The calendar says October, it finally feels like fall, and the Nats are in the playoffs! We have a busy next five weeks leading up to election day, but before we turn the page, I want to update you on what your County Board was busy doing in September.
I have spoken often about our need to maintain a full economic ladder in Arlington, including housing for people of all income levels throughout the county. So, I am pleased that the Board approved a $10.9 million loan from our Affordable Housing Investment Fund to help the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (or APAH) purchase 68 affordable apartments in Westover and maintain them as committed affordable units for the next 60 years. The Board’s action will help preserve both these affordable apartments and a beloved neighborhood, where we want to keep a range of housing affordability. This allocation of funds implements goals of the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, which calls for preserving our existing stock of affordable homes.
We also faced a difficult decision on where to locate Rosslyn’s Fire Station # 10 temporarily while a new station is constructed. The current firehouse on Wilson Boulevard is out of date and needs to be replaced. A private developer will replace it as part of a bigger project at that site, but this means that we will need a temporary location as the new station is constructed. After spending the summer on community outreach and considering many possible locations in Rosslyn, the Board voted to site the temporary station on a portion of the playing field for the new Wilson School. I encourage you to read the press release for the technical details behind the decision and our plans to work with APS to meet their students’ recreation and phys ed needs before the new station is completed. As with any tough decision, we know that there will be members of the community who will be disappointed. But, we listened to concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative. When all is said and done, we will have a wonderful new urban school with a good playing field, integrated open space including a park, a fire station, affordable housing, and a commercial building — and I’m very pleased with all of that.
Your Board also took a few big steps towards Ballston’s future. We approved a plan to replace the existing pedestrian bridge over Wilson Boulevard with a bridge that will fit with the new Ballston Quarter development. The new bridge design came through a collaboration of County staff, the Ballston Quarter developer, and residents. It includes climate-controlled space with less slope to improve safety and comfort, sitting and viewing areas along the bridge, and planters and sitting areas integrated into the bridge design at the sidewalk. The Board also formalized the Community Development Authority public-private partnership to find the Ballston Quarter development and our September meeting.
We look forward to much more activity in October. I also want to remind you that in-person absentee voting has started for the general election. You can vote in the lobby of 2100 Clarendon Boulevard Monday-Friday 8 am – 5 pm or Saturdays 8:30 am – 5 pm. Later weekday hours and voting at Madison and Walter Reed community centers will begin later this month, too.