Mr. Feheley discussed this proposed public-private venture at our prior Membership Meeting on Wednesday, February 28, 1996. He agreed to return at the request of our members present at that meeting to provide additional specificity about the proposed venture.
In last month's meeting, Mr. Feheley discussed Arlington's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources'(PRCR's) proposed public-private venture between the County and Marymount University to upgrade the Quincy Park soccer/football playfield. Based on their experience with the partnership between the County and George Washington University in supporting the funding of a major upgrade to South Arlington's Barcroft #4 baseball field, PRCR is receptive to the concept of public-private ventures with organizations who have a need for quality athletic facilities and are willing to provide substantial funding. These upgrades can provide a better facility for the Arlington community at minimal cost to taxpayers, while enabling the private organization an opportunity to play and practice at the facility during many of the less popular user times. At this meeting, Mr. Feheley indicated to the Association that the County has another opportunity for a "similar" public-private venture at the Quincy Park soccer/football playfield with Marymount University.
According to Mr. Feheley, the initial upgrade of the Quincy soccer field that Arlington County and Marymount University are currently discussing will require an estimated $50,000 from Marymount University and $10,000 from the County to support the proposed upgrade and partnership, while PRCR will provide the staff to complete the project. Also, Marymount University's annual contribution to the partnership for maintenance of the Quincy soccer field was estimated by Mr. Feheley to be approximately $5,000. The anticipated date of project commencement will be late May with an anticipated date of completion by mid-August 1996.
Mr. Feheley discussed the temporary displacement of some regularly scheduled activities at Quincy Park this summer; these include recreational baseball leagues and the Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus sponsored by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.
Members present at this meeting expressed concern to Mr. Feheley about the possible loss of this playfield for casual use by our community after the upgrade, especially because Quincy Park is not only centrally located in our County but is the largest open area in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Also, members expressed concern to Mr. Feheley and representatives of Marymount University present at the meeting about the lack of specificity and formalization of the joint venture proposal. Members inquired about:
Because of the lack of specificity about the proposal, the Executive Committee and members present at the meeting asked that Mr. Feheley not go forward to these Arlington Commissions until after additional information is provided to our Association about what they are contemplating and his return to our next Association's Membership Meeting on March 27th. Also, we asked that these Commissions put off consideration of any action items on the joint venture proposal until their April meetings. Mr. Feheley indicated that he didn't see a problem with that. Also, Mr. Feheley agreed to return to our March Membership Meeting and thanked us for his time.
On March 17, 1996, BVSCA President Ragland received a letter from Janis B. Wood, Chief, Sports Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, concerning their upcoming presentation at our next Membership meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 1996.
Over the past month, the Department Parks, Recreation and Community Resources (PRCR) has presented the idea of a joint venture between our Department and Marymount University to upgrade the existing playfield area at Quincy Park this summer to the following organizations: the Sports Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission and members of the American Legion Post 139 leadership. Washington Lee High School was informed of the opportunity for possible field improvements in early February 1996. Normal summer user group of Quincy #1 and Quincy #2 ball fields have been informed that their games and practices may be relocated for this summer only due to possible scheduled improvements at Quincy Park. If improvements are made to the Quincy play field this summer, it is the intention of PRCR to provide all current user groups access to the Quincy Park playfield areas once the improvements have been completed. In addition, greater accessibility to the outfield area of Quincy #3 ballfield area, particularly during the afternoon hours, will be made available to the Washington Lee field hockey teams and possibly recreational youth soccer teams for practices in late summer, early fall of this year.
PRCR staff continues to assist the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing in securing an alternative site for the Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus tentatively scheduled for this upcoming Labor Day Weekend.
As a point of further clarification of Marymount University's current relationship with PRCR, Association members may not know that Marymount University has rented fields from PRCR for many years; the University has traditionally used soccer fields at different locations including Quincy Park. This proposed joint venture for field improvements with PRCR increases the financial contribution by Marymount University for rental of Arlington County fields. In the fall of 1995, Marymount University rented Arlington play fields for approximately 40 hours for soccer games and 30 hours for soccer practices. PRCR scheduled approximately 380 hours of soccer, field hockey and flag football games and practices at Quincy Park soccer/football field from August through November in 1995.
The Civic Association has invited Pete Feheley, Program Sports Supervisor, from Arlington's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, to discuss the updated status of the proposed public-private venture between the County and Marymount University and to discuss the contemplated schedule. If you have any questions or comments about this proposed public-private venture, we invite you to bring them to our Membership Meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 1996, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference rooms. This item is scheduled for presentation from 7:35 to 8:30 p.m.
Also, the Executive Committee expects that the Association members present at this meeting will vote on whether or not to support the proposed public-private venture for Quincy Park. We invite all interested members to attend and express your views.
Briefly, staff of the Zoning Office formulated their four amendments in response to State Code that requires localities to adopt amendments to their Zoning Codes when there are a significant number of variances requested (and granted) for the same situations. Many times residents need to request variances for additions, placement of air conditioning condensers, etc. because their older homes currently do not conform to current Zoning regulations because of past street widenings, etc. The four amendments are:
This new category would be known as Unified Residential Development, and its purpose is to provide flexibility that would allow site-specific solutions in the design of single-family detached dwellings. The site-specific solutions required under this category will: promote the compatibility of the development within its neighborhood by coordinating building forms; ensure that the bulk and scale of new buildings comports with adjacent dwellings; and preserve natural land forms, irreplaceable historical features and trees and foliage. This type of development would be subject to public hearing and review -- something that development by right does not offer.
