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Residents Voice Neighborhood Concerns

Tejada hears comments on overcrowding, job opportunities.

Chair of the Arlington County Board Walter Tejada answers questions from Arlington residents at Drew Community Center.

Chair of the Arlington County Board Walter Tejada answers questions from Arlington residents at Drew Community Center. Photo by Edison Russ

— Residents from all over Arlington asked questions and voiced their concerns about affordable housing and other issues at a town hall-style meeting in Drew Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

Chair of the Arlington County Board Walter Tejada was present to address these concerns during the meeting and to receive forms with residents’ concerns and questions to look into them later.

Overcrowding was one of the major concerns voiced at the meeting.

Mary Madden, a Park Shirlington resident, said she was concerned about the lack of affordable housing and the increase in population density that would occur when 294 Park Shirlington apartment units priced from $1,300-$1,900, which are scheduled to be demolished in the next two years and replaced with 700 units priced from $2,000-$2,600.

Madden also said the residents would need to pay extra for parking.

A Barcroft resident mentioned the increase in Arlington’s child population and asked if the county had any plan for dealing with this growth with regard to extracurricular activities, in addition to providing extra seats in schools, and said that, as of the meeting, there were 1,778 people on a wait list for a Barcroft gymnastics class.

Tejada said that this concern was being addressed by the part of his Moving Forward Together Plan that deals with childhood obesity. He explained that the design considerations for elementary schools have taken into account not only the need for more seats, but for making it easier for children to walk to school.

VICE PRESIDENT of the Nauck Civic Association Portia Clark expressed concern for the number of job opportunities in Nauck, where the median income is $90,000 a year.

“Nauck is not that affluent,” Clark said, “but we need jobs, and we need people to be trained to be more self-sufficient.

Clark said the county should particularly encourage businesses to hire local workers and focus more on finding out what the current economic opportunities are than restricting certain businesses from entering the area.

Tejada said that the county is always enticing economic opportunities, citing the “Shop Arlington” initiative, which encourages residents to shop locally.

With regard to the concern about restrictions, he also elaborated on his response to a question about the rumor of a big box retailer trying to set up shop in Shirlington a couple of years ago, a situation in which some restrictions had been placed.

“We want to make sure that if something happens there,” Tejada said, “it mitigates the impact on the neighborhood, particularly traffic.”

In addition to traffic, Tejada said the impact on the character of a neighborhood was also a deciding factor on changes made in Arlington, which he reiterated when a resident voiced concern about the impact of the street car on small businesses.