2000 May

The Rock Springer

Rock Spring Civic Association

 May 2000

Next Civic Association Meeting—The Rock Spring Civic Association will meet on Wednesday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. in room 227 (the music room) at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 N. Harrison Street.


• School Board members Libby Garvey and Frank Wilson

• County Board Chairman Barbara Favola

• State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple will review the latest session of the Virginia General Assembly.

• Discussion of development along Old Dominion Drive (see article below). Luis Araya from Arlington County’s Public Works Dept. will be here to answer questions.

Development Planned on Old Dominion

The properties at 4870 and 4872 Old Dominion Drive have recently been sold, and a preliminary, by-right subdivision plat for that land has been submitted to the Arlington County Department of Public Works. The two existing lots, consisting of 2.048 acres, will be subdivided to create seven new residential lots. The existing houses will be demolished. The new lots will face a cul-de-sac with direct access to Old Dominion Drive.

In a separate project, a half-acre lot is being created behind 4866 Old Dominion Drive. The lot will be accessible via a 240-foot drive.

The effects of these developments and other possible development projects will be discussed at this month’s RSCA meeting.

Remembering Virginia Stitzenberger

With the death of Virginia Stitzenberger on March 26, Arlington lost a citizen of dignity and spirit, but her legacy of community service lives on, a tribute to a lifetime of achievement.

In the early 1950s, she joined with Elizabeth Campbell and other young mothers to found the Rock Spring Cooperative Preschool to foster early childhood education. Their interest in educational opportunity continued as Virginia, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, and other civic leaders actively promoted improved standards in the public school system, along with a locally elected school board. That vision incorporated racial harmony in Arlington County in an era when nearby communities experienced school closures and related turmoil in reaction to school integration. That leadership, combined with a generosity of spirit, helped transform Arlington into a community with desirable schools and an active civic life that attracted many of us when we moved into the area in subsequent years.

Virginia was a woman who cherished her family and valued her friends. A storyteller by nature and a journalist by profession, she enlivened any gathering with lively tales from her life experience—world travels and the serendipity of freighter voyages; her writing and her enjoyment of the performing arts—and her funny, insightful outlook on typical, day-in-day-out life foibles. She thrived on the challenges of Arlington politics, and, as author of the history of Rock Spring Church, she chronicled the influence that congregation had in shaping Arlington’s character.

A few years ago as she celebrated her fiftieth anniversary in the neighborhood, she recounted with some amusement her family’s original plan to remain in their home on Rock Spring Road for only one year. It was our good fortune that one year extended to more than a half-century; during that time Virginia enriched the lives of her friends and improved the community life for all. From her last major trip—to the Inland Passage—she brought to me a souvenir imprinted with Alaska’s state flower. I treasure that bunch of forget-me-nots along with special memories of a warm and caring friend.

Lucy Cunningham

Chesapeake Bay Task Force Report

The task force’s draft final report is/will be available on the web or by mail. To get directions for downloading it or to order a snail mail copy, contact Jeff Harn at Jharn@co.arlington.va.us or 703/228-3612. The following is from the report’s executive summary:

The Arlington County Chesapeake Bay Preservation Program Task Force was created by the County Board in 1998 to review the County’s current Ordinance and program and to recommend measures by which the County could further prevent harm to the Bay. In fulfilling these charges, the Task Force is proposing an integrated approach that will help maintain local quality of life while minimizing runoff and water pollution. This report calls upon the County Board to make a strong commitment to ensure that all available ordinances, programs, and policies are effectively integrated and implemented, to ensure that the goals of Bay protection and maintaining local quality of life are met. In implementing the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance, this means that all proposed developments must comply with three criteria:

· to disturb no more land than necessary;

· to preserve indigenous vegetation as much as possible; and

· to minimize impervious cover.

This approach means initiating public outreach activities to educate homeowners, developers, builders and construction workers, County staff, and the public about the importance of achieving these goals and the means available to do so. It also means using all available mechanisms, including the development of a tree ordinance, to ensure protection or replacement of existing vegetation.

