Old sign on North Fairfax, now gone.
Photo taken by Diane Kresh on May 8, 2009, near Central Library.
Photo taken by Diane Kresh on May 8, 2009, near Central Library.
|©Lloyd Wolf /Arlington Photographic DocumentaryProject|
Ever the stickler for tradition, for me the season still begins with Santa’s wave, signaling the end of the Macy’s Day parade in New York and the start of the year-end count down. Only then do I allow myself to feel the gravitational pull toward my favorite songs of the season and reach for my sacks of little round discs (yes, I still have them) to drive the cold winter away.
So here are some of my favorites holiday songs. Let us know YOURS by posting a comment below. And celebrate the rest and best of the season, be it Christmas, Eid, Pongol, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, the Solstice or any other.
From our house to your house, for a bright 2012.
1. “The Wexford Carol” from “Songs of Joy & Peace, Yo Yo Ma & Friends,” Alison Krauss, vocals. Spare and radiant.
2. “Merry Christmas Baby,” title track from “Charles Brown and Friends.” Bluesy and swinging; a perfect accompaniment to a warm cuppa cheer.
3. “Run Rudolph Run,” Keith Richards. We know him as one half of the Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger being the other), but what we didn’t know, until he released his highly readable “Life” last year, is that as a child growing up in Kent, England, he wanted to be a librarian, saying that “The library was the only place around where I willingly obeyed the rules.” Rocking and rollicking good fun, both this cover and the book between the covers.
4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” from Bill Evans’ “Trio 64.” (Evans, piano, Paul Motian–sadly he passed away Nov. 22, 2011, drums–and Gary Peacock, bass). A Dec. 18, 1963 session was likely the reason for this seasonal classic. Hardly album filler, it’s a classic example of post-bop.
5. “Christmas Time is Here” from Shawn Colvin’s “Holiday Songs and Lullabies.” The Vince Guaraldi classic by one of my very favorite singers.
6. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from She and Him’s (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s) “A Very She & Him Christmas.” This year’s nominee for re-imagined standards, cue “zone out” on your iPod (or whatever device you have ) and chill after a long day of doing whatever it is you do to make the season bright. Zooey’s singing voice is as deadpan sardonic as many of her best film performances (“The Good Girl,” “All the Young Girls,” both terrific and underrated films). She also duets with and marries Buddy the Elf.
7. “Greensleeves” by Mason Williams. The composer of “Classical Gas” (which he quotes in the middle of this piece and which I used as the soundtrack for a Super 8 film montage I made in high school), he was also a comedy writer for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and introduced Steve Martin to the world. He was also the brains behind the Pat Paulsen for president candidacy in the turbulent election year of 1968. In the midst of assassinations, Chicago and Viet Nam, there was Pat Paulsen deadpanning for president and leaving all to wonder–was he or wasn’t he?
8. “Baloo, Lammy (Hush My little Lamb),” from “Song of Solstice,” featuring Sue Richards with the Jennifer Cutting Ocean Orchestra. A shout out to a former colleague of mine at the Library of Congress. Jennifer Cutting, one of the finest musicians I know. A winter solstice album for anyone who loves Celtic, Renaissance, classical and pop music.
9. “Dadme Albricias” from “Navidad Renacentista” by Capella De Minitrers/Carles Magraner. A sumptuous recording by the early music group formed in 1987 in Valencia, Spain. Dedicated to celebrating Valencian musical culture.
10. “Go Where I Send Thee” from “The Weavers’ (Lee Hays, Pete Seegar, Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert) at Carnegie Hall.” The gold standard for the folk music revival of the 1950’s and 60’s. Begun in 1948 out of the disbanded Almanac Singers (Seegar and Hellerman), the Weavers personified the unification of folk music and political activism. The concert in New York City on Christmas Eve 1955 was the group’s sold-out triumphal return to the stage and a comeback of sorts for one of the few musical entities blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings. Seegar’s “release” from television’s blacklist didn’t end however until the late 60s when he appeared on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1968 (see number 7 above).
11. “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow,” performed by the St. Olaf Choir on “Songs from My Heart: Choral Music of André Thomas.” Gorgeous.
12. “All I Want for Christmas is You,” from Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas II You.” Sans the Bieber (thankfully), the tune gets the Carey treatment: plenty o’ sass and spunk.
