weather icon 82° Partly Cloudy
The Latest:

Goat Found on Crystal City Median

by Katie Pyzyk | November 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm | 10,847 views | 67 Comments

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) An unusual occurrence prompted a call to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington on Saturday. Passersby spotted a goat tied up on a median in Crystal City.

A caller informed AWLA that a goat was tied up on a median at the intersection of S. Eads Street and Army Navy Drive. The goat was still there when AWLA representatives arrived on the scene. Workers rescued the goat and took it to the AWLA shelter in Shirlington.

Shortly after the animal was picked up, the owner called and retrieved the goat from the shelter. Although AWLA does not disclose information about the owners of reclaimed animals, it notes the goat was a college mascot.

No charges have been brought forth because it’s unclear exactly who left the goat tied up on the median.

Long Term County Energy Plan Revealed

by Katie Pyzyk | November 28, 2012 at 11:55 am | 2,786 views | 74 Comments

A draft of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan (CEP) has been revealed. If approved, it would provide a guide for transforming the way energy is used, generated and distributed in Arlington through 2050.

Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan presented the draft to the County Board members at Tuesday’s Board meeting. Developing the CEP has been part of a three year effort by county staff members, who consulted with energy experts, community leaders and businesses.

“Once again, Arlington is taking a leadership role in advancing a transformative Community Energy Plan that represents the next generation of smart growth and another visionary way to support a sustainable future for our community,” Donnellan said in a press release.

The goal of the CEP is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 3.0 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per resident per year by 2050. That equates to a reduction of about 75% from current levels.

The CEP lists six primary areas in which the county intends to implement the plan: buildings, district energy, renewable energy, transportation, county government actions, and education and human behavior.

In a press release, the county listed a number of strategies for achieving the energy goals, including the following:

  • Improving by up to 60% the energy efficiency of newly constructed and renovated residential, commercial and civic buildings. Includes financial incentives for investment in energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Managing home and building operations to reduce energy costs. Arlington County will continue to lead by example, through its Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) program, and by partnering with Arlington Public Schools.
  • Creating district energy systems in the highest density development corridors. District energy, although not a new technology, has never been deployed on a community level by any jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area. The CEP calls for district energy and local cogeneration of power to provide about 40% of the County’s energy needs in 2050.
  • Deploying alternative energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy systems. The CEP contains an ambitious goal for solar power: 160 megawatts of solar electricity by 2050; enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.
  • Refining and expanding transportation infrastructure and operations enhancements. The CEP envisions more people walking, biking and using transit and fewer cars on the roads, in addition to cleaner-burning vehicles.
  • Changing how people in our community think about energy, helping them to understand how to have an impact on energy consumption, and actually changing human behavior to transform how we consume energy.

County staff says a community benefit of the plan is a reduction in energy use, which would lower greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable environment. Individuals and businesses would be able to use money saved on energy for other investments to improve their quality of life. Lower energy costs are also cited as directly affecting business’ bottom lines, which is expected to create a more competitive economic environment. Diversifying the local energy supply with alternative options like solar is expected to provide better energy reliability and supply security.

The Board will consider adopting the plan in June of 2013. If it’s approved, county staff would then begin implementation. Prior to adoption, there will be a number of meetings for the public to review the plan, ask questions and to offer feedback.

Cafe Employee Scalded by Co-Worker During Dispute

by Katie Pyzyk | November 28, 2012 at 10:30 am | 6,186 views | 40 Comments

An employee of a cafe in Ballston is in the hospital after being burned with boiling water during an altercation with a co-worker.

According to police, the two employees at Mary’s Cafe (4301 Wilson Blvd) have an ongoing dispute and have been known to argue at work on nearly a daily basis. The situation escalated around 7:45 a.m. when 55-year-old James A. Muse allegedly threw a pot of boiling water on the co-worker. The victim then allegedly drew a knife, but other workers intervened and separated the two.

Police arrested Muse at the scene and it is expected that he will be charged with malicious wounding.

