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. That amounts to $2.2 million for each of 9 new classrooms. Last May County Board approved a use permit to tear down a tree lined slope overlooking Bluemont Park for an additional parking loop for the school. This decision was opposed by representatives of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association as both unneeded and damaging to an environmentally sensitive watershed that also has historic significance as the site of a Civil War skirmish.
APS ignored the claims of neighbors with property abutting the hill that more parking contradicts the County’s supposed car free diet policy. Instead it secretly amended the use permit approved by County Board last May to cut down three mature trees in the vicinity of a drainage pond. As a result Ashlawn neighbors will be subject to traffic and noise from the loop all day long and glare from Bluemont tennis courts much of the night.
The largest of the trees was about thirty feet away from the pond. So its removal was clearly unnecessary and raises questions about APS’ motivation in tearing it down. It also provides a good example of the County’s propensity for green washing—talk Green but carry a big stick. The result is that Ashlawn parents and Boulevard Manor residents have paved paradise to put in a parking loop.