October 2020 Newsletter

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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.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 09/16/2020 via Zoom

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:35 pm.  

Scott thanked our AHCA Zoom Team, Emmi Olsen and Chris Armstrong, for organizing this, our first Zoom Meeting.  

Emmilou Olsen also has become our Point of Contact (POC) re Halloween planning for our neighborhood.  She has heard from neighbors who are planning on celebrating Halloween as usual and others who have expressed concern about having Halloween this year, while we are still dealing with this pandemic.  Arlington County would like to wait to get Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines and directions from Richmond, and AHCA would like to come up with a consensus safe solution for the kids.  Jackson St. is a major draw for Halloween, but this year the police have no interest in shutting it down for trick or treaters.  A number of neighbors on Jackson St. have mentioned that they do not plan to decorate, as usual, due to the pandemic concerns.

If anyone has questions or ideas to help celebrate safely, please contact Emmilou Olsen at (briggsphotography@gmail.com).

Jim Terpstra, the AHCA Historian is organizing the AHCA 100th Anniversary Celebration for next year.  We have a great team of neighbors helping to plan this event, who will be meeting next week.  They are planning to have presentations celebrating this event at our March, April, May, Sept, Oct and November meetings next year.  Please check the historical part of our AHCA Website.  If you have any documentation to contribute please let him know.  We do plan on paying to have some documentation digitized so it can be posted to our website.  Also, if you have any questions/ideas with what we should do with all our historical documentation, please contact Jim at (terpstrajames2@gmail.com).  

Brooke Alexander of the AHCA Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee reported that the county still has tree whips available.  Let her know if you would like one at (brooke.alexander52@gmail.com).  She is working with the Arlington Arts Center to get more trees planted on their lot.

Gumball Park has six dead trees that need to be removed and replaced.  The county began removing two of the trees without her knowledge.  She is working with the county reps to get better advanced warning on when they are focusing on any tree activity in the parks in our neighborhood.  

Scott Sklar reported since Patrick Lueb of our Transportation Committee was not on-line re the Kenmore Street traffic calming issue.  Apparently Arlington County was looking into traffic calming on Kenmore St., which we think is more of a safety issue, since both a kid and a bicyclist have been hit by cars recently on this street.  The County Board has been notified and Scott was hoping Patrick might give us the latest.  AHCA is also working with Lyon Park Citizens Association one blocking Route 50 east left turns onto North Irving Street.

David Philips and Jack Spilsbury of our Development and Zoning Committee reported on the following:

The Glebe Road Harris Teeter Project will begin construction by the end of the year.  The old Harris Teeter will remain open for the next three years, while the surrounding tear down (of the Mercedes Body Shop and house) and construction begins. Once the new Harris Teeter is built and opened, the old Harris Teeter will be removed.  The new site will also include 300 apartments.

The Joyce Motor Project timeline for all permits is over the next 24 months.  This will be in the Beer Lot and the Silver Diner spaces for the construction of a hotel, apartments, commercial space and a new street. The are aiming to break ground in 2022 and to finish up in 2024.  We will have a presentation about this at our November 18 meeting.

The CVS Project had a meeting with nearby neighbors.  There also was a landscaping meeting re landscaping to block the light and the noise to nearby houses.

Re the issue of zoning adjustments for non conforming lots that are allowed to add additions – AHCA has decided not to take a position on this.

Christina Schultz of our Safety and Security Committee has heard from Captain Linder of the Arlington County Police, who is our new Point of Contact.  The number of cases of crime has gone down.  Larceny of vehicles continues to happen and people need to remember to lock their cars.

The Census in Arlington is 75% done.  Areas in south Arlington still need to respond to this effort.

We have a new Committee of Housing overseen by Matthew Hall and Christina Schultz.  They are focused on the missing middle housing study by the Arlington Alliance for  Housing with a focus on how to increase the supply.  Builders are not building housing to meet this need.

Voting Safely in 2020 Presentation – Joan Porte, President; Lisa Koteen Gerchick, Election Integrity Chair and Donald Gurney, Voter Services Chair; Arlington League of Women Voters

Presentation on the Plans for the George Mason University Institute for Digital Innovations & Replacement for the Kann’s Department Store Building – Lisa Wilson Durant

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm. 

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, September 20, 2020 

March 2020 Newsletter

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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!

