Virginia Department of Transportation officials say they’re waiting for the results of a state police investigation into the death of Alexandria paramedic Joshua Weissman before deciding what to do about the gaps. As of today the investigation is “still ongoing,” according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
Weissman fell through one of the gaps while trying to reach a burning vehicle in the HOV lanes of I-395 on Feb. 8. He fell some 20 to 30 feet into the creek and was knocked unconscious, authorities said at the time. Weissman later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.
From below, the two gaps are clearly visible between the mainline of northbound I-395, an HOV ramp, and the HOV lanes themselves. Beneath the gaps are the Four Mile Run bike trail, a rocky berm littered with debris from the homeless individuals who sleep under the bike trail, and a shallow section of Four Mile Run with a jagged concrete structure in the middle.
The gaps pose the biggest danger to police and firefighters, who often will reach an incident in the HOV lanes via the mainline of I-395. If the incident happens to be on the bridge, as it was in the case of the Feb. 8 car fire, those public safety personnel will have to either hurdle over the gap or walk around it, in order to reach the scene and come to the aid of the victims.
One police official tells ARLnow.com said the gaps are “really not a problem in daylight” but can be especially dangerous at night. There are other gaps between lanes along I-395, including in the area of S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City, the official said, adding that he’s personally aware of at least two close calls involving officers nearly falling through the gaps.
Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz says that placing a grate between the spans may help eliminate the danger.
“It seemed to me that something like a grating… might be a cheap and adequate solution to that problem,” Schwartz said. He added, though, that it “makes sense” for state police to conclude the investigation before ”rushing out to do something that in the end might not be a complete solution.”
There were two incidents of men arrested for downright creepy behavior at Ballston Common Mall on Monday.
First, a man was arrested for allegedly masturbating while watching women work out at the Ballston Sport & Health Club in the mall.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 03/05/12, 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard. At 6:20 am on March 5, a subject was seen masturbating in a public area of the mall while he was watching women exercise through a gym window. Alexei Rodriguez, 37, of no fixed address, was charged with indecent exposure and trespassing. He is being held without bond.
Just three hours later, a man was arrested for allegedly hiding inside a stall in the women’s bathroom.
PEEPING TOM, 03/05/12, 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard. On March 5 at 9:40 am, a male subject was found in a female bathroom stall peeping into the remaining area by Mall Security. Jacques Toube, 50, of Riverdale, MD, was charged with peeping and was held on a secured bond.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
More than 50 men and women will put their strength to the test by carrying, lifting, pressing and pulling large amounts of weight. Some of the “weights” are simply heavy objects, like huge rocks or tires.
Spectators are welcome at the event, which takes place at CrossFit South Arlington (607 S. Ball St). Competitions run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and more information about each strength test is available online. The entrance fee is $5, and children under 12 are free.
Arlington County planning director Peter Katz, an author and nationally recognized proponent of the New Urbanism movement, has abruptly resigned after less than five months on the job.
Katz resigned yesterday, effective immediately, according to Arlington County Director of Communications Diana Sun. The resignation was first reported by the Arlington Mercury.
In a prepared written statement, Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development Director Robert Brosnan suggested the resignation followed a realization that Katz was not the right person for the job.
Peter Katz is a well-known proponent of the New Urbanism (smart growth) movement, and has played a key role in shaping the movement.
Peter and we have come to a mutual agreement that his passion and energies are better suited to consulting than to staff work. Though we both worked hard to make it work, it just ultimately wasn’t the right fit, which we regret.
The role of Planning Director is a key one in Arlington and we will take immediate steps to fill the position.
We wish Peter all the best in his career and future endeavors.
Robert Brosnan, Director
Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development
Update at 4:25 p.m. — Arlington County Human Resources Director Marcy Foster says the standard salary of a planning director in Arlington is $150,000. That would put Katz’s to-date compensation at about $60,000. Foster could not say whether Katz would receive a severance package, citing privacy reasons. Former county manager Michael Brown’s $110,000 severance payment was revealed, she said, because Brown was under contract, whereas Katz was a county employee.
Einstein Bros. Bagels is officially opening its first store in the area tomorrow. To celebrate, it’s giving away free bagels for a year to some lucky visitors.
The restaurant will be located in the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy) and will open to the public at 6:00 a.m.
“We are excited to present Einstein Bros. Bagels to the Crystal City neighborhood,” said Crystal Gateway Marriott General Manager Sharon Lockwood in a press release. “With over 2,000 guests walking through our lobby each day, we are proud to provide them with a quick and convenient meal.”
The first 100 people in line when the restaurant opens tomorrow will receive coupons for one free breakfast sandwich each week for one year. To be eligible, customers must be at least 18 years old and have a valid photo ID. The coupons are valid only at the new Crystal Gateway location.
The county is gearing up for the kickoff of its Participation, Leadership and Civic Engagement (PLACE) initiative next week. The effort is being launched to improve engagement between residents and the county government.
