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by Ethan Rothstein
September 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm
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MoNA logo(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) The Mothers of North Arlington – a support and social group for mothers in six Arlington ZIP codes with more than 2,000 members – is now facing competition from a group of former members.

MONA’s members have congregated since 2009 on a Yahoo! Group that today has 2,353 members. According to a tipster, MONA is switching over to a new web platform tomorrow, and the switch has already prompted enough opposition that the former MONA president resigned in May, claiming some members were using “hate speech” and “cyber-bullying” over the impending change.

Yesterday, some of MONA’s members decided that, instead of asking MONA to keep its Yahoo! Group alive, they would start their own. NAPping — short for North Arlington Parents — launched on Monday as a free group for North Arlington parents. So far, Yahoo! reports it has just shy of 150 members. In May, MONA had 2,615 members.

While MONA charges $40 in annual membership dues and restricts membership to residents of the 22201, 22203, 22205, 22207, 22209 and 22213 ZIP codes, NAPping is a free group. It was started after parents who didn’t want MONA to shift away from the Yahoo! Group all put their names into a Google Doc to split off.

Asked about NAP’s formation, MONA leaders took the high road, saying they welcomed the competing group.

“One thing this transition has shown us is the wide variety of needs, interests and priorities in the community as people seek parenting support,” MONA co-presidents Morgan Chinoy and M.K. Yeargin said in a statement to ARLnow.com. “We think it is a positive thing for the North Arlington community to have more than one parenting support organization to allow people to find what best suits their needs, whether it’s some, all or none of them. We look forward to a positive relationship with North Arlington Parents as we all work toward our common goal of supporting parents in our community.”

Photo via MONA

by Andrea Swalec
September 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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The Rosslyn intersection where cyclists and pedestrians face drivers exiting I-66 has received safety modifications in the past two weeks and more changes are on the way, county officials said on a tour of the site Tuesday morning.

In advance of a $5 million overhaul slated to be complete in summer 2016, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation changed the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street last week, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering.

“Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority at this location, period,” Marcus said as county officials and police watched people navigate the corner some locals call the “Intersection of Doom.”

One change is minor in cost but should be significant in impact: A no-turn-on-red sign is being installed at N. Lynn Street for those exiting I-66. That’s being done “as soon as possible,” Marcus said.

Additionally, cyclists and pedestrians crossing N. Lynn Street using the Custis Trail previously had a walk signal when all traffic lights were red — known as a “leading interval” — for just 2 seconds; the length of that signal was increased last week to 5 seconds, Marcus said. The county plans to increase the leading interval time to 15 to 20 seconds in the next six months, once new signal technology is installed.

“We’re giving more time for pedestrians and bikes to go first,” Marcus said, adding that new caution signs for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be added to the intersection.

Drivers headed west on Lee Highway, meanwhile, now have an additional 10 seconds of biker- and pedestrian-free time to clear the intersection.

To pair with engineering changes, the Arlington County Police Department has ramped up traffic enforcement and educational efforts at the corner where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, Capt. James Wasem said.

“People can expect to see uniformed police officers out here flagging cars over, directing traffic, handing out some brochures and citing violations,” he said about the measures enacted about two weeks ago.

Police issued 228 citations at the intersection from Sept. 15, 2013 through the same date this year: 133 for failure to obey traffic signals, 32 for improper turning and 1 for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Fifteen car crashes occurred at the intersection within that period, police said; just two crashes on record involved pedestrians.

The ACPD assigns an officer to direct traffic at the intersection on weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. but must spread officers between that corner, schools and other frequent crash sites. The department began sending an officer to the location “as often as possible” following recommendations from a traffic analyst the county hired this year, Wasem said.

ACPD is seeking funding to assign two officers to Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street every weekday morning, plus an additional two officers at Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, Wasem said. The latter intersection has been facing a chronic problem of drivers “blocking the box” during rush hour since construction began on the Central Place project, blocking lanes of Lynn Street.

The additional staffing would cost $180,000 through next year.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor
September 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm
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Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are going to be selling soon and have been following the sales in our neighborhood. The homes currently on the market don’t seem to be priced as high as the homes that sold earlier in the summer. Which listings should we be looking at to determine the current value of our home?

A. This is an interesting real estate market we find ourselves in right now. Typically you can generalize the conditions of a market based on a steady plateau, incline or decline. This year has seen a lot more ups and downs when it comes to home sales. Some months have been much better than others as well as certain neighborhoods and price categories. My point is that you need to be looking at both the most recent sales and current listings to determine your home’s value in this market.

Most homeowners and agents look at the last six or 12 months of home sales to determine a home’s value. In this market, I have tightened my threshold to home sales within the past three months because of all the market fluctuations. I am also paying very close attention to any homes currently on the market and under contract.

