BVSCA Newsletter November 2004
Nov 30th Meeting Agenda
Place: BVSCA’s community room located on N. Utah Street between Gaffney’s Restaurant and the Windsor Plaza condominiums
School Boundary Change Update
The latest is that the committee set up by the School Board and the Schools are hashing out proposals amongst themselves and bartering chips back-n-forth to arrive at a settlement that the schools can live with. The School Board has given the committee latitude to come up with answers to alleviate the overcrowding which doesn't change boundaries and keep things somewhat status quo. So far any proposal has some boundary change.
For example, the section which is farthest from Taylor, jutting into the Ballston area, is proposed to go to Ashlawn, even though we are 4 blocks from Glebe. Ashlawn is 0.3 mile shorter than Taylor from here. Removing this area from Taylor helps lower Taylor's enrollment somewhat.
The ASFS/Key district and the Jamestown-Taylor-Key-ASFS team stays intact so far, unless Key's designation gets changed from mandatory 50/50 Spanish/English instruction. Most unlikely. A small section by Barton and Fairfax drive is proposed to go to Long Branch. Long Branch students are to remain intact.
Glebe may become a specialty arts/culture school similar to Duke Ellington in DC. So far, many voices have been heard at the open mike sessions at the School Board, and behind closed doors. Staff plays a major role because they have the numbers.
The No Child Left Behind issue plays a major role, because some schools may lose their accreditation if progress isn't made. Some believe this to be a major player in the scheme. By sending students from North Arlington into South Arlington Schools the scores will improve. It seems new arrivals from foreign countries are challenged to score in the acceptable range.
Why do some think that way, being a wall flower, comments have been made that overcrowding has always been accommodated. So why the push to re-align. One answer was that North Arlington Schools do not want to expand the brick and mortar and do not want to add temporary trailer/classrooms while other schools are under-utilized.
Another issue is the insecurity that has been heard all around the county. No one is secure in where their children will be going to school next year. Anxiety is even more prevailing because this is on a fast track. Because of the fast track some think the decision has already been made and this very limited time of committee and parental involvement is appeasement and window dressing. The Superintendent will hear the Committee's proposals, can accept it, move on it, dismiss it, and make his own recommendation to the School Board. And the School Board can do the same. Once the Super's decision is given to the School Board there is one or two public hearings in January. Then the School Board issues its proclamation.
And then there is the disconnect issue. The School Board has not invited any Civic Association Representation on the Committee. And doesn't intend to. The Principal, PTA President and Two Parents represent each school.
So what are the outlets:
1. Writing letters
2. Attending the open mike session before School Board meetings
3. Meeting with your PTA president
4. Going to PTA meetings
5. Meeting privately with School Board members
6. Calling School Board members
7. Meeting with School Board staff
8. Meeting with Barbara Favola
9. Talking with the press
10. Calling/meeting/writing the US Dept of Education
11. Engaging the civic federation
Then there is the sibling and grandfathering issues. In the past students have been grandfathered when boundaries have changed. The proposed answer to this, and not definite as yet, is that rising 4th and 5th graders will be grandfathered. Siblings will be allowed to attend same schools. K-3 students that have been re-districted will be displaced as proposed even if you are right across the line from a school.
There isn't much time left to get our message across to the School Board. So lets make an effort to hammer out as much as we can early eve Nov 30.
- by Mike Chircop
When BVSP Met APS …
Four members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership (BVSP) Board of Directors and Executive Director Julie Martin Mangis met with Arlington School Board Vice Chair Dave Foster at for an Outreach Committee breakfast at the Silver Diner in Clarendon October 28 to discuss the community’s interest in Arlington Public Schools (APS).
The BVSP contingent expressed concern that three recent developments have strained the APS-community relationship and asked whether BVSP could help improve it. They are:
Much of the discussion centered on the APS staff. During the W&L planning process, BVSP’s request to be represented on the planning advisory committee was not accepted; staff seemed not to have known about the existence of the public-private partnership in the area of the school and to have been ignorant of the recently-adopted Ballston-Virginia Square Sector Plan. The APS staff seems to many in the community to lack sensitivity to the community’s desires.