13. “Mr. Santa,” from Suzy Boggus’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” A holiday version of the popular hit “Mr. Sandman,” penned by Pat Ballard, first recorded by the Chordettes (whose other big hit was “Lollipop”) in 1954. Youngsters out there will recall the cover of “Mr. Sandman” by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt from “Trio.”
14. “Sleigh Ride” by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. For the tuxedo clad Dino/Sammy/Frank-o-philes out there. Silly and fun.
15. “Winter Wonderland” from Rockapella’s “Christmas.” Bop shoo op.
16. “The Christmas Song” from the New York Latin Jazz Allstars off “Feliz Navidad.” Roasting hot.
17. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” Patti LaBelle, “Christmas at Miss Patti’s.” Wistful and nuanced.
18. “Oublions l’an passé (Let’s Forget the Old Year),” the Washington Revels featuring Riki Schneyer, from “Le Temps des Fetes.” Spirited delivery of a traditional French Canadian tune authentically presented by the Washington Revels, under the musical direction of Elizabeth F. Miller. The Revels are dedicated to reviving and celebrating cultural traditions from across the glove through music, dance, storytelling, drama and ritual.
19. “Peace” by Norah Jones on “A Very Special Acoustic Christmas.” Nice. Really, really nice…
20. “Star of Wonder,” by the Roches on “We Three Kings.” Shimmering harmony from a trio of quirky sibs.
21. “Carol.” Chuck Berry. If the song title fits, include it.
22. “What’s So Funny ’bout Peace Love and Understanding.” Elvis Costello sings Nick Lowe on “Armed Forces.” Nothing. Nothing at all.
Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? As the 10th anniversary of this epochal moment approaches, I find myself reflecting back on the day and its aftermath. My memory plays like a movie. It was a day just like any other canopied by an improbably blue sky.
My walk to work, a stop for carryout coffee, waves to store owners, a chat with two moms about my eldest son’s high school application process, arrival at the office around 8:30 a.m. Within minutes, a colleague stops in my doorway to announce that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My first thought: a small aircraft, horribly off course. I get to the nearest television: a second plane hits the second tower. Fast forward: other planes, rumors of fires, explosions. I retraced my steps down the same street—no chats or waves to store owners, now. I retrieved my children from their Capitol Hill school. Our neighborhood eerily quiet. No planes flew overhead; my youngest son screamed as a helicopter broke the wall of silence.
The television and the Internet were vigilant companions, hypnotically replaying the crumbling towers, forming a backdrop to the family discussion. And the unforgettable images: of police and firefighters, of streets filled with fleeing office workers coated in white ash, of the rubble and the detritus of lives uprooted. My movie ends with me on the telephone with friends, some halfway around the world, reminders of the grace of humanity in the face of indiscriminate inhumanity.
The need to understand “why” attends any tragedy. How can we make sense of the incomprehensible; prevent something horrific from happening again? The Greeks created myths to embody their understanding of the world. William Shakespeare told us that past is prologue. Art and science allow us to explicate emotions, share dreams and aspirations, examine human folly, question existence, wonder. And libraries collect and make accessible the fruits of these labors.
Our nation’s founders understood how important free access to information is to a democracy. The Library of Congress received both a book collection and a collecting rationale from Thomas Jefferson. Benjamin Franklin helped establish the Library Company of Philadelphia, the nation’s first lending library. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, gave voice to one of the most important tenets of librarianship, intellectual freedom, when he wrote: “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
While no library has been immune to the aftershocks of the global economic meltdown, the challenges we face as information professionals are not limited to economics. The ubiquity of increasingly affordable mobile technology coupled with the rise of e-media presents exciting opportunities to deliver more content to library patrons where they are. Yet how do we keep up with the demands for both print—newspapers, magazines, books—and e-content? How do we maintain the balance between high tech and high touch so that patrons can help themselves and get help when they need it? How do we ensure patron privacy—and we must—when the more we know about our library users, their tastes and interests, the more helpful we can be? How can we have it all/do it all?
As professionals and managers of an institution dedicated to serving the public good, we will continue to evaluate what we do as we harness new tools and media that paradoxically enable us to connect with others and know more about the world we live in but present unprecedented challenges. The health of our community depends on our commitment to identify, experiment with and pursue the right solutions and balance and so does the health of our democratic way of life.
