Alcova Heights Citizens’ Association Meeting
January 11, 2018
- County presentation/discussion
- Committee and officers’ reports
- Presentation and discussion of the budget
- Election of new board member
- Updating the by-laws
- Meeting time for future meetings
- Other new business
Lander Allin called the meeting to order at 7:13pm. A large number of people were in attendance.
The attendees voted to follow the meeting agenda and to skip the traditional meeting attendee introductions.
Overview of the Arlington County Presentation
- GSA West Parcel
- Easement for Possible Path
- Security around Child Care Center
Bryna Helfner, Director of Communications and Public Engagement
- We’re not the decision-makers. We’re here to listen and capture info to take back to CB & County Manager.
- Want to hear everything from everyone, but please be respectful of air time.
- Attendees agreed to respectfully communicate
The CO has had a MOU w/GSA
West Parcel – Park
East – Buildings
State Department has closed access to East Parcel that winds by where the child care center is. They have to put security around the whole site.
West Parcel – where county has invested money as a park. Will continue to be of use by County. But County is concerned with old facilities on West Parcel and the MOU 10 years expires in July w/5 year option. But because facilities need to be replaced, CO wants a longer term agreement w/GSA about longer 15-20 year use agreement so CO can recoup investment and ensure continued use.
Other issue West Parcel is condition of parking lot Co asks for resurface or replace parking lot. GSA seems to be receptive to that, no commitment yet.
Concept: East-West Tunnel – connects 2 parcels under George Mason Drive. The entrance & exit to the tunnel will be outside the security perimeter on the East Side parcel so when they finish that security update the tunnel will still be accessible.
Attendee requested map- visual of the tunnel. Q: Would the tunnel still be just stairs or could we ask if it could be ramped. CO: We could ask them – accessibility. That’s a great request. Q: Will it be accessible from the GM D sidewalk? CO: – Attendee: It is only open on weekdays? Would they guarantee access on weekends/non-workdays. CO: I believe once they finish the security update it will be open.
Tunnel location – down on Southern end of the property – connects where the ball field is and it will be outside the perimeter. The State Department had planned to seal the tunnel but with the CO intervention they have now planned to keep it open.
- Weekend access
- Ramp for accessibility
The County and attendees discussed plans for the State/NGB Site including:
- Goals for West Parcel use, parking lot, and park (future refresh of use/park)
- Neighbors discussed lack of night/weekends access including closure outside of soccer season. CO will follow up with DPR.
- GSA/State has terminated community access to the trail on the East Parcel, which is permitted under the MOU.
- No means to put replacement train on site because of topography, edge of site.
- CO examined ways to add North-South connectivity at the site, but there is no commitment from State on anything.
- No agreements pertaining to a trail or easement have been created.
Q&A with attendees:
- Fence placement: CO understands in most areas they would move the fence out, understanding is that along 6th they would locate it as close as possible to the existing fence but they wouldn’t move the fence that much further out to the red line there. The exact replacement, removal, and placement of fencing is still undetermined. CO thinks State/GSA will have to work with fence contractor to determine fence line (GSA contracting).
- Sledding hill: The sledding hill areas is near where the child care center is which means they’ll want to move the fence all the way out to their boundary.
Lander reviewed previous discussions about the sledding hill/fence– they have said for security reasons the fence has to be where it is around the sledding hill. Going forward trying to talk about fence lines, would ask that people be engaged. Also asks that CO preserve all of its property lines. Part of the sledding hill is indeed CO land. It’s the flat part of the sledding hill.
- Tree preservation: Neighbor – Protecting the trees outside of the property should be a priority because that is a park.
- Lighting: neighbors asked if there will be more lighting with the site changes. Neighbors expressed that we don’t want to lose more trees if there’s going to be more light from the site.
- Perimeter surveillance: what kind of surveillance will be there – what will the surveillance/property for private property. Might be less for owners if the fence were closer to where it is now. 2nd question, is there any benefit to the CO does the CO have any concurrent jurisdiction out there to protect the citizens and not have to rely on the fence to protect the citizens.
CO – that’s not something we’ve had a discussion with them about. If there is public area adjacent to the fence line the police would want to have concurrent jurisdiction. There isn’t any right now.
Tim Aiken is one of the County’s federal liaisons. NCACP did accept and encouraged the State Department to look at ways to restore connectivity N-S in their plan based on the CO input to restore connectivity due to the loss of these large tracts of land.
- Several neighbors spoke against efforts to pursue North-South connectivity raising issues of property rights, perceived lack of need/use, and concerns about future uses of an easement without a plan.
- Neighbors raised concerns and urged improvement of Glebe Road.
CO – Reiterated they are not the decision makers but will take all feedback back to the County. Glebe Road is not a CO road it’s VDOT – which is one of the big problems, in terms of CO doing something about Glebe, it has to be funded and handled by VDOT.
- Neighbor spoke in favor of the value of North-South connectivity physically
- Another neighbor said North-South cohesion should be enhanced through outreach to northern area of neighborhood.
- Trust problem – past president – indicated that every agreement with State has been abrogated, every agreement, we don’t feel CO has spoken for citizens. This shouldn’t be a bargaining chip to get something else done in the CO. Unfair to put any landowners in a position with this easement that puts the property in future jeopardy. We don’t feel like we can work with State, it’s a matter of VA/state/CO working to advocacy. Everything we’ve negotiated State has reneged on.
- Neighbor raised concerns about easement and Eminent Domain
- Neighbor said this path closure limited East-West access and the County should work to restore that first before working on something else.
Alcova Heights Park Plans: CO the County has slated an update to Alcova Heights Park. And there has been some talk (and challenges) about restoring E-W connectivity through there. Lander we’ve already engaged w/CO re: park survey process, back last spring, CO owes us feedback. Lander would like CO to take back to CO/CB support for E-W connectivity through the park (they’ll talk to Lisa and the DPR folks on this park question).
