<b>Board Approves Capital Plans</b>
Small-scale neighborhood projects got a boost from the County Board, in the revised Capital Improvement Plan that board members passed at their June 22 meeting.
Overall, the board approved a $682.6 million, six-year capital improvement plan carrying the county into 2009. That includes $159.7 million in bond requests slated for this November’s ballot referendum.
Thanks to cuts in the schools’ CIP, bond requests for this year sank overall, despite additional funding added by board members. County Manager Ron Carlee’s proposed CIP called for $161.6 million in bond money from the 2002 ballot. Spending plans in the CIP as a whole grew from $665.3 million in Carlee’s proposal.
Some extra money went to the county’s Neighborhood Conservation program, which allocates county funds, based on citizen recommendations, to pay for sidewalks, lights and curb and gutter improvements in Arlington neighborhoods.
Carlee proposed rolling several different programs under the NC umbrella, but the plan met with some disapproval from members of the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission.
Before the programs were combined, NCAC members said, the Neighborhood Conservation needed increased funding, and two years to work with county neighborhoods, bringing them up to speed with requirements for the NC program.
They got their wish in the CIP approved by the board, which bumped NC funding from $7.6 million up to $9.5 million next year. The board also approved a task force that would consider how best to achieve the combined NC program.
In addition to changes to neighborhood conservation, the board also approved a stepped up plan to renovate Greenbrier Park, next to Yorktown High School.
Renovations plans for the park met with neighborhood criticism, and up to last month, neighbors said they were concerned that the park planning process include enough local input.
Carlee’s proposed CIP included funding that would finish renovations to the park in 2009, but local sports groups asked that the county speed the pace of the renovations, completing them before seven years pass.
In response, the board moved funds for planning of the park to this year’s bond, $2 million to begin renovations to the 2004 bond. The remaining $4.5 million stays in the 2006 bond, but board members asked that later phases of the project also be stepped up if possible.
The move countered requests by neighbors, to speed up planning but delay any move on the start of construction at Greenbrier. Neighbors want the "planning process to proceed without obstruction," something that may not happen under a sped-up timetable, said Sandi Berenbaum, president of the Yorktown Civic Association. Still, renovations may meet with neighborhood approval, as long as they are done in phase, to mitigate the impact of construction on the neighborhood.
<b>Total Capital Spending, 2002:</b> $187,887,000
<b>Total Money Proposed for 2002 Bond:</b> $159,700,000
<b>School Money on Bond:</b> $79,974,000
<b>Park Money from 2002 Bond:</b> $20,500,000
<b>Total Public Safety Money, 2002:</b> $20,932,000
<b>Metro Funding:</b> $12,500,000
<b>Groups Picked To Lead
Pike Redesign Work</b>
On the top floor of the Sheraton National Hotel, overlooking the length of Columbia Pike, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization announced last week that it had tapped two group to lead the charette to redesign what has been called "the Main Street of South Arlington."
Tim Lynch, CPRO’s executive director, said the group had picked Dover, Kohl & Partners, of Miami, and Geoffrey Ferrell Associates, from the District, to work in tandem to lead the community meetings that would form the basis for the Pike Revitalization Initiative.
Dover, Kohl and Geoffrey Ferrell will spend the week of July 12-18 in Arlington, conducting community workshops and presenting possible plans for the Pike. The charette process will begin with a 7 p.m. kickoff event on Friday, July 12 at the Sheraton National, on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Columbia Pike, and will center on a day-long workshop, open to the community, on Saturday, July 13, also at the Sheraton. More information about the charette is available online at <a href="http://www.columbiapikepartnership.com">www.columbiapikepartnership.com</a>, or by calling 703-892-2776.
That will put plans for the Pike literally in the hands of Arlington residents, said Margaret Marshall, a planner with Dover, Kohl. Planners will hand markers to small groups of residents, and ask them to draw what changes they would like to see on maps of Columbia Pike.
Under plans adopted by the County Board in March, Columbia Pike would become a massive development site, a southern rival to Clarendon and Wilson.
Running along the 3.5 mile strip of the Pike, the plan would establish five centers, integrated through a corridor plan – roughly analogous to plans shaping the development of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square and Ballston.
Those centers would be linked by residential neighborhoods. Running through all of those, the plan calls for greater traffic capacity, expanded bike trails, sidewalks and an expanded transit system – light rail, or faster buses.
Charettes are designed to give communities a say in how they move into the future, said Peter Katz, an Alexandria resident and author of books on revitalizing American cities. But charettes are not always a win-win situation.
"I’ve seen many fall flat," Katz said. "I saw a charette in DC; it started right. Citizens felt like they had input in the process. But then designers put the drawings away. When they came back, the citizens said, ‘That’s not what we said we wanted.’"
But Dover, Kohl and Geoffrey Ferrell are not the type to do that, Katz said. He said he would be watching the Arlington process, eager to see how things turn out. "What you end up with is a hypothesis," he said, a theory about how residents would like to see their community evolve around them.
After the July workshops, Dover, Kohl will collate the date collected and pass it on to Ferrell Associates, who will put together the actual building codes that will drive revitalization. Those plans should come back to the county by the end of the year.