According to police, the victim has second degree burns on his face, back and chest. He may be able to be released from the hospital later today. Nobody else was injured in the incident.

County Board to Consider Private-Public Streetcar Partnership

by ARLnow.com | November 28, 2012 at 9:35 am | 3,802 views | 32 Comments

The Arlington County Board is considering options for having a private company design, build and run all or part of its planned streetcar system.

Earlier this month, the Board held a work session with officials from other North American transit agencies who spoke of their experience with public-private partnerships for light rail systems. By and large, said Board member and leading streetcar supporter Chris Zimmerman, those experiences were positive.

A public-private partnership “can save time and money,” he told ARLnow.com. ”We’re very seriously looking at the options.”

At the Nov. 15 work session, transit officials from Ottawa  Denver, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City discussed both the positives and the risks, challenges and things didn’t work with their private partnerships. Such a partnership involves a contract between the local government and a private entity, with the company agreeing to design, build, operate and sometimes even finance the project — to the government’s specifications — in exchange for set payments.

The benefit for the public is that the company handles all the logistics — engineering, procurement, construction, etc. — and often can get more done with less money. The private company also has more flexibility to innovate and to accomplish goals.

In exchange for a long-term (30+ year) contract for operating the light rail system, the company agrees to certain performance benchmarks.  The company and the government share some of the inherent risks in the project, instead of the government assuming all risk, like in a publicly-built system. In the end, the public retains ownership of the system.

“It’s pretty clear if you look around the world and increasingly around the county that things are moving that way,” Zimmerman said. He cited the experience of Vancouver, which was able to build a two-track light rail system through a public-private partnership for the same cost as it had budgeted to build a one-track system on its own.

Zimmerman said a public-private partnership is especially attractive for the county’s planned Crystal City streetcar, which will be funded using a TIF — tax increment financing, derived from gains in commercial real estate values in Crystal City.

“[Crystal City] might be very well poised for this kind of approach,” he said.

It’s possible that the Columbia Pike streetcar could be built using a public-private partnership, but it’s less likely since the county is seeking federal funds for the project and since it is further along in the process.

Zimmerman said the county hopes to have the Columbia Pike streetcar up and running sometime between 2017 and 2018, and the Crystal City streetcar operating between 2018 and 2019. The construction process for each will take about two years.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the County Board deferred consideration of a measure that would allow the county to pursue public-private partnerships under a 1995 Virginia law. The Board will take the matter back up at its December meeting, after Board members Libby Garvey and Walter Tejada expressed some reservations about the method by which the county will award such contracts.

(more…)

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | November 28, 2012 at 8:45 am | 1,431 views | 1 Comment

Human Rights Award Winners Announced — The Arlington Human Rights Commission has announced the winners for the 2012 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award. Two community groups — Wakefield High School’s Project Upstanders and Washington-Lee High School’s Best Buddies Club — received the honor, along with two individuals — recent Wakefield graduate Sara Heisey and Santa Fe Cafe owner John “Kip” Laramie. Awards will be presented at a ceremony on December 13. [Arlington County]

Red Top Toys for Tots Drive — From now through Monday, December 17, all Red Top Cabs will serve as Toys for Tots collection sites. Customers can bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate when riding in one of the cabs. Red Top will deliver the toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation for distribution to local needy children. Arlington Yellow Cab is also participating in the program.

Board Approves Year-Round Westover Farmers’ Market — At its meeting yesterday (November 27), the County Board unanimously approved a new schedule and location for the Westover Farmers’ Market. The existing summer market will now run from May through November and a winter market will run from December through April, essentially making it a year-round market. The winter market will be smaller than the summer version. As far as location, the market will now be located mostly on the Reed School property.

2012 ABBIE Award Winners Announced

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm | 6,479 views | 103 Comments

The 2012 winners of the annual Arlington’s Best Business Awards (ABBIES) were announced at this afternoon’s Arlington County Board meeting.