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 02/19/2020

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 02/19/2020
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  Scott was contacted by the county regarding the Clarendon Sector Plan inviting our community’s input.  Scott replied that representatives from our Development, Transportation, Housing Committees and , Playgrounds & Parks and our Tree Canopy subcommittees will be happy to provide input.  We will be impacted the most by this development by the potential congestion, density and the traffic. He also received an email from the county re our traffic concerns on Kenmore Street.  They will be putting a traffic study together about this which should take six months.

Patrick Lueb, Chairman of our Transportation Committee mentioned that there have been concerns about the traffic circle at Jackson St and 6th Street, because the signage is worn and is hard to see, especially at night.  He is looking into this. He also mentioned that there are concerns about the redevelopment on Pershing Dr., that ugly barrels, like the ones recently placed on Pershing on the other side of Washington Blvd, will be used.  He has found out that the type being planned for our site is different. 

Brooke Alexander of the AHCA Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee shared with us a copy of the Henry Clay Park construction plan.  Originally there was concern since we had no idea what was happening there.  The Arlington County Rep assured us that this plan was shared with the immediate neighborhood, and they did provide input to what was being proposed.  This project is on schedule and scheduled to be completed in 2020. She also updated us on the three trees that were removed on the site of the Arlington Art Center.  Come to find out that the county has approved 16 trees to be planted on this site, which should happen soon. She also shared an article called “How to Turn Your Yard into an Ecological Oasis” and took email addresses to send it to each of us.  

Brent Burris of the AHCA Playground & Parks Subcommittee reported on the NCAC Redevelopment Project at Pershing and Oakland, which includes a water garden and an adjustment to some side walks.  Come to find out that will also impact on some street parking spaces.  He will be attending a presentation about what is being proposed next week and will report back to us. He also gave us an update on what is happening with the construction at Mosaic Park.  Right now they working on the interactive water feature and are on schedule to be finished during second quarter of 2020.

Dave Phillips of the AHCA Development Committee reported that with the Clarendon Redevelopment there are three sites and three developers involved.  So far we have heard one preliminary site plan for the Joyce Motors site and hopefully we will hear from the other two soon.  For now it is looking like the Silver Diner will remain open until December 2021.
He attended a meeting with the county rep re the proposed plan for the The Highlander Motor Inn site, which will eventually be the location of a new CVS store.  The site for the new CVS includes the property the hotel is on, and the parking lot behind the hotel.  The lot of the house behind this location, not zoned for a commercial site, will be used as a green space and buffer, for the houses beyond, but not necessarily the “greenway”.  Neighbors Kristen Bass and Courtney and Nick Lewis, are the homeowners most impacted by this development and they attended this meeting as well.  Scott mentioned that he understands that neighbors around this store will be concerned about lighting and noise, but the civic association will support them in any way they might need.  Scott also gave a shout out of appreciation to Dave Phillips and Jack Spilsbury of the Development/Zoning Committee for all of their time, attention and interaction with the county and the property owner over this whole project.

Denny Edelbrach from the Clarendon United Methodist Church invited us to participate in the Arlington Bunny Hop scheduled for April 18, 2020 @ 8:00 am.  Funds made from this event will be donated to Bridges to Independence and Offender Aid and Restoration.

Arlington County Police Officer Corporal Lennon and crew did an analysis of criminal activity in our area for the past year.  There have been burglaries at some used car lots where suspects have been arrested.  Larceny from unlocked cars continues and they are encouraging us to implement the daily 9:00 pm routine to making sure your car, garage, yard and house are all secure.  Ballston Mall has had some shoplifting issues and cars being stolen as well.  They are encouraging us to call them if we spot anything suspicious.  The Arlington Restaurant Initiative with bars taking a more proactive involvement with potential problems, has been working with curbing drunk and disorderly activity in and around the Clarendon restaurant and bar area.  There still are large crowds on the weekends, but there are fewer incidents.  5 – 10 police officers are usually assigned to this area during these busy times, which also helps.  
A concern was raised about traffic blowing through some intersections while people are attempting to cross streets in cross walks.  It was suggested that we report any of these incidents on-line.
Another concern was raised about electric scooters being parked on sidewalks and also rented cars being parked in residential areas after use.  Technically the companies who own these vehicles are supposed to pick up their vehicles within a day or two.  If they do not, feel free to call the company.
A food truck has been parked most evenings in a parking slot on Pershing Dr. running their business.  Concern was raised about the propane tanks on the back of the truck sticking out into traffic.  Technically the truck is parked legally and there really is nothing that can be done about the propane tanks sticking out into traffic.