For a collection of resources about September 11, including my interview with Pat Creed, co-author of “Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11,” please visit http://library.arlingtonva.libguides.com/arlingtonremembers
“The time is always right to do the right thing.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On August 28, the 48th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial will be formally dedicated in Washington D.C. Located in West Potomac Park and flanked by the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the addition of the King Memorial creates a monumental trifecta of leadership and inspiration.
As a child of nine in August of 1963, I had little knowledge of the man whose eloquence and personal courage undergirded a movement. I had no knowledge of the civil rights movement itself. African-Americans were just not a part of my everyday experience. Just as it is often observed that there are two Virginias, in 1963 there were two Arlingtons: the well-to-do, predominantly white North Arlington and the less prosperous, racially mixed South Arlington. It was a distinction that was more than just directional. There were few students of color in my elementary school, Stewart-Tuckahoe, when I attended from 1960-1966–a fact consistent with the 1960 Census, which reported only 7,063 foreign–born persons or 4.3 percent of the County’s total population.
High View Park in North Arlington and Arlington View and Green Valley (Nauck) in South Arlington were all that remained of the County’s African-American communities. High View Park, known in my day as “Hall’s Hill,” was a neighborhood not far from where I grew up. It epitomized the less prosperous and segregated Arlington: an enclave of substandard housing and dead-ended, unpaved streets that for much of its history had been literally walled from the white neighborhoods it bordered by a series of 7-foot fences.
The year of King’s speech, the Arlington Planning Commission established a committee to study how best to maintain residential neighborhoods, a study that led to the creation of the Neighborhood Conservation Program. On Feb. 13, 1965, the County Board approved a Neighborhood Conservation Plan for High View Park hailing the tireless efforts of the residents who spoke up for their neighborhood’s civic rights. Abraham Lincoln, whose 156th birthday was celebrated the day before, would have been proud.
As significant as this moment was in Arlington’s pursuit of racial parity, it was but the latest example of the County’s black and white residents working together for common cause. A few years earlier, some of the High View Park champions–E. Leslie and Dorothy Hamm and Peggy Deskins – had joined Edmund and Elizabeth Campbell and others to face down Sen. Harry Byrd’s “massive resistance” and integrate the County’s schools.
The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision to end school segregation “with all deliberate speed” rocked Virginia to its core in May 1954. The “political museum piece” that was Virginia, as characterized by political scientist V.O Key in his classic, “Southern Politics in State and Nation” , was stuck on the horns of a dilemma, caught between the moral imperative to do right by Virginia and remain segregated, or to do the right thing. It was an issue that pitted being a Virginian against being an American. Arlington, having evolved from a bedroom community in the shadow of the nation’s capital to a thriving, socially progressive community of residents whose political views were markedly different from those of the rest of the state, found itself at the center of the fight.
By 1956, political passions were running high in Richmond as “massive resistance” to the High Court’s mandate was gaining momentum, giving rise to a plan to prevent any integrated schools from receiving state funds and authorizing the governor to order any such school to close. Meanwhile the NAACP was filing lawsuits across the state to force integration, including a suit brought on behalf of 15 African American and white parents and 22 students in Arlington.
The case was named for Clarissa S. Thompson, an African American student who wanted to attend Arlington’s all white Washington-Lee High School instead of the all black Hoffman-Boston. After hearing oral arguments, Alexandria Federal District Judge Albert V. Bryan, who only four years before in writing the opinion in the original Prince Edward County school integration case* stated that racial segregation caused no hurt or harm to either race, ordered that the schools in Arlington be desegregated. Suits and countersuits ensued–deliberation without speed.
Finally, on Jan. 19, 1959 (birthday of Virginia native son Robert E. Lee), the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals, by a ruling of 5-2, overturnedthe Virginia legislature’s “massive resistance” laws and its threat of schools closures, declaring them in violation of the Virginia Constitution. The issue of school integration had assailed Virginia’s traditional political culture, a culture that was oligarchic, parsimonious, suspicious of “big” government, discouraging of public participation in the affairs of state, obeisant to the way things were. Throughout the long, slow march to integration in Virginia, rhetoric trumped reason; fear mongering triumphed over fairness; delay prevented “deliberate speed.” Traditional Southern values were pitted against unwanted northern influence–ideologues against pragmatists.