In many areas, it appears to the BVSP Board Members that APS staff does not coordinate adequately with the Arlington County planning staff before going forward with major recommendations. APS staff needs to learn from developers, who have been able to minimize conflicts by consulting at early stages with County planning staff members who are able to offer suggestions about how to accommodate community sensitivity.
In all three cases, the apparently arbitrary deadlines for decisions limited discussion; APS needs to begin the planning processes earlier, involve residents at an earlier stage, and present its options to the community before the process is well along. In short, APS needs to adopt a teamwork approach.
Foster suggested that BVSP write to the school board and the superintended to reintroduce itself and describe its membership and its interest in the schools. He said individual members might consider serving on school bodies such as the fiscal advisory committee or the budget advisory committee. He said the staff appeared to have moved out ahead of the board in publishing scenarios for school redistricting and that, in part because of negative community feeling, he would not be surprised if the final decision is little or no change. He also said he would continue to promote better school-community communications and longer-range planning.
- by Jim Webster
Master Transportation Plan Meeting
A "pre-organizational" meeting on the Master Transportation Plan (MTP) update was convened on November 22 by the Transportation Commission and the staff. There was a rather heavy turnout from various commission members and citizenry, including from at least four citizen associations. Dennis Burr and Lew Gulick attended for BVSCA.
No substantive issues were discussed at this preliminary session, which was devoted entirely to what process should be devised to meet the County Board’s mandate for a revised MTP. An October 23 resolution by the Board has called for a work plan and community process to be developed by Dec. 23. The finished new MTP is to be presented by the County Manager to the Board in 24 months.
The initial 90-minute session of intense (but not acrimonious) discussion at the Nov. 22 gathering underscored what a big task lies ahead. "Transportation" is being treated as almost anything that moves – walking, wheelchairs, bikes, buses, subway, and oh, yes, something called automobiles – and more than 30 interested "stakeholders" were suggested ranging from VDOT to Marymount University, police and firemen, and the Planning Commission. Civic groups were definitely included in the "stakeholder" listing so it looks as if BVSCA will be allowed at the table as the process moves ahead. Whether anyone in the establishment listens to us – we shall see!
The next gathering on this issue is to be a Transportation Commission meeting Dec. 2. Thereafter there may be another meeting by the pre-organizational group to review a staff draft for a work plan prior to its being prepared for the Board by Dec. 23, or to save time the draft may be e-mailed around for comment by interested parties (including us).
The substantive discussions won’t get underway until next year. On these, we have "guidance" from the Board’s Oct. 23 resolution whose "vision" encourages "walking, non-motorized vehicles, shared transport and low-impact motor vehicles", if you get the drift. So we’ll be having to make our views known.
The scheduled commission meetings and "open forums" to be held next spring can be attended by any interested citizens so BVSCA’ers are encouraged to attend when they can.
- by Lew Gulick
Here are some brief snippets of activities at the NCAC meetings I have attended since August 2004. Sometimes Rich Layman and I are both there at the main meetings and the meetings of the "points committee". Although I am an Alternate NCAC, I am "in there" regularly because we have the First Priority project of BVSCA on my street: 1200 Block of N. Vernon St. curb, gutter, sidewalk, and green space.
The work of the points Committee affects how and/or if the projects proceed through the system and get funded. They have categories that are rated, and principles governing the assignments of point - NCAC Project Ranking Procedures. This is a must-read in order to follow these procedures. All community projects are listed on a Funding Recommendation Worksheet. Points are assigned by this working group, and decisions are made to fund the projects based on the amount of money allocated by the County Board.