As incentives to use this process, the developer would be offered a shorter review period (60 days instead of 90) and flexibility in the placement of structures, lot lines and streets. The number of dwellings permitted on the land to be developed would be limited by the size of the lot and the requirements of the zoning (R-5, R-10, etc.)
Although this proposal has many good features, the Civic Federation, when reviewing the proposal last month, raised several questions and offered the following modifications:
The Civic Association has invited staff from Arlington County to discuss these proposals at our next Membership Meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 1996, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference rooms. This item is scheduled for presentation from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m.
In response to our members' inquiries, the Executive Committee contacted the Director of Public Affairs at The Arlington Hospital and invited hospital representatives to discuss the proposed venture at our next Membership Meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 1996, at the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, 2nd floor conference rooms. This item is scheduled from 9:15 to 10:00 p.m. If you have any questions or comments about the proposed venture, the Civic Association invites you to bring them to this meeting. Also, The Arlington Hospital provided the following information to help explain why the proposed joint venture is necessary.
The Association Board members are deeply aware of their responsibilities as voluntary trustees of a non-profit tax-exempt organization. We take this position of trust most seriously. The Association's Board has worked long and hard (and without compensation) to negotiate initial arrangements with Columbia that are consistent with our goals of preserving quality community health care and preserving our assets for charitable purposes.
We are still working on the final agreements. Contrary to what you might have read in the local media, we have not completed our negotiations. There are many details to be worked out, not the least of which are a period of due diligence, asset valuations, and federal and state review. We do not expect to get to closure until mid-summer.
AMost hospitals all over the country are considering mergers, joint ventures and even sales. The decision to combine rather than go it alone is a difficult one. Many are reaching the same conclusion--that hospitals like ours will not survive in the current environment where employers increasingly depend on managed care contracts that will provide access to multiple facilities in a region. Hospitals must change and adapt or wither and die.
The market for healthcare services in Northern Virginia is dominated by the INOVA system. As premier healthcare provider in Arlington, the Board felt the Hospital had to become part of a competing system or had to create a system to be sure that community-based health care remained viable in Arlington.
QHow did the Board arrive at this decision?
AThe Arlington Hospital Association took several steps in its journey to the current proposed joint venture. First, it conducted an extensive internal study, which concluded that continuation as a single hospital was not a viable long term alternative. It then met with more than 30 area hospitals to evaluate potential system partners. With the help of its expert advisors, which included many nationally ranked healthcare consultants, the options narrowed to two: again, join or create a system. The Association seriously pursued both of these options before reaching an agreement in principal with Columbia.
QWhat other healthcare organizations did the Board seriously consider?
AThe Board had preliminary discussions with the INOVA system. The Board also had extensive negotiations with Alexandria Hospital. It became obvious during all of these discussions that a third organization--Columbia, who also already had holdings in the Northern Virginia market--was the best option for The Arlington Hospital.
QWhat made Columbia stand out?
AColumbia's existing system throughout the state, as well as in Northern Virginia, played a significant role in the Board's choice of Columbia as a network partner. Columbia's intent to establish a strong competitive system in Northern Virginia gives The Arlington Hospital an opportunity to remain vital as a healthcare facility for its community. The joint venture arrangement keeps autonomy at the local level.
QWhat conditions did the Board require as prerequisites for the negotiations?
ASince the Board did not want to sell the Hospital outright, it wanted to ensure community representation in decision-making. Therefore it chose a joint venture arrangement.
QHow will the joint venture work?
AUnder the proposed joint venture, the Arlington Healthcare Association and the Columbia entity will each own half of a Virginia limited liability corporation that, in turn, will own and operate the current Arlington Hospital as well as Reston Hospital, Dominion Hospital, Reston Imaging Center, and Fairfax Surgical Center. In addition to half of the seats on the LLC Board, the Association will retain certain special rights to protect community interests, primarily a veto power, through its Board members, over major organizational and operational decisions affecting the venture.
Columbia will not sell or convey its interest in the joint venture without the Arlington Healthcare Association's consent. The Arlington Healthcare Association will have right of first refusal should Columbia decide to sell its interest in the joint venture.
QWere there any special compensation arrangements made for Board members or current management?
ANo. Board members are volunteers and serve without compensation. In the proposed limited liability corporation, directors will not be compensated.
All Board members prior to any vote relating to the potential joint venture agreed in writing that they would not be investors in the joint venture. Should the joint venture come to fruition they also agreed in writing not to pursue any investment in it for at least two years after closure.
Management has not and will not receive any special compensation, salary, or benefits. They will be offered comparable employment or a reasonable period of time in order to preserve continuity in the management and operation of the Hospital.
QHow is the Board ensuring that the assets of The Arlington Hospital are fairly valued?
AAn investment banking firm that specializes in healthcare acquisitions was hired specifically to help the Board analyze our joint venture options. This firm is currently advising the Board throughout these negotiations to ensure that the Hospital's assets are being fairly valued. When the due diligence period is complete, this firm will render a "fairness opinion" that provides assurance that the Hospital's assets have been fairly valued.
QWhat role does the state play in the transfer of assets from a not-for-profit to a for-profit status?
AThe letter of intent we have signed provides that no joint venture will be undertaken until the Association receives all appropriate regulatory clearances.
QWhat are the implications of becoming a taxpaying hospital?
AWhatever their structure, hospitals must earn revenue over expenses. Every hospital is judged by the same criteria: our quality of care and the competitiveness of our fees. We are only as good as our physicians, staff, administration, and community support.
The joint venture agreement that the Board is negotiating with Columbia specifically stipulates that The Arlington Hospital will continue its policy to treat all persons presenting themselves to the facility who require care, regardless of their ability to pay for that care. In 1995, that was in excess of $7 million in charity care. This figure does not include other forms of uncompensated care, such as discounts and bad debt.
