2001 October

The Rock Springer

Rock Spring Civic Association

October 2001

RSCA Meeting

The Rock Spring Civic Association met on Thursday, October 18, at 7:30 pm in room 227 (the music room) at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 N. Harrison Street.


  • Report on the pesticide runoff at Washington Golf and Country Club and current conditions at the Pentagon: Arlington County Fire Department Captain Geoffrey Everly
  •  Candidates for the Arlington County Board: Jay Fisette and Michael Clancy
  •  Candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates: Robert Brink and Victor Williams
  •  Candidate for the Arlington School Board: Elaine Furlow o Reports on other issues

Welcome to New RSCA President Paul Michl

With the departure of Rock Spring's longtime friend and leader, John McCracken, who has moved to Virginia Square, RSCA's former Vice President Paul Michl has assumed the duties of president. Paul has lived in Arlington for 33 years and has been a Rock Spring resident for 15 years. He served on the Arlington County Planning Commission from 1987 to 1999, and was its chairman in 1993 and vice chairman in 1992. Paul is currently a member of the Glebe Road Pedestrian Safety Committee, which focuses on the Ballston area. Although we'll miss John, our civic association continues to be in very capable hands. Thank you, Paul.

School Construction Updates

Jamestown School

The Building Level Planning Committee met on September 20. This first meeting of the new school year was attended by committee members and representatives of the architectural firm engaged by the County. The committee is composed of Jamestown neighbors, parents, faculty, staff, and RSCA members. The committee reviewed a breakout of space utilization in both the existing school and the 17,000 square feet proposed to be added to Jamestown.

The committee brainstormed and came up with many different options for the placement of the additional space. Some suggestions were: connecting the two main wings of the school thus a creating courtyard; adding a second story to the existing building; building out on the slope overlooking the play area behind the parking lot; putting the addition where the existing trailers are in front of the school; and building the addition in multiple locations. There was a consensus that, if possible, a goal was to preserve green space around the school. Also, any play areas that had to be removed would be placed elsewhere on the school grounds. There was also a discussion about reconfiguring some of the current facility to obtain needed additional space for teachers and support functions. This reconfiguration was not included in the original proposal.

The next meeting will be held October 10. The committee will walk the grounds to look at the terrain, and review some of the options for locating the additional space, which will be drawn up in rough "bubble" format by the architectural firm.

For more information, contact Vanessa Williams, Design and Construction Services, Arlington Public Schools, 703/228-6613.

Williamsburg Middle School

The Arlington School Board held a work session at the Williamsburg Middle School on September 25 to hear citizens' comments about the proposed addition of six classrooms and a library to the building. On September 27 the School Board voted to approve the schematic design for the construction.

Two areas of construction are proposed in the project. The first, on the south side of the building, would be a one-story addition connecting the south ends of the two existing wings. It would contain a total of six classrooms and would have only a minimal effect on an adjacent field used for recess activities. Although six classrooms are being added, the school population will increase to only 850 from the current 814. The second area of construction would be a small addition to the media center. This would be built on top of the existing cafeteria facing N. Harrison Street. Existing trees on the school property would screen the addition from Harrison Street.

The project is expected to go to bid in late spring with construction to begin in the summer of 2002. Once construction begins, the impact on surrounding residents should be small. The contractor may need to use the secondary parking lot as a staging area for supplies and equipment, so there may be more staff parking on Harrison Street. During the work session, the principal indicated that new lines had been painted on the lot this year and that the parking spaces are too narrow so several staff members are parking on the street. She has requested that the parking lot be remarked with standard-size spaces.

A question was raised about getting landscaping materials into the courtyard area after the classrooms are built on the south end of the wings. School staff assured the Board that they will work with the parents who are planning the courtyard design to make sure any large items that are needed will be in place before easy access is closed off.

Albemarle Street Traffic Calming

The County Board approved the preliminary plan for traffic calming on N. Albemarle Street that was put forward by the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee (NTCC) on May 19.

