Hot Issues

  • State of The Village -- Federal Realty presentation

    Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), the owner of the Village at Shirlington since 1995, made a presentation to the first SCA Membership Meeting on Tuesday, September 29. SCA will work closely with FRIT.

    A completely renovated AMC Theater will re-open in late November. Dak Chicken is now open and opening soon is Palette 22 and Hula Girl Bar and Grill. A new sports bar with a roof top bar run by the owners of Copperwood will  replace The Bungalow.  FRIT is also looking at how to enhance the shopping and parking area along S Arlington Mill Drive, behind the main shopping and eating street in the Village.

    The retail vacancy rate in the Village this year has been 8 percent, lower than the average for Arlington County (about 19 percent as of November), according to FRIT.

  • Four Mile Run Valley Planning Update, Feb. 2017

    We are now in Month 7 of the 4MRV planning process. There is lots of time for YOU to get involved and informed before final decisions are made, but don’t delay. This is a big deal.

    Shirlington’s representatives on the Working Group (WG) are Board members Edie Wilson and Richard Adler, backed up by two wonderful alternates who attend every meeting, Virginia (Ginny) Farris and Ellie McCann. Ginny and Ellie both have professional background in environmental planning. Any of us would be glad to talk to you or hear your ideas. Our contacts are on this website.

    Lately the WG has been reacting to rough sketches of possible park area designs (including the dog park) and approaches to improvements in the light industrial area along Four Mile Run Drive and up along Shirlington Road.

    The intention is to come up with three designs that the WG, staff and consultants think are viable. Then  there will be a public notice (postcard mailing to all valley residents) letting everyone know that they can come see these and give YOUR reactions. The project is not scheduled to go to the County Board until 2018, so there is lots to do.

    In December 2 – 6, there was the “Visioning Workshop” held at the Drew School where County residents worked with project consultants (impressive, caring folks with great experience both locally and nationally) on creative ideas to maximize the use of the industrial, commercial, cultural, and recreational spaces in the valley – while respecting and protecting our natural areas, trees, flood plain and stream. Not to mention the dog park. And building more parking near Four Mile Run Drive so the Shirlington garages aren’t used for this increased activity! (It is not, however, clear to us how such parking will be paid for.)

    There was also a well-attended Sunday roundtable specifically to hear Shirlington views. We explained the concept paper that we wrote up to describe our needs and experiences. The SCA members were forthright that there were public safety and behavioral issues behind the scenes in our parks that need to be acknowledged so that we don’t recreate the same conditions. As we saw in our pre-winter cleanup, there is much too much drinking, smoking and camping along the stream areas, accompanied by large amounts of trash. We asked project consultants to talk to the Park Rangers and Police for their informed views on what goes on, and they have now done this.

    All the Working Group meetings are open to the public, and held in the Trades Center Conference Center. Subscribe to the project website for updates and invitations.

  • ART Buses leaving the park area on March 1, 2017

    On February 8th, 2017, the SCA received the following news from the Department of Environmental Services (DES)  about the Arlington Transit (ART) buses now in the park and related matters.

    (Loyal Readers will recall that in response to our many protests in 2015 and 2016, the County informed the Nauck and Shirlington Civic Associations that the ART buses would be MOVED! Since September 2015, a fleet of ART buses has been parked in the LaPorte lot along Four Mile Run Drive. This land, which is in the Nauck Civic Association area directly adjacent to the SCA area, was purchased with park bond funds.)

    I am writing to share an update on the South Eads ART House Project and the relocation of buses from the former LaPorte site. Please share with residents and stakeholders.

     ART Relocation by March 1

    Our contractor has encountered some additional construction challenges in the final phases of building the ART House facility in Crystal City– the facility is now expected to open by early summer. However, this will not impact the timeline for the relocation of ART buses from the former LaPorte site. We made a commitment to move the fleet as soon as we could and we intend to fulfill that promise. The anticipated date (dependent on weather) that we’ll be moving the entire fleet is by March 1st.

     Staff has looked extensively at feasible and cost-effective options to house the buses until the ART House facility is completed. The majority of buses will go on the leased 2629 Shirlington Road property while the balance of buses will be housed on the Water Pollution Control Plant. Some spares will go to our maintenance facility in Alexandria. We are currently working through operational logistics needed to dispatch from two sites. Our goal in the move is to not disrupt bus service for the entire community.

     As you know, once completed the ART House and Shirlington will accommodate all of our bus fleet. The Shirlington site is not a long-term solution as our lease expires in 2023. A long-term solution will be examined as part of the Joint Facilities Advisory Committee.

     Restoration Work

    The Department of Environmental Services (DES) is working with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) on the plan to restore the former LaPorte lot. The work will take place this spring. DES staff will be removing: lights and car stops, gravel and all sides of the fence except for the Four Mile Run frontage (due to safety reasons). Staff will then cover the ground with topsoil and grass seed. DPR will place some strategic boulders along the street frontage to keep cars from parking on the grass.