In addition, there is a distinct advantage to the community because the joint venture will pay local, state, and federal taxes.
QWhat is the future of the Arlington Healthcare Association?
AThe Association will continue to operate as an independent, charitable organization. Its proposed mission will be to establish, promote, and support programs to improve the health and well-being of the people of Arlington and surrounding Northern Virginia communities.
With assets of $90 million or more and with annual revenues from the joint venture, we estimate that this new organization will generate several million dollars annually which can be used for charitable purposes.
The stewardship and judicious distribution of such large sums is an enormous responsibility. A subcommittee, under the chairmanship of longtime community leader Charlotte Benjamin, has been meeting to detail the charitable mission of the Association. Plans for seeking community input are under discussion.
Board Members Available to Answer Questions at Your
If your club or organization would welcome a joint venture presentation by a team of Hospital Board members and management staff, call Stephanie McNeill, Director of Public Affairs at The Arlington Hospital, at (703) 558-6595.
Also, if you have questions, you may call Stephanie McNeill, Director of Public Affairs at (703) 558-6595 or Judy Fox, Vice President for Development, at (703) 558-6613.
The proposal is for a 216 feet tall, 21 story residential building which includes 456,530 square feet of gross floor area (g.f.a.) and 3.255 Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The standard in this District ("Commercial-Office-Apartment," or "C-O-A") is 3.0 FAR. The applicant is requesting modification of use regulations to exempt the following from density calculations: enclosed balconies, health club, racquetball court, locker rooms and tenant storage, (totaling 61,322 square feet of g.f.a.). This would, if approved, lower the density of the building to 2.82 FAR. The Disclosure Statement for SP #256 Stuart Park, dated January 11, 1996, shows the names of the following entities, as having equitable ownership of the real estate to be affected in this proposed amended site plan application: (1) Fidelio Properties, a general partnership; (2) First Federal Savings & Loan of Arlington; (3) The Arlington County Board; and (4) Paradigm Development Company.
The developer's presentation indicated that they plan on 39 efficiency units, 278 one bedroom units, 278 one bedroom units, and 120 two bedroom units, for a total of 557 bedrooms in what is planned as a rental apartment building.
After presentation, and full and fair debate, the Membership voted to adopt the following position on the proposed Major Site-Plan amendment application.
Additional Highlights of the Developer's Presentation
For our members, who were unable to attend the prior Membership Meeting on February 28, 1996, the following are some of the additional highlights from the developer's presentation.
Martin Walsh,agent/attorney, representing the owners of the property, opened the presentation. Mr. Walsh introduced (1) Clarke Ewart from the Paradigm Development Company: (2) John Gardner, who represents the family who owns the property; and (3) Dave Draper, the developer's architect.
Martin Walsh:"We're try to be informative but brief. Just maybe a little bit of background and you already probably know this. This project was approved in the 1980's as a mixed use project, office to the north and residential to the south. This property had a problem as far as consolidation or assemblage and the problem was that the Crestar property, which was located at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Taylor Street, was never part of the consolidation. An agreement got them to come in and the only way we could get them in was to put a 40,000 square foot building along Wilson Boulevard which really didn't fit in, but was the only way we could get the situation to work. Now, the Sleep Shop which is still there was also not yet assembled so we come to you tonight with a totally assembled site.
We have put Crestar under contract at considerable expense, I might quickly add, and we've got a revised plan that shows a consolidated property with the residential building fronting on Wilson Boulevard which I think is an important new element. Paradigm will be the developers, they've built a number of projects in Arlington County and they have the financial wherewithal to proceed with the project. Our last developer was unable to get financing, so the project did not proceed. So with that I would like to turn it over to Clarke Ewart, who maybe could say a couple of words."
Clarke Ewart:"Sure, I'm just going to spend a few minutes telling you a little bit about Paradigm. I think the presentation, Dave will walk you through the building and after that we will answer your questions. Paradigm has been in business for about six years and has developed a number of high-rise residential projects at metro locations and some of them are right here in this community. We have Ballston Place we developed, which had a first and second phase which is over on Vermont Street and Utah Street, and Quincy Place is another one of those communities we built and developed, and its 222 units over on Randolph and we've got other work down at the Court House area. We built the Meridian, a 400 unit high-rise and we've got under construction a 318 unit right next door also at the Counthouse Metro. So we bring a lot of experience. I think what we bring is our ability to deliver the project. High-rise residential rental product is what we do, is our bread and butter. Dave Draper has been the architect on three of the last four buildings that we've done. So as a team he brings a lot of experience. It's what we're trying to do. So I hope that he answers a lot of your questions, but we will be here after that."
Dave Draper showed drawings of the proposed project to the members and guests, including discussion about the project's location to other neighboring facilities and a possible interim park. Following the architect's discussion, members asked various questions. For example, one member expressed concern about the project's proposed exemption from the density requirements. Specifically, the member stated "I'm concerned about the exemption from density calculation for the enclosed balconies, the health club, the racquet ball court and locker rooms. Now, tenants storage I can go for, but everything else has a lot of human activity. As far as enclosed balconies go, the County had that discussion years ago and decided it was livable space. It passed."
