The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote over the weekend on a proposal to increase extended and weekend parking rates at the 2,800 space garage, which is adjacent to Ballston Common Mall.
Under the proposal, the rate for parking less than three hours or parking after 6:00 p.m. will remain $1. On weekdays, rates for parking more than three hours will increase between $0.50 to $2.00. The most dramatic rate hikes, however, will be felt by those who park at the county-owned garage over the weekend. The $1.00 weekend flat rate will be eliminated in favor of a continuation of the weekday variable rate, which tops off at $10.00 for all-day parking. (See table, left.)
The rate for monthly parking contracts will also increase under the proposal. The 5 day/week rate will increase from $77.00 to $105.00, and the 7 day/week rate will increase from $104.00 to $145.00.
Daily parking rates at the garage have not changed since 1994 and monthly rates have not changed since 1996. County staff estimate the rate hike will generate an extra $1 million per year, which will be used to help pay off the bonds that financed the garage’s purchase and renovation by the county in the mid-1980s.
The staff report notes that just over half of the garage’s current operating budget goes to paying the contract employees who work at the garage, who are paid a living wage per county policy.
If approved by the County Board, the new rates will go into effect on May 1.
Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is warning that a transportation bill approved by the House Ways and Means committee on Friday could have significant reprocussions for the Metro transit system and, by extension, Arlington.
The transportation bill would eliminate the dedicated funding stream for federal transit programs and grants — 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent federal gas tax — replacing it instead with one-time funding.
The federal government contributed about $150 million in dedicated funding to Metro’s budget in the current fiscal year, and more than 50 percent of its current capital improvement budget. Should federal funding be cut, which would be more likely without a dedicated source of revenue, Hynes warns that Metro and Arlington County could suffer greatly.
“Arlington relies on transit. Our whole region relies on transit to move hundreds of thousands of people off our already clogged roads,” Hynes said in a statement. “The gasoline tax supports Metro, the backbone of mass transit in our County and the region. If the House proposal were to become law, it would make budgeting and capital funding for Metro, and for transit systems across our nation, nearly impossible.”
Firefighters initially responded to the U.S. Print and Copy store at 2044 Wilson Boulevard for a report of a person feeling light-headed and dizzy. Personnel started treating the victim and then detected high levels of carbon monoxide, prompting a larger fire department response.
A total of three patients have been evaluated by paramedics, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl. It’s unclear whether any of the patients will require transport to the hospital.
Firefighters are investigating the possibility that the carbon monoxide is coming from a malfunctioning furnace in the basement of the store. Personnel also checked other businesses along the same retail strip and found elevated carbon monoxide levels in next-door Summers Restaurant, Karl said.
As of 1:45 p.m., Washington Gas crews was on the scene, the stores were being ventilated, and firefighters and police officers (who were helping with traffic control) were beginning to clear.
Tuckahoe is one of the most overcrowded schools in a county school system plagued by a capacity crisis. Tuckahoe, designed to accommodate only 545 students, was projected to be at 130 percent capacity in 2012, with some 678 students. Enrollment is expected to balloon to nearly 150 percent capacity in 2017.
To temporarily help address the overcrowding, Arlington Public Schools is planning to add four new relocatable classrooms at Tuckahoe before the beginning of the next school year. That’s addition to the six mobile classrooms already in use at Tuckahoe.
Some parents are upset, however, about where the school system plans to place the trailers. The classrooms will be placed on a blacktop play area that students currently use during recess. With the blacktop no longer available, students will instead be led to a nearby county-owned tennis court during outdoor recreation time.
In a letter to parents, APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says the blacktop was chosen after carefully considering five other locations on APS or county-owned property.
“APS staff believe that this option is the best because it retains the most site amenities for all stakeholders and because we believe this will be an option acceptable to the Tuckahoe community,” Murphy wrote.
Not all parents agree with Dr. Murphy. One group of concerned parents sent a mass email criticizing the decision:
The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to grant approval to a $1.1 million contract for new streetlights and streetlight upgrades on the Pike between S. Frederick and S. Scott Streets. Most of the contract will be paid for with federal highway safety funds; about $140,000 will be paid by the county.
The contract will fund the construction of new LED streetlights and the upgrade of existing streetlights on three stretches of Columbia Pike: from S. Frederick Street to S. Buchanan Street, S. Wakefield Street to S. Glebe Road, and S. Glebe Road to S. Scott Street (including the “town center” area of Columbia Pike).
The LED-powered streetlights are necessary to improve pedestrian visibility and safety, county staff said. More information on the lights is available here.
Photo via Arlington County
A bill that was introduced by Rep. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) inserts a “conscience clause” into the Virginia law concerning private adoption and foster care agencies.
“No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated,” the bill reads. It also says that adoption agencies cannot be held liable for civil damages as a result of denying the placement of a child.
Ebbin says the clause is discriminatory.
“Adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funding should not be allowed to pick prospective parents based on their sexual orientation,” Ebbin said. “Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agency should ever engage in discrimination. When placing a child in a permanent home, the only factor we should take into account is what is best for the child.”
Ebbin tried to patron a bill, SB 569, that would have banned discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity” among adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funds. The bill failed to make it out of a Senate committee.
The conscience clause bills, meanwhile, are advancing. On Friday Gilbert’s bill passed the House by a vote of 71-28, and McWaters’ bill has passed a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7.
A second episode of Arlington’s “Car-Free Diet Show” has been released.
The show, hosted by a former “Car-Free Diet Skeptic,” presents amusing tidbits designed to encourage commuters to consider alternatives to driving.
Last month’s episode was entitled “Gone With the Keys.” This month’s episode is “Mr. Smith Goes to Shirlington.”
Soccer Field to Close for Summer – The synthetic turf field at Virginia Highlands Park, used extensively for soccer games, is expected to be closed for much of the spring and summer so that the turf can be replaced. [Sun Gazette]
Church to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (4250 N. Glebe Road) will be holding a concert next weekend to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Man Killed by Dump Truck — Prince George’s County Police are investigating the death of an Arlington County man who was hit by a dump truck in Capitol Heights on Wednesday evening. [Gazette.net]