North Rosslyn now has a narrow window of opportunity to obtain low-volt lighting on the Colonial Terrace stairs in conjunction with their up-coming repair. We would need to submit a petition to the County by February 8 if we think this project is important enough to make it a priority. Of course, we would probably need to work together with the effected homeowners' associations, e.g., Highview, Georgetown Vista and Highgate. Thanks to David Briggs for bringing this to our attention!
I think good lighting on those stairs is particularly important because they mark the transition between the commercial area and the residential area. I would support making this a priority.
I suspect that most of us would agree with Kathryn that this is a priority issue. My view is that the stairway is a central feature of our neighborhood which, if properly renovated, could dramatically increase the appearance of the area. It is essentially the gateway to the Colonial Terrace neighborhood and the Rosslyn highlands. Improving the stairway, however, could take three forms.
First, at a minimum, we need to patch it up. David Briggs and I have both emphasized the safety hazards of the stairway's current condition to the board. Short-term repairs are necessary and should be done immediately, regardless of whether we are able to achieve more ambitious improvements later. The proposed low-voltage lighting -- if we successfully petition for it -- would be installed during this phase.
Second, we need to ensure that, beyond mere patching, the stairs are repaired to at least their original condition. Even with patching, they will remain an ugly eyesore. The would-be developers of the Best Western project have agreed to fund this development, but that project is now delayed indefinitely. If we pressure the county to fix it sooner, we will need to ensure that the county is reimbursed by the developer for these costs, assuming that the Best Western project is ultimately done. Any lighting installed now would likely need to be replaced when the stairs are re-built.
Third, we should consider a more ambitious proposal. The current stairs, whether merely patched up or rebuilt to their original condition, will never reach the potential which that space has -- as Kathryn identifies -- as a gateway to Colonial Terrace. In order to achieve that potential fully, we would need to urge the county to build an entirely new staircase which appropriately connects the stairway to the style of the surrounding environment. This might include, for instance, red brick pillars and wrought-iron gating.
The third plan would be considerably more expensive than the others. However, we have two advantages. First, a portion of the cost should be defrayed by the Best Western developer. Second, we may be able to get some or all of the remaining costs paid through the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC) process. The NCAC process is difficult and time-consuming, and we would need to balance an NCAC request against other perceived community convervation needs (including, e.g., necessary improvements to the Rosslyn Highlands Park). We would, of course, request priority consideration from the NCAC on the grounds that this would be North Rosslyn's first request.
All of these issues may be intertwined with the low-voltage lighting question. In the event that we should ultimately push for this more ambitous proposal, we will need to determine whether (a) money expended on short-term patching would be unnecessarily wasted when the entire stairway is rebuilt and (b) whether the county would use short-term patching and lighting expenditures as an excuse to delay or avoid a more ambitious project.
I am in the process of attempting to get more factual clarification from the county but, in the meantime, more input would certainly be helpful.
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