Coordinator
Arlington Regional Master Naturalist

Ashton Heights 100th Anniversary Presentations


 As the Ashton Heights Civic Association celebrated its 100 years anniversary, a variety of presentations were made at public meetings and are a good source of learning more about the various parts of our history.  This includes the following slide presentations:

  1. A History of the Clarendon Alliance
  2. The 2011 Historical House Tour
  3. Three Historical Presentation to the Civic Association
  4. “History of the women’s club of Ashton Heights 1924-1970”

Interested parties with questions can contact AHCA Historian James Terpstra at 703 908 9231 or 

September 2022 Meeting Minutes


Scott Sklar, AHCA President, called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. 

Scott thanked Dave Schultz, VP for Programs, for organizing the meeting and praised him for the conception and logistics for the successful joint meeting with the Lyon Park Civic Association for Candidates night on September 14th at the Lyon Park Community Center. Scott also introduced Alexander Tuneski as new CoChair with Jack Spilsbury of the AHCA Development Committee.

Kids, INC. – Ann Felker presented on Kids, INC., an Ashton Heights News listing of local youths who are ready to earn money by helping residents with tasks such as dog walking, plant watering, babysitting, leaf raking, and other activities. The September 22 newsletter lists available youths, contact information, and tasks for which they are available. Six neighborhood youths presented on the work they enjoy and experience with the program (and more came to present later in the meeting!) If you have updates for the listing, contact Ann at

Arlington Police Department – Officer Carly Mullinax presented on the latest incidents around Ashton Heights. He reported 368 cases year-to-date, including 150 in the summer months between May 1 and September 15. Most incidents have been concentrated near the Ballston quarter metro. Case volumes are in line with seasonal averages, and more recent cases include 6 larceny via automobile (reminder to lock your car!), as well as fraud and drunk in public incidents. He reported a number of recent attempted burglary incidents in the area, most all in vacant or under construction homes. He advised residents to choose lighted streets in the evening, walking with groups, and being aware of surroundings. 

Zoning – AHCA Development/Zoning Chair Jack Spilsbury spoke on development updates and introduced hhe new AHCA Development Committee CoChair Alexander Tuneski. He noted that the Joyce Motors lot will be redeveloped into an 11-story residential high-rise building, while the Silver Diner lot will be redeveloped into a hotel and another residential high rise. The lot behind Whole Foods may be developed into a 14-story building, as well as civic association desire to limit building heights. He also noted that AHCA is working with 12 other civic associations on the Missing Middle initiative. 

Tree Canopy – AHCA Native Plants & Tree Canopy Chair Brooke Alexander and David Summers. 

David spoke about his work at the State Department, where he had the opportunity to work in numerous countries and see firsthand those that prioritized trees and those that did not, as well as the difference that prioritization made on quality of life. David also presented his personal scientific observations on one of the hottest days this summer in Ashton Heights: the sidewalk under the shade of his tree was 83 degrees; and the sidewalk across the street in the sun was 119 degrees.

Brooke spoke about the relationship between trees and high temperatures, noting that one benefit of trees is the reduction of heat island effects and lower average temperatures. Showing slides from 1973, she noted that Ashton Heights surveys show fewer trees over time due to increased development. She also noted that between 2008 and 2016, Ashton Heights’ tree coverage changed from 48 percent to 41 percent (the neighborhood has the capacity for 58%, while Lyon Park as capacity for 59%). Trees also soak up rainwater, preventing flooding, as well as add to our neighborhood’s biodiversity. 

Brooke also outlined county requirements for tree coverage. Arlington tree replacement requirements apply if more than 2500 square feet of land is disturbed, and currently require 20% canopy cover. She noted that under the Missing Middle initiative, that requirement would generally be 10%. For more information, she recommended contacting the Arlington Tree Action Group.

The meeting adjourned promptly at 9:02 PM.

Respectfully submitted, 

Chris Armstrong


May 2022 Meeting Minutes


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

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

Respectfully submitted, 

Chris Armstrong


April 2022 Meeting Minutes


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

Vice-President for Programs – Dave Schutz

Vice President- Membership – Jim O’Brien,

Secretary – Chris Armstrong –

Treasurer – Doug Williams –,

At-Large: 4 positions

Position #1 – Jim Feaster –,

Position #2 – Ken Matzkin  –,

Position #3 – Jim Richardson –,

Position #4 – David Phillips –,

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 (

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


February 2022 Meeting Minutes


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 –

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.

September 2021 Meeting Minutes


AHCA Meeting – 9.15.2021

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

26 participants. 

Scott Sklar Update

Scott called the meeting to order at 7:33 PM, thanking the Clarendon Methodist Church for hosting our first in-person meeting in 18 months. 

Corporal Kenny Giles, ACPD 

Corporal Giles is in community outreach and currently assigned to Crystal City. He reports that our area has 356 police calls so far this year, down from last year. Last year, there were 5 stolen vehicles, and as of the meeting we are at 14. The biggest trend he sees when it comes to stolen vehicles are unlocked vehicles and found keys, including spare keys in cars. He emphasizes the importance of the 9 PM routine – locking your car, house, etc. He notes to register bikes with the county to assist in recovery in the case of theft. Register your bike on the Arlington website:, or by emailing Lieutenant Heather Hurlock at

Development Committee Update from Jack Spilsbury and the Clarendon Plan

Jack noted the range of development projects in the western part of Clarendon, including the current sites of the Highlander Motel, Joyce Motors, Silver Diner, St. Charles Church, and others. AHCA is working closely with civic associations from Lyon Village and Lyon Park on development issues. Jack asks that people review the development plan and reach out to him on development issues or to get more involved.

Ashton Heights 100th Birthday 

Jim Terpstra and Peter Dickson on the history of Ashton Heights

  • AHCA is looking for volunteers to review the twelve studies by George Washington University students that were done in the 1990’s, in an effort to summarize them for the AHCA newsletter. If interested, please contact Jim at
    • Study topics include an interview with Frederick Westenberger, a local builder, a history of the Arlington County Street Railway System, a description of residential changes since 1940, and other topics.
  • Jim and Peter both reviewed Ashton Heights’ remarkable history from  sparsely settled region dominated by farmsteads, to a growing area sold by the Hunter family to Ashton Crenshaw Jones and Frank Lyon, to the neighborhood we call home today.
    • Jim Terpstra handed out copies of a collection of summaries and records from the National Register of Historic Places.
    • Peter Dickson’s work can be found in his Ashton Heights: Its Origin and History, a written history of our neighborhood which includes fascinating advertising and photography from Ashton Heights history. Copies are available for $10 if you contact Peter at

Ann Felker, Julie Mangis, and Brooke Alexander provided a preview of the Ashton Heights Birthday Bash, which will take place on Saturday, September 25th.

Tree Tour and Plant Giveaway

Brooke Alexander and Ann Felker provided a preview of the Ashgton Heights Notble Tree Tour, to take place on Saturday, October 2nd, from 10 a.m. to noon. They are still in search of volunteers. Following the tree tour, join us in the Methodist Church parking lot for tree stories, music, snacks (including ice cream!) and a tree sapling and plant giveaway.

  • Fun fact – feeding one bunch of chickadees requires 6,000-9,000 caterpillars!

The meeting adjourned at 9:01 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Chris Armstrong, AHCA Secretary, September 27, 2021.