Gary Hamilton, the Published of Arlington Magazine talked about some of the impacts of Amazon’s arrival and some observations about the July 2019 flooding. He advised that while housing will rise, not so much that residents should wait to bet on the value increases.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, February 22, 2020

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/15/2020

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 01/15/2020

Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  

Scott thanked Amy Miller for stepping up as the new editor of the AHCA newsletter.

AHCA has a new committee, AHCA Committee on Housing Chair Matthew Hall and Vice Chair Christina Schulz.

Dave Phillips and Jack Spilsbury of the Development/Zoning Committee reported that they are reaching out to the Highland Hotel owner so they can stay abreast of issues that may arise from the new project, and following the three development projects between Wilson Blvd, Wash Blvd, & 10th St North. There will be a meeting of the County Board regarding density and heights.  If anyone has any interest, please contact them. The West Clarendon project along Wilson Blvd and 10th St. involves the development of new apartments and hotels; they want to guard against glass, concrete and set back.  The presentation we had scheduled today for part of this redevelopment was cancelled.

Greg Morse CoChair of our Schools Committee reported that there has been talk of swapping elementary schools and most recently have come to find that more seats are needed in the Rosslyn and Clarendon corridor.

Brent Burris Chair of the Playground & Parks Subcommittee reported that there has been a resolution between the Fire Department and the city planners regarding the North Oakland St. water gardens being proposed.  This is being presented to the residents right now. 

Brooke Alexander Chair of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee reported that we are still losing our tree canopy primarily because of builders knocking down small houses and building larger houses in their place.  We have been able to take advantage of the Tree Canopy Fund and have applied for 31 trees to be planted in Spring of 2020.  Applicants should hear if they have been accepted for the program soon.  This past Fall we were about to get 13 trees planted from this fund. She also looked into if the three trees that were removed on the North Monroe St. side of the building will be replaced.  They are slated to have trees planted here.  If anyone has any interest, please let her know. 

Betsey Lyon our Listserv Moderator has swapped our list serve to the Groups.io system.  There have been a number of questions about how this works, and she has been sending out guidance.

Scott mentioned that a number of our residents have received very high water utility bills this past month—some 114% higher, or more.  Betsy Taylor is leading the AHCA data effort and has collected info from 71 households so far.  If your bill was unusually high, please let her know. Scott had suggested that residents should hire a plumber to check their meters, with the water turned off, to determine if there is a leak.  So far 12 residents have done this and have reported no leak.  Two other nearby civic associations have reported this problem as well.  Some communities have put in Wifi meters at no cost to help monitor and track what they are being billed for.  

Arlington County Police Officers Keen and Ryan and Corporal Lennon came by for a visit.   98% of auto break-ins are done to unlocked cars. Suspects walk by a car and just check the door handle of a car to see if it is open.  If the car is unlocked, they take advantage. From Oct 1 thru Dec 31 only 7 car break-ins were reported in Ashton Heights and 4 in Lyon Park.  There has only been one break-in reported where a window was broken to a locked car, where a purse was left in plain view on the seat.  Rumors have been flying that equipment is being used to unlock cars, which is called “cloning”.  This is not true.  The equipment needed has never been found on any suspects and it would take too long for this process to work. The process can take 45 – 60 minutes. They are encouraging everyone to do the 9 PM Routine. Every night at 9 pm every evening, make sure your house, garage and car are secure.  Take the time to do this every night.

If you find that someone has gone through your car and taken nothing or anything, please report it on-line.  If you cannot figure out how to report it on-line, call the non emergency number and a police officer will come over to your home to show you how to do this.  They want these reports submitted so they will really know the extent of the problem.   For the 300,000 residents of Arlington County there are only 18 police officers on duty at a time.  Currently there still is a shortage of police staff.  Ideally we need 400 police officers to be fully staffed; right now we only have approximately 330 police officers working.

Matt De Ferranti the newest County Board Member came to dialogue with our residents about county board issues. He pointed out that everyone should complete the census starting on April 1, 2020. He grew up in McLean, is a lawyer, practiced in TX, and was an advocate for Native American kids and supported Feed America.  

