Plant a Free Tree!

Arlington County works to extend and preserve its tree canopy. Trees shade us in summer and offer homes for birds and wildlife. They turn carbon dioxide to oxygen. They beautify the landscape. They increase your property value.

Arlington property owners can apply for a grant to get a native tree planted in their yard or green space. You can apply online by going to this address:

https://www.ecoactionarlington.org/community-programs/trees/

By June 22

At no cost to you,  the County will plant a 7-8 foot

Red maple

Sycamore

River Birch

Hackberry

Pin Oak

Swamp oak

American Holly

 

 

“integrated Option” is back on the table

At the most recent meeting of the School  Board, APS office of facilities formally recommended the Integrated option for Reed. This is something of a reversal, since a week before they had dropped the Integrated option when cost estimates put it over budget by about 5 million dollars. You can see their recommendation at  this link

To recap, and simplify, in a six month process that began in September 2017, citizen advisory committees to the school board and county board met with APS and county employees and with VMDO architects to consider the Reed site for a 725 seat neighborhood elementary school.  The committees recommended the “integrated option,” which partially demolishes the existing building and puts a new multi story school in its place. The integrated building preserved green space and was thought to be under budget.

On closer examination, in light of increasing costs, the new estimates showed the school to be about 5 million dollars over budget. The committees were directed to reconsider two options which had earlier been rejected.

There was widespread dismay at this. The other two options involved using the existing building, which is poorly designed for upper level Elementary students, and also adding an entirely new build where the baseball field now sits. Public unhappiness with this option was quite clear.

School and County Board members, notably John Vihstadt and Barbara Kanninen, determined that the Integrated option should remain viable.

At this point, the Integrated Option has been formally recommended to the School Board APS Facilities. The School Board will vote to accept or reject that recommendation at its next meeting, on April 5.

Still remaining to be determined: how to come up with the additional five million dollars.

 

 

 

Further Reed School updates

APS has announced the the option preferred by HPOK and five other local civic associations is now over budget, contradicting what they said over the last five months, and off the table. See the message from APS below. There is a meeting on March 14th, described to discuss the ridiculous mess APS has made of the process.

 

Reed Concept Design Update, March 8, 2018

 

The Reed Concept Design, which was originally scheduled to be presented as an information item at tonight’s School Board meeting, has been delayed to allow more time for review and consideration by members of the Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC), the Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC) and members of the community.

While staff had intended to recommend the Integrated option, that is no longer being considered because the design cost estimate for that option significantly exceeds the funding available for the project. The final design cost estimates completed by the Architecture/Engineering (A/E) team and the Construction Manager at Risk (CMR) were both higher for all six of the alternative design options.

To ensure that the School Board’s action is based on the most complete and up-to-date information, final estimates are prepared at the end of each project phase. While initial project estimates were developed earlier in the process, the recent final estimates were higher due to more information being available on each option. The current estimates reflect the latest construction costs, which are rising rapidly in the DC metropolitan region due to the amount of construction activity and reflect the most current prediction of future escalation.

Therefore, an additional joint BLPC/PFRC meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 14. The meeting will take place in the Reed Multipurpose Room, and will begin at 7:00 p.m. The focus of the March 14 meeting will be to provide an additional opportunity to discuss and hear input on the concept design cost estimates for the Bridge and Upper Lower options – the two options now under consideration.

Based on previous review, staff has determined that the following four options are not feasible, based on feedback from the BLPC and PFRC and/or cost estimates. • The Integrated option, which is the preferred option of the BLPC and PFRC, is $5 to $6 million over the $49 million maximum funding available. • The Standalone option is also $5 to $6 million over the $49 million maximum funding available. • The North option, while close to the $49 million maximum funding available, was not highly favored by the BLPC and PFRC. • The East option is under the $49 million maximum funding available, but is least favored by the BLPC and PFRC, and does not provide an optimal environment for learning.

The meeting on March 14 will allow time for the BLPC, PFRC and members of the community to provide feedback on the Bridge and Upper Lower options. Both options are within the $49 million maximum funding available. The final recommendation will be presented to the School Board at the March 22 or April 5 School Board meeting. Individuals wishing to provide input may do so during the public comment section of the March 14 meeting. For those who cannot attend, they may contact the BLPC/PFRC or email comments to engage@apsva.us.

 

 

 

 

 

Reed School Updates

Five local civic Associations–Dominion Hills, HPOK, Madison Manor, Tara/Leeway Heights, and Westover Village–have written a joint letter supporting the Integrated option and calling for Reed to be a neighborhood school, consistent with the School Board’s decision last September.

