Tara-Leeway Heights Civic Association
Minutes of the January 8, 2020 Meeting
Board Members in Attendance:
John Ford, President Jon Judah Fred Blott
Vice President Meredith Judy Laura Stout Irene Szopo
David McGowan, Treasurer Ray Keaney Bill Braswell
Mary Ann Frias, Secretary John Richardson John Vihstadt
Guests: Ed Cole, Westover Village Civic Association
The minutes from the November 12, 2019 meeting were approved. The next TLHCA Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at 7:00 pm in the Longfellow Conference Room at Westover Library.
Guest speaker-Ed Cole, Westover Stormwater
Ed is a member of a task force including members of all 4 civic associations regarding watershed. The goal of the task force is to help promote infrastructure improvements for preparedness for the future. The July 8, 2019 storm flooded all 6 rooms on his ground floor. Damages were not covered under his homeowners’ insurance. About a dozen homes in Westover were damaged from the storm. One family still has been unable to move back into their home. Ed noted that he has lived in his house for 34 years, and from about 2005 on, the stormwater began increasing. The Waverly Hills neighborhood was also hit hard.
John Vihstadt reported that CivFed had also separately passed, in November, a resolution to create a broader, county-wide civic association task force. He asked if the 4-CA task force had met with DES. There are various options to address the stormwater issue, and the most extensive would involve digging and be more expensive. He advised that there is no particular sequence required to approach DES, the county board, or staff; rather that they can be done simultaneously, but contacting the staff is an important next step.
The 4-CA task force has begun meeting with county board members and was pleased to see a stronger concern for stormwater. They are considering how best to approach DES and how critical it is to open dialogue with experts.
Meredith asked about whether the option of extending planting areas on medians, sidewalks, etc. was considered to help with runoff. Ed responded that he believes DES has been discussing that, but it would be a lower impact solution.
Lee Highway Alliance (LHA)
ill Braswell explained that in Lee Highway Alliance task force, members are appointed by the manager. He has been trying to get the TLHCA member changed from John Ford to himself. There are two upcoming meetings-January 31st and February 1st. John Vihstadt noted that LHA has a website; and suggested TLHCA include a link to the site on our webpage.
John Ford reported that an alley streetlight has been out for at least a year in his neighborhood with several attempts to get it replaced, to no avail. In the meantime, there have been car break-ins into locked cars in the alley. A TLHCA neighbor had planned to attend this meeting to see if the TLHCA board could offer some useful advice on getting the streetlight fixed, but just this week, a repair was finally scheduled.
The number of car break-ins seem to have increased based upon NextDoor posts. Dave McGowan noted that there is a $250 device that senses motion in a car and sends the owner notification by text. Matt Fleming suggested creating a task force to address this issue. We will look at this issue again at the March 4th TLHCA board meeting.
Virginia Hospital Center expansion: construction is reportedly on schedule for the project. Citizen activists are very carefully monitoring contractor compliance with county mandates as to issues such as work hours, contract parking, and truck activity.
Reed School Construction: Geothermal lines were laid which explains the piles of dirt around the site. APS has factored in increased flooding risk and has come up with a better stormwater plan than previously existed. The 4-CA task force will try to get APS and the County to agree on installation of underground water diversion storage during or just after school construction is completed.
APS/School Reorganization: Jon Judah discussed the school reorganization plan. A school board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night (January 9th). Jon serves on McKinley School Board. History of why reorganization is deemed necessary: the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor is projected to have a deficit of space needed for the estimated number of students, so the school board is planning to relocate students to account for this. Key Elementary School (Spanish immersion school) students will be moved to the Arlington Traditional School (“ATS”, option school) site; ATS students will move to McKinley School site; the majority of McKinley School students will move to the new Reed School with the remainder moving to Ashlawn Elementary School. There have been multiple meetings and lots of discussion. Many parents at ATS, McKinley, and Key Schools are concerned that no diversity consideration was given, and transportation issues are a concern. , Parents have put a lot of effort into coming up with alternate plans, and have proposed what may be a less expensive solution that would require no moving of students; however, APS has not agreed to the plan. At tomorrow’s meeting, McKinley and ATS representatives will present talking points. TLH resident have the least impact because the Reed School is walkable. The APS staff recommends building moves, and then boundaries will be redrawn later.
APS has consistently supported the notion of Reed as a walkable neighborhood school, and it was noted that while there is sympathy for the plight of McKinley parents disappointed that their children may no longer be able to walk to their own neighborhood school, there was strong sentiment expressed by several board members that TLCHA remain unambiguously committed to the establishment of the new Reed School as a neighborhood school. Also, we as a civic association need to remain vigilant until the new school actually opens in that format. Within our CA boundaries, this is the highest priority for the new school.
