Update at 7:40 p.m. — The all-clear was given at about 5:00 p.m. and the scene has since been cleared.
The Arlington County Fire Department’s hazmat team is investigating a suspicious substance at a federal office in Shirlington.
Hazmat personnel are preparing to enter an office at 2800 S. Randolph Street, according to scanner traffic. They will be performing tests on the substance to determine whether or not it is hazardous.
Among the tenants listed for the 2800 S. Randolph Street building, also known as Randolph Square, is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The hearing is scheduled for 7:00 tonight (Tuesday) at the County Board Room on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Boulevard. On-site speaker registration begins at 6:00 p.m. The hearing is being held in advance of the Board’s consideration of the CIP and the 2012 bond referenda at its July meeting.
The $2.4 billion proposed CIP includes “funding plans for the full range of County infrastructure needs, including parks, facilities, streets, transit, water and sewer infrastructure and technology.”
Among the bond referenda expected to be included on the Nov. 6 ballot, pending approval by the County Board next month:
- $14.6 million for Metro
- $25.7 million for long-term maintenance on parks, county facilities, streets and transportation infrastructure
- $11 million for Neighborhood Conservation programs
- $42.5 million for the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center
- $13.5 million for ConnectArlington / Intelligent Transportation Systems
Arax Cafe (5852 Washington Blvd) in the Westover neighborhood has closed its doors for good.
A sign in the window of the now-empty coffee shop reads: “To our extended family… we are sorry to announce we are closing at the end of the month. Thank you for 11 fabulous years!”
Arax Cafe enjoyed generally positive reviews on Yelp, where patrons raved about the shop’s Armenian specialties, including pastries and meat pies.
Hat tip to Megan F.
Thirteen new Arlington County police officers were sworn in this afternoon at Kenmore Middle School.
The recruits — eight male, five female — pledged an oath and were given their badges. The ceremony followed the recruits’ graduation from a regional police academy. They will now undergo nearly half a year of field training before becoming full officers.
The ceremony included a speech from Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott. The swearing in was conducted by Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson. Loved ones of the new officers helped to pin the badges on their uniforms while other friends and family members in the audience applauded.
After the swearing in, the event continued with a ceremony for 12 police department members who have received promotions.
Also recognized was Officer Ronald Grannis, who received the Departmental Purple Star after being seriously injured in a crash with an impaired driver on July 20, 2011. Grannis “spent over a month in the hospital and has battled through over ten surgeries while continuing to fight to return to full duty,” according to police.
The incident happened around 10:15 a.m. A white male in his 40s, wearing nothing but white athletic socks and white Nike shoes, jumped out and exposed himself to the boy in a secluded part of the parking garage, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. There was also some incidental contact between the man and the boy, Sternbeck said.
The boy, who was at the school for an orientation session for rising freshmen, ran off and reported the incident to school staff, Sternbeck said. Numerous police officers and a K-9 unit searched for the suspect but were unable to locate him.
The suspect is described as 6’2″ tall, with an average build and short dark hair. Anybody with information about the incident is asked to call Arlington police at 703-558-2222.
Editor’s Note: This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.
Question: Is it better to use Zillow or the Arlington County assessment to determine home values?
Zillow can provide a fun way to follow an automated estimate of your homes value over time. Would I use it to price a home I’m going to sell or determine how much to offer on a property for sale? No. There is too much money at stake to look past the inaccuracies that Zillow is known for. I’m not an expert on Zillow, but my guess as to why it is often inaccurate has to do with the system’s inability to know about upgrades to the subject and comparable properties.
Arlington County assessments are a wholesale view of value based on very basic characteristics of a home. I’ve seen assesment values as much as $200,000 off from the actual market value. Of course the assessed value was less than market value so the homeowners were quite happy about it, because they were paying less in taxes than they could have been. Again, I would not recommend using assessed value as a gauge of market value.
