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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com — January 17, 2012 at 8:35 am 2,212 21 Comments

Hope Proposes Cigarette Tax Hike — Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) is planning to introduce a bill that would increase Virginia’s relatively low cigarette tax. Unlike past years when Hope has proposed a cigarette tax hike only to have it promptly killed by Republicans, Hope is now proposing that revenue from the tax go directly to car tax relief, rather than to anti-smoking programs or Medicaid funding. [WTVR]

Record Profit for Virginia ABC — Virginia’s state-owned ABC liquor stores and restaurant wholesale business saw record sales and a record profit in fiscal year 2011. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says it recorded an all-time high profit of $121 million last fiscal year, amid record demand for wine, liquor and mixers at stores and from restaurants. The state’s top-selling liquor, meanwhile, is Jack Daniels. [Associated Press]

Lime Fresh Now Open in ClarendonLime Fresh Mexican Grill officially opened in Clarendon on Monday. The restaurant, at 2900 Wilson Boulevard, is the first D.C. location for the Florida-based chain. Another Lime Fresh location is planned for Pentagon Row. The chain originally got its start in 2004 as a restaurant on Miami’s South Beach. The Clarendon Lime Fresh location will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Lyon Park Community Center Renovations — The County Board is expected to consider a use permit in March for planned renovations to the Lyon Park Community Center. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Alex

  • Ashton Height Bob

    The Board is setting precedent with the free use permit. Now all non profits will get free use permits. Lyon Park has a budget of $800,000 for its renovation, but cannot spend $1,700 for a use permit? That’s strange given that they spent $10,000 for a party.

    Also, parking requirements for non profits will now be waived. I bet the many recent church renovations and community pool renovations will be shocked to learn that non profits no longer must comply with zoning requirements for parking. Too bad they complied with the zoning laws and had to adjust their building plans to conform to the law.

    Our thoughtful Board.

    • G Clifford Prout

      I think that Lyon Park Community Center would be a great place to put some homeless people. I’d like to see some use conditions as a part of this approval.

  • Occupado

    Occupy Lyon Park!

  • spaghetti

    Awesome picture this morning.

    • CW

      HDR…so cliche, yet so pretty…I want to not like it anymore, but it never gets old…

    • alex1138

      Thanks!

  • JimPB

    A government entity making a record profit! Ideology says, “No Way. No How.” Government is too inefficient. Like Medicare. Administrative costs of around 3%. Have the Virginia ABC financials been audited? Maybe McDonald should be preparing to eat crow … washed down with that Virginia favorite, Jack Daniels.

    • Andrew

      They are the only source for liquor in VA. How can they not turn a profit?

      • CW

        I was thinking similarly…a monopoly on a commodity product is generally a pretty darn good income generator, last I checked.

        • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

          Back in the 70′s Pennsylnania’s state run liquor stores managed to “lose” money.
          True story.

      • brif

        DC, NC, WV, and military bases are also sources for liquor in VA

        • bob

          Yes… However, businesses (that don’t acquire liquor illegally, at the enormous risk of their very precious license) are required to obtain their liquor from the ABC. If you ever sit at the bar and order a drink, you’ll notice small price tag stickers on every bottle. The number on that bottle is ABC-specific to that licensed establishment. If they ever get inspected and have a bottle in stock without said sticker, they are in big trouble. I don’t know for sure, but I would be willing to bet the vast majority of VA’s ABC sales revenue is to commerical licensees, not private consumers.

  • John Fontain

    The Lyon Park Community Center renovation plan is textbook boondoggle and a classic case of unwisely overspending other people’s money (as described by economist Milton Friedman).

    The idea to renovate started with a simple goal: making the existing bathrooms handicap accessible and doing a moderately-priced refresh of the building. It would have been a relatively inexpensive project (about $200,000) and a third-party was even offering to donate funds that would have covered a significant portion of the construction costs. Simply put, It was a no brainer.

    But what happened? A small number of very vocal residents were opposed to the plan because it would have resulted in the removal of vinyl siding on one side of the building that they deemed to be historical in nature (even though it wasn’t original to the building). This small group then got the bright idea that our humble community center, which has served the neighborhood well for 90 years, could be and needed to be world-class. During discussions about the bathroom renovations they urged we hold on for just a couple of months while they explored some other options. They promised that it would only take a couple of months to come up with a slightly better plan and that the bathrooms would be made ADA compliant in very short order (just a few months).

    After almost a year, this small group of residents presented their new plan, which they now expected to cost around $350,000. Many people in the neighborhood practically fell off their chairs in shock at this idea. But what does they small group do? They spend more than another year doing still more research and come back to the community with an even “better” plan. The cost estimate jumps to $550,000. And now, after another couple of years, the cost estimate sits at more than $700,000.

    The people pushing for this project now want the rest of the neighbors to spend as much money to add a sunroom and do some other interior renovations as it would cost to build a completely new facility. And the same people who were so concerned about preserving the ‘historical’ façade of the building are now the biggest proponents for drastically changing the façade with a sunroom.

    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Almost 15 years after the initial push for ADA compliant bathrooms (in 1997), disabled people still cannot make use of the bathrooms in the community center because a small group of people insist on achieving their own personal vanity project.

    • G Clifford Prout

      Those rich folks are too funny. A sunroom! You think they would have called it a solarium. It sounds more expensive that way. When do they add the billiard room, the conservatory and the ballroom?

      • TGEoA

        And a butlers kitchen

        • Betting Man

          Bring on the slots!

    • CW

      John – for those of us who haven’t lived in the area forever or who generally don’t pay attention to rich neighborhood groups’ internal squabbles, can you give the Clif’s notes version of 1) who owns the thing and 2) who will be paying for it? Then I can determine the necessary level of outrage (zero if it’s the rich people paying for it, INFURIATION if taxpayer funds are used). Thanks.

      • John Fontain

        It’s not County owned or privately owned. It’s a not for profit entity managed by volunteers for the benefit of the community. Basically, the developer of Lyon Park donated a 99,000 square foot parcel to the neighborhood back in the 20′s to be used as a park for the neighborhood. On that parcel sits the Lyon Park Community Center.

        The ‘steering committee’ who is currently leading the renovation efforts is asking the community’s residents to donate to the renovation. No infuriation necessary on your part, as this won’t be taxpayer dollars. It will all be from donations from ‘rich people.’

        What is bothersome to me and to many in the neighborhood is the hijacking of a bathroom renovation intended to help the handicapped by those who see no problem in trying to build a Taj Mahal with other people’s money.

        Much of the money that has been raised to date was collected years ago when the plan was a simple bathroom renovation. Imagine donating for one purpose only to see your money never get used for the intended purpose and sit unused for years and years while a ‘steering committee’ continually modifies their plans into grander and grander visions that have more than tripled the initial cost estimate.

        All the while, this steering committee is spending tens of thousands of dollars on revision after revision of architects plans for a project that may prove too expensive to ever build.

        • CW

          Thanks for the explanation. The 4th paragraph certainly explains a lot. That’s obviously pretty outrageous. It seems like there should have been an agreement tying the money to a specific end use and time frame. If I were donating to a collective cause, I’d want to see a signed, dated proposal before I kicked in. Sounds like in this case the funds were collected in a manner that put the cart before the horse, and now the wheels are spinning. I’d also bet that some (or many) of the parties involved now probably weren’t even around back when the whole thing started. Frustrating.

          • G Clifford Prout

            It’s a shame we can’t post images any more, otherwise I would have posted an image of a faux arts and crafts McMansion.

          • John Fontain

            You can still post links…

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