The two issues he ran on were affordable housing and education.  A lot of people who work in Arlington cannot afford to live here and feel more should be done to support affordable housing.  Virginia law does not allow for rent control nor inclusionary zoning.  Also 29% of the students in Arlington schools are not affluent and require food assistance.  

He talked about a goal for the county of 100% renewable energy and getting our carbon footprint to 0.  The fact we opened 5 new schools this year reflects a growth factor that we need to continue to deal with. 

Since small houses in Arlington are being replaced by larger homes, not only does this drive the cost of housing up, it also is reducing the size of our county tree canopy.  The Board needs to amp up the education of the county regarding the best management practices to better support our tree canopy and our environment.  Having more trees will also help with storm water absorption, since we are now having more severe storms and flooding due to climate change. 

This year the county will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of when Arlington split from the city of Alexandria.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:58 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, January 19, 2020

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.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 10/16/2019

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  

Scott mentioned that two potential newsletter editors have left, and the editor for the Lyon Park newsletter has stepped up to help us again.  We need an editor for our newsletter!  To be the editor one needs to have an IBM PC to work with the software, 85% of the format of the newsletter is set, with four articles left to be filled in.  Once done the final newsletter will need to be emailed to the printer.  

Brent Burris, our Open Spaces, Playgrounds and Parks Subcommittee Chair, was not here, but Scott mentioned there our concerns with outstanding temporary easements with county construction designs and what the latest is with Mosaic Park. 

Jim Terpstra the AHCA Neighborhood Historian mentioned that our civic association will turn 100 years old in 2021. Now is a good time to start planning for this historical milestone. He is is gathering and reviewing the historical records of the Ashton Heights Civic Association and is putting them in order.  Any neighbors who might have old AHCA newsletters/documents please share copies/originals with him.  He will also be looking for someone to help scan his historical docs into electronic files.  He will put a blurb in our newsletter.

Greg Morse the Schools Committee Co-chair mentioned that the County Board and School Board have created a joint working group to evaluate the Career Center site and to figure out how to accommodate an additional 700-800 seats at this location.  Caroline Rogus and Polly Hall are AHCA reps on respective Arlington County Committees as AHCA will be keeping an eye on this.  Also the revamping of the elementary school districts in Arlington County is seems to be heating up again with the School Board.

Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee brought two Red Bud whips to give away.

Scott mentioned that this year was going to be Scott’s 8th and final term as President, but since Julia Tanner has stepped down from as incoming shadowing President to assume the AHCA Presidency in May 2020, we now need another candidate to shadow for a year so as to step up to transition as President.

Gretchen Reinemeyer the Arlington Director of Elections and Registrar gave a talk about how Arlington is preparing for the 2019 Election.  She showed a video about Election Security and took questions from the floor.

Presentation from P&H Investments re building design proposal for Joyce Motors Site at North 10th Street and North Irving Street location.  This will include 240 rental apartments and 200 parking spaces in an underground garage, 3000 Sq ft Retail, with 7 – 10 street parking places, for what they call a “destination cafe” with outdoor seating.  The facade of Joyce Motors will be included in the building facade including the white tiles and the pattern of the garage doors.  The name of the building being proposed is The Joyce.  At the south end of the building, along North 10th Street, the zoning allows for a height of 55 ft or 6 floors.  The zoning allows at the north end of the building, closer to Wilson Blvd, a height of 110 ft or 11 floors.  The alterations to the sector plan is the “taper line” of the building.  Currently if the taper line is enforced, the building design would be too choppy along the roof line of the building.  If the taper line were extended, the roof line of the building would be more gradual.  This is the exception they are requesting to the Sector Plan.  This proposal was being shared with us to get our input.  We did not hear any major concerns from the floor, but there was a question about public accessibility to any green space on the site. This proposal will be shared with the county representatives in a few weeks.  There is hope that construction can begin in about two years in 2022.