County Board Chair Mary Hynes proposed the initiative in January to get more people active in their communities, and more involved in key decisions that will shape the future of the county.
Hynes said PLACE consists of many layers so people can choose their preferred level of community participation. Overall, it’s supposed to help bring people together to make a better Arlington.
“What I think I’ve learned the most from more than 25 years of civic activism and elected office is that we’re all smarter together,” Hynes said.
The recently started “Open Door Mondays” sessions are a part of the effort. Hynes says it shows that the County Board is really interested in hearing from residents. The sessions allow leaders to gather suggestions and ideas from people who may not have an interest in attending formal board meetings.
“Good ideas come from all different places,” Hynes said. “Sometimes that person who walks in new and just kind of looks at the landscape and makes what they think is an offhanded comment provides you with a real insight that gives you a new direction.”
Hynes said the county appreciates all of the existing participation from the public, but it’s often limited to a few very active members. She said the current level of involvement isn’t necessarily representative of Arlington as a whole, and could benefit from some refreshing. For example, she’d like to see more young people and seniors becoming engaged in their communities and offering input.
Another goal of PLACE is to provide more avenues for people to find out events or gatherings throughout the county. The hope is that by the end of the year, some sort of online portal will be in place to list neighborhood events and organizations. The portal would also give the government a better idea of what groups have formed and what people are interested in.
Hynes said it’s time to refresh “The Arlington Way,” which was an idea put forth a couple of decades ago. The Arlington Way at its core is defined as an open conversation between the government and the people who live and work in Arlington. Because of the population growth and business expansion throughout the county, Hynes believes the old model has become obsolete.
The PLACE launch events will be held at Artisphere next Thursday, March 15 and Saturday, March 17. There are several 90 minute sessions scheduled for those two days. Attendees can learn more about PLACE, chat with community leaders, learn more about Open Door Mondays and get community groups on the map.
As of last Thursday, more than 100 people had signed up for the events. Attendees are asked to register online for one of the sessions.
Employers and individuals who make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities received special recognition from the county on Tuesday at a Proclamation Ceremony.
Those honored have helped people with disabilities participate in community activities, in addition to obtaining job skills and employment.
Families, friends, educators, employers and others packed the atrium at the National Science Foundation in Ballston to honor the two individuals and three employers.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Julia DeLeon, an instructional aide in Arlington Public Schools, and Sharon Raimo, CEO of St. Coletta of Greater Washington, Inc.
“Julia DeLeon and Sharon Raimo have dedicated their careers to helping children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “They embody the Arlington vision of inclusiveness, wherein ‘each person is important.’”
The three local employers who were honored for their long-term commitments to hiring people with disabilities are Revolution Cycles, Northrup Grumman Corporation and Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall and Commissary. Hynes said she hopes these employers serve as a reminder to everyone in the community that people with disabilities can benefit the workforce.
“Employment often facilitates meaningful and wider community integration,” said Hynes. “It can lead to increased self-esteem and a higher status in one’s own family and social group. Higher income can lead to increased independence and participation in the community. This is as true for employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities as it is for all of us.”
The ceremony was part of March’s month-long celebration of what the county dubbed “Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month.”
Romney Wins Va. Primary — Mitt Romney won Virginia’s Republican presidential primary yesterday, capturing 59.5 percent of the vote statewide. The only other candidate who qualified for the ballot, Ron Paul, received 40.5 percent of the vote. In Arlington, Romney received 64.6 percent of the vote to 35.4 percent for Ron Paul. Voter turnout was light, as expected. A total of 7,623 votes were cast in Arlington, representing 5 percent of registered voters and 6.3 percent of active voters.
County Board Candidates Square Off at Forum — The three candidates for County Board squared off last night at a candidates forum organized by the Arlington County Civic Federation. Democrat Libby Garvey was flanked by Republican Mark Kelly and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, who together called for less spending and for the creation of an independent inspector general to monitor county spending. Kelly and Clement also took turns bashing the planned Columbia Pike streetcar. [Sun Gazette, Sun Gazette]
Republicans Blast Favola — Freshman state Senator Barbara Favola (D) has now been the subject of two critical press releases from the Republican Party of Virginia. The latest press release digs up an eight-year-old letter Favola signed, urging then-governor Mark Warner to avoid delays in adopting a budget. Favola is one of 20 Democrats who have voted against two Republican budget proposals in the state Senate. [Washington Post]
Clarendon: Hot Office Market — Bisnow says Clarendon is one of the region’s five hottest office submarkets. “If a company depends on young employees, it’s probably looking for space in Clarendon,” the online real estate publication wrote. [Bisnow]
Marine Corps Marathon Registration Opens Today — General registration for the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon kicks off today at 3:00 p.m. Last year the marathon experienced a “record registration sell out” of 30,000 spots in a mere 28 hours. Registration costs $92 and includes a t-shirt and a finisher’s medal. [Marine Corps Marathon]