The meeting was called to order at 7:30 with opening remarks by President, Adam Croswell. Adam reviewed the agenda and also invited neighbors to volunteer to help with civic association responsibilities.
Lisa Grandle, Arlington County Park Development Division Chief, attended the meeting to address neighbor’s questions and concerns about the disposition of county managed vacant homes at the corner of south Second and south Irving. Ms. Grandle explained that the county typically will take down houses and regrade the area until the county is ready to do something with the property. In conjunction with the work, the county will do studies for hazards such as lead paint and ensure asbestos removal, they may put in some landscaping, working with a landscaper to keep and protect surrounding trees while demolishing the houses. Demolition has not yet been scheduled. Future plans would be determined by the voters, as typically land acquisition bonds would be required, and Ms. Grandle indicated voters wanted the area turned into parklands. Several neighbors voiced concerns about the process of demolishing houses and issues such as noise, dust, light, etc. It was moved and seconded to have a later forum to discuss the dust issues with the field (already a problem even without demolition) and it was suggested that Jeff Marin, Deputy Director and Sports division chief be contacted for said forum. After much subsequent discussion on issues with dust on the field, it was moved and seconded to move discussion of blue stone field to another meeting. There was also discussion about options for leaving homes intact, possibly for use as a community house, however, Ms. Grandle indicated that 2 of the standing homes were build in the 1950’s, the third was built in 1920, they were very small, have steps, are not completely ADA compliant, and as single family homes with rooms and spaces broken up, they would not lend themselves to conversion to meeting rooms. There was also discussion about possible uses of the area with additions of shrubbery suggested, possibility of a playground, and possibilities of demonstration gardens. Neighbors did not want the area turned into an expanded parking lot and voiced concerns about leaving the homes vacant, Ms Grandle assured residents that the county understood concerns about liability and safety issues and did not intend to leave homes vacant longer than needed. She indicated the wooden fence surrounding the home would probably come down, and the county would probably try to demolish the houses by the end of the year. A motion was made and seconded to support the county’s plan to demolish the houses, motion carried. Ms Grandle offered her phone number for further questions, 703-228-3332. A motion was made to ask the county to establish a planning process that includes neighborhood input, there was no second, motion failed.
Our second presenter was Captain Paul Larson, Arlington County Police, who reviewed recent incidents in the neighborhood and in the county in general. Neighbors were concerned about a recent assault on a neighborhood child. Captain Larson indicated that the 3-4 males involved in perpetrating the incident were believed to be involved in gang related activities, the case was still open and being investigated. Captain Larson reviewed some indicators of gang activities in Arlington county, including indicated that “Bloods” colors were seen in the area, as well as tagging at Washington- Lee. Other gangs in the area include MS-13, some African-American gangs but mostly mixed Latino dominated, at present, no White gangs, the police had been able to stop attempted infiltration of some Crips from LA, Captain Larson also spoke of increases in patrols in cars and on bikes, on route 50, on 395 and the Columbia Pike corridor, and also spoke of involvement of officers from ICE, Immigration, Customs and Enforcement, and mentioned that if perpetrators are apprehended and are deportable, they are being deported. Captain Larson advised neighbors to phone the police non- emergency number, 703-558-2222, if they see suspicious activity. Captain Larson indicated that much of the crime in our neighborhood is petty larceny, such as breaking into lockers at TJs, some cars have been vandalized, some slashed tires, there was one report of a stolen car but that may have been a repossession, there is more activity in Penrose neighborhood and an increased police presence there. There have been some DUIs on Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, 2 other assaults at the Sports Bar at Columbia Pike and Glebe, there are also lots of fights and alcohol related incidents there, and the permit for the establishment should probably be revoked.
The third presentation was on transportation alternatives for Columbia Pike, with Reid Goldstein speaking on behalf of streetcars and no opposing view represented. Mr. Goldstein cited potential for enhanced economic development and opportunities for future growth as pluses of streetcars. He also reviewed several studies that support and encourage streetcar use and he answered neighbor’s questions and concerns. After much discussion, it was moved and seconded that AHCA support the modified streetcar proposal, the motion carried 18 for, 6 opposed. It was further moved to advise the county to “take all possible measures to ensure safety of cyclists.” Motion carried.
It was reported that AHCA currently has 36 paid family/household memberships and 2 business memberships.
There was a brief review of Arlington County Civic Federation initiatives, and it was noted that at the recent annual ACCF banquet, AHCA resident and former AHCA President Jay Wind received a certificate of appreciation from ACCF for his tireless support of park measures.
Old business was briefly raised, including status of mural on the Fenwick Center wall; further discussion was tabled until next meeting due to lateness of evening, meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
Submitted by Carole Lieber, Secretary