Due to our area being about four inches below normal in rainfall for the year, more small fires have been sparking. Arlington County Fire Department Captain Gregg Karl said the county isn’t experiencing as many brush fires as some neighboring areas, but there have actually been a lot of mulch fires in the past few weeks.
According to Karl, most of the trouble has been with smokers trying to extinguish their cigarettes in plant boxes or areas with mulch. In many cases, the cigarettes smolder on the extremely dry, flammable material and then start a fire. Even drivers throwing cigarettes out of car windows has been causing trouble, because there’s mulch on many of the street medians in Arlington. Smokers are reminded to make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished, and to only use approved receptacles to dispose of them.
Even if we get some rain this weekend, it likely won’t be enough to alleviate the elevated fire danger.
“Unless we were to get a good, long, soaking rain, the fire danger will remain,” Karl said. “We need a persistent rain for a few days to get our levels where they need to be.”
Karl said some residents hear about red flag warnings and have questions about open burn restrictions. However, open burns of items such as yard clippings and debris are never allowed in Arlington, per the county code.
Another thing that goes hand in hand with warm weather is grilling, which can be a hazard as well. Anyone using a charcoal grill is reminded to use extra caution with the coals.
Construction crews are on site as a large scale construction project on Washington Boulevard and Columbia Pike begins. The Washington Boulevard bridge will be replaced, and the interchange with Columbia Pike will be revamped.
The project has been about two decades in the making, and VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris says it finally got underway this week. Right now, it’s still in the very preliminary stages while workers set up a field office and work out logistics.
The revamp is supposed to have eight stages, and is slated to run through August 2015. Once the first stage gains steam, a detour will be constructed for use on certain weekends. VDOT says traffic may need to be re-routed during off-peak hours, but efforts will be made to keep lanes clear during the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays.
The project is budgeted to cost $51.5 million, with federal and state funds paying for most of it.
Workers have been spotted using heavy equipment to add beams along the perimeter.
Dominion had promised to upgrade the current fence with a more robust containment wall after replacing the substation in 2009. Residents had been worried not only about the aesthetics of what they consider an unsightly chain link fence, but also about safety due to the existing fence’s integrity, or perceived lack thereof.
Completion of the wall had originally been slated for spring of last year, but construction didn’t even start until a couple of weeks ago. So far, there’s no word on when the project will be completed.
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike) is expected to be a topic of conversation at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting. The restaurant has requested a permit for live entertainment and dancing, in addition to a permit to have outdoor seating.
The entertainment permit would cover the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. every day of the week. However, restaurant owners indicate they only intend to provide live entertainment and dancing during late evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and for brunch on Sundays.
Although the restaurant is in a mixed-use building, county staff points out it is not directly adjacent to any housing, and would therefore not disturb residents. Permit reviewers also believe allowing William Jeffrey’s Tavern to have live entertainment would assist in achieving the county’s goal of revitalizing Columbia Pike. For these reasons, the recommendation is to allow the permit.
One of the requirements for obtaining the permit is to provide dedicated security during times when there is live entertainment. The restaurant will also have to keep its doors and windows shut during performances, to comply with the county noise ordinance. The permit will come up for review in one year.
The recommendation for the outdoor cafe permit, however, is to defer the issue until the board’s May 19 meeting. At issue is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, due to a grade change where the outdoor cafe would be on the sidewalk. Staff also wants to ensure that the seating will be only for temporary use, which the county typically defines as nine months of the year.
The recommendation to defer until the May 19 meeting is to give the owners of William Jeffrey’s Tavern adequate time to address the county’s concerns.
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) The space shuttle Discovery made its final rounds today, flying over Arlington on its way to Dulles International Airport.
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft had Discovery attached to its back, and made a number of passes over the area, before heading to Dulles.
Spectators trying to catch a glimpse snarled traffic on many of the major thoroughfares in Arlington, including I-395, I-66 and Rte 110. Many drivers scrambling to find a spot left cars parked in tow away zones, on shoulders or on lawns in their haste. Police appeared to be temporarily lenient during the once-in-a-lifetime event, as long as the traffic violations didn’t harm public safety. Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said that with all of the people filtering in the streets to watch the shuttle, pedestrian safety was the top priority.
Hundreds of people showed up to the Marine Corps Memorial and Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn. During the second flyover, spontaneous rounds of “The Star Spangled Banner” broke out.
Discovery is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday, where it will go on public display.
Now that we know for sure that there are coyotes living in Arlington, we’re starting to hear more reports of possible coyote sightings.
One resident sent along this tip and photo (above, left) after spotting what might have been a coyote in an Arlington park.
I was walking my dog yesterday morning (Sunday, 7:15AM) in Lubber Run and saw this by the bridge, at first I thought it was a fox, then realized it was too big to be a fox. Perhaps a coyote, it was definitely not a domestic dog. The tail was very long and bushy. It stood by the bridge for about a minute staring at me and my dog.
Photo (left) courtesy David Hartogs. Photo (right) via Wikipedia.
Moran Marks Anniversary of Va. Tech Massacre — Rep. Jim Moran (D) marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday by calling on Congress to improve gun control laws. “When there are nearly enough guns in the U.S. for every man, woman and child, firearms will find their way into the wrong hands,” Moran said. “Criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill have no business owning deadly weapons.” A student shot and killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007.
Concern About Chicken Doo-Doo — Some residents are concerned that, if enacted, a proposal to allow small-scale backyard hen raising in Arlington would result in extra water pollution. A George Mason University professor says chicken waste from backyard hens in Arlington would ultimately make it into the already environmentally-sensitive Chesapeake Bay. [WAMU]
Hearing About School Board Appointment — A public hearing will be held tonight to discuss the appointment of an interim School Board member to replace now-County Board member Libby Garvey. Sixteen residents have declared themselves interested in the position. [Sun Gazette]
Man Dies After Heart Attack at Pentagon Station — Added at 9:15 a.m. — A 51-year-old Alexandria man died yesterday afternoon after suffering a heart attack at the Pentagon Metro station. Passengers attempted to revive the man, a witness told ARLnow.com, but he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. [Washington Post]