To: Arlington School Board
Arlington County Board
Re: Reed School

3/1/2018

Dear Members of the School Board and County Board:

The five civic associations in the greater Westover area , Westover Village, Tara Leeway Heights, Highland Park/Overlee Knolls, Dominion Hills, and Madison Manor, are united in their very strong support for the “Integrated Option.” Members of our civic associations have reviewed the proposals in detail, discussed them in meetings, and taken comment via social media and in countless personal discussions with concerned residents. We are convinced that the Integrated Option is far and away the best solution. It comes in at or under budget; it presents a compact footprint, preserving green space, and it offers a chance to build a new school to the high standards Arlington works to uphold. The alternative proposals would impinge significantly on green space while offering no budgetary advantages. We are particularly concerned that the “Standalone” option, which has been almost universally rejected, would intensify use of the Reed site beyond the scope of the charge laid out to the BLPC/PFRC in September 2017 and beyond what the site can reasonably bear. We urge you to reject the Standalone Option.

We would like to add our unambiguous support for adhering to the existing schedule and board-approved plan for establishing the new Reed Elementary as a neighborhood school, with an expansive walk zone. As currently drawn the walk zone for the Reed School encompass 601 students, the largest number in the County. We believe that zone should be expanded to include the immediate area south of Washington Blvd. Residents and their children routinely cross Washington Blvd. at all hours to go to the Library, or to the Westover shops. The County has done an admirable job making that crossing safe; crossing guards would make it more so. Expanding the walk zone to its natural boundary of Rt. 66 would result in virtually every one of the 725 students at Reed walking to school. Reducing buses saves money, makes environmental sense and is better for our children’s health; money saved from eliminating bussing can be reinvested in our children’s classes.

Making Reed an option school is not in keeping with the charge to the BLPC/PFRC, mentioned above. It would also go against the clearly expressed preference of our communities over the last decade. Putting an option school in the center of the largest walk zone in the County makes little sense financially, environmentally, or geographically. Bussing children away from a school in easy walking distance makes no sense at all.

Thank you

Carly Kelly, President, Madison Manor
Lilith Christiansen, President, Westover Village
Jon Judah, President, Tara-Leeway Heights
Mike O’Malley, President, HPOK
Brian Hannigan, Acting President, Dominion Hills

Letter from HPOK members regarding Reed

The following was sent to the Reed advisory committee, based on responses to the Reed Proposals from HPOK residents:

 

 

 

January 18, 2018

Dear Arlington County Board and Arlington Public School Board:

Highland Park/Overlee Knolls (HPOK) representatives to the BLPC/PFRC have conducted multiple meetings with civic association members and solicited comments via social media. Our members have consistently voiced the following five key take-aways:

  1. The community is strongly in favor of the “integrated” option, and has deep and serious reservations about the Standalone scheme. A sampling of some of the formal comments we have received makes this clear. “Integrated option,” one neighbor writes: “none of the others are acceptable.” “I like the plan that preserves as much green space as possible,” another adds. “I attended the meeting,” another resident notes, “and it certainly seemed like the Integrated Plan was by far the best option: it allows for the most functional school with the smallest possible footprint, which will leave as much green space as possible.” He and his wife added “We strongly oppose creating any parking on the upper soccer field / sledding hill.” Another couple agreed, stating “We like the Integrated Plan the best. It’s really the only acceptable one in terms of the school size and green space preservation,” and added “the Standalone Plan is awful. The school is too big and it takes up too much green space.”

  1. The newly re-added “bridge” option also has some support, although much more limited than the ‘integrated” option. “The bridge option is my #1 choice,” voiced one neighbor. “The bridge option allows the school to be more unified with the commercial center of Westover,” said another.

  1. The community is uniformly and deeply concerned that the county and school boards are not adequately planning for the parking mayhem that will occur with a 725-student school. These residents also insisted that “a traffic study is incredibly important because unlike other school neighborhoods with narrow streets (Discovery comes to mind), we have a library, a retail area, AND a commuting thoroughfare in the mix.” When this resident told her daughter, now 14, about the idea of parking lots on the sledding hill, “she really freaked out. Honestly, I think the kids would be willing to do a sit-in at the APS offices if that ever moves forward.” A long-term resident asserts “I can’t tell you how destructive that Stand-Alone plan would be to the Westover community and how betrayed by Arlington Public Schools the community would feel if it were to materialize.” He adds. “That scheme goes would go against everything everything APS, Arlington County and the Westover community have agreed upon since the late 1990s and especially during the $22 million Westover/Reed reconstruction of 2009.”

