May Meeting: Cooperation Yields a Small Park, Commercial Signs, Historic Designation and Virtual Governing

May was a light month for Board business. Of all the items we covered, I found our votes to move the Gilliam Place affordable housing project forward to be particularly delightful. There was real community cooperation. APAH (the developer) and the Arlington Presbyterian Church (the land owner) worked together to preserve a small portion of the site as a neighborhood park. Arlington Presbyterian Church’s generous land donation preserves several lovely trees and helps maintain our sense of community along Columbia Pike. Everybody wins!

As anyone who follows economic development issues in Arlington knows, sign regulations are a big issue for our community. Our sign regulations were first written decades ago. They have been updated, but some are not serving us well. More and more we hear about stylish, fun, and helpful signs that other, competing jurisdictions allow, but Arlington does not. We advertised a hearing and vote on updated regulations that will allow more flexibility for sign size and location in our urban areas. The hearing and our vote will be in June; please reach out with your ideas and suggestions.

We heard a request to designate the Education Center and Planetarium as an historic district. Arlington Public Schools is looking at a variety of locations to expand to meet the needs of our growing student population, and the current Ed Center on Quincy Street is among the places they are looking. The School Board has assured us that they will be considerate of the unique design of the Ed Center and planetarium in any repurposing of that site for classroom space, but that they need flexibility to fashion a building that both preserves that design and meets the needs of our students. My colleagues and I rejected the historic district application to preserve APS’ flexibility, and I look forward to working together to preserve the history of the two buildings while efficiently meeting educational needs.

If you watched the meeting, you probably noticed that I “attended” and participated, but was not physically there. There were a few glitches, but modern technology allowed me to participate pretty easily in our May meetings from my daughter’s home, where I am recuperating from last week’s knee replacement surgery. The recovery is not a quick one, but is going well. I feel very blessed to have both my daughters caring for me and to be able to stay involved in Arlington as my new knee and I adjust to each other.

Finally, I hope that the Phoenix Bikes open house on June 8th will be among my first outings and that you will join me there. We’ll be raising a little money for PB as part of DoMore24 and enjoying Phoenix Bikes’ future location at Arlington Mill Community Center at the Open House from 6-8 pm. Of course, you can participate in DoMore24 any time in the 24 hour period on June 8th by giving online, even if you aren’t able to come to Phoenix Bikes that evening. I hope to see you there!

May, 25, 2017