The benefit of data from sold homes is that you are seeing what the market was willing to bear for comparable properties. You know exactly how many days it took to go under contract and if they had to adjust their price at any time. The photos and description will also provide clues as to how the home compares to yours and what adjustments you need to make in your comparison.

By factoring in active home listings, you can gain insight into the most current market activity. You can also visit the homes to see exactly how they compare to yours. You just have to be careful about how you evaluate the price. Just because someone is listing for more than the last house that sold, does not mean they will get it. As you can imagine, some sellers can be overly optimistic about their list prices.

The process I follow to determine a home’s value, starts by evaluating recently sold homes. I use this data to establish an initial baseline price that I think the home is worth. I then take that number and fine tune it with the current and under contract listings.

I evaluate my baseline number against the other homes currently for sale in the area. I usually look at active listings $50,000 above my number and $50,000 below my number. If it looks like there are some homes currently priced for less than my number that compare favorably, then I may need to adjust down. If it seems like we compare favorably to homes priced higher, then I may want to adjust up.

Then, I’ll look at the most similar homes to my subject property. If they are having a hard time selling for the number I was hoping to shoot for, then this information is insightful about the experience we may have on the market at that price. Conversely, if there are similar homes that went under contract quickly at my number, then maybe we should push for a higher price than they were asking for.

Lastly, it is important to take into consideration what I am experiencing with nearby listings I have active in the market. This is where it becomes important to work with a local area expert. I’ll also consider any upcoming criteria that may affect our listing (i.e. seasonality, interest rate hikes, buyer trends).

Pricing homes is much more of an art than a science. Take a look at all the information you can get your hands on. I know it is tempting to take the easy route and base your price off of Zillow or, even worse, your tax assessed value. Please don’t do that. You run a huge risk of pricing too low and leaving money on the table or pricing too high and having to chase after the market. Either situation will cost you thousands of dollars.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein
September 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm
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Larry Sutton (photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department)(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A 19-year-old D.C. resident tried to stab multiple people outside First Down Sports Bar in Ballston last night before fleeing from police, avoiding a taser and ultimately being tackled and arrested, police say.

Larry Sutton was already wanted for armed robbery by the Metropolitan Police Department when, while intoxicated, he attempted “to stab several patrons with a knife” at 8:30 last night, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

First Down owner Ramesh Chopra told ARLnow.com this afternoon that the incident began when Sutton and another individual got into an argument outside the bar. Sutton began swinging a knife, after which the other individual entered First Down, where Sutton followed. Chopra said Sutton swung the knife inside the bar once before the two were kicked out and Chopra locked the door.

After that, Sutton “just started to go after passersby,” Chopra said, swinging his knife at two different people on the sidewalk before the police arrived.

Sutton ignored police demands to drop his weapon and fled toward the Ballston Metro station, the police report said.

According to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the officers hit Sutton with a taser, but it did not bring him down. Ultimately, officers had to “execute a takedown” to subdue and arrest him.

Sutton is being charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. He is being held without bond. From the crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 140929062, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At 8:30 pm on September 29, an intoxicated subject attempted to stab several patrons with a knife at First Down Bar. Police confronted the subject on scene and after failing to comply with officers commands to drop his weapon, the subject fled on foot to a heavily populated area near the Ballston Metro Station. Officers attempted a taser deployment but ultimately took the subject into custody following a takedown. The weapon was recovered and Larry Sutton, 19, of Washington, DC, was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. Sutton was also wanted out of Washington, DC for armed robbery. He was held without bond.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

by Ethan Rothstein
September 30, 2014 at 11:45 am
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APS superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy gives his FY 2015 budget briefingArlington Public Schools teachers and staff are largely unhappy with the job Superintendent Patrick Murphy is doing, with two-thirds of those polled in an APS survey giving him a “C” grade or lower.

The results were tallied in APS’ biennial community survey, released this month. The survey, conducted by a District-based polling company, randomly selected respondents and polled 1,680 staff, 1,160 students, 602 parents and 600 Arlington County residents without a direct connection to the school system.

The company says its results had a “95 percent confidence score.”

While 12 percent of teachers and staff gave Murphy a failing grade and 20 percent graded him at a “D,”  teachers were generally satisfied with other aspects of their positions. Seventy-two percent gave their school administrators or department’s assistant superintendent an “A” or “B” grade, 85 percent gave high marks for their school and 91 percent gave high marks for their colleagues. Two-thirds of teachers also said they were satisfied with the compensation they receive.

Students also gave the school system generally high marks — 78 percent gave their school either an “A” or “B,” with 70 percent of teachers earning those high marks from students — but 18 percent of students agreed with the statement that they felt bullied in school. Eighteen percent of students also responded that they disagree that “School staff stops bullying in school whenever they see it.”

