There remain some procedural hurdles on the horizon, but a memorial plaque honoring the life and contributions of the late Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall soon will be a part of the neighborhood he called home.
Members of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) on April 21 recommended approval of the plaque, with some potential wording changes. That body’s OK is one of the precursors to eventual County Board action.
Gutshall was serving on the County Board when he was stricken with brain cancer in early 2020. He died that April at age 49.
“We all appreciated his openness, his honesty, his engaging dialogue, civility and quick wit,” said Kathleen McSweeney of the Lyon Park Civic Association. “This memorial to Erik . . . is a fitting tribute to his service.”
(McSweeney noted that, when it is in place near the North Highland Street side of Zitkala-Sa Park, the memorial will be situated within sight of Gutshall’s longtime home.)
The memorial is slated to be mounted on a boulder near a walkway in the park for visibility. The wording as proposed (and still subject to change) would be:
The people of Lyon Park remember Erik as a loving father, husband, son, friend, neighbor, colleague, civic leader, small-business owner, citizen-planner and County Board member. Always focused on the future of Arlington, Erik was a leader who spent his years striving to build a more resilient, environmentally sustainable and equitable community.
County-government regulations require that, in order to have a plaque of this type placed in a public space, the individual must have been deceased at least a year and have had a significant impact on the county or its people.
Gutshall, who served on the Planning Commission before being elected to the County Board in 2017, was the first board member to die in office since Charles Monroe collapsed while chairing a board meeting in 2003.