The contest organizer, Arlington Economic Development, said residents cast more than 5,000 online votes for their favorite local businesses. The nominees in each of the 17 categories can be found here.

The big winner today was Mark Fedorchak, co-owner of Liberty Tavern and Northside Social, who walked away with three awards. ARLnow.com also won an award.

The winners are as follows:

  • Best Place for Arts & Culture: Signature Theatre
  • Best Bargain Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
  • Best Boutique: Artisan Confections
  • Best Brunch: The Liberty Tavern
  • Best Business Lunch: The Liberty Tavern
  • Best Coffee: Northside Social
  • Best Community Non-Profit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Best Customer Service: Arlington Public Library
  • Best Dessert: Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
  • Best Family-Friendly Spot: Arlington Public Library
  • Best Happy Hour: Westover Beer Garden & Haus
  • Best New Business: Trader Joe’s
  • Best Online/Social Media Presence: ARLnow.com
  • Best Place to Pamper Yourself: Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa
  • Best Pizza: Pupatella
  • Best Place to take a Date: Arlington Cinema & Draft House
  • Best Place to Work Out: Thomas Jefferson Community Center

Shirlington to Light Up Tonight Despite Dreary Weather

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm | 2,924 views | 11 Comments

The 10th annual “Light Up The Village” Christmas tree lighting event is still scheduled tonight in Shirlington despite the cold, wet weather.

Shirlington Village said the event will go on despite the inclement conditions via its Twitter account. The light-up ceremony is expected to feature live holiday music from The Lovejoy Group, photos with Santa, face painting, balloon twisting, strolling entertainment and horse and carriage rides (with a non-perishable donation to the Arlington Food Assistance Center).

There will also be specials and promotions at Shirlington Village merchants, including free coffee or apple cider at Busboys and Poets, and free kids meals (with an adult entrée) at Capitol City Brewing Company.

The festivities are scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The tree lighting will take place at 6:30, and photos with Santa will begin at the UPS Store at 6:45. The event is free and open to the public.

Bicyclist Survives After Dump Truck Runs Over His Head

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm | 11,555 views | 71 Comments

A man is lucky to be alive after a dump truck ran over his head in the Ballston area over the weekend.

The incident happened around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. According to police, the cyclist was stopped at a temporary red light next to a construction site on Quincy Street near Wilson Boulevard, when an unoccupied dump truck started rolling south on Quincy and struck him.

The man was knocked to the ground and one of the truck’s tires ran over his head, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The man was wearing a helmet at the time and the helmet likely saved his life. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital’s trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries, Sternbeck said.

Immediately after the incident the driver of the dump truck, who had left it running and unattended next to the construction site, ran it down and managed to stop it from rolling further, according to Sternbeck. Occupational safety officials responded to the scene, inspected the truck and found multiple safety violations, he said.

Citations were issued and the truck was “taken out of service.” No word on whether any other charges are pending.

Ask Adam: What Does a $250K Income Buy You in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm | 8,300 views | 110 Comments

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: A certain politician has been using $250,000 in income as the benchmark for rich families in America.  In an expensive area like Arlington, I’m wondering how much home an income like this can afford you? 

That’s an interesting question. I don’t want to touch the political aspect of it with a 10 foot pole, but I’ll do my best to describe what a typical family could purchase with that income.

It is a good idea to start with a debt-to-income ratio. In an area like Arlington where the cost of living is nearly 50% higher than the national average, I think we should use a conservative debt-to-income ratio of 28%. Meaning that your total debt will not exceed 28% of your gross income.

(In this case, “debt” refers to obligations including mortgage, car loans, child support and alimony, credit card bills, student loans and association fees.)

In order to calculate how much house they can afford, we need to make some assumptions:

  • They have $1,750 a month in car loans, credit card bills and student loans.
  • They want a house and many houses in Arlington are not part of a home owners association (HOA). It is safe to assume they will not have any HOA fees.
  • They have saved up enough money for a 20% down-payment so we don’t need to worry about private mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • Their interest rate is 4% on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage.