The press, too played a powerful role on both sides of the integration issue. For every Richmond News Leader editorial that intrepidly egged on the resisters, editorials in both the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and The Washington Post and Times Herald, penned by Lenoir Chambers and Robert Muse, respectively, eschewed moral turpitude and urged action and acceptance.
Virginia fought the law, but the law won. On Feb. 2, 1959, Ronald Deskins, Michael Jones, Lance Newman and Gloria Thompson (sister of Clarissa) entered Stratford Junior High School, splitting a phalanx of approximately 100 helmeted Arlington police officers who were Little Rock-ready with gas grenades, masks and batons. Their walk to school irrevocably changed Virginia although at the time, they were unaware of its historical significance.
Years later, reminiscing at a panel discussion with 500 students at Stratford Junior High (now H-B Woodlawn), the four understated their roles on that important day citing their parents and other community leaders – blacks and whites — as the true heroes of Arlington’s integration story. The integration of Stratford was but the first of many small steps toward integration. It would still be years before black and white children could sit alongside one another at drug store counters and drink Cokes, attend dances together, or compete on the same sports teams.
* Prince Edward County Public Schools chose to close rather than integrate and remained closed from 1959-1964. It was the only county system in the country to do so.
The material for this story came from the archives of the Virginia Room of Arlington Public Library. The attached bibliography will help interested readers learn more about these important events in Arlington’s history.
VA Room Oral Histories about Desegregation
Segregation/Integration Collections in the Arlington Community Archives
Baseball became a part of my life on a cool evening in the late summer of 1960 at Griffith Stadium in a game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Senators. The Yankees won. And from that evening on, I was hooked on both baseball and the Yankees.
In the months before my 10th birthday in June 1964, my father smoked enough Phillies cigars to collect a Mickey Mantle Big Leaguer Rawlings baseball mitt for my birthday present. When I opened the box it arrived in, and saw it nestled there among tissue paper and a color, “autographed” photo of Number 7, I could not have been more thrilled.
Finally, my own glove to fit my hand–not a battered hand-me-down cast off by the neighbor boys. For the next several months, I lovingly seasoned it with a little Neatsfoot oil and scores of games of “hotbox” (aka pickle). By the following spring I was ready to be called up to the newly formed Arlington-Fairfax Savings and Loan softball team for pre-teen girls, one of a dozen or so teams that comprised Arlington’s Pigtail League (as differentiated from the Ponytail League for older girls), and administered by the Better Sports Club of Arlington, they of the “Better Sports Today, Better Citizens Tomorrow.”
We were “coached” by a willing neighborhood mom, a sports naïf whose children were dragged to practices and left to whine “can we go home NOW?” from the bleachers while we tried to turn two and shag fly balls.
I played shortstop with a wicked side arm that more than once pulled our leggy first baseman off the bag. But when the 6-3 worked, it was sublime. (Hitting was another story. It was not for nothing that I earned the moniker “good field, no hit.”)
Over several blissful weeks, on unforgiving elementary school ball fields and Barcroft fields under the lights, we scratched out a 3-10 record, playing less like New York’s baseball finest, the Yankees (locally, that honor fell to the Conklyn’s Florist team) and more like the hapless, expansion Mets. And I couldn’t have cared less. I was doing what I loved to do.
As another June rolls around (and another birthday, too), it’s hard not to think of lessons learned both on and off those dusty fields of dreams. So here’s to Mrs. Miller, Kay, Kim, Debbie, Barbara, Mimi, Baby Ruth, Janis, Nancy, Jane, Gayle, Carol, Ginny, Linda, and all the rest of the girls of summer who taught me teamwork, humility and how to take joy from a game well played regardless of the outcome.
Arlington Public Library has a terrific collection of DVDs and books that celebrate our national past time. Here are just a few of our favorites.
What are yours?
And now we bring you the last part of the Library Director’s annual “Don’t Touch That Dial” holiday-music blog post, designed to chase the dark away.
2010, PART 3….
17. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, The Harlem Community Choir, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, from John Lennon & Yoko Ono Power to the People – The Hits (Remastered) 2010
John Lennon’s death is right up there with the Kennedy Assassination as two of the defining events of my life. Never a fan of Yoko (she broke up the Beatles)
18. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives, from Have a Holly Jolly Christmas 1965
Good songs, goofy animation, grrrrreat characters: Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist, Yukon Cornelius, Charlie in the Box and his pals on the Island of Misfit Toys. CLASSIC!!!
