<b>Federation Offers Forum
On Neighborhood Watch</b>
Since Sept. 11, Jim Pebley says, the focus on fighting domestic terrorism has been almost exclusively on the first responders.
Pebley, president of the Arlington Civic Federation, has heard the questions in the community though. "There’s a lot of sense of, ‘Hey, what do we do?’" he said. "I remember the days of civil defense, air raids and duck-and-cover."
To answer those questions, the Civic Federation will be offering a Forum on Neighborhood Watch and Community Preparedness at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 26, in the Til Hazel Auditorium of the Virginia Hospital Center-Arlington, 1701 N. George Mason Dr. The forum is free, and open to the public, with pre-registration.
A lot of the credit for putting together the forum, Pebley said, goes to Jackie Snelling, a resident of Lyon Village in North Arlington.
Snelling said she was inspired, in part, by what she saw in her neighborhood on Sept. 11.
"When I went out of my house, I’m a few blocks from the community playground, and it was still full of children, mothers, and nannies with baby carriages," she said. "One of the things I did was go to the park, and tell them they should return home, so their families could reach them, find out the children were OK."
That experience showed her the need for a community emergency plan, and Snelling, along with members of the Civic Federation’s Public Services Committee, set to work organizing a response plan for Arlington neighborhoods.
That will be the focus of the forum, she said. A representative of the police department will talk about a renaissance for the county’s Neighborhood Watch Program.
Mark Penn, a captain in the Arlington Fire Department and the county’s deputy coordinator for emergency services, will discuss Arlington’s overall plans for emergencies, whether terrorist attacks or natural disasters, and community groups forming to plan for future emergencies.
Representatives of Arlington Public Schools and the Red Cross will talk briefly about what they have planned in case of future disasters. Finally, Snelling’s committee will talk about personal and community disaster planning, before breaking attendees into groups based on where they live, and helping them figure out how to plan for the future in their neighborhood.
For the forum to succeed, though, the auditorium needs to be full, Pebley said.
"If we’re not playing to a packed auditorium, we’re not going to be as successful as I I’d hoped," he said. "We have to fight complacency."
More information about the forum, along with registration forms, is available online at <a href="http://www.civfed.org">www.civfed.org</a>.
<b>County OKs Preliminary
Plan For Contentious Park</b>
At its May 18 meeting, Arlington’s County Board unanimously approved a master plan for Greenbrier Park, next door to Yorktown High School. The decision came with the blessing of the community, but only after two months of delicate negotiations.
Representatives of amateur Arlington sports groups have long been vocal supporters of the plan, and they showed up Saturday to continue their support for renovations to Greenbrier.
"The condition and number of Arlington’s parks has become substandard, Greenbrier, perhaps, chief amongst them," said Brian Hannigan, a member of the county’s Sports Commission. "Renovation is long overdue and sorely needed."
Other sports fans urged the board to speed up renovations, possibly including work on the park on the upcoming bond referendum in November.
But neighbors of Greenbrier Park were not as eager for work to begin, not when plans for the renovations were first announced last year.
"This plan has come a long way from last year, when the core planning team targeted 12 homes for acquisition," said Sandi Berenbaum, president of the Yorktown Civic Association.
That was due to a flurry of mediation over the last three months, she said, work that made the plan more palatable to Yorktown neighbors. But they still wanted to ensure they would have a voice when final plans are made for the park.
Board members appreciated the changes, too. "I want to recognize what a success this has become in the past couple months," said Jay Fisette. "It didn’t start out looking like it would come here this way."
With board approval, the county’s Parks and Recreation department will begin establishing a planning group, to finalize plans for the park. Janice Woods, director of the department, said she hoped to have that group put together within two months.
That could mean smooth sailing for Greenbrier from here on, Berenbaum said, as long as neighbors are fairly represented in the planning group. "If we get successful resolutions, the neighborhood will be happier, sports groups will be happier, and we’ll build bridges for future issues," she said.
<b>Schools Speed Up
Arlington schools will offer a speedy chance for some students to retake near-missed Standards of Learning exams.
Following last week’s testing, the county will offer expedited retests to students taking tests for "end of course" credit – high school level courses, occasionally available to middle school students.
"The reason the state has come up with this is, tests are never 100 percent perfect," said Kathy Wills, director of planning and evaluation for Arlington schools. "It has to do with whether students are feeling well, with the luck of the questions. You’ve probably taken a test where you say, ‘I’m glad they asked that question.’"
Unfortunately, Wills said, it’s been tough planning for the retests. They are only available to students who come within 25 points of passing the tests, scoring between 375-399 when the passing score is 400. High school seniors from 2004 on must pass six of 10 available tests to graduate.
Last year, 800 students came that close to passing, she said, and that’s how many the schools are planning for. But it’s not certain that everyone who can take the tests will show up.
In addition, lingering questions about SOLs could affect which students pass or fail. Last year, the State Board of Education made changes to the scoring of US History SOL tests. In addition, the General Assembly passed legislation in March, co-sponsored by Arlington Del. Karen Darner (D-49), that would let seniors use alternatives to SOL tests to earn passing credit for a course.
"The State Board is still grappling with those questions," Wills said.
Middle schoolers and students in the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program eligible for the faster retests should take the tests on June 11 and 12, during the normal school day.
High school retests will be administered June 19 and 20, at Arlington’s three high schools.
Tests scheduled on June 19 are Mathematics (including, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry), at 8:15 am., and History (including World History 1, World History 2, World Geography, U.S. History) at 122:15 p.m. At 8:15 a.m. on June 20, the schools will administer retests in Science, including Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry.
<b>Closings For Memorial Day</b>
Arlington County offices, clinics, courts, nature and recreation centers will be closed Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day. Regular schedules will resume Tuesday, May 28.
Garbage and recycling normally collected on Monday will be picked up on Memorial Day. Cans must be placed curbside by 6 a.m.
The Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Parking meter restrictions will not be enforced, but other parking regulations will be in effect. County Public Access Channel 31 will show regular programming. County libraries will be closed Sunday, May 26, and Monday, May 27. Swimming pools will be open. Pools at Washington-Lee and Yorktown will be open from 5:30-8 a.m. and 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Wakefield’s pool will be open from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.