John Vihstadt pointed out the demand for space is increasing as a result from smaller houses being replaced with larger homes (i.e., more children), and the new Amazon building site.
There was a discussion around what requirements are imposed on developers in planning with respect to increased density and its impact on school needs.
NextDoor Post Reports: Most frequent reports - car break-ins
Treasurer’s Report: Dave noted that we ended the year with approximately $4,600. The greatest expenses are newsletter printing and copying. TLHCA also contributed to the Reed School picnic and the successful Halloween parade held October 26th at Westover Park. It was noted that contributions tend to spike after issuance of a written newsletter which is planned for late April/early May 2020.
Communications: Jon Judah reported that the TLH holiday newsletter was sent to 328 residents, and was opened by 243 residents. He suggested posting a quarterly online newsletter, and using a listserve every few weeks for announcements, with one hand-delivered newsletter using “block captains.”
A discussion ensued about the efficiency of sharing information among the four civic associations using a site such as GreaterWestover.com set up by Matt Fleming. The idea includes posting information that concerns all (school issues, police reports, etc.) in one place, with individual CAs continuing to post their own information separately.
Several board members noted that there are good options available to streamline communication with our constituents, and we will work to present recommendations to the Board at the March meeting. Neighborhood Conservation Project: Bill Braswell reported that, regarding the 15th Street Sidewalk civic improvement project approved by our CA last year, a survey is in process with impacted residents, as well as a meeting that will likely be held in February. The goal is to hold a county staff vote in June, with an approval in August.
Civic Federation (“CivFed”): John Vihstadt reported that an organizational meeting was held January 2nd. TLHCA delegates are John Vihstadt, Bill Braswell, and John Ford. We also have four alternate delegates. The next monthly meeting will be held on February 18th. The main agenda is the school board. Another topic to be addressed is mental health. CivFed committees include: cultural, environmental, housing, legislation, parks/recreation, planning/zoning, public services, schools/administration, revenues and expenses. Committee membership is open to all residents.
The next TLHCA meeting will be held Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 pm.
Tara-Leeway Heights Civic Association Minutes
September 10, 2019
Board Members Present:
John Ford, President
Laura Stout, Vice President
Dave McGowan, Treasurer
Other Community Members Present:
Sandy Newton, President, Arlington County Civic Federation
Communication Tools: Matt Fleming and other board members will investigate electronic tools by which board members can better communicate and vote during periods between formal board meetings. They are requested to report their findings at the November board meeting.
Security: Residence security is a growing concern in the community. John Ford will contact the police commander for District One and request that he or she address a future board meeting and recommend ways to improve home security. It was noted that Arlington County is now working with the Ring home security company.
Halloween Event: Meredith Judy has joined the board and will work on a neighborhood Halloween activity. She would like volunteers to assist and will work with neighboring civic associations on the project. Saturday, October 26 is the proposed date. Westover Park on Kennebec Street, which has good facilities, may be an option for its location.
Dues: Some neighboring civic associations collect annual dues of $15. TLHCA may wish to consider an increase from our $10 annual dues to that amount.
Reed School Construction: Ajibola (Aji) Robinson, the Project Manager for the Reed School construction project (firstname.lastname@example.org) presented a slide presentation and update on its status. Among the points highlighted:
The school will have spaces for 731 students, although that number could be increased by changes in the interior room configurations.
The building permit has been approved and the land disturbance permit has been approved, although not yet issued.
Final design approval by the School Board is expected September 19.
Construction will begin in late September or October, with a projected completion date of September 2021.
All construction workers will be required to park on the site and not on neighboring streets. If there is evidence that this is not being adhered to, contact Aji Robinson.
The entire APS site will be unavailable during construction, but the library will remain open and the Farmers Market will continue.
The impervious areas of the school site (exclusive of county property) will increase from the current 39% to 45%
There will be no amphitheater but rather a bench area that accommodates 40 students.
37 trees will be moved, although many new trees and other plantings will be added. Because of concern about the tree removals, a meeting will be held at the site on Monday, September 16 at 6:30 pm. Arlington’s Chief Arborist, along with other county representatives, will be there to discuss these issues.
A website is available for updates on construction: https://www.apsva.us/design-and-construction/new-elementary-school-at-reed-building/
Aji Robinson also maintains a group email list with which he will send out construction updates to the CA presidents and other interested residents. Send him an email to be added to the list.
Aji Robinson noted that there are two ways the community can help with the construction: (A) Be patient and understand there will be dislocations and problems during construction and that the neighborhood will be changed by virtue of the addition of a new school and (B) Provide feedback on the process, including a post-construction survey, which helps the school system in future building projects.