Martin Walsh:"Let me address that, because that's a good question and that's an issue we're talking to staff about. My recollection was the first balcony that got approved was a building in Rosslyn. They wanted an option to enclose the balconies and so some people said we wanted enclosed balconies, others said we didn't want enclosed balconies and that's the way it went. Then one thing led to another and then the next thing we knew, people were building extended livingrooms with enclosed balconies. They were heating and air conditioning, so that's when the staff came down and said, okay, if you're going to enclose your balconies that counts as GFA and FAR. I think that's a policy issue that was addressed by the Zoning Administrator. We think the enclosed balconies have a lot of benefits, both to the people that live there and also for the exterior facade, appearance of the building and exterior. So staff has told us we're going to count your balconies as GFA and you're going to have to basically provide some public benefit in exchange for that. So we are discussing with staff and also possibly eliminating a whole bunch of the things that we've requested exclusions for. They concluded the only things they have excluded are things they have typically been excluded like sub space, storage space, and those kind of things. So I think we're still in the process of working with staff as to what types of compensation or consideration we're going to have to provide for, including the balcony spaces as actual GFA or Gross Floor Area for approval. If we can't reach an agreement, I think we can, but if we can't reach an agreement, we will not enclose the balconies."
Another member commented about the need for a traffic light at the intersection of North Taylor and Wilson Boulevard and/or North Fairfax Drive. The member described (1) the high degree of foot traffic between the [Ballston] Metro Station and the Immigration Building on Fairfax Drive, and (2) the high degree of foot traffic crossing the street from the metro station to the Grand Cafe. This member inquired about consideration of a traffic light at the intersection of N. Taylor Street and Fairfax Drive and/or Wilson Boulevard.
Paradigm's Clarke Ewart:The staff has raised that question and believes it is under consideration. Also, he stated "There are a couple of things about our [proposed] building that he would like to highlight. We own and manage about 4,000 of these high rise units. They are rental, they are not condominiums. They are rental property. What Paradigm does is -- We develop, we construct, we own a construction company, and we manage. So we hold these things for the longterm. Everything we put in place, our intention is, for the longterm. People, who live here are Metro oriented. Sixty-two percent (62%) to 65% of everybody that walks out the door [of these units] take the Metro each morning. The rest of them do take cars. But of course, that's going in the opposite direction from the commercial traffic. About 10% of the people living there don't have cars. Our studies show that a lot of the people work out of their homes, a lot of people get up in the morning and go in their den. So they don't even commute. But of the people who commute, 65% take Metro. The balance take cars, but its not 100% of the building.
BVSCA President Ragland raised a question concerning density for this site plan. He stated that: "The Civic Association has researched the background on the project. Going back to 1987, the site plan called for 349,490 square feet of residential gross floor area ["GFA"]. This proposed amendment, based on County information, is 456,530 square feet of GFA. Is that not true?"
Martin Walsh:"I think that's right."
BVSCA President Ragland:"And you are asking for an exemption of 61,000 square feet for the locker rooms, the racket ball court, the health club, balconies, etc. If you take the 61,000 and subtract it from the 456,530, this leaves you with 395,000 square feet. My question is -- How did you get from 349,000 square feet to 395,000 square feet?"
Clarke Ewart:"I think we can answer that. The older numbers may well have reflected the lack of the assembly of those three parcels on the end, the Crestar property, the Kolaitis property, and the other CARR property. When you take the overall site and add in those pieces, you get up, I think overall, like 420,000 or something."
Martin Walsh:"The original application, this is probably getting more complicated than it needs to, the CARR property was located here, the Kolaitis property wrapped around the CARR property, and the Crestar property was located at this corner. So what happened was, effectively, this property didn't take any of the density from these three properties that was on Wilson Boulevard. In recognition of that, when the plan was approved, they approved a 40,000 square foot retail building, two stories, that was along Wilson Boulevard. And then the residential buildings sat behind that. What this application envisions is taking that 40,000 square feet building out, incorporating these three parcels into our zoning, and utilizing the FAR from those three parcels, in addition to the FAR we are already entitled to. Those numbers we can get you, but it is a little complicated, but staff is checking us out. And as I said earlier, I think we are going to have to work on some kind of accommodation, as far as the balconies, and some of the other spaces we have asked to be excluded."
Another BVSCA member inquired:"Doesn't the County own those buildings or that land?"
Martin Walsh:"The County owns the Kolaitis property, but the CARR property and the Crestar property we own. So another consideration is there's some density that we are going to be using from the Kolaitis property; and we are going to have to compensate the County for that at market value as well, and that's something else that we are talking to the County about."
BVSCA President Ragland responded:"Isn't it not true, in 1990, when the County acquired that property, the intent was to widen Wilson Boulevard with the acquisition? I believe the County paid $3.0 million for that property, and at that point in time, it was assessed for a little over $1.0 million. I've looked at some of the data and tried to sort out some of the changes here. I also detected some of the changes in ownership and -- How did Paradigm become a part owner of this?"
[The County's Real Estate Assessments Data Base shows that the Arlington County Board acquired 4251, 4253, 4255, and 4257 N. Wilson Boulevard, Real Property Code Numbers 14050024 and 14050026, Deed Book 2425, Page 1531, on March 28, 1990, for a total sales price of $3,010,250. The previous owner is shown as Andrew M. Kolaitis, Trustee, 4255 N. Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia, Deed Book 2418, Page 0984. At the time of sale, the County's reported total assessed value for these related properties was $1,043,000. In effect, the County Board paid $1,967,250 more than the County's aggregate assessed value of these properties, or 188.6 percent more than the County's assessed value at the time of sale.]
Martin Walsh responded:"Paradigm is a contract owner. Fidelio still owns the CARR piece, Crestar owns this but has Fidelio under contract, the County owns the Kolaitis property, and Fidelio owns the entire piece except for the Kolaitis property...I don't know if you saw the documentation but there was a four party agreement between Crestar, CARR, Summit, and the County when we went through the last zoning application. That kind of put all these pieces together. So in a way, this is kind of a continuation of that four party agreement.