In August, the County asked the NTCC for an additional $40,000 toward this project. The NTCC members approved the additional monies for the County to use a contractor to perform the required design and survey work based on the preliminary plans. The County has subsequently tasked a contractor with the survey and design work, which should be complete by the end of the year.

The Albemarle traffic calming improvements are expected to begin in spring 2002. If the County had relied solely on its own crews, it would have been late next year before the design or survey work could have been performed.

Traffic Watch

Rock Spring / Little Falls Road. The Arlington Department of Public Works (DPW) has completed its evaluation of traffic data and has concluded that speeding problems exist on Rock Spring between Little Falls and Old Dominion Drive and on Little Falls between Rock Spring and Old Dominion Drive. DPW's evaluation shows that the average speed on Rock Spring was measured at 29 mph with a volume of 1,669 vehicles per day and the average speed on Little Falls was 27 mph with a traffic volume 1,041 vehicles a day. Both streets exceed the threshold set by the County's Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee (NTCC) for defining a speed problem.

In addition, the streets have been graded and assigned priority ranking points based on roadway and pedestrian factors, with Rock Spring receiving a mid- to high-level ranking score of 77 and Little Falls a mid-range score of 58. The next step is for the NTCC to compare and prioritize Little Falls and Rock Spring with other locations to determine if they are next in line to receive traffic calming measures.

Williamsburg Blvd. This summer the County Board adopted an amendment to the Bicycle Transportation Plan establishing a 23-mile network of bicycle lanes on County streets. The plan includes a future proposal to establish bicycle lanes in each direction on Williamsburg from Westmoreland St. to Glebe Rd. by reducing the number of lanes devoted to motorized vehicles from 4 to 2. The County believes the roadway capacity far exceeds the volume of motorized traffic likely to use Williamsburg Blvd. for the foreseeable future. (Most likely the two-lane section of Williamsburg between Emerson St. and George Mason Dr. would be a share-the-road arrangement.) Establishing the bicycle lanes should help to slow down the speeders. RSCA will be asked to participate in developing the bicycle lane proposal.

Jamestown School. Recently the County installed additional no parking/no standing signs adjacent to the crosswalk on Delaware St. in front of the school. The additional signs were put up because some drivers were either parking in the crosswalk or obstructing its view by parking too close. Let's hope that these signs will correct the problem.

Work continues on addressing pedestrian and other traffic issues in our neighborhood. If you'd like to get involved, call Mike Zimmerman, 703/533-0146.

Sidewalks on Old Dominion Drive

The RSCA Old Dominion Drive Study Group was established four years ago to assist the County in considering possible changes to Old Dominion Drive. The work of the Study Group is complete. Construction of the comprehensive sidewalk, roadway, and curb and gutter plan will begin in the spring.

For more information, call planner Rich Viola, Arlington County Department of Public Works, at 703/228-3699.

Use Permits at Rock Spring Church

Three groups that use facilities at the Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ have applied for use permits. The County Board will consider the applications at its meeting on November 17.

  • Ballet Petite -- classes for children ages 2-8 years on Friday and Saturday. See www.balletpetite.com.
  • School of T'ai Chi Chuan of Metropolitan Washington -- classes for approximately 60 adults on Monday evenings from 6 to 9:30 pm. See www.taichischool.org.
  • Washington Balalaika Society -- orchestra rehearsal for approximately 25 to 30 adults on Wednesday evenings from 8 to 10 pm. See www.balalaika.org.

The County's Zoning Ordinance distinguishes between uses permitted "by right" and uses allowed only by "special exception." The use permit is one form of special exception. The use permit provides a process for considering and approving a proposed use to ensure that it will not adversely affect health, safety, or property in the neighborhood. In granting the permit, the County Board can impose conditions of operation, and the Board can revoke the permit if those conditions are not met.

For more information about these applications, call Arlington County planner Marcia Smith, 703/228-3532.