According to the online calculator I used, they will qualify for a mortgage of $705,258. If they are putting 20% down, they should be able to purchase a home up to $846,310.

At the time I am writing this, there are 15 houses available in Arlington with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, within the $750,000 to $850,000 price range.

Again, this is a conservative example for a fictitious loan program. There are financing alternatives that offer different interest rates, terms and down payment options that could allow such a family to purchase a more expensive home. If you have questions about what you could qualify for, it’s best to discuss your specific situation and preferences with someone who can address your individual situation.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Musical Holiday Light Display Benefits AWLA

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 11:55 am | 2,981 views | 12 Comments

Tom and Jo Straub have prided themselves on their elaborate Christmas light display for years. Only recently have they started using it to raise money for a good cause.

The couple has transformed the front yard of their Leeway Overlee area house, located at 5612 24th Street N., into a “dancing” light show synchronized to 15 of their favorite Christmas songs.

The display contains some 10,000 LED lights, which blink and “dance” with the music. The tunes can be heard from speakers outside the house and via a low-power radio station they set up for people who’d rather stay in their cars with the windows up. The station can be found at 98.1 on the FM dial.

The lights have been on display since Thanksgiving night and will be on every night through New Years Day. The show runs from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Santa Claus (as played by Mr. Straub) is on hand from 6:00 to 8:00 on most nights.

Not only are the lights fun to watch, but they’re also helping to raise money for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. A small mailbox near the street collects cash donations for the AWLA, as well as donations of pet food, pet beds, toys and other pet supplies. Once a donation is made, the donor can reward themselves by hitting a button near the mailbox for a small bonus light show.

Last year was the couple’s first year collecting for the AWLA. Tom Straub said they collected $1,100 for the organization, and hopes to raise even more this year.

Straub said the display requires about 2,000 feet of extension cords and takes all year to plan. He said the outdoor speakers turn off at 8:00 and he hasn’t heard any serious complaints from neighbors this year. He has, however, received a complaint about his Santa-like beard, which he started growing in June 2011.

“The wife is fed up with it, so it’s coming off on the 24th,” he said.

More Car Break-Ins at Pentagon City Mall

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 10:20 am | 4,375 views | 22 Comments

Thieves struck again at the Pentagon City mall parking garage yesterday.

About 15 vehicles in the garage were broken in to Monday afternoon, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The cars each had their door lock “punched,” allowing a thief to gain access to the inside of the vehicle. Valuables like wallets, purses, credit cards, cash, phones and GPS units were taken.

Sternbeck said the suspect or suspects moved from car to car, sometimes leaving items stolen from one vehicle in another vehicle. The thefts all took place between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., Sternbeck said.

Thefts are fairly common in the Pentagon City mall parking garage, though a large series of thefts such as this doesn’t happen very often. In July, thieves struck at least 10 vehicles, including two police vehicles, in one afternoon.

“That’s one of the known hot spots for thieves due the the number of vehicles,” Sternbeck said of the parking garage. “[The mall is] typically a place where you leave valuables inside your vehicle. It’s easy pickins for these criminals.”

Police advise shoppers to keep valuables out of plain sight — perhaps locked in a trunk or a glove compartment — when parking one’s car in a public area.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | November 27, 2012 at 9:10 am | 2,299 views | 126 Comments

Arlington Gets Largest Share of Transit Growth — Over the past 11 years, the rate of growth of those who use public transit in Arlington has been higher than any other D.C. area jurisdiction. Chris Hamilton, chief of Arlington Commuter Services, attributes that growth to the county’s transit outreach efforts. [Mobility Lab]

Homebuyer Assistance Available — The Arlington County Board recently approved $500,000 to help qualified first time homebuyers purchase a new home in the county. The funds are available for down payment and closing cost assistance for about 10-15 low- to moderate-income households. Applications will be accepted started Dec. 3. [Arlington County]

Talk: ‘Books that Shaped America’ — Tomorrow, Nov. 28, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a talk about “88 remarkable books” that “shaped America.” Mark Dimunation, head of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, will talk about how he and a group of historians, scientists and literary experts helped to select the books — from Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” to Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” [Arlington Public Library]

UPDATE: Man Dies After Glebe Road Accident

by ARLnow.com | November 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm | 8,160 views | 54 Comments

(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) All northbound and southbound lanes of N. Glebe Road were closed between Vernon Street and Chesterbrook Road during the evening rush hour due to a serious single-vehicle wreck.