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

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, October 20, 2019.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 9/18/2019

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Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes 09/18/2019
Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  
Scott mentioned that this is going to be his 8th and final term as President.  For the next year, Julia Tanner will be shadowing him and his duties, so she can step in as President at the end of his term in May 2020. 
He went over the entire list of civic association members who are serving on the Executive Committee, as Members-at-Large, List Serve Moderator, and all the various committees we have.  He expressed appreciation for all their involvement and hard work supporting our community.
He noted that Jim Richardson has rejoined the Executive Committee as the VP of Programs.  Mark Blacknell is replacing Betsy Lyon as AHCA lead for the Civic Federation.  Polly Hall will be the AHCA rep to the Career Center – Public Facilities Review Committee in consultation with the AHCA Schools Committee.  
Scott also mentioned that Kristine Babick attempted to pull together this month’s newsletter but was unable to complete it due to software problems.  He thanked her for her efforts and noted that he was able to get Jeanette Wick, once again, to create our newsletter for this month.  He is hoping to have a lead on someone who may be interested in taking this job over very soon.  He also mentioned our members who work on our advertising and distribution support and distribution.  He thanked everyone all for their hard work in getting these newsletters delivered and encouraged other members of our civic association to join in these efforts.  
David Phillips of our Development and Zoning Committee talked with us about a working group they have created with Lyon Park and Lyon Village Civic Association reps to establish a proactive dialogue with the county about the  three Clarendon redevelopment proposals.   
They are (with some details still contingent):

  1. The TCS proposal would include a hotel (height approx 110 ft) and an apartment complex of similar height located along Wilson Blvd from the Beer Lot to and including the north part of the Silver Diner lot. The Silver Diner lease is due to expire end of 2021. Ground breaking on the new project is due at the start of 2022 contingent on all plans and permits being approved.  
  2. The P&H Investment (Orr Partners) proposal. This project is smaller than that of TCS. It will cover part of the 10th St frontage from the Beer Lot up and including the south part of the Silver Diner site. The proposal is understood to be for an apartment complex of 225 units (height 110 ft) plus 3000 sq ft of retail. Joyce motors will close but its façade is planned to be somehow incorporated into the facade of the apartment complex. There is to be a new road (’10th road’) dividing the overall site West to East to facilitate vehicle access and/or create public space. The timeline is similar to or ahead of the TCS project.
  3. Project on Wells Fargo site between Irving and Hudson. Akridge Ventures combined with Jefferson Apartment Group will be constructing an apartment complex on the Wells Fargo site. This is at an earlier stage of concept development – details awaited. 

Scott suggested that the three civic associations pull together a Statement of Principles to be submitted to the county.  Also it was mentioned that at our March meeting we will have a speaker to discuss the latest about this project and the Mercedes and Harris Teeter redevelopment sites.
It was mentioned that the Firehouse on 10th Street may be going away.  This is being looked into.
The owner of the Highland Motor Inn won his case at the Supreme Court and it sounds like at this time, he has about 75% interested in putting a CVS at this site.
Christina Schultz of the Crime and Safety Committee mentioned a new program that the Arlington County Police is proposing that Arlington County residents follow called the “9:00 PM Routine.”  The idea is that a 9:00 pm every day, each resident should check and make sure their vehicles, sheds, garages and anything in their yards, that need be, are secured.
October 2, 2019 is the next Coffee with a Cop at various Starbucks locations.  The hours and locations can be found on the Arlington County Police Website.
Brooke Alexander of our Tree Canopy and Native Plants Subcommittee spoke about two options residents have to get free trees:
The county registration for a free tree (“whips”) is now closed and all of these trees are taken.
The other program is the Tree Canopy Program from which our community is slated to receive 16 new trees (2” caliber) in October/November.  Please let Brooke know if you are interested in having one of these trees planted in your yard.
There has been a lot of concern expressed on our neighborhood list serve recently about how to get rid of mosquitos.  The concern has been with neighbors who are having their yards sprayed and the impact it might have on neighbors and wildlife.  Brooke handed out a draft announcement for a speaker (the Virginia Cooperative Extension in collaboration with the Master Gardners of Northern VA and the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists) who will talk about options to minimize mosquitos and ticks in our yards and the best methods to use to reduce them.  This presentation will be for Ashton Heights and Lyon Park residents.  Stay on the lookout for a date, time and location. 
Concern was expressed that builders/new home owners are removing well established trees indiscriminately.  A suggestion from the floor was for our Civic Association to establish a letter to be sent to new home owners talking about the importance of trees and our tree canopy in our neighborhood.  Brooke will work up a draft for us.
A complement  came from the floor about the list of Native Plant Sales in the area being included in this month’s newsletter.
Brent Burris of our Playgrounds and Parks Subcommittee gave us an update about the latest activities with our local parks.  
Mosaic Park on schedule – there will be a presentation about this project at our Nov meeting.
Oakland Park update is in progress.
The removal of the three trees at the Art Center was approved by an arborist.  Brooke Alexander will look into getting replacements.
The Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the water garden at the intersection of North Oakland Street and Pershing Dr. is on hold due to neighbor objections.  
Comment from the floor about the county Storm Water Retention Site.  If you would like your property assessed for this you can contact them to get an assessment.  It is free.
Nancy Van Dorn, the Chair of the Arlington County School Board spoke about how our county schools are doing.   Below is the 2019-20 School Board Action Plan she presented.  
go.boarddocs.com
A concern from the floor about teachers having enough training regarding issues around LGBTQ students.  Nancy Can Dorn assured us that teachers were getting plenty of training.  This is a new era of taking a holistic approach to make sure each student is included and that each student succeeds.
Another concern about lockdown practices and impact on stress levels of students and parents.  The want a balance between schools being welcoming and secure.  Come to find not all parents have appropriate identification in order to get into schools easily, they are looking into how to work with these parents. 
Ken Matzkin – Burden of Increasing Taxes and Rent on Small Businesses
Ken provided his detailed description of why retail locations tend to stand empty for extended periods.  Vagaries in taxation rates, expectations of mortgagers, and opacities in the commercial marketplace combine to keeping retail rents high and not responding to reductions in demand.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:00 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 
Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, September 23, 2019.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 05/15/2019