BVSCA’s N. Vernon St. project was passed over at the June 2004 funding session. I had three minutes in June to make a Block Captain briefing of the work needed, and provided a handout with photographs. On the November draft worksheet, we have moved into the top nine projects, and will certainly be funded at the December 2004 session. I will need to make a brief pitch on behalf of the project again. BVSCA (Dennis and Rich) supplied written confirmation in November that the Vernon St. project remains their first priority
The points committee (10-15 people) works at making the process better, fairer, and tries to take into account all of the new influences and ideas that spin off as a result of this "points and funding" process. For example, it has evolved that if the street needed improvement before a curb, gutter, and sidewalk project was initiated, the Department of Public Works will pay for the street portion of the job. That way, the "neighborhood project" expense is only tied to the CGS portion of the job. As a result, the project has an easier route through the points system since it is not nearly as costly as the total job will be when completed. Some of this "points" work is complicated, and not easily summarized.
Some things in addition: policy guidelines are to be written covering project cost estimations - these estimates influence the chances of funding. Neighborhoods should establish first priority and second priority projects at the same time. If the first fails to meet criteria, the neighborhood can quickly submit their second choice.
November 11, 2004 (Veterans Day) Meeting: Typically the committee’s report at the NCAC meetings held in the NRECA (rural electrification) building on Wilson Blvd. Recently, the Points, Policy, and Nominating Committees reported. Discussion and Action Items: Lot Coverage, Missing Link Proposal, Street Width Proposal. Other reports are given, examples being urban forestry, historic preservation, site plan review, school board facilities, neighborhood traffic calming, storm water management, etc.
Neighborhood representatives have opportunities to discuss anything, and ask questions, about NCAC topics. Some of them give relatively detailed accounts of project experiences in their settings. Some report on parties and social events held in their areas.
The activities of the NCAC are summarized in the form of "Memoranda" and such on the NCAC website:www.co.arlington.va.us/Departments/CPHDO/ons/CPHDOnsConser vation.aspx . Also there are the proposed agenda for the upcoming meetings. Some of the discussions are so specific, and details worked out later by different groups, that a good understanding of the work accomplished can only be gained by reading the finished or draft reports. NCAC Budget Summary might be seen on the web site. There are other interesting facts and material also.
Decisions about funded neighborhood projects will happen in December 2004. Neighborhoods should be represented at the meeting. I will be there for sure. The date is early in December, and I will check for it on the NCAC web site.
- by Dan Corts
Senior Adult Program in Arlington
The Office of Senior Adult Programs (OSAP), a division of the Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. OSAP began with one senior club in 1954 and now has nine seniors’ centers and senior programs at three community centers, plus a senior adult travel program. For more information call 703-228-4721.
Arlington County Senior Adult Travel offers local and out-of-town day trips for senior adults (55+). Several overnight trips are offered during the year. There are walking clubs, exercise & strength training as well as line dancing classes.
It's Time To Light The Lights Again ...
From December 1 to January 4, Welburn Square will serve as the backdrop for Ballston's Holiday Tree. Along with the Tree, Ballston and Virginia Square rooftops, architectural elements, even construction cranes, will be illuminated for the Holidays. It is the 13th Annual Grand Illumination and the public is invited to join the kick-off event.
Tree Lightening Festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1st, in the lobby of the Qwest building, 4250 N. Fairfax Drive, with a performance by Arlington's own Children's Spanish Chorus - "El Coro Infantil en Espańol", directed by Cora Lee Khambatta.
At 6:00 p.m., the chorus will escort Arlington County Board Chairman Barbara Favola, Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership President, Kenneth J. Ingram, and the assembly into Welburn Square for the traditional lighting of the Ballston Holiday Tree, which is supported by the McAdam Special Events Fund of the Arlington Community Foundation.
Following the tree lighting, the community will enjoy musical entertainment by The Constituents and Holiday food and beverages in the Qwest Building lobby. A drawing will also be held for restaurant meals and gifts provided by Ballston and Virginia Square retail establishments.
The public is invited to attend the lighting of the Ballston Holiday Tree and the Holiday Celebration.