One thing I would like to mention is that this plan does provide for that strip that the County needs to widen Wilson Boulevard. That is part of this plan as well. The other thing I will add at this point that you may or may not be comfortable with. The County permitted additional gross floor area at Stafford Place for the National Science Foundation and gave them bonus density; and they paid the bonus density toward the improvements at Wilson Boulevard. I think they were compensated something like about $2.2 million, which was supposed to offset their acquisition part of the Kolaitis property."
President Ragland:"Okay, I was not aware of that."
Martin Walsh:"The other thing I will just say that when they [County] acquired the property, the attorney that represented, which was not me, represented Koliatis, argued that he was entitled to 6.0 FAR, which is the COA density and that's the way they calculated the purchase price. I think the County ultimately acknowledged that and provided a payment that reflected 6.0 FAR. Whereas, the existing building probably had a 2.5 FAR, or 1.5, or whatever. It was a small building. So the assessed value was really reflective of not the COA, which enhanced the value of the property."
Another member inquired:"What kind of rents the proposed rental apartment will be charging?"
Paradigm's Clarke Ewart:"They will be charging market rents. What they find is the rents are all the same as you go from Lincoln to Ballston to Courtland Towers. It's amazing, it's like a commodity. The market rent is about $800 for an efficiency, around $925 to $950 for a one bedroom unit, and $1,200 to $1,300 for a two bedroom unit."
If members are interested in obtaining additional background information about this major site plan amendment, we invite you to review last month's Newsletter dated February/March 1996, which discusses further details about the proposed site plan amendment for Stuart Park and the existing site plan conditions. Members should note that this Newsletter is also available on the Ballston-Virginia Square home page on the Internet World Wide Web (at "http://www2.dgsys.com/bvsca/"). Also, members should note that our Internet Service Provider, Digital Gateway Services, located in Vienna, Virginia, has moved our home page to a new server in order to make the electronic access speed to our home page and others a bit faster on the Web. (Our former home page address was "http://www.dgsys.com/bvsca/.")
If you have any questions or comments about the proposed Stuart Park site plan amendment, we invite you to attend the following hearings. This matter will be heard by the Planning Commission on April 1, 1996, and is scheduled for an Arlington County Board hearing on April 13, 1996.
Meanwhile, the George Mason University/Arlington County Joint Advisory Board met on Tuesday November 28, 1995 and February 20, 1996 to continue the discussion of issues related to the planned expansion of the local campus. County staff have made presentations to the group (as they did to the Civic Association) outlining the procedures neighborhoods (or streets in neighborhoods) need to follow to apply for zoned parking should they find that GMU parkers are using residential streets and not the garage accommodations arranged for them.
Also, the University shared with the Joint Advisory Board the final design for the first building (to be constructed at the Kirkwood/Fairfax corner). It is, in most respects, like the building presented during the approval process in 1994. (The window construction has been changed as well as the configuration of the interior space.)
Ms. Jeri Forster of GMU has also clarified the number of spaces that will be available at Colonial Parking's facility at the NSF building. The October/November Ballston/Virginia Square Civic Association Newsletter indicated that GMU would have 505 spaces set aside for their use at the facility. In actuality, the University will have a little over 300 spaces reserved for their use (there is currently space for 332 spaces on the existing GMU lot) with an option to utilize additional spaces on an as-needed basis. GMU has repeatedly assured the Committee that there will always be space for GMU parkers at the Wilson Boulevard site. Any outside users of the campus facilities will also be urged to park in (and pay for themselves) the Colonial Garage and use the GMU-provided shuttle. (This shuttle system will have its debut the day of the Groundbreaking.)
The next meeting of the Joint Advisory Board will be May 21, 1996 at the Virginia Square Campus.
If you have any questions of GMU concerning the parking arrangements, please contact: Ms. Jeri Forster, GMU Parking/Operational Services 703-993-8868, or Ms. Bobbie Fuller, GMU Information Services, 703-993-1005. If you would like any information on the Joint Advisory Board, please contact Nancy Iacomini, 703-525-0788.
GMU SITE PLANNING
The Arlington County Board has approved the Master Plan for George Mason's 5 1/2 acre site at Virginia Square. The plan consists of a three phase development totaling 750,000 square feet above-grade and a 1,000 car parking structure below-grade. Phase I, on the corner of Kirkwood and Fairfax Drive, has 150,000 S.F. above grade and parking below. Phase II, in the middle of the block, has a large exterior landscaped plaza, 250,000 S.F. above grade and parking below. Phase III, adjacent to the F.D.I.C. building, has 350,000 S.F. above grade and parking.
The construction documents are nearing completion by the architects and a spring construction start is scheduled. The building is four stories tall with two levels of underground parking. The building will house the Law School on the first three floors and the International Institute and other academic programs on the fourth floor. The exterior materials will be precast concrete, glass and brick.
PHASES II & III
Final design on these buildings has not started at this time. Design funding has been requested from this session of the Virginia Legislature; however, it is unclear, at this time, whether it will be approved. Construction funding has not been authorized at this time.
In response to the OSHA complaint, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry served on January 11, 1996, a "Citation and Notification of Penalty" to the Arlington County Fire Chief. The Citation included the following two items.
