Arlington County’s emergency winter shelter is now closed, and the dozens of homeless individuals who stay there will be looking for a new place to sleep tonight.
About 50 percent of the shelter’s clients will stay in Arlington County over the summer, according to shelter director Olivia Payton. Most others will go to Fairfax, Bailey’s Crossroads, Alexandria and the District, where shelters remain open year-round.
Those who do stay in Arlington will sleep in parks, under bridges, and in wooded encampments. John Rotalsky, who slept at the shelter last night, said he will likely sleep in an encampment near Gateway Park and the Mt. Vernon Trail in Rosslyn tonight.
“We can go to the national parkland, stay there at night, and pack out in the daytime,” he said. “They let us do that.”
Rotalsky, whose religious convictions are documented in a recent online video, said the service provided to the homeless in Arlington “is a huge blessing.”
“Arlington County is just light years better than anything else in this area,” Rotalsky said. “I have not been threatened in the three and a half months that I have been living there. No one has tried to shake me down or rob me, and that’s normal stuff in D.C. shelters.”
The county mandates that the shelter only remain open from Nov. 1 to March 31. The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), which runs the shelter, has been pushing for a year-round shelter in Arlington for some time now. Such a shelter is needed, especially during spring cold snaps and summer heatwaves, they say. The County Board formally set the goal of establishing a new, year-round shelter last month. First, however, a location for the new shelter must be found.
While A-SPAN does not operate a shelter in the warmer weather months, it still provides services via volunteers who travel the county bringing food and supplies to homeless individuals and through its Opportunity Place headquarters in Shirlington. A-SPAN also tries to place homeless individuals into permanent housing, but those resources are limited.
Rotalsky says he looks forward to the day when the county is able to open a year-round shelter.
“It’s a real treat staying here at the A-SPAN shelter,” he said. “I don’t want to leave.”
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
A hit and run accident sent three people to the hospital this morning.
The accident happened around lunch time on George Mason Drive, just north of Virginia Hospital Center. Initial reports suggest a van hit a sedan, sending the sedan into a pole. Three people who were in the car were brought to the hospital with minor injuries.
The driver of the van reportedly fled the scene after the accident. Officers and a police dog searched for the driver, but were not able to find her. Shortly after the search was called off, a woman fitting the description of the van driver showed up at the scene and was searched by officers. No word on which charges, if any, will be filed.
Thanks to various delays and lower-than-expected demand, Artisphere will fall well short of its initially projected ticket and admission revenue for FY 2011.
In a presentation to the county board yesterday, county staff revealed that Artisphere admission and ticket income is projected at $174,202 for the financial year ending on June 30, 75 percent below the $789,912 in revenue that planners expected.
The shortfall was first reported in the Sun Gazette Editor’s Notebook blog.
Located in Rosslyn, Artisphere opened on Oct. 10 as the county’s premier arts and entertainment venue. The county originally expected Artisphere would attract 250,000 annual visitors. Since opening, it has attracted 48,169 visitors.
Artisphere’s online ticketing service didn’t launch until January and its restaurant is only expected to open next week — two factors that staff says has negatively impacted revenue and attendance figures.
Due to the ticket and admission discrepancy and other revenue shortfalls, Artisphere will fall $809,477 short of meeting its budget goals this year. With staff not recommending any spending cuts at Artishere, the shortfall will likely be paid by Arlington County taxpayers. The county had already allocated more than $700,000 in funding for Artisphere during FY 2011, while the Rosslyn Business Improvement Corporation allocated more than $600,000.
For FY 2012, staff is projecting that admission and ticketing revenue will fall $455,000 short of original expectations, while expenses will be $462,000 higher than expectations. One bright spot is fundraising, which is now expected to come in at $200,000 above projections. All told, staff expects Artisphere will need another $791,1356 in taxpayer support above and beyond the County Manager’s proposed FY 2012 budget.
County spokeswoman Diana Sun says Artisphere’s budget situation “has everyone’s attention.”
“Artisphere is an important part of the revitalization of Rosslyn,” Sun said. “The County Manager has asked for a revised business plan for Artisphere by summer.”
In the midst of a high-stakes budget fight on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner found time to dine at Guapo’s Restaurant in Shirlington Village last night.
Speaker Boehner was joined by 8-10 people, who our tipster says were likely friends and staff members. The margarita-sipping crew left in two black U.S. Capitol Police SUVs around 10:00 p.m.
The visit — confirmed by a restaurant staffer — came on the same day that Tea Party members rallied in front of the Capitol to pressure Boehner and congressional Republicans to continue pushing for budgetary spending cuts. In case they’re wondering, the typical entree at Guapo’s is between $10 and $20.
Boehner is apparently a big fan of the Mexican cuisine at Guapo’s. He has been spotted there at least two other times in the past few months.
Our wonk-ish tipster hypothesizes that last night’s visit may indicate Boehner is planning on passing another short-term continuing resolution before finalizing the budget. After all, our tipster says, Boehner would otherwise be rushing to iron out key points in order for the budget to be “agreed to, finalized and posted by this coming Tuesday under their new 72 hour rules.”
ACFD 9/11 Memorial to be Landscaped — Last week the Department of Defense gave Arlington County’s first responders a chunk of limestone recovered from the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. That stone now sits near a steel beam from the World Trade Center, in a field outside Fire Station 5 in Pentagon City. The county is planning to landscape the area around the two memorials, in advance of the upcoming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. [Arlington Connection]
Missed Connections in Arlington — Someone is looking for a “Persian goddess in pink” who was spotted shopping for chickpea salad at the Clarendon Whole Foods. Also: a woman is looking for the “armsleeve tattoo man” she ogled at the Golds Gym. [Clarendon Culture]
Whipple Fights Abortion Amendment — Arlington’s retiring state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple is fighting an amendment inserted into a General Assembly-approved bill by Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill would establish a health insurance exchange in Virginia as part of the federal health care reform law. However, McDonnell’s amendment would prohibit any insurance plan in the exchange from offering coverage for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. [Washington Post]
Arlington Diocese Fights Porn — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington continues its campaign against “the very real danger of pornography in our culture” with a blog post. The post notes that an anti-porn pamphlet authored by Bishop Paul Loverde is so popular that it’s now in its second printing. Also, the post says that Bishop Loverde has been active in the fight against pornography on cell phones. [Encourage and Teach]