<b>Snow Discussion Brings Admission</b>
Following a similar mea culpa by Fairfax Public Schools superintendent Daniel Domenech, County Manager Ron Carlee said he wished he had delayed the opening of county government offices on Friday, after less than a half-inch of snow fell.
“I would say that yesterday, we misjudged,” Carlee told County Board members at their Jan. 10 meeting. “If I had it to do over again, I would have delayed the opening of the government. We didn’t leave a wide enough margin of error.”
That admission came as board members discussed the possibility of putting in place a snow ordinance, following a comment from resident Jim Pebley. Ultimately, board members asked county staff to look at what other area jurisdictions expect for snow clearance.
“March 15 last year, I went before the board and said hey, remember the February snowstorm?” he said later. “The sidewalks on the major thoroughfares were impassable for two weeks. This business of voluntary clearing may not be working.”
It has to be an enforceable ordinance too, he said. “We don’t have to start a troop of snow policemen. We’ve got older folks who shouldn’t really be out there clearing snow,” said Pebley. “You’ve got to make allowances.”
At present, Carlee said, there is no ordinance in Arlington mandating that homeowners and residents remove snow from their sidewalks. But in the past, there has been some demand for such an ordinance, and some board members said they could see the need.
“We had one inch of snow yesterday, and some neighborhoods seemed to be completely paralyzed,” said Board member Walter Tejada.
“We have people from the North come here, and they say, ‘How can there not be a snow ordinance?’” said Board member Chris Zimmerman. “People from the South say, ‘What do you mean, a snow ordinance?’ … I think it’s time to revisit the issue.”
But even passage of a snow ordinance doesn’t guarantee clear sidewalks. Carlee and board members agreed that enforcement of such an ordinance would not be as rigorous as some residents might like. “As we said, we won’t have a snow police,” said Zimmerman.
Snowfall last week was not especially heavy, Carlee said, but extreme cold temperatures made roadways more dangerous than they normally are under one inch of snow. “Cars heated the snow, and melted it just enough for it to become ice,” he said, making some secondary roads especially slippery.
Problems were exacerbated by problems on the highways that would otherwise carry commuters away from Arlington roads: Some of the westbound lanes on I-66 were closed by an accident, as was the Orange Metro line, which meant some Metro riders ended up taking to their cars.
In future, Carlee said, this week will serve as a lesson. “We didn’t leave ourselves a wide enough margin of error.”
Legacy of King’s “Dream”</b>
Arlington County will hold its 35th annual tribute to MArtin Luther King Jr. at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, at the Thomas Jefferson Theatre, 125 S. Old Glebe Road. The event, hosted by WJLA newscaster Sam Ford will celebrate King’s legacy through words, music and dance performed by students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, in the District, and the winners of the county’s sixth annual MLK writing contest. The theme of this year’s contest was, “Dear Dr. King, This is What It Means to Me to Be an American or Live in America.” The evening is free.