Traffic Watch

N. Delaware Street. Work continues on developing an approach for addressing the traffic congestion at Jamestown, when students are dropped off and picked up, with the objective of having a plan in place and ready to go when school starts again this fall. In the meantime, new parking-restriction and crosswalk signs have been installed at the school to improve pedestrian safety. Survey data show that about 125 vehicles transport almost 200 students to school for start of regular classes in the morning, and slightly fewer vehicles are there for the afternoon pickup. All that traffic results in a lot of commotion and frayed nerves.

School Pedestrian Safety. On April 28, RSCA members participated in a work session on the proposed Safe Routes to School Program, which will be in place this fall. County Board member Chris Zimmerman and School Board chairman Libby Garvey co-chaired the session. PTA members and members of County advisory committees attended, as well as senior managers and staff from County offices, including the Police and Fire Departments. The proposed program features education, engineering, and enforcement activities designed to improve the safety of children walking to and from County schools.

Little Falls Road. In April, RSCA members met on site with County traffic engineering personnel to discuss the decision to deny RSCA’s request to reduce the posted speed limit on parts of Little Falls from 30 mph to 25 mph, to make the speed consistent with County policy for minor neighborhood streets. Although the staff’s objection to reducing the speed limit wasn’t clear to the RSCA members present, the staff did agree to reexamine the matter and respond to the community in May, after the new head of the Traffic Engineering Division is appointed.

Work continues on developing a unified approach for addressing traffic issues in our neighborhood. If you’d like to help or just complain, call Mike Zimmerman at 703 533-0146.

Knights Summer Camp Starts in June

On March 11, the County Board granted a use permit to the Columbus Club of Arlington, 5115 Little Falls Road, to operate a summer day camp program. The camp will run from June 14 through August 18 and is expected to accommodate 115 children, ages 5–12, operating from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday–Friday.

In granting the use permit, the Board required that landscape screening be planted and maintained along the property’s northern and western boundaries (N. 32nd and 33rd Streets). Columbus Club officers, the RSCA, and affected neighbors are developing a planting plan, which will be implemented in stages. The Board also required that the Columbus Club provide a community contact so that neighborhood concerns can be effectively addressed. That person is Columbus Club vice president John Galcius, 703 929-1306.

If you’d like to know more about the camp or enroll your child (there are still openings!), call camp manager Tiffany Riner at 703 538-2267.

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust:

An Answer to Open Space Needs and Infill Development

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is a nonprofit land trust that preserves green space and protects it from development. It can buy land, options, and protective easements in Arlington. Those concerned about making sure that their property is not subdivided in the future can use the Trust to attach a conservation easement to all or part of their deeds. This protects the property and provides tax benefits. It can also be a tool to help a neighborhood resist infill development.

In addition, the Trust can assist Arlington County with land acquisitions and can work with developers and realtors in Arlington to structure land deals to maximize open space. This year the County Manager has proposed that Arlington contribute $75,000 for purchases and legal support. This will help to preserve open space, using the County’s approved Open Space Master Plan as a guide.

In some cases the Trust may be able to move more quickly than the County to take advantage of opportunities to purchase options on properties that the County has targeted for later purchase. In other cases the NVCT could buffer or improve access to existing public open space, particularly along stream corridors. Conservation easements could also have a role in maintaining the open space in cluster development. With funds from Fairfax County, the NVCT has protected 93 acres of land in Northern Virginia from development by either outright purchases or by leveraging federal and state tax deductions and credits. NVCT has more than 1,400 members and other supporters, a volunteer board of directors, and a paid executive director.

You can contact the NVCT at 4022 Hummer Road, Annandale, VA 22033 or by phone (703 354-5093) or fax (703 354-5169). You can also contact the Arlington vice president, Michael Nardolilli, by sending an email to pavonia@gateway.net.