I’ll describe how I go about determining market value, but keep in mind that this process is more of an art than a science. Lots of variables beyond price, weigh in on how a property performs on the open market, such as how it shows, how it is marketed, what time of year it is, etc.. The following explanation is as though I am getting ready to list a home, but you can use elements of the process when considering an offer to purchase a home as well.
The first thing I do is try to find at least three of the most recent and most similar sales in your area that have occurred in the last 6 months. The next step is to create an even playing field between my subject property and the comparable properties. This may sound backwards, but I deduct value from the comparable properties for items I feel adds to the value to those homes. Conversely, I add value to the comparable properties for items I feel reduce the value of those homes. For example, if my subject property is a condo with one parking space, but the comparable I am using has two parking spaces, I may deduct $20,000 from the value of the comparable. I go through this process to determine the adjusted value of my comparable sales. Keep in mind that the $20,000 adjustment (for a garage space in this case) can not be arbitrary. It should be based on a recent sale were the garage space was a common denominator. Adjustments can be made for many items, including:
- Size of home
- Size of lot
- Days on market
- Proximity to major roads
- School system
- POA fees
To address school capacity issues, Arlington Public Schools is planning to build a number of new schools, including a new 600-seat “choice” elementary school on the site of the existing Kenmore Middle School/Carlin Springs Elementary School campus.
The Citizens’ Association says the new school, slated to be built by 2017, would bring the total number of students attending schools in the Glencarlyn neighborhood to 2,600, including at Kenmore, Carlin Springs and nearby Campbell Elementary School. That, the association says, presents major traffic, parking and open space issues that will degrade the quality of life for residents.
The association is asking for the County Board’s help after not getting a satisfactory response from the School Board.
“We have tried to raise our concerns with the School Board, but our community was not consulted during the planning process, despite our requests that it do so, nor has it been responsive to our questions and concerns,” Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association President Peter Olivere wrote in a letter to the County Board (after the jump). “We need your help.”
Olivere told reporters that Glencarlyn residents do not want to be portrayed as having a “Not-In-My-Backyard” attitude.
“Please, we very much do not want to be categorized as NIMBY; we only want a process which fully addresses the community concerns before a final decision is made, which is the ‘Arlington Way,’” he wrote.
As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools is facing a significant capacity crunch. The school system is expected to reach capacity at the elementary school level by next fall. The new choice school in Glencarlyn is one of five proposed new capacity-generating construction projects throughout the county.
The full letter from the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association, after the jump.
Arlington Assists With Falls Church Barricade — The Arlington County Police Department’s SWAT team relieved the Fairfax County SWAT team overnight at the scene of a barricade situation on Hillwood Avenue in Falls Church. Despite efforts to coax him out, an armed man remains in a Hillwood Avenue house, in a standoff with police. Alexandria’s SWAT team is now relieving Arlington’s team, ARLnow.com is told. Paramedics from the Arlington County Fire Department are also on the scene. [WTOP]
Survey: More Residents Will Ride Streetcar — According to a survey cited by Arlington County officials, 60 percent of area residents say they will never take the bus, while 60 percent of residents say they’re willing to try a streetcar. In an ARLnow.com survey on Friday, just over 50 percent of respondents said they would prefer a streetcar on Columbia Pike, versus bus options. [Washington Post]
Citizen Seating at Bus Stops — A local resident has added plastic chairs to 10 bus stops along major thoroughfares in Arlington and Falls Church. The chairs demonstrate “a latent need for dignified seating at the region’s bus stops,” according to writer Matt Caywood. [Greater Greater Washington]
Leonsis on Kettler Iceplex – At the inaugural annual meeting of the new Ballston Business Improvement District, Washington Capitals owner and former top AOL executive Ted Leonsis said Ballston’s Kettler Capitals Iceplex is essential to the team. “I’m not sure if we [the Washington Capitals] would be able to keep MVP-caliber players, like [Alex] Ovechkin, without a facility like the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston,” Leonsis said.