April was an important month. The County Board approved the Amazon site plan and park master plan; updated the Clarendon sector plan; and passed our budget among other items.
Amazon Site Plan
Amazon continues to be a good resident for Arlington. After about a year of planning and working with various commissions and our staff, the new park and buildings, including the signature Helix building (PenPlace site), was presented to the Board. We heard nearly total support from labor groups, environmental groups, and our commissions. This site will be transformative for Crystal City and, I believe, be a model for urban development. All the services: trash, parking, deliveries, etc., will be underground and unseen by those enjoying the park and area. The park uses native species and will provide varied and interesting outdoor spaces to serve as a bit of a retreat. There will be an open area for gatherings, a wooded walk for shade, a water feature and more. You will be able to walk up the entire circular walk of the Helix to the top and have trees the whole way up. The building will operate on renewable energy and have bird safe glass all the way up. You might enjoy watching this portion of our meeting and seeing the presentation. Presentation link (fast forward to minute 37:30) http://arlington.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=4088
Clarendon Sector Plan
Support was not so unanimous for the Clarendon sector plan. We heard from neighboring civic associations about their desire for more green space and their request that we take any location of affordable housing on our property off the table for consideration in the future. I and my colleagues did not want to take away the possibility of future discussions about co-locating affordable housing, and left open possibilities for more green space and/or more housing. Clarendon has the lowest percentage of affordable housing of any of our urban corridors at the moment, but has more available green space than a number of those urban corridors. I could not justify saying we would not consider more affordable housing on our own property nor insisting on more green space no matter what. We certainly do not want to do that now before any specific plans have come forward.
Our FY23 budget focusses on improved compensation for our employees, especially our public safety employees. All employees will receive a 5.5% increase in pay and some will receive quite a bit more. During the pandemic our employees worked hard, often at risk to their own health, without an increase in pay. As my readers are well aware, we have been losing significant numbers of our police and mental health workers over the past year. Everyone is having trouble attracting and retaining good employees. We cannot provide the services Arlington residents expect and deserve without top quality, well paid employees.
Our public information team created helpful and eye-catching info-graphics to describe the budget for transportation, public safety, affordable housing, human services and the environment. I think they are creative, helpful and accessible for people. I’d be interested to know what you think. To see a larger, readable version of this info-graphic, please click on the following link: https://www.arlingtonva.us/files/sharedassets/public/budget/documents/fy-2023/fy-2023-adopted/adopted-fy-2023-budget-infographic.pdf
Covid is still among us and increasing with the new variant. I try to go about my work and life almost as before, but wear a mask when inside with large numbers of people and I’ve had two boosters. Even when you are careful, it is quite easy to get the new Covid variant. Two of my fully vaccinated colleagues have recently tested positive for Covid. So far no one has gotten terribly sick. I encourage my readers to be vaccinated, boosted if appropriate, and wear a mask when appropriate to protect yourself and others, but not to worry too much. While the situation continues to be difficult for immuno-compromised people, if you are basically healthy and fully vaccinated, it is unlikely you will get very sick should you contract the virus.
Two County clinics are still open for vaccines and boosters; see the link for hours and locations: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Health/COVID-19/COVID-19-Vaccine/COVID-19-Vaccine-Clinic-Registration
Our May meetings are coming up quickly. I am not sure if we will manage a May newsletter. I will be in Germany as part of a delegation to look at renewable energy projects there for the first part of May, missing the Saturday meeting. And Townley, who helps me with my newsletters, will be away the end of May making it difficult for us to get out our usual newsletter. I am always happy to hear from my readers and will be checking email much of the time I am gone. Send any questions if you have them.
Wishing everyone a good spring and good health,