Citation 1 Item 1 Type of Violation: Serious
Under Title 40.1-51.1.(a), Code of Virginia, the Citation states "that the employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that: The Arlington County Fire Department routinely sent employees to suppress interior structural fires on fire engines using Saulsbury pumpers. Conditions at interior structural fires present a universally recognized potential for an IDLH [(Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health)] atmosphere. The engines with Saulsbury pumpers have a long history of failures both in emergency and non emergency situations; such as but not limited to:
Two feasible and acceptable methods, among others, to correct this hazard are:
1910.134(e)(3)(ii): Employee(s) of the Arlington County Fire Department have been exposed to IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) atmospheres by initiating interior structural firefighting before having sufficient personnel on the scene to have a two-member team on standby outside the IDLH atmosphere.
Update on OSHA Complaint
On February 16, 1996, representatives from Arlington County and the Arlington Professional Firefighters Association met in an "Informal Conference" with the Regional Supervisor for Virginia's Department of Labor and Industry, Fairfax, Virginia, to discuss the above citations issued to Arlington County. Based on information obtained by the Association, little or no progress was made to either reverse the citations, or to resolve the existing equipment weaknesses. Also, there appears to be significant differences in opinion between staff, who attended the meeting.
Arlington's Assistant County Attorney present at the meeting, indicated that the County had met their obligation through placing apparatus out of service and performing repairs after each failure. The County's Fire Chief indicated that there has never been a failure of the fire apparatus in question, due to there being what he described as a working back-up system available at each of these incidents.
In marked contrast, the investigators from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry responded by pointing out that repeated equipment failures upon being placed in service definitely establishes this equipment as unsafe. Also, the investigators indicated that the back-up procedures were too complicated, and time consuming, particularly in the context of a fire scene. Further, the investigators indicated that the burns suffered by firefighter Kevin Pachas resulted from a 50 second delay in providing water to the attack crew.
Similarly, the Arlington Professional Firefighters indicated that back up systems may be available on the apparatus, but the need to actually deploy such systems should be virtually non-existent. Also, they indicated that the need to revert to back-up procedures has been excessive, and, therefore, constitutes a safety hazard. For example, there have been eleven emergency incidents during which the Saulsbury pumpers failed to function properly.
Since the date of the Informal Conference, the Association has learned that two additional malfunctions have been reported involving the Saulsbury pumpers, and the Arlington Professional Firefighters have retained an attorney to help resolve these adverse conditions and protect the lives of Arlington firefighters and citizens.
Arlington County's Fiscal Year (FY) 1997 Proposed Budget for all funds totals $547.6 million, a 3.1 percent increase over the FY 1996 Revised Budget. The General Fund Proposed Budget, the largest component of the All Funds budget, totals $449.8 million, a 4.5 percent increase from FY 1996. The General Fund proposal includes a County government operating services component of $250.6 million, up less than 1 percent from FY 1996. At the County Board meeting of February 24, 1996, the Board voted unanimously to advertise a $0.044 real real estate tax increase, from $0.94 to $0.984 per $100 of assessed value. At the proposed advertised rate of $0.984, the average single-family real estate tax bill in 1996 would increase by approximately $73 over the 1995 bill of $1,752.
Since 1991, the Board has voted four consecutive calendar years to increase the County's local real estate tax rate. The County's real estate property tax rates have increased over 22% since calendar year 1991. Specifically, the real estate property tax rates have increased from $0.765 in calendar year 1991 to $0.94 in calendar year 1995 per $100 of assessed value.
What does a tax rate of $0.94 mean to the average Arlington home owner? In calendar year 1986, 10 years ago, the average home value in Arlington was $113,173; and the tax rate was $0.94, but more importantly the tax payment was only $1,064. In calendar year 1995, a taxpayer owning the average home (valued at $186,360 times the tax rate of $0.94) paid $1,752, which represents an increased tax payment of $687.78 over 10 years ago, or an increased real estate tax payment by Arlington County taxpayers of 64.6% over 10 years ago.
Civic Federation Votes to Hold Line on Tax Increases
At the March 5, 1996, Arlington County Civic Federation meeting on Arlington County's proposed 1997 budget, delegates representing 68 non-partisan organizations in Arlington voted for no tax increases after extensive review of the budget and discussion. The Federation's Revenues & Expenditures Committee reported on their detailed review of the Budget and the delegates essentially voted line-by-line on the County's proposed functional expenditures.
At that meeting, the Federation voted to adopt a General Fund budget balanced with net program reductions of $7.0 million below the County Manager's proposed budget with no increases in the local real estate and personal property taxes. However, the Federation did support a modest increase in fees for services totaling $200,000.
Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association
Ernie Ragland, President, BVSCA: "Good evening Chairman Hunter and members of the Board. As President of the Ballston- Virginia Square Civic Association which has over 300 dues-paid members, I would like to share the results of our 1995 Neighborhood Survey conducted for a two week period ending October 15, 1995. Our membership survey showed that Real Estate Taxes and Personal Property Taxes appeared much higher as a category of concern in this year's survey than in the past two annual neighborhood surveys. For example, 79% of the 65 survey respondents indicated that local taxes-real estate was a concern (53.2%) or critical problem (25.8%). The real estate tax response this year was 17 percentage points higher in terms of concern or critical problem than the 1994 survey response. Also, based on the 1995 survey results, local taxes-personal property was almost 13 percentage points higher as a concern than in the previous year. Survey results showed that 77.8% of the respondents indicated that personal property taxes are a concern (42.9%) or critical problem (34.9%).
The Civic Association received numerous narrative comments from our members about current local taxes. Several members indicated that they considered Arlington's real estate taxes as too high. One member stated "my tax bill has doubled in 7 years." Also, several members stated opposition to the meals tax. For example, one member stated "I eat in Arlington restaurants many times a week. We pay federal and state taxes and then we are taxed again by the state when we go out for a nice meal. Then the County tax on meals. We're taxed on food at the markets, etc. Where is all this money going?"
