As G-40: The Summit, Crystal City’s ambitious street art exhibit, comes to a close this weekend, it’s worthwhile to look back and see how it came about.
Much of the credit can be given to Art Whino and Shane Pomajambo, who curated the massive 75,000 square foot show, and to the Crystal City Business Improvement District, which came up with the initial concept and brought together Pomajambo, funding, and the space at 223 23rd Street South.
But there’s someone else who deserves some credit: former president George W. Bush. It was Bush who approved the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005. BRAC required many of the military agencies that inhabit office buildings in Crystal City to move to cheaper, more secure locations.
By BRAC law, about four million square feet of office space in Crystal City must be vacated by September 2011. Along with the offices will go thousands of jobs, a serious economic blow that the federal, state and county governments are trying to cushion.
Crystal City BID, formed in 2006, was essentially an off-shoot of BRAC. A business improvement district for Crystal City had been discussed prior to BRAC, but BRAC was the catalyst for the county to take action to reverse Crystal City’s stodgy, unfashionable image and to attract new residents and businesses.
Around the time of Crystal City BID’s founding, an Arlington BRAC Transition Task Force recommended the establishment of a marketing arm for Crystal City. That role was filled by the BID.
A perfect event to show off Crystal City’s new “edgy, provocative and engaging” side, to convince prospective residents and businesses that the neighborhood is no longer a drab stretch of nondescript government offices? A street art exhibit.
So celebrate the irony of a Republican president and a multi-billion dollar Department of Defense initiative helping to facilitate a decidedly R-rated art exhibition (there are some things you definitely don’t want the kids to see) by attending the G-40 closing party Saturday night. See our events calendar for more information. If you can’t make it Saturday, the exhibit will also be open Tuesday Wednesday night.
Police detained and questioned two men near the new Northside Social in Clarendon around 1:00 this afternoon, as a lunchtime crowd looked on. Officers were seen blocking off roads and scouring the area, looking for a possible third suspect.
We’re told the police activity had something to do with a reported theft from a nearby cell phone store. Don’t worry, Northside Social’s fancy new Italian espresso machine is safe.
No word on whether the men will face any charges.
But this is not SimCity 2000. It’s Arlington County. And here, increasing taxes provokes a fairly balanced response between those who think taxes are high enough already and those who take an “increase my taxes, please” approach.
Of the people who spoke at Thursday night’s tax rate hearing, eight asked the board to increase taxes to the maximum advertised rate to prevent cuts to programs and services.
Ten people, a plurality, asked the board to either keep taxes steady or at least not raise taxes to the maximum rate. Find ways to cut expenditures, which rose rapidly during the run-up to the real estate bust, the anti-tax crowd said.
Several pro-tax speakers said they believed they actually represented the majority of Arlington residents. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but what is true is that Arlington’s real estate taxes are not egregiously high when compared to neighboring jurisdictions.
The City of Fall Church’s tax rate is already well above Arlington’s maximum advertised rate. And Fairfax City recently proposed a tax rate identical to Arlington’s maximum rate.
The Arlington board will adopt the final FY 2011 budget on April 24.
A group of German students from Arlington’s sister city of Aachen, Germany has managed to fluster members of two Arlington governing bodies nearly simultaneously.
The group of nearly two dozen students attended last night’s county board tax rate hearing. They were acknowledged by board chairman Jay Fisette at the beginning of the session. Fisette assumed they were going to stick around to watch American democracy in action. Instead, seven minutes into the hearing, they all suddenly got up and left en masse, which caused some board members fits of laughter (see video below).
Meanwhile, at the school board meeting (which, for some reason, was held at the same time as the county board hearing), board members were told at length about the exchange students and the host parents and the sister city program. But when the puzzled-looking presenter asked if there were any Aachen students in the audience, apparently expecting at least a few to be there, the Germans were nowhere to be found.
There is flat-out a ton of things to do this weekend in Arlington. There’s plenty of live music, live theater and live comedy to experience this weekend. If that’s not enough, there’s also a charity shopping event and a charity bar sports competition, as well as a Wii tournament and a rockin’ party at an art exhibit.
For a full listing of things to do around town, see our events calendar.
Acknowledging the “loud voice” of thousands of concerned community members, Arlington Public Schools superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said the school system is looking at “partnerships” as a possible way to keep the David M. Brown Planetarium open.
Dr. Murphy made the comments at Thursday night’s school board meeting. He did not elaborate on what sort of partnerships might be possible.
“I think that a lot of the noise we’ve been making online has helped to do this,” said an elated Raphael Perrino, who has been helping to lead the charge with comments on the popular “Save the Arlington VA Planetarium” Facebook page and with an online petition that has garnered more than 220 signatures.
One of the signatures on the petition is purportedly from Mike Leinbach, NASA’s space shuttle launch director and a colleague of David M. Brown, who perished in the 2003 Columbia disaster.
“Dave’s commitment to exploration and education was unsurpassed by anyone, and naming the planetarium for him is a perfect tribute,” Leinbach wrote. “I sincerely hope the county decides to keep the planetarium open.”
Among the speakers at the board meeting was Alice Monet, Arlington parent and astronomer at the Naval Observatory.
“It would be a really sad waste of a very valuable educational resource,” Monet said of the proposed closing.
A final decision of the planetarium’s fate will likely be made by April 24, the date set for the final adoption of the school system budget.