Arlington County Board hopefuls put some distance between themselves by showing the way they would handle county decisions and the budget. They spoke at the Lyon Village Community House on Monday night.
They all agreed that the proposed streetcar along Columbia Pike is not the answer for that area.
However, they differed on what they would do instead of the rails-in-the-road system.
Current board member Libby Garvey, the Democrat in the race, said she is more and more convinced that the streetcar along Columbia Pike is not the best tool for mass transit, and that Bus Rapid Transit could be the answer.
Republican Matt Wavro disagreed with Garvey’s choice. He said BRT requires a dedicated lane in the street, space which Columbia Pike cannot afford. He prefers articulated buses--the extra-long buses with the accordion-like joint in their middles. The accordion allows them to maneuver through normal city streets.
When the county board voted earlier this summer to make the streetcar the “locally preferred alternative” for mass transit along the Pike (a move that allows the county to apply for a federal grant to help fund the project), Garvey was the sole abstention.
Green Party candidate Audrey Clement used that vote to jab Garvey.
“She was elected to take stand,” Clement said in her opening remarks, indicating that Garvey should have voted “no.”
This is Clement’s second run for the county board this year. She lost in the special election that Garvey won in March. Clement has long disliked the streetcar, fearing that it would spur hyper-development along the corridor and price people of modest means out of homes.
The proposed aquatics center for Long Bridge Park got its hearing at the forum.
Clement said the county just cannot afford the aquatics center, an opinion shared by Wavro. Total cost for constructing “Phase II” of Long Bridge Park--$79.2 million according to county documents--includes the aquatics facility, gardens, landscaping, architectural and landscape design, parking lots and an extension of the bike trail and esplanade that are already part of the park that opened late last year. Developers will pay $20 million toward Phase II.
Clement views the new center with its collection of different pools as nothing the community needs, though many may want it, she said.
"I don't think the luxuries we're talking about are worth the incremental costs,” Clement said.
"I really ask the citizens what do you want? Do you want a luxury swimming facility or do you want a lower tax bill?"