Additionally, the results of the 1995 survey suggest that the County's spending priorities are flawed. For example, 64.1% of the respondents indicated support for increased spending on Public Safety. Several members expressed increased support for the police and fire departments. For example, one member stated "We need the police and fire departments, and should pay them better. Also, we should back them up in their efforts to enforce the law."
In marked contrast, 43.7% of the respondents recommended that the County cut Welfare spending. Only 6.3% of the respondents indicated support for increased spending on Welfare and only 4.9% indicated support for increased County spending on staff size or salaries. There was also strong sentiment against the County providing additional spending for subsidized rental housing and transition homes. Only 12.5 percent of the respondents indicated support for additional spending on transition homes, and even less, 5% of the respondents, indicated support for additional spending on subsidized rental housing. Over 40% of the respondents recommended a reduction in County spending for each of these areas.
There was almost an equally strong reaction against the proposed Day-Time Drop-In Homeless Shelter in our community described in the County's Human Services Commission Report with 83.1% of the respondents indicating that they would not support such projects.
Based on the results of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association's 1995 Neighborhood Survey, I recommend that the County Board hold the line on local tax increases and shift their funding priorities to increased spending on Public Safety."
Arlington County Taxpayer Association (ACTA)
Don MacQueen, President of ACTA: "Mr. Chairman and Members of the County Board. My name is Donald MacQueen, and I am the current president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, better known as ACTA. Although there will be several speakers from ACTA here this evening, we do not expect to duplicate our presentations.
As with other organizations analyzing the Manager's budget, the time span for analyzing the budget is short. Consequently, we will provide our written comments in the next few days so that you will have them for most of your budget work sessions with staff.
Without the growth of the late 80's and early 90's to bail you out, the chickens are now coming home to roost. Over the past ten years, three members of this County Board have voted for numerous increases in County expenditures. In our last newsletter, "The Watchdog," we noted that while the total cost of County operations doubled over the past 10 years, several departments of the County increased even more rapidly.
For example, General Government increased 132% from Fiscal Year 1986 to Fiscal Year 1995. This area of government includes the County Manager whose public affairs department has caused much of that increase. Other areas which saw significant increases were non-departmental expenses which increased 257% in 10 years and the County's contributions to regional agencies which increased 145% in 10 years and the County's contributions to regional agencies which increased 145% in 10 years. The largest increase in County spending over the past 10 years, however, has been for welfare spending which increased 286% over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the electorate of Arlington has not held this County Board accountable. Rather, they have voted you back in office.
We hope that ten years from now the two new members of the Board will not leave the record of profligate spending that their mentors on this County Board are leaving for them.
In conclusion, we will provide you with a budget that will reduce expenditures so that you balance the budget without the need to increase tax rates. But you will have to scrutinize the requests of the groups coming before you this evening, however. As I previously noted, other ACTA speakers will comment on various aspects of the budget and we will provide you our written comments in the next few days."
The Volunteers for an Independent Arlington (VIA) Coalition
Amy Jones-Baskaran, President, VIA Coalition: "Good evening Mr. Chairman. I'm here on behalf of the VIA Coalition, who also testified last night. And we note the paucity of people here tonight compared with last night, but last night is easier asking for money. And what we like to do is ask for the County to hold the line on taxes. We concur with the Civic Federation that we don't want any increase in either personal property or real property taxes. Mr. Wood was here earlier, he talked about the $20 bill that you would need for each homeowner or taxpayer to cover the school budget. I would submit that he needs 1.25 million $20 bills to cover the 25 million dollar shortfall in the CIP school repair program. I also agree that there are needy people in Arlington County that need their problems addressed somehow. But we need to address the issue of how we expend funds and we need some more oversight, because our taxes have been raised year after year through an apparent inability to control spending growth.
This was noted last evening in the phenomenal increase in welfare spending in stark contrast to Public Safety and Public Works spending; and, also, an apparent inability to exercise appropriate and effective oversight over certain public work projects, such as the Loop Bridge, the cost over-runs on the County jail, and as I mentioned earlier, the school shortfall.
In light of this, we would like to recommend that the County implement or create a position for an independent Inspector General to conduct oversight, performance reviews, and financial reviews of County programs, and that the County hire additional internal auditors to assist in this function.
With respect to this, it's of note this evening that the City of Virginia Beach has had certain problems concerning expenditures in their county budget, concerning the school board budget, actually. We would like the County Board, in addition to the School Board, to review the grand jury report that was just issued on the 26th and we can provide copies if you're not able to get them. We got them through "Pilot-On-Line." Some of the important findings was the grand jury report on Virginia Beach Schools issued to the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach on February 26th. [This report] discusses the grand jury's recommendation that seven city school board members and the School Division Budget Director resign immediately, or be charged with malfeasance in office for over-spending the City of Virginia Beach's $350 million school budget by $12.1 million.
The report states that the grand jury concluded that not enough checks and balances existed in the City of Virginia Beach to prevent the monster deficit from reoccurring. And the grand jury recommended that the City Council exert more control over the school board's expenditures and purchases...I would like to just look at a couple of recommendations and conclusions that were drawn.
"The deficit resulted from overall unconcern, fiscal incompetence, capital purchases made at the whim of a superintendent, a naive school board which as a group apparently did not regard financial oversight as part of its responsibilities." We're certainly not alleging that's the case in Arlington County; however, we do believe it is an object lesson to review the checks and balances that were proposed by Peat Marwick, as auditors to look at ways we can improve efficiencies in our system...There were several...specific recommendations, they noted particularly that we find there presently are insufficient outside checks and balances which might prevent a repetition of what has occurred. This can and should be remedied and finally we encourage consolidation of joint use of other duplicated services to take advantage of economies of scale, thus permitting more money to be available to actually educate children. And we think that is a good path to follow for Arlington County and we thank you."