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:35 pm.  

Tom Eversole of Shepherd’s Center of McLean, Arlington and Falls Church – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which provides rides, limited handyman services and visits for elderly people who wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible.  It has been around since 2006.  There are 7 centers in northern Virginia and 59 centers in the country.  The minimum age to participate is 55 years old and the average age of the volunteers are 79.  Anyone who applies must be interviewed by a team and must be able to walk out of their home on their own and be able to talk.  Riders pay nothing for the service and the organization survives on donations.  They are looking for driver and handyman volunteers and, of course, donations.

Representatives from Arlington County Police Officers Estor and Owens – Discussed the Arlington Restaurant Initiative which is a voluntary accreditation program for all Arlington County restaurants that hold a VA ABC license. In the Clarendon and Ballston areas, crowds on Fridays and Saturday evenings had started to grow to 4,500 to 6,500 people, back in 2015.  This also brought problems with public drunkedness, fighting and nearby neighborhood disturbances. Some of the problems they found were due to a lack of formal training for management and staff on how to deal with these problems, lack of cohesive strategies to deal with these problems and overcrowding and violation of occupancy limits.  For those restaurants willing to participate in this initiative, training is provided on how to deal with potential problems to better empower the restaurant owners and staff.  This includes fake ID awareness training (over the last two years approximately 2000 ids were confiscated), sharing ACPD, WRAP and Lyft SoberRide resources, and Bar Bystander Program training to reduce sexual and domestic assaults related to alcohol.  This has been empowering restaurant owners and staff to better deal with problems that arise, so police do not have to be utilized as much.  Back in 2015 there had to be 20 officers in Clarendon and the Ballston Quarter area.  Now these areas only need about 9 police staff for most Fridays and Saturdays. After each weekend, Arlington County Police have a meeting with all accredited businesses to go over any problems or concerns.  This has been very helpful for both restaurant owners and our police. Currently there are 30 restaurants accredited by this initiative and they hope more will continue to join.  For any new establishment requesting an VA ABC license, they are being contacted by Arlington County Police to participate.  Officer Brien is the Restaurant Liaison Specialist (703) 228-7423.  Scott Sklar expressed our appreciation to the Arlington County Police and for this new program.

Jim Richardson ran our AHCA Elections for this year.  He announced that the officers were running for their current positions. He opened the floor for nominations. There were no nominations from the floor.  Sklar advised that this was his last year as serving as President, and that as he e-mailed the membership on the AHCA listserve, Julia Tanner will be shadow President this year, so she would be the candidate for next year, and that he hoped this would set a precedent on future leadership transition for AHCA.