Parents were even more positive about their school experience, with 94 percent giving high marks to their child’s school and 90 percent giving high marks to APS as a whole. What’s more, 81 percent of parents are satisfied with their involvement in the School Board’s decision-making process — APS teachers and staff are, by contrast, 55 percent satisfied with their inclusion in the School Board’s process.

Other items of note from the survey results:

  • 8 percent of students report that they spend too little of their after school time on homework.
  • 64 percent of students said they don’t like “to wake up early for school,” the top response in the survey asking about local students dislike. Fifty percent said they dislike doing homework, and 42 percent said they are “bored at school” (students were allowed multiple answers).
  • 55 percent of parents gave Murphy an “A” or “B” grade, but 37 percent said they “don’t know” how they feel about Murphy’s job performance
  • 93 percent of parents agreed that “my child likes to go to school.” The top response in the “I like to go to school because” question for students was “I like to see my friends,” with 83 percent, followed by “it will help me in the future” at 75 percent.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein
September 30, 2014 at 11:30 am
877 0

Car crash snares traffic on I-395 Sept. 30, 2014 Car crash snares traffic on I-395 Sept. 30, 2014

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) A car crash closed all lanes of traffic on southbound I-395 this morning.

The accident occurred at just after 11:00 a.m. Virginia State Police closed off all lanes of the highway next to the Shirlington Circle to clear the scene for Arlington firefighters and paramedics.

Police diverted traffic onto the exit ramp, where cars are able to pass through and continue on I-395 past the crash.

Backups on SB I-395 stretched to the exit for Washington Blvd. The roadway has since reopened.

by ARLnow.com
September 30, 2014 at 10:25 am
1,247 0

View of R-B corridor from the Washington Monument (courtesy photo)

Alexandria Murder Suspect in Arlington Jail — Charles Severance, who’s charged in the murders of three Alexandria residents, has been transferred to the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The transfer is intended “to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” since Severance is charged in the murder of the wife of a former Alexandria sheriff. [Washington Post]

Roadside Sunflowers Chopped Down — A patch of sunflowers planted at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Powhatan Street has been cut down by VDOT after someone complained to say the flowers blocked her view while turning. The resident who has been planting the sunflowers for the past seven years mounted a sign in the flowers’ place saying “hope you are happy!” [Falls Church News-Press]

Bocce Produces Outcry in Reston, Too — Remember the neighborhood kerfuffle over a single proposed bocce court in Bluemont? Well, it turns out Arlington isn’t the only place where people get steamed about the sport. In Reston, residents are complaining about potential traffic, parking woes, drinking and the loss of green space after a bocce court was proposed. [Reston Now]

County Seeking ‘Human Rights Heroes’ — Arlington County is seeking nominees for the 16th annual James B. Hunter Human Rights Awards. The awards are intended to honor residents, community groups, non-profits or businesses that have made significant human rights achievements. [Arlington County]

Courtesy photo

by ARLnow.com Sponsor
September 30, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Warm weather may be winding down but Arlington’s innovation economy is heating up.

Tandem NSI, which connects technology entrepreneurs and national security agencies, is hosting an “Throwback Thursday” event on Oct. 2, promising that “summer’s not over until we say it is.”

Classic rock band Two Car Living Room will perform at the free event, which is being held at Artisphere from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Also on offer: beers and the exhibit Think With Your Hands, a collaboration between artists and software developers.

Register for the event here.

by ARLnow.com
September 30, 2014 at 12:45 am
1,853 0

Three people were hurt in a rollover accident in Bluemont Monday night.

The two-vehicle crash happened around 10:00 p.m., at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

According to a witness, an elderly man in a Chevy Impala on Wilson Blvd ran a red light, broadsiding an SUV that was heading north on George Mason. The SUV flipped on its side and came to rest next to a street sign.

The SUV’s three occupants were able to get out of the vehicle on their own, we’re told.

Two children were taken to the hospital, according to the witness. Their injuries were reported to be minor.

The adult male driver was shaken but did not require medical treatment. He was driving the children home from a basketball practice at Kenmore Middle School, we’re told.

A passenger in the Impala was also taken to the hospital with apparently minor injuries, the witness said. The driver was evaluated by paramedics. Charges were “likely,” a police officer on the scene said.

A third vehicle was nearly involved in the accident. We’re told a convertible — whose driver was also returning from the basketball practice — was driving next to but just behind the SUV. The driver slammed on the brakes at the last second and managed to barely avoid the wreck.

by Ethan Rothstein
September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm
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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston. The…

by Ethan Rothstein
September 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm
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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space…

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