An SUV ran into a utility pole and flipped on its side on the 3900 block of N. Glebe Road around 5:00 p.m. tonight. The driver suffered an apparent cardiac arrest, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Paramedics attempted to revive the man, but he was later pronounced dead at Virginia Hospital Center.

A dog that was in the vehicle at the time of the accident did survive, we’re told.

As of 7:00 p.m., Dominion was on scene preparing to clean up and replace the damaged utility pole and downed power wires. Police were preparing to open the southbound lanes of Glebe to two-way traffic.

Police: Man Upset With Loud Party Fires Gunshot

by ARLnow.com | November 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm | 8,482 views | 37 Comments

A man who was “irritated with loud noise from a party” fired a gunshot into the air when some party-goers approached him, according to an Arlington County Police crime report.

The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21, on the 3000 block of S. Randolph Street in Shirlington.

The man, who was intoxicated, was upset that a “drinking party” in his apartment building was making a ruckus, even after he asked the party-goers to quiet down, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Frustrated, the man began filming the party with his cell phone from the building’s courtyard.

Four people from the party then approached the man, according to Sternbeck. Feeling “threatened,” the man took out a pistol from his waistband and fired a single gunshot into the air, Sternbeck said; the party-goers scattered, and the man placed the gun on the ground waited for police to arrive. Nobody was injured.

Patrick John Kelley, 32, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm and reckless handling of a firearm. He was held on a secured bond.

The shell casing from the shot was found, but the bullet was not recovered, Sternbeck said.

Obama Visits Local Book Store: A First-Hand Account

by ARLnow.com | November 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm | 6,158 views | 21 Comments

On Saturday afternoon, President Barack Obama visited One More Page Books, an independent book store at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The visit coincided with the post-Thanksgiving shopping day known as Small Business Saturday. With daughters Sasha and Malia in tow, and after several checks of the shopping list on his Blackberry, the president purchased 15 children’s books as Christmas presents.

We asked One More Page owner Eileen McGervey about the experience of hosting the Commander in Chief as a customer.

ARLnow: How did you first find out about the president’s visit?

We found out that President Obama and his daughters would be visiting about 10 minutes before they arrived.

ARLnow: What preparations did you make?

We didn’t have time to do anything. The security folks came in and went through the store in the time before they arrived.

ARLnow: Tell us a bit about the visit — what were they looking for, what did they say to you, etc.?

The President and his daughters were lovely and gracious and we chatted about books. The President had a shopping list of books for gifts and his daughters helped him select from the list. They did browse around the store. The President chatted with customers who were in the store when he arrived and at the end of his shopping, he took pictures with customers. A couple having their wedding reception at La Cote D’or restaurant asked if they could have their picture taken with him (and he said yes) — they were thrilled. While he was in the store, a crowd had gathered outside the store and when he walked out the door a roar went up. He shook hands with folks waiting outside. It was wonderful and folks who had been waiting outside came in after he left to talk about it — everyone was so excited and thrilled.

ARLnow: What has it been like since the visit? Have more people been stopping by the store?

The store’s been very busy. Most of the people who came Saturday after the President left did not know he had been there. They were there for Small Business Saturday. Many of the customers yesterday and today came because the saw the news about the President’s business. It’s been a mix of new customers and regular customers coming by to shop and to congratulate us. 

White House photo (top) by Pete Souza

×

Subscribe to our mailing list