Donald Trump Has More Taste Than Arlington County Government?

Comments on impending demolition of historic Wilson School at Arlington County Board Meeting on February 25, 2017.

I think it’s safe to say that President Trump is not popular in Arlington right now, given the lopsided vote the County delivered to his opponent last November—76 percent to be precise. Contributing to Trump’s lack of popularity in liberal circles is the widespread perception that he epitomizes tasteless wealth, i.e. the nouveau riche.

Yet on my way to a Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest last December, I passed the Old Post Office Pavilion, newly renovated by Trump into a luxury hotel. I observed that no pains were spared to restore the exterior of the Post Office Pavilion to its original grandeur.

The façade of this building is a statement in understudied elegance and comports in every respect with its surroundings along historic Pennsylvania Avenue. Yet some critics panned the interior of the Trump Hotel, describing it as “garish”.

I disagree. The same attention to historic preservation in the façade is also evident in the marble floors, wainscoting and chandelier of the grand lobby. The hotel’s pale blue and gold décor is swank but subdued. Trump has made an important statement in preserving one of the Washington’s most significant architectural masterpieces.

Not so County government, which thinks nothing of trashing one of its two remaining historic school buildings—both constructed by prominent 19th century architect Charles M. Robinson–to shoe horn a fire station, more parking and more mixed use development into an already congested neighborhood.

I endorse the comments of Jim Hurysz at a recent Planning Commission meeting, who observed that discussion about Wilson School has degenerated into a debate between APS and County staff about how many parking spaces it will take to satisfice Arlington teachers.

Instead of serving as role models for our children, County government caters to those who pay lip service to a car free diet while refusing to take public transit. The cachet “limousine liberal” is truly apropos in this context.