19. God Bless The Master, from Folk Songs Of The Four Seasons
. Folk poetry that blesses the Master, the Mistress, the House and Cattle, too. Powerful in its simplicity, the song closes every performance of Revels, a national arts organization founded in 1971 by musician, educator and author John Langstaff to celebrate the seasons through the power of traditional song, dance, storytelling and ritual from cultures around the world.
20. Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag by The Bobs, from Too Many Santas
The a cappella Bobs salute “the hardest-working man in show business, the great James Brown (May 5, 1933 – December 25, 2006).
Bonus Tracks in Honor of Holiday Feasting
21. Nobody’s Fat in Aspen Christine Lavin, from Future Fossils 1984
Neo-folkie Lavin reveals the shallow, fallow under-girding the beautiful people. But it’s not a downer when sung by Lavin’s chirpy, quirky soprano. It makes the list because it references snow. And skiing.
22. He’s a Chubby Little Fellow by The Singing Cowboy Gene Autry, from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Christmas Classics 2003
Creator of the Cowboy Code (“a cowboy must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits”), Autry was famous for his Christmas classics, the most famous of which is the aforementioned Rudolph. But I liked this one better.
This week we bring you the Library Director’s annual “Don’t Touch That Dial” holiday-music blog post, designed to chase the dark away.
10. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by The Pointer Sisters from A Very Special Christmas 1987
Silly, sassy and so much fun.
11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Eddie Higgins Christmas Songs 2005
This year’s pick of my favorite Christmas pop song.
12. Greensleeves by Paul Desmond & The Modern Jazz Quartet
Recorded on Christmas Day 1971, by Paul Desmond and the Modern Jazz Quartet, the first and only time they played together.
13. The Christmas Waltz (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) by Peggy Lee from Christmas Carousel, 1960
For those who might remember only her woozy sounding pop charter of 1969, “Is That All There Is?”, Peggy Lee (March 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer and actress in a career spanning nearly seven decades. This track was recorded in 1960, at the height of her popularity.
14. Silver Bells by Dean Martin, from My Kind of Christmas, issued 2009
Okay, I needed someone to represent the SammyPerryAndyTonyBingFrankSteveandEdie spectrum, and settled finally on Dino, whose boozy on stage persona eclipsed a croony, real life hipness. Warm and easy; a recording that’s amore.
16. Last Christmas by Wham! From Music from the Edge of Heaven 1986
Before there was George Michael, paparazzi fodder, there was Wham, his and Andrew Ridgeley’s revival of teen pop. A great song; give it to someone special.
Stay tuned for Part 3, coming Monday night…
This week we bring you the Library Director’s annual “Don’t Touch That Dial” holiday-music blog post, designed to chase the dark away.
1. The Gloucestershire Wassail by Waverly Consort, from A Waverly Consort Christmas: Christmas From East Anglia To Appalachia –
What holiday is complete without some good old, wassailing? Take some apples, add some sugar and spice and you end up with something hot and nice.
2. I Wonder As I wander/Noëls Anciens and
3. Coventry Carol by Musica Intima, from Nativité
Two a cappella classics from a Vancouver based ensemble. Breathtakingly beautiful.
4. Angelus Ad Virginem by The Boston Camerata, from Sing We Noel
Founded the year of my birth, Boston Camerata is one of the oldest early music ensembles in the United States. The song is a medieval carol, with text that is a poetic version of the Hail Mary. Interesting Factoid from Wikipedia: AAV was the first piece of music sung at the annual Bracebridge Dinner, a lavish Christmas feast held for many years at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The song, sung as the guests entered the dining room, was selected by Ansel Adams in 1929, who was director of the pageant at that time.
5. Good People All by Anonymous 4, from Wolcum Yule – Celtic and British Songs and Carols.
Luminous and pure in tone. Play repeatedly.
6. Zat You Santa Claus? by Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blue, from How Cool Is That Christmas
In which Buster Poindexter (alter ego of frontman David Johansen, of glam band New York Dolls fame) channels Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), fabled New Orleans trumpeter and titanic entertainer.
7. Winter Wonderland by Aretha Franklin, from How Cool Is That Christmas
‘Retha swings in this 1964 rendition of the timeless classic. Sleigh bells ring. Are you listenin’???