- by Julie Martin Mangis, Executive Director, Ballston-Virginia Square Partnership
Did you know?
Lost/unclaimed property is listed at https://www.trs.virginia.gov/ propertysearchdotnet/ It could be something small like a forgotten deposit or something bigger. Better odds than playing the lottery.
- by Denise Parks
ARL Committee of 100
Subject: 2005 General Assembly Session - Revenue Surplus or Shortfall? Which Will It Be? What Are The Impacts For Northern Virginia?
The Speakers: The Honorable Mary Margaret Whipple (Virginia Senate), The Honorable Dave Albo (Virginia House of Delegates), Mr. Frank Shafroth, Director of Intergovernmental Relations, Arlington.
Meeting: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at Marymount University, 2807 N. Glebe Road -- Dining Room, Gerard Phelan Hall.
Arlington County Police Memorial Fund
Arlington County's police have formed a committee to raise funds for a memorial statue of an Arlington County police officer to commemorate their officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. They have funds for half of the cost of the statue and are seeking donations for the rest. Please send contributions to:
Captain Mary Gavin
Arlington Police Charitable Fund
c/o Arlington County Police Department
1425 N. Courthouse Rd.
Arlington, Virginia 22201
The Arlington County Police Charitable Fund, Inc. is in the process of applying with the IRS for recognition as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Once the IRS approves the application, any donations received after May 13, 2004 for this memorial may be tax deductible. For additional information, please feel free to contact Captain Mary Gavin at 703-228-4327.
Arlington Food Assistance Center
Weekday morning volunteers needed. Assist clients picking up groceries at their weekday on-site distribution center, from 9:30AM-12:30PM. Join one of their established, once-a-week, distribution teams. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday team positions are available. Please call Nancy Cude or Sara Garson at 703/845-8486 or email us atAFACnancy@aol.com.
The editor would like to start a list of businesses that have been recommended by our neighbors. Please send your recommendations directly firstname.lastname@example.org. Inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement by BVSCA. The opinions expressed here represent those of the individual BVSCA residents.
Dry cleaners: Old Dominion Cleaners on Lee Highway
Towing: Cherrydale Towing
Join BVSCA’s Yahoo
The purpose of BVSCA is "to take action to protect and promote the welfare and livability of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association's neighborhoods in particular, and in Arlington, in general" (By-laws of BVSCA). Only with a large, active and vocal membership can BVSCA be effective in its dealings with the County officials.
Residents can join by filling out the membership application and paying membership dues. You can do this either by 1) coming to a BVSCA meeting, or 2) by mail. The membership application is on BVSCA's web page and on the back of this newsletter.
Dues are $10 per person. Dues are payable when first joining and are renewable each year on or before the anniversary of that date. New members and members who have not paid their dues in the last three years must wait 30 days after paying their dues before receiving voting privileges. Dues are used to help fund the Association's activities and sponsored events. Join the BVSCA today!
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Mail to: DeAndra Beck
1301 North Taylor Street
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At Large Executive Committee
Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee
Representative Richard Layman
Alternate Dan Corts
Arlington County Civic Federation
Delegates Ben Axleroad, David Ryan, David Perlmutter,
Alternates Linda Kyles, Edward Parks, Dennis Burr
Representative Jim Webster
The following positions are not appointed positions but rather volunteer positions. They are listed here so that BVSCA members know who they can go to for information on a specific issue. Please inform Sujit Ray of any changes or additions to this list.
Newsletter Editor Sujit Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cherrydale Relocation Task Force:
BVSCA Member Ed Parks
District 2 Police Committee:
Clarendon Task Force & Virginia Square East End:
Virginia Square Sector Plan Oversight Group
Condominium Project 10th & Monroe St.
13th Street Park:
Building Level Planning Committee:
(Washington-Lee School Project)
BVSCA Representative Rich Layman
NCAC Sign Committee
YMCA Strategic Planning Committee