The results were:

President – Scott Sklar (for one more year)

Vice President for Membership – Jim O’Brien

Vice President for Programs – Vacant

Treasurer – Doug Williams

Secretary – Jodie Flakowicz

Our At-Large Appointees, will continue to serve.  They are: Cole Deines, Jim Feaster. Patrick Lueb, and nKen Matzkin.

Scott Sklar hopes to have a candidate for the Vice President for Programs by the end of the Summer.

On a motion duly made & seconded, the positions were approved and installed, beginning June 1, 2019, and ending May 31, 2020.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:30 pm and AHCA members mingled, finished up the food and put away chairs. 

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, May 18, 2019.

Ashton Heights Civic Association Meeting Minutes for 04/17/2019

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Scott Sklar, AHCA President, brought meeting to order at 7:30 pm.  

Representatives from Arlington County Police Officers Busser and Levy – Crimes stats for this past quarter between January 1 thru April 1 reflect approximately 85 offenses including 11 drunk and disorderly, 2 embezzlements, 6 frauds, 2 ID thefts, 18 larcenies and 1 sexual offense.  All primarily in the Ballston area.

April 27, 2019 will be Drug Take Back Day for the County.  Prescription drugs can be dropped off at any fire station in the county.

Scooters – a situation where the technology outpaced the legislation.  At this time there are no official laws in place prescribing their use.  The County Board would like input from our residents pro and con through May and June.  County Manager Mark Schwartz mentioned that it is expected that this period for input will be extended.

Police staffing has improved.  The largest class ever, of 26, just graduated.  We still have about 25 more slots to fill.

Scott Sklar reported that elections for our Civic Association will be held at our May meeting.  All but one slot will be returning.  Anyone can run for office who is current in AHCA Membership dues.  Scott Sklar will step down next year as President.  He placed in motion the creation of a shadow president for this term by asking the current AHCA VP for Programs, Julia Tanner to shadow him for this year, since she is then willing to step up to serve as President the following year.  Therefore, AHCA is looking for someone to step up to serve as our new Vice President of Programs.  This is not to discourage anyone else from also running as President, if they so desire or any other AHCA office or at-large position. 

Various AHCA Committee reports:

AHCA Neighborhood Historian, Jim Terpstra is gathering the historical records of the Ashton Heights Civic Association.  Any neighbors who might have old AHCA newsletters/documents please share copies/originals with him.  He will also be looking for someone to help scan his historical docs into electronic files.

Transportation Committee, Patrick Lueb passed out final copies of the Ashton Heights Transportation and Parking Principles.   It was thought that we voted to approve these principles at last month’s meeting, although we had no “objections” our meeting minutes did not reflect a final vote.  Therefore, AHCA President put out a vote request on the listserve. 

Brook Alexander was asking to include some additional concerns and items in these principles.  She was asked to bring these up for further review and discussion and if agreed to, might be included at a later time.  AHCA President directed the AHCA Transportation Committee to set up a working group to forge an AHCA consensus on the Arlington County Residential Parking Program and report back to the Ex Comm, and eventually the membership.  

Andrew Kierig a member of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board Advisory Council is a resident of Ashton Heights and presented an update on what is happening with both buses and trains in this system.  Here is a link to his presentation  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1cqKMi62vchSa02fmhTZ_RlUVmJvayRhIDt_At5eQVEw/edit?usp=drivesdk.  If you would like to contact him, he can be reached at and@kierig.org.

Mark Schwartz Arlington County Manager covered a number of items.  The County Board would reveal the final budget tomorrow.  Schools enrollment are increasing by approx 1000 kids annually, which will be hard to contain.  Police have been hard to recruit because of pay rates and not being able to afford to live in the county.  Recently the police got a pay increase, which has helped.  We just graduated the largest class of new police staff, which should help cut in half our vacancies.  The supply of houses for sale in our area has dropped, some speculate that more residents are opting to “age in place”.  Housing for the middle class workforce is shrinking.  He thinks a solution to our affordable housing concerns must be a regional solution, across our counties.  With respect to the Staples Site proposal by Kitchen United, the size of the site may be difficult to handle the traffic for the delivery service and parking.  Currently the county office vacancy rate is approximately 17.2%.  It is estimated that with Amazon coming into the area that this rate could go down 2-3 percentage points. 

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

Respectfully submitted by, Jodie Flakowicz, April 22, 2019.