8. Good King Wenceslas by John Fahey, from Christmas Guitar, Vol. 1 1982
Local (Takoma Park, MD) folkie, bluesman and acoustic guitar innovator, John Fahey (February 28, 1939 – February 22, 2001) picks apart this medieval carol and creates an off brand holiday classic. A must in any serious music collection, holiday or otherwise.
We’re a few months into the new fiscal year and I thought it would be a good time to check in.
All Arlington County departments took budget cuts for FY 2011:
Arlington’s library system is highly regarded in both the region and the nation and the department is making significant efforts to balance the cuts.
Context is important.
Thanks for supporting Arlington Public Library,
** 6/18/10: The proposal regarding Columbia Pike Branch Library was withdrawn Friday, June 18, in a press release from the County Manager’s office.**
**Town Hall Meeting Venue Update **
To accommodate as many people as possible, the June 16, 7:00 p.m. meeting has been moved to the atrium of the Career Center, which is adjacent to Columbia Pike Branch Library at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr. **
Hello Arlington neighbors,
Below are answers to frequently asked questions we’ve heard since announcing our “Town Hall Meeting” on a possible new Columbia Pike library, to be held Wednesday, June 16, 7 p.m. at the Columbia Pike Branch Library, 816 S. Walter Reed Drive.
Please read the FAQ below. We look forward to next Wednesday evening for the kind of engaging, enlightening and respectful discussion that Arlington is known for.
With all good wishes,
Columbia Pike Branch Library
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
June 10, 2010
1. Why does staff think it is a good idea to move the branch?
Library staff believes a modern, more efficient library will offer better services. The current branch library, opened in June 1975, has many drawbacks in both design and condition. The library collection and functions are spread over two floors, making it inconvenient for patrons and more difficult to staff. The aging building in which it resides would require major reinvestment to bring it up to modern standards, including handicapped accessibility; reinvestment decisions would be made jointly with schools as part of the broader Career Center, and there are no plans for significant reinvestment reflected in the School Board’s recently approved Capital Improvement Plan. It is not located directly on Columbia Pike and has limited accessibility.
2. Why does staff think Arlington Mill is a good site for relocation of the branch?
The new location would be right on Columbia Pike, a key east-west roadway now being revitalized and redeveloped into a more pedestrian and transit-friendly Main Street. In addition, incorporating the branch library into Arlington Mill offers many advantages, such as:
3. How many people live near the current and proposed Pike library sites?
Within a half-mile radius of the Arlington Mill site, an estimated 16,929 persons reside, as compared to 7,606 persons residing within half a mile of the Career Center site.
4. When did the County begin considering the possibility of moving the branch library from the Career Center to Arlington Mill?
After the housing partner for the Arlington Mill site withdrew from the joint venture, the County Board directed County staff in December 2009 to investigate the possibility of adding one or two additional floors to the Arlington Mill Community Center. In April 2010, it was determined that the funding was available to build out two additional floors, creating the opportunity to expand space for the approved uses in the Center. County staff proposed expanding the small library presence (kiosk) in the original Center plan by moving the library at the Career Center site to this location on Columbia Pike.
5. When was the public informed of the proposal?
After ascertaining that Arlington Public Schools was not interested in occupying (and paying for) some of the additional space, it was decided to begin a public discussion process on the proposal to move the Columbia Pike library. Public outreach began in late May.
6. Why does the County want to add two floors to Arlington Mill?
The original Arlington Mill Community Center design had three floors of apartments above the community center. When the housing portion of the approved mixed use development could not be financed, the County Board decided to proceed with the community center separately. The Arlington Mill land is valuable. To maximize its investment in valuable land, the County wants to construct a building with room for improved services to the community. The marginal cost of adding two floors in place of the apartments is relatively low and helps maintain the building design that was approved by the Board as a public anchor facility on the Pike.
7. Will the County add two floors even if the Board ultimately decides not to move the branch library to Arlington Mill?
8. When does staff plan to bring this issue to the Board for a decision?
At an initial meeting with the Arlington Mill Review Steering Committee at the end of May, staff stated a desire to complete the public process so a recommendation could go to the Board in July. We now recognize more time is needed for public input and have adjusted our schedule. Staff will seek broad public comment on the proposal through the summer, and hopes to make a recommendation to the Board in September. At that time, the Board will consider a use permit amendment for the Arlington Mill Community Center. The use permit amendment could be approved without a decision on the library. If the recommendation is to move the branch library to Arlington Mill, staff could incorporate that into the use permit amendment. That timing would allow the design of the community center to proceed on schedule.
