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.
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 email@example.com .
Ashton Heights Civic Association Tree Canopy and Native Plant Coordinator Arlington Regional Master Naturalist
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.
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!