The five County Board members toured the Douglas Park neighborhood last week, listening to residents’ concerns about pedestrian safety, overcrowding and the need for more green space.
Nearly 50 residents accompanied the board members during the "walking town meeting," the second of three such community forums this year. In June, the board and county staff visited the GlenCarlyn neighborhood, and on Sept. 21, they will travel around the Waycroft/Woodlawn district.
Douglas Park residents said the meeting afforded them the opportunity to highlight needed improvements in the neighborhood.
The walking town meeting was "a great opportunity to acquaint the whole County Board with civic improvement issues," said Andy Johnson, a 30-year Arlingtonian.
The neighborhood of Douglas Park is bounded by South Four Mile, Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive.
Those on the tour said one of their main hopes for Douglas Park was to turn it into a more walkable and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. A resident was killed at the intersection of Glebe Road and 12th Street by the Glebe Road Post Office several years ago, said John Snyder, president of the civic association.
The community would like the county to replace dated streetlights to ensure the safety of bikers and pedestrians. Greater lighting is also needed on the bike path between Doctor's Run Park and Randolph Elementary. In the wintertime the path can be dangerous for students returning home from school, Snyder said.
Neighbors have asked for more crosswalks on 12th, 14th and 16th streets. While VDOT has approved funding for construction on 12th street, set to begin this fall, projects at the other intersections have been postponed, county officials said.
Neighbors discussed with board members their desire to preserve Ft. Barnard as parkland. The county maintains the area is controlled by the Water Sewer Streets Division, which uses the space to store maintenance supplies. County officials expressed optimism that a resolution is near and that the excess material will be removed by next spring.
An additional matter at Ft. Barnard was that Cingular has proposed placing a cellular tower on the grounds, a move residents said they oppose.
The issue of overcrowding between 16th and 14th Streets on Oakland Street generated heated debate during the event.
County officials stressed the delicacy of the situation, emphasizing difficulty in forcing inhabitants to produce documents of relationship status in possibly overcrowded households. They referred residents to the complaint form available on the county Web site, saying that neighbors should be prepared to provide detailed reasons as to why they believe the situation to be unsafe.
In the coming weeks, the Douglas Park Civic Association expects to hear the county board's response to the issues raised, with explanations on what the county is capable of doing and plans for the near future.
Additionally, the meeting gave residents the chance to mingle with their neighbors and learn about other pressing topics in the community.
"It's always interesting to go out and hear what I haven't heard through the grapevine — to see what people think are important issues," said Mary Tazewell, who has lived in Douglas Park for 15 years.