More Seats for Students At What Cost?

I applaud Arlington Public Schools’ (APS) recent announcement that it plans to defer consideration of Lubber Run Park as the site for a new school. Construction of new schools on parkland should be permanently ruled out, since Arlington has lost too much green space already. However, the prospect of tearing down the existing historic Wilson School to make way for a 1,300 seat secondary school in an already congested Rosslyn neighborhood, strikes me as bizarre. Wilson School should be preserved and renovated as an elementary school, the way it was designed. Continue reading

Arlington Public Schools–the Elephant in the Room

There’s been a lot of contention among Arlington County residents who want to preserve key programs and those who are disgusted that the county’s tax and fee burden is larger than any other jurisdiction in the region, except possibly Falls Church. People want to know why with steadily rising assessments and tax hikes, core county programs are under served.

The elephant in the room is Arlington Public Schools (APS). APS’ 2015 operating budget is projected at $539.4 million. In 2015 the County funds transfer to APS will increase by $19.6 million to $432.2 or almost half the County’s operating budget. Yet that will not be enough to spare a $1.6 million adult high school diploma program at Arlington Mill Community Center. Continue reading

JBG Won’t Contribute to Cost of New Year Round Homeless Shelter

The Arlington Green Party recently endorsed the new year round homeless shelter next to the Woodbury Heights Condominium in the Courthouse section of Arlington. However, at a March 15 County Board meeting I pointed out that at $16.9 million the acquisition and construction cost of the Thomas Building facility that will house the shelter is $7 million more than a comparable shelter constructed in DC in 2012. In addition, the cost of operating the new facility is estimated to be $2.5 million annually. Continue reading

Why County Board Has to Fleece the Taxpayers to House the Homeless

County staff have described as “within budget estimates” the $6.6 million contract to be awarded for the construction of the new year-round homeless shelter. While that’s peanuts compared with some other County sponsored boondoggles like the Pike Trolley and the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center, it might be more accurate to describe the outlay as excessive.
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Rubber Stamping the Destruction of Green Space

My comments below at the January 25, 2014 County Board meeting about the County’s unauthorized removal of trees on the Ashlawn ES site and plans to remove additional trees not authorized by its use permit drew a stern rebuke of the County Manager from no less than four County Board members. The Board is unhappy that it was not consulted about the plans and the fact that the Manager did not seek to modify the use permit it had authorized for the project last May. Continue reading

Ashlawn School Paved Paradise to Put in a Parking Loop

I want to pay tribute to Bob Atkins, prominent GOP civic activist, who died recently. Bob grabbed headlines when at a budget hearing last spring he commented on the impact of impending federal budget cuts, saying: “The goose that laid the golden egg has reached menopause.”

This hilarious mixed metaphor should give pause to those wondering about the cost of the Ashlawn Elementary School extension, which has ballooned from $12 million to $20 million in a year’s time. Continue reading

If It’s Affordable, Why Fix It?

Both major parties are no doubt satisfied at the outcome of the Arlington County Housing Authority referendum, which was defeated a couple of weeks ago due to a sustained disinformation campaign supported by County Board and its allies in the housing community, some of whom are bankrolled by the very developers who have placed much of the rental housing in this county beyond reach. Voters were essentially told “If it ain’t broke why fix it?”
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