The Vision 2020 report dated December 22, 1995, represents Phase II of a three-step, long range planning process in which four Arlington County departments have identified $113.8 million in proposed projects through the year 2020, based on current programs and an assessment of future needs. Over the past two years, managers from the Fire Department, Department of Libraries, Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources (PRCR) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) have worked with the Office of Support Services, Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, and the Department of Management and Finance to establish a rational framework for setting priorities for the uses and upkeep of existing community facilities and for proposing new facilities for the four departments. While this report considers established County plans, it excludes projects already well into the planning and development process.
The need to take stock is clear. From the early 1960s through the mid-1970s, the County constructed its branch libraries, all but one of its recreation centers, and most of its fire stations. During the 1970s and 1980s as school enrollments declined, many schools built between 1935 and 1944 were taken over by the County and were converted to other uses, often with only minor modifications. With the notable exceptions of the 1993 expansion and renovation of the Central Library, the Gunston Recreation Center, and the construction of Fire Station 1 and the Residential Program Center, most of the buildings housing the four departments are showing the effects of deferred maintenance and strained capacity. The placement of programs in facilities not constructed for their current use has resulted in numerous inefficiencies.
Moreover during the past twenty years, life in Arlington has changed dramatically. There have been major demographic and sociological shifts reflecting a substantial increase in the foreign-born population, higher female labor force participation, growth in the daytime work population, and changes in household size and structure. All of these have impacted the nature and demand for county services. New technologies, economic factors, laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and work safety regulations also have major implications for facilities development. Other characteristics, such as whether some regions of the County are underserved relative to others, were also considered.
The collocation of services in flexible-use facilities offers the best approach to meet the needs of current and future populations in the County from the standpoint of quality and cost-effectiveness. This approach strikes a balance between client-oriented service delivery and the need for fiscal restraint and economies of scale. The plan calls for greater collaboration among departments for planning and delivering services. There are many advantages to collocation of services and collaborative service delivery. These include possible cost savings at joint use facilities associated with shared operating and maintenance expenses. Multipurpose areas could permit flexible scheduling of a variety of programs, minimizing overlapping or duplication of space for services.
The VISION 2020 Team sorted the projects into three categories: near-term, mid-term, and long-term. Thirteen projects costing an estimated $26.6 million are proposed for consideration for development in the 1997-2002 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Funding for site acquisition and construction of some projects, especially for renovation of existing facilities will be considered through the County's CIP process as early as 1997. All near-term proposals should be proposed for funding by about fiscal year 2002.
Approximately $31.3 million in 1998 dollars is estimated for ten projects considered slightly less pressing that require additional planning and development. Further out are twelve proposals for the longer-term costing and estimated $55.9 million. Proposed projects range from acquiring sites for construction of a new county-wide recreation facility to renovation of existing sites.
While there are elements of choice in these proposals, there is also an element of incontrovertible need to renovate and keep existing facilities in safe, workable condition. The full cost of implementing the entire program using debt service, pay as you go capital appropriations and operating costs is estimated roughly at $10 to $20 million per year (about five to eight cents in real estate tax rate financing). This capital plan should be analyzed in relation to the total County financial outlook, overall capital needs, existing obligations and plans, and bonded debt burden. Several large capital programs already underway are not included in this analysis. These include school construction and the new DHS headquarters. Other potential capital investments involve federal environmental regulations such as waste-to-energy plant and the storm water detention system.
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA, commonly known as "Motor Voter") starts in Virginia March 6th. This includes registering to vote at all DMV offices, post offices, post card registration, and agency based registration.
Those wishing to register my mail can all their local registrar to have applications mailed to them. Or they can pick up forms from any display box of registration applications. The Office of Voter Registration will start delivering applications to the following sites on March 6th: all Arlington Libraries, all Public Schools, all County Recreation Centers, all Senior Centers, most County Offices at Court House Plaza, the Court House, the Edison Center, Ballston Common at the Information Counter, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City at the Information Counter on the Food Court Level, and the Martin Luther King Center.
Arlington businesses wanting boxes of registration applications for their offices should call the Office of Voter Registration at 358-3456. Anyone wishing to pick up voter registration applications should also contact the Office of Voter Registration. For more information, call 358-3456.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE PLANNING COMMISSION OF ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, at its meeting of April 1, 1996 at 7:30 P.M., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, will hold a Public Hearing on an SITE PLAN AMENDMENTS & USE PERMITS referred to the Commission for its recommendation. Hearing will be held in Room 307, #1 Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE COUNTY BOARD OF ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, at its Meeting on April 13, 1996 at 9:00 A.M., or as soon thereafter as the PERMITS as required by the Zoning Ordinance. This Hearing will be held in Room 307, #1 Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
THE FOLLOWING CASES WILL BE CONSIDERED BY THE COUNTY BOARD ONLY:
SP #239 SITE PLAN AMENDMENT (CARRY-OVER): Request of Stafford Place Assoc. L.P., Owner, by Nan E. Terpak, Attorney, for a special exception to permit conversion of approx. 10,288 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground floor to office use, premises known as 4201 Wilson Blvd.
SP #240 REVIEW IF A SITE PLAN AMENDMENT permitting live entertainment in an existing restaurant 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Mon. - Sat., & 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Sun.; premises known as 950 No. Stafford St. (A Cut Above)