     Other Parking Items

    At the February 6th Nauck Community Meeting, there were questions raised about APS bus parking on 2629 Shirlington Road and possibly moving police vehicles onto their building on South Oakland Street. Here are the responses to those questions:

     APS: Buses will remain on the Shirlington Road site while the County and APS continue to explore long-term solutions to site school buses.

     S Oakland Street: It would be costly to bring the building up to code for police vehicles to be operated and stored on the site. There are also issues with the heating and cooling system, vehicle access and the roof would need to be reassessed and possibly replaced. The site is also directly in the path of the Jennie Dean Phase II Project, and may need to be moved again once the planning process is completed.

     Relocation and Restoration Updates

    We’ll begin providing weekly updates on the Four Mile Run Valley website until the relocation and restoration is complete. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

     Jessica Baxter, Communications Manager, Arlington County Department of Environmental Services”

  • 4MRV Working Group finally launches, Shirlington reps named

    Finally! On May 17, the Arlington County Board appointed the Working Group for the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) Initiative. This too-long-awaited planning effort will focus on a large area including both park and light industrial areas. See the county homepage for a map and details, plus an excellent briefing book with information on zoning, stream restoration, environmental features, land ownership and more. The first meeting takes place June 1 with a special walking tour on Saturday June 4. Everyone is welcome.

    Thanks to having its own civic association at long last and to its close proximity to the project area, Shirlington was given two seats on the Working Group. Board members Edie Wilson and Richard Adler will be the Representatives, assisted by Alternates Judy Hijikata and Ellie McCann. Both Judy and Ellie have lived in Shirlington for over 20 years, and both have planning backgrounds, which should be very valuable.  Keith Fred, the longtime lead volunteer for the dog park, is also on the working group, as is WETA.

    To be clear, the study area is not in Shirlington. It lies, however, on the very southern edge of the Nauck Civic Association boundary, and much of the study area is immediately adjacent to the Village of Shirlington across South Arlington Mill Drive. This end of the valley is vital to Shirlington residents, supplying our only green spaces on both sides of our beloved stream and the dog park, not to mention the wide range of businesses starting with the Weeny Beeny down to the new brewery to the DMV and Dave’s Car Wash.

    Please bookmark the 4MRV homepage and attend any of the Working Group meetings. We want your ideas and experiences to inform this effort. What do you want this area to become?

  • Recycling "Center" Move to Trades Center

    On September 27, the County requested a Use Permit to move the Recycling Center now at Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive to the Trades Center.  A final vote of the County Board was scheduled for early November.  This news upset many residents, and many questions were raised.  The SCA pressed hard for a delay in the County Board vote for the purpose of allowing the community to get more information. We are glad to say that the County Manager’s Office cooperated with us, and the vote was delayed.

    On Wednesday, November 2, Solid Waste Bureau staff presented to a specially convened meeting of the SCA. (Sorry for the lack of notice on this one!) On Sunday Nov. 13,  representatives of most of our eight Homeowner Associations (HOAs) and Board members toured the Trades Center campus, including inspection of the new site for recycling.

    It turned out that thisRecycling Center” (which it must be called to satisfy a state rule that each jurisdiction have a certain number of these) amounted to 2 to 3 medium size dumpsters, and they will occupy approximately two parking spots in the center of Trades. No new structure, no significant increase in noise, traffic or smell is anticipated (no food is allowed).  Much of this recycling already comes to Trades from the current location.

    On Monday, December 12, the SCA submitted a letter of no objection to the County Board. The Use Permit was approved by the Board on Tuesday, December 13.

    We think that the County tried to do this too fast, and put its good relations with the community at risk. We needed not just to be told, we needed to understand what was happening in our neighborhood. Part of this is County staff getting used to having a civic association wrapped around the Trades Center. They are, however, very glad that we exist. Thanks to all who helped with this!

  • Arlington's new "AirBnB" policy

    This winter, the County solicited citizen input on what is known as “short term residential rentals.” To mere mortals, this comes down to whether AirBnB and similar residence “sharing” businesses should be allowed to operate in Arlington. The sudden push on this came from two directions – pending legislation in Richmond on which the County wanted to get a jump, and presidential inauguration and related events such as the Million Women March which was increasing demand for accommodations.

    The SCA monitored these discussions but did not submit comments or solicit views, after checking with our HOAs. Why? Because short-term rentals can be controlled at the level of the HOAs and rental companies.  We have no single family residences within our boundaries. For what it’s worth, the Arlington regulations struck us as needlessly, if not hopelessly, complex, however well-intended.

    We recommend that HOA’s regularly monitor online websites to see whether addresses within their associations are being listed. Those little GPS maps will show you what is or isn’t going on pretty quickly. The County’s policy went into effect on December 31, 2016.

  • Our Pre-Winter Stream Cleanup was a blast!