The community is dubious about an exit onto Washington Blvd from a northwest parking lot – it may or may not be effective (it could create a bottleneck, there are limited views, the slope of the roadway could make it dangerous for pedestrians and bikers), there’s no indication that the county has taken any steps toward assessing that idea, and the community is doubtful that the state would even approve that change given recent investments in Washington Blvd. There is no indication that the boards are taking into account the additional parking that would come with weekend or evening events at the school – the community is concerned that this lack of sufficient parking could paralyze the community and even drive out fragile businesses.

Community members do not want a parking structure in the existing lot behind the library/school for fear of bottle necks created by narrow entry points and lack of space for ramps. There is also concern about how a parking structure would impact residential properties.

Two ideas presented to the BLPC/PFRC—(1) a partnership with the Westover businesses to expand the parking behind Ayers, Westover Market, etc. and (2) a potential county purchase of homes on18th across from the school for parking – should be explored.

  1. Community members are concerned about a “concrete tunnel” will replace the current walkway in the northwest part of the school. We understand this is a potential space for a new parking lot, but this is also a critical path for residents to access the Westover village.

  1. Lastly, any model chosen must be designed to take into account the scale of the residential neighborhood and commercial areas. We understand this the next phase of the building process, and the community looks forward to working closely with the boards and architects to ensure this is accomplished.

Thank you for your interest in recommendations of the HP-OK civic association. We would be happy to engage in further conversation if and when helpful.

Sincerely,

Mike O’Malley and Dianne Hasselman

PUBLIC MEETING WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON THE REED SITE

On Wednesday, jan 17, at 6:30 in the Reed Multipurpose room, VMDO architects will present their three schemes for the Reed site. They are described in a post below and also here: https://www.apsva.us/…/20…/01/180110_REED_PFRCBLPC_Final.pdf

This is an important moment to make your voice heard. The “standalone” option will dramatically reduce greenspace, including the county park at 18th and Lexington, and add more than 800 users to the site while keeping the existing Reed school intact for unspecified uses. This will represent a dramatic increase in density and traffic. If you have a chance, look at the pdf in the link, which shows the schemes in detail. And please attend the meeting Wednesday night.

Further Reed Updates–Crucial meeting coming

On Wednesday, January 10th VMDO architects presented their latest schemes for the Reed site, whch they have narrowed down to three options, which you can see below.

The “Integrated” option involves tearing down part of the existing Reed building and replacing it with a three new story building.

integrated
The “Upper/Lower” option involves keeping the existing Reed building for grades K-1, and building a brand new building to house grades 2-5

upper-lower

The “Standalone” option builds a brand new 735 seat school and leaves the existing Reed building untouched and its use unspecified.

standalone

In voting and ratings of the various schemes, members of the BLPC/PFRC committees have expressed a strong preference for the Integrated scheme.

The ful; presentation by VMDO can be found here: https://www.apsva.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/180110_REED_PFRCBLPC_Final.pdf

Some background: the existing building is less than optimal for any use other than the uses it was designed for nine years ago, e. g. small children on the first floor and mixed uses on the second floor. Attendees at the meeting were given a tour of the building which made its many deficiencies very clear. And because of extremely poor decisions by APS in the past, the existing building cannot be easily added on to. When the building was extensively remodeled nine years ago, the walls were made strong enough to hold the structure for one additional floor. But the roof was not made strong enough to hold the weight of floor decking for that additional floor. So if they add a second floor, the existing roof will need to be removed, exposing the interior to the elements, and new decking installed. It will neither be cheap nor easy, and the result would still be a shape which is far from optimal, especially for upper grade students.

For these reasons, and based partially on input from the committees, VMDO has set aside any schemes which build on top of the existing half-circle structure.

The Upper/Lower and Standalone schemes involve significant loss of green space, including, in the Standalone scheme, the loss of a county park. Preserving green space has long been a civic priority. Beyond that the Standalone scheme would result in more than 1000 students using the Reed site at two facilities. So we would have the existing traffic, plus 735 students and teachers and associated staff, at a site which also includes a heavily used public library and mixed use retail.

It is easy to imagine a scenario in which APS builds the standalone school, and then, at some point decides to again remodel the Reed building, and add a second floor or even an entirely new school.

On the other hand, Arlington County has and will continue to have significant overcrowding problems. A public school facility has to serve the public at large and not simply a specific neighborhood. Buildng a new school and leaving the Reed school as is would offer APS a high degree of flexibility and room for future expansion. The Integrated scheme impinges significantly on some neighbors on the north side of the site and builds a large structure out of scale with the neighborhood.

On Wednesday, January 17, at 6:30 in the Reed multipurpose room, there will be a public presentation by VMDO explaining the schemes and soliciting public feedback. We urge you to attend this meeting, to gain a better idea of what is being proposed and offer feedback on the ideas, both to VMDO and to APS.

For more information contact HPOK representatives to the Committee, Mike O’Malley or Dianne Hasselman