VHC Construction: John Ford has been attending meetings on the VHC construction, which have been long and detailed. Among the primary concerns raised are traffic, parking, and storm water management. Destruction of the Edison Street buildings should begin very soon.
Stormwater Management: Presidents of the neighboring CAs met on Sunday to discuss stormwater management issues. A group will be organized to monitor the issue, and a public meeting is planned for October 17th at 7:00 pm at Resurrection Lutheran Church (on Washington Blvd.) at which stormwater experts from the county staff and county board members will be asked to speak on the matter.
Sandy Newton, President of the Arlington County Civic Federation, noted that the Federation is also planning a December meeting on the subject at which Mark Schwartz, County Manager, will be asked to speak.
County Housing Program: The Civic Federation has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, during which a three-person panel will discuss a possible new county housing program. Topics to be addressed include: authorizing multi-family dwellings by right in single family neighborhoods and possible changes to county housing policy that would help facilitate affordable housing.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, November 12th.
Tara-Leeway Heights Civic Association Minutes
January 8, 2019 7:00 pm
Board Members Present:
Fred Blott Bill Braswell
Matt Fleming John Ford, Vice President
Mary Ann Frias, Secretary Ron Haron
Jon Judah, President David McGowan
Laura Stout Irene Szopo
Other Community Members Present
Bill motioned to accept an addendum to the minutes including additional information for the proposed community projects. The motion was seconded and approved.
Treasurer’s Report: report doesn’t include $855 postage/mailing of newsletter. Jon has received some emails regarding newsletter content, etc. Newsletter was mailed this week.
WETA Tower Radiofrequency test: Some residents had expressed concerns about risks from tower frequencies. Frequency tests were run on approximately 20 selected addresses and results showed frequencies are far below the FCC maximum. This will be posted on the website.
NextDoor: some residents had reported missing packages. The importance of contacting the police was stressed.
Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee
What is the NCAC?
The NCAC leads the development of neighborhood plans and recommends neighborhood-initiated capital improvements for funding by the County Board. Improvements can include sidewalks, street beautification, pedestrian safety projects, street lights and parks. There are 8 ideas for projects to consider. Projects must cost less than $500,000. Funding can be approved for 4 projects for the entire county over the next 5 years. TLHCA is at the top of the list of about 50 civic associations. There will likely be a funding session in April. DES will give approximate cost, so we should select a proposal within the next month. There is no veto power for any neighborhood resident if there is at least 60% approval from the neighboring community.
The 8 ideas are:
1) Install a sidewalk on south side of 16th Street- (facing Trinity Church) recommended by DES to provide for better pedestrian access to the new Reed School. An alternative plan is to expand the sidewalk on north side to 5 feet wide (currently 4 feet).
2) Another DES recommendation is to install a sidewalk along 18th Street on the south side of street from Patrick Henry Drive to N. 18th or widen the existing sidewalk on the north side from 4 to 5 feet. The county owns property where there are sidewalks from the curb up to 5-7 feet into yards.
3) Install a sidewalk along Harrison Street from Big Walnut Park which would greatly improve pedestrian safety on one of the busiest streets in Tara-Leeway Heights. The east side has smaller yards, while the west side yards have slopes which may require retaining walls that would be more expensive. The plan would likely be to extend from Big Walnut Park to 18th Street. This area is not in the walk zone for Reed School.
4) Install a sidewalk along the 1500 block of Harrison Street-a current active NC project (in the County docket); the sidewalk would run along 1500 block of N. Harrison St. turning the corner toward the west on 15th Street and connect with an existing sidewalk. This proposed project is in the middle school walk zone.
5) Add more safety measures (high visibility flashing lights) at Washington Blvd. at Frederick Street. This is a busy intersection with rapidly moving traffic; Frederick Street is often used as a shortcut to George Mason to avoid the traffic light at Washington Blvd.
6) Eliminate the speed hump on 16th and Harrison Streets between N. Harrison and George Mason (now that there is a 4 way stop at 16th & Harrison).
7) Add/extend the sidewalk on 15th Street below Trinity Church near Ivanhoe Street where there are lots of pedestrians and a blind corner so cars cannot fully see everyone on the street. Middle school kids walk there as well.
8) Improve safety for Washington Blvd. crossing: add a high visibility flashing signal or other improved pedestrian measure for students walking to/from W&L and Swanson along with metro walkers and commuters.
The candidates agreed upon for consideration are project numbers 1, 2, 3, and 7. Action will be taken by the end of the month, then a determination for what will be in the submission packet.
March 12th meeting - engage a featured speaker on DES/Washington Boulevard safety; we will reach out to the Bluemont CA
Neighborhood Day planning
Spring newsletter lead on printing-to include home safety, master project, free tree program, lawn maintenance items
The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.