    We love our Four Mile Run stream and the Jennie Dean and Shirlington park areas. Shirlington residents are out in them several times a day in many cases (well, if you have kids or a dog or a Fitbit). We do a lot too – picking up trash, cleaning up after inconsiderate neighbors whose dogs leave messes, monitoring behavior and giving directions to newcomers (“Take a left to the dog park! Hook a left and then a right to the brewery! Turn right for the playground!”) in the complete absence of any useful “way finding” signage along Arlington Mill Drive and the pedestrian bridge.

    So we are proud to say that on Saturday, November 12, a glorious fall day, we organized our first stream clean-up and the first we’ve had in this area before the winter freeze sets in. Partnering with the Parks & Recreation Department and the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, the SCA Board and volunteers targeted the stream bank area between the pedestrian bridge and Shirlington Road bridge, along the fences for the playground and adult softball field.

    We wanted everyone to see two things: first, how lovely the lower stream areas are though few ever see them, and second, how abused and neglected they are. We hope that the 4MRV plan will remove these fences and open the area up.

    The stars of our clean-up were the Little League baseball families who showed up like the Cavalry. If you want to clean up the beer cans under the pedestrian bridge, a 6th grader is a great choice.  The kids had a blast playing on the rocks and exploring the nooks and crannies, and they did a bang-up job gathering bottles and cans left over from wino partying.

    We’ll be back and we hope you’ll join us.  In the spring, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) organizes clean-ups in which we will participate.

  • Campbell Garage Parking - We Strike Out

    As many residents are aware, in 2016, there was been a coordinated effort to improve parking in Campbell Garage. It didn’t work out and here’s why.

    The Shirlington Civic Association (SCA) raised this with Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) as a top priority in late 2015. There are 7 parties to an agreement that outlines some rights to parking spots under certain conditions in the Campbell Parking Garage, specified in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCR). The agreement was approved by Arlington County as part of the Site Plan for Shirlington Village.

    Federal Realty worked hard and cooperatively with SCA to develop a viable plan to improve parking conditions, including space allotment, signage, and enforcement. (Please note that FRIT itself does not tow from this garage. Other tenants such as the Hilton or the Shirlington Library have that right as well and do exercise it.) FRIT consulted with all the parties and reviewed the Agreement. FRIT then proposed some changes, within the legal constraints. In order to have any impact, these had to involve increased enforcement using a decal system.

    Under the proposal, Delancey and Shirlington Village Condo (SVC) resident vehicles would have decals in order to qualify them for overnight parking spaces. It was hoped that this would motivate Delancey’s residents to utilize the under-utilized Campbell rooftop. This solution would come with some significant consequences on daytime parking, i.e., strict enforcement of no Campbell Garage parking for SVC (and Delancey) residents between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm and thus expose SVC users to an increased risk of towing.

    During the course of the discussions with FRIT, the Board had many inquiries and concerns from residents. Concerns primarily focused on daytime parking restrictions and accommodation for overnight parking for SVC’s visitors. The main question we heard from SVC residents was whether the proposed solution would drive Delancey’s residents to the top floor and would work without making the situation more difficult for SVC resident and visitor parking in this garage.

    We appreciate the efforts of FRIT to solve the parking issues. Based on implementation concerns and significant community feedback, however, the SCA ultimately concluded the FRIT decal proposal is unlikely to resolve current issues and would make parking in the Campbell Garage more difficult for our residents than the status quo. For the longer term, an effective, comprehensive solution would require changes to the original documents related to the use of Campbell Garage. This maybe a difficult, even impossible, route to take, since parties to the CCR may be reluctant to relinquish their rights. (Who in their right mind is going to give up parking rights in Shirlington?) The only conclusion was that we should continue with current practices in the Campbell Garage.

    FRIT has agreed to improve the Campbell Garage signage, especially in the public parking area, Level 3. The SCA will monitor this agreement to ensure the improvements are implemented. Some signage changes can be done quickly; others require County approval.

    We are grateful to everyone who contributed to seeking alternative solutions, and to FRIT for its highly detailed, earnest efforts to solve the parking issues. We all tried hard.

  • King St & Beauregard development / Alexandria Gateway

    On September 15, developer Danny Abramson outlined his revised plans at the Fairlington Civic Association meeting. This Abramson Company development known as the Alexandria Gateway project at the intersection of King Street and Beauregard will affect many Shirlington and Fairlington residents.  “The Arlington” Condominiums along Walter Reed Drive, members of the SCA, will be right next to this high-rise complex. For this reason, the SCA will be monitoring the plans.  We are particularly concerned about traffic flow and mitigation.  Here are the latest traffic plans from the City of Alexandria for this.

    Key elements of the project are a 7-floor apartment building on top of a 62,000 square-foot Harris Teeter; a 4-floor apartment building across from it; retail space where the strip mall is now, with 2 floors of offices on top of it; a 5-story office building on Beauregard; and a 2-level below-ground parking garage for 800 vehicles. The hotel has been dropped.