9. Why the tight timeline?
The tight timeline is for the Arlington Mill Community Center, not the branch library. County Board has made a commitment to the community to build the long-promised Arlington Mill Community Center, which closed in the summer of 2008, and resume services and programming there. The Board has set the first quarter of 2013 as a target date for opening the new Arlington Mill Community Center, with a new gym and public plaza. To achieve that goal, the project would need to be put out to bid before the end of this year. Putting the project out to bid by the end of this year would likely yield significant cost savings, because construction
costs have declined during the recession.
10. Is this a done deal, or will public input make a difference?
This is not a done deal. We are committed to providing ample time and opportunity for a full community discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of moving the branch library to Arlington Mill. The public’s views on this proposal are important and will be fully considered in the County Board’s decision on this proposal. The Board has made no decision on whether the Columbia Pike Branch Library should be moved. The Board will make a decision only at the conclusion of a full public process that allows all stakeholders ample time to make their views known.
11. What is the County doing to inform the public of this proposal?
The County has invited eleven civic associations along the Pike to a June 10th meeting, informing them of the proposal. There also will be a Town Hall meeting with Director of Libraries Diane Kresh at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16 at the Columbia Pike Branch Library, 816 S. Walter Reed Dr. County staff have met with the Arlington Mill Steering Committee, and plans to meet with the presidents of Columbia Pike civic associations on June 26. In addition, staff has posted information on the Libraries blog and on the County website, has used its social media channels and has reached out to reporters, inviting them to attend the town hall meeting.
12. How can I make my views known?
Public input will be gathered through community meetings, comments to the Library’s website and a resident survey planned for later this summer. In addition, the public can direct comments to the County Manager, and to individual County Board members through email or telephone calls.
13. What is the additional cost of building a branch library at Arlington Mill and where would the money come from?
The cost of outfitting a library at Arlington Mill is estimated at $500,000 to outfit and furnish it ($1.7 million to build a floor will be spent regardless). This does not include additional parking added to the parking garage, which will be added regardless, based on the additional square footage of the structure. The community center total cost is estimated at $34 million. Funding will come from several sources, including the $26 million bond funding from the 2008 referendum, unsold bond funding from the 2006 infrastructure bond and a planned 2011 IDA bond included in the proposed 2010-2016 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
14. Has any alternative site been identified for the Columbia Pike Branch Library?
15. What agreements exist between the County and Arlington Public Schools relating to the Columbia Pike Branch Library?
There is a 1974 Memo of Understanding between the County Board and School Board that agreed that the library has continued use of the building until the County Board releases the space for some other use.
16. Are there plans to redevelop the Career Center?
The Career Center’s redevelopment is not included in the current CIP. The County and APS have held redevelopment discussions about the Career Center over the years, most recently in an August 2007 feasibility study and an April 2008 redevelopment proposal.
17. Has Arlington Public Schools been part of the discussion relating to relocation of the library?
No. The Arlington Public Schools has not asked the library to leave and has not indicated that there would be no place for the library in any redevelopment plan. If a decision is made to relocate the library, then the use of the vacated space would follow in a separate process.
18. Are there still plans to build housing on the Arlington Mill site? Will it be affordable housing?
Yes, there are still plans to building housing on the site. The County is putting the finishing touches on a request for proposals (RFP) and will put that out to bid shortly. The RFP will include goals for affordable housing.
19. How does this proposal impact plans for the other library branches?
The decision to move the library from its current location to Arlington Mill, were it to be made, will not in the foreseeable future have any impact on any decision to close, move, or operate any other library branch.
20. Given the current economic situation, how can the County afford to staff this branch library?
We anticipate minimal increase in operating costs for the library, and some potential for savings, because at the Arlington Mill Community Center, we can share staff for building management/operations, and possibly expand service hours. Moving the branch to Arlington Mill offers an opportunity to take advantage of historically low borrowing rates and a highly favorable construction bidding environment that allows the County to maximize its long term investment on public land.
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