Brian Stout our previous federal liaison has joined us in the room.
- What is the status of the request from state about the ownership of the driveways – they don’t currently own their driveways. So what term would you use for what State is asking for about the driveways.
CO –We don’t know specifically what they’re going to do.
Neighbor – question to the President: doesn’t want to be back here again in 6 months discussing this again.
Lander – recap of recent history – this is not something the Civic Association brought up. The CO brought this up. The Civic Association did not bring up this particular easement.
CO – I think what you’re talking about is jurisdiction in a retrocession? That’s an issue that comes up from time to time. If the CO had no use there then it’s not an issue. If something were built there it would be discussed so the CO could police it.
Lander – would like to try to wrap up discussion in next 10 minutes. We’re at 90-minute point.
- What’s the timeline? What’s the decision timeline? How long do we have?
CO – Unclear on the timeline, no not 1 yr, 5 yrs (shouted), by the end of Apr timeframe is when they’d look to bid for their security fence. The question is where are they going to place their fence. CO2 – We have a current MOU w/State re: use that ends at end of July and we’ll be looking at end of Q1, End of July both deadlines – timeframe references.
- Sara Uzel, 6th Street Neighbor – there is a difference, the CO has repeatedly said “we’ll never use eminent domain” and there is a difference between that and “applying pressure”. And if anyone says that has not happened, it has. May 24th, the CO has been told we (Uzels) want no part of that. Uzels said no to CO several times, no one has been rude to use. But the implied pressure has been horrendous. CO came back to Association and said they’re going to present the updates and the agenda item about a path that would go across our property. I resigned from the board. CO said this started because of the Change.org petition. So I thought this started with a petition, maybe it can end with a petition. So I collected signatures. Sara says the pressure has been horrible. It’s wrong that the CO or citizens are trying to move forward with that and it’s wrong, it’s just wrong. Since we turned in the petition, I will say Christian, the first time we’ve been listened to by CO since this started.
Following these comments, the attendees engaged in sustained, thunderous applause.
CO We’ll be talking with CB first thing tomorrow. We’ll be taking all this back and the laundry list of actions. Hopefully we’ve shared some information with people that maybe they didn’t know yet. Appreciation of neighbors here, and the passion for neighbors.
- Question for Lander what power does the association have to send a message to the County to make sure this never happens again. To make them listen to us? Make it stop.
Lander – the association can take a vote, pass a motion. Either for or against it. When the CO brought this up I didn’t want to short-circuit a process. If the Association, made up or all the members, the association can take a vote and share that with CO, CB. Other, what does the CO want from us to make it stop? Would also encourage Arlington advocacy with the VA/state and with the Federal government.
Lander – extended discussion 5 more minutes.
Any other questions to CO?
- If the CO has said that easement is by Q1 or – you’re asking that easement, once it’s there, it’s already a done deal, it’s destroying back of Stratton House…
- Just for the CO planners, they did tear down the fence on the Barcroft side, they tore down the fence before and STATE made offer to landowners whether or not they wanted to keep fence. 1966 is not when AH was disconnected, that was actually in 90’s. Final point, I would support Landers’ take a look at E-W pathway, that 6th actually extends into the park, 40 beyond last manhole, that’s already a street in Arlington. And Arlington vehicles do use that for maintenance and such.
- I’m kind of confused, I didn’t read all the emails. What did the CO do to make the Uzels think the CO was going to impact their specific property? What happened that made certain properties think they were going to use part of their land. I hear you talking about taking State land, not from homeowners.
Lander – after the path behind 6th was proven to be not only unwanted but unfeasible. The CO has this opportunity to get this easement for future path. More than likely the most direct route is through the Uzels’ properties that would be required in the future, if a path were built.
CO – We have heard you all. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be. We’ve gotten a lot of good insight.
County staff departed the meeting.
The preceding order of business was closed.
MOTION: To express the views of the AHCA that we are opposed to any property easements or eminent domain to establish a path connecting 3th and 6th Streets via the private property.
Motion was seconded.
There are really 2 different areas. I think we should specify which easements we’re voting in opposition to.
We are an opposed to an easement from the State Department that would allow a path to be built from 3rd St over to 6th St.
The motion reads: AHCA is opposed to the County obtaining from the State Department an easement for the purposes of building a path to be built from S 3rd St over to S 6th St.
MOTION TO TABLE – Motion to table this vote until we can write a motion and inform the neighborhood of the vote, and
MOTION AHCA supports the county pursuing an easement?
The majority of those in attendance voted to vote on the motion tonight.
Motion to Whereas the community has expressed improving connectivity of the neighborhood, the plan as presently presented by the State Dept does not have the support of the neighborhood, but that does not rule out looking at other alternatives. The specific mechanism that was presented to us tonight, does not have the support of the neighborhood.
100% of the adjacent owners of the adjacent property owners. Adjacent to where the alternative path would be sited.
MOTION: To express the views of the AHCA that we are opposed to any property easements or eminent domain to establish a path or road connecting 3th and 6th Streets via private or federal property.
Motion to amend – accepted. (Added “federal”)
Motion to amend – a path or a street –
Discussion phase –
There was a concerted effort to demonstrate opposition to this effort. We have not ever had a constructive mechanism to engage the neighborhood about a position in favor of a path.
In preparation of previous plans, we have never had a plan to physically connect the North-South in this manner.
Call for vote, seconded.
Discussion is closed.
31 in favor
The motion passes.
Election of Board Member
To fill a One-Year Delegate vacancy on the board, an election was held at this meeting. Danielle Arigoni and Heidi Ross were candidates for the position. Heidi Ross was elected delegate.
The meeting was adjourned.