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by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm 1,760 43 Comments

Illustration of future land exchange between Arlington County and the U.S. Army

In the coming years, Arlington National Cemetery will expand and the eastern end of Columbia Pike will be realigned, according to an agreement between the Arlington County and the U.S. Army.

The Arlington County Board today approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets the basic framework for a land swap between the county and the Army, which oversees the cemetery. As outlined in the MOU, the Army will acquire the Southgate Road right-of-way behind the Navy Annex, which is currently being demolished to make way for more cemetery burial space. In exchange, the county will be given land south of Columbia Pike, which is to be straightened and rerouted down the former Navy Annex parking lot to form a right-angle intersection with S. Joyce Street.

The actual land exchange is not likely to take place any time soon, but Board members are looking forward to some of the opportunities it promises to bring, including land for a future Arlington Heritage Center and Freedman’s Village Museum.

The Board voted 3-0 Thursday afternoon to approve the Memorandum of Understanding. Board members Mary Hynes and Libby Garvey were not present for the vote.

From a county press release:

The Arlington County Board today unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of the Army that establishes a framework for a future land exchange agreement between the two parties at the Navy Annex site.

“While there undoubtedly will be some time before property is actually exchanged, today’s action is an important first step in this process,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners at Arlington National Cemetery, the Army and other stakeholders to realize the vision set forth in this MOU by executing a new land exchange agreement. There is no doubt that this will be a huge win for the cemetery and for our community.”

Key objectives outlined

The MOU outlines the key objectives for both parties and the framework for a future land exchange. Under the future land exchange agreement, the Army would be provided with all property north of a realigned Columbia Pike in exchange for providing the County with land south of a realigned Columbia Pike.

The existing Southgate Road would be realigned to the western edge of the Navy Annex site to maintain appropriate access to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, while directly linking the Navy Annex site to the existing Arlington National Cemetery grounds. Engineering and design work must be completed to determine the exact location for a realigned Columbia Pike and the parties must work out the exact acreage and parcels to be exchanged.

“Arlington National Cemetery is sacred ground for our community, our region and certainly, our nation,” Board Chairman Walter Tejada said. “This MOU paves the way for an agreement that will allow us to support their expansion goals. At the same time, it enables us to meet our goals: preserving and displaying Arlington County’s history and heritage by establishing an Arlington Heritage Center and Freedman’s Village Museum, and fulfilling our transportation and economic development vision for Columbia Pike.”

Background

Today’s County Board action was necessitated by the decision of the Department of Defense last year to terminate the previous land exchange agreement executed in 2008. That agreement would have provided the County with 4.23 acres of land on the Navy Annex Property north of Columbia Pike in exchange for providing DOD with an equivalent acreage of the Southgate Road right-of-way. Since the previous agreement was terminated, Arlington County has been working with the Department of the Army and Arlington National Cemetery to formulate this MOU and ultimately work toward a new land exchange agreement.

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm 2,331 125 Comments

Alfonso Lopez (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) of Arlington has reintroduced legislation that provides in-state college tuition, under certain conditions, for the children of illegal immigrants.

Modeled after the federal DREAM Act, Lopez’s bill (HB 1934) would provide in-state tuition at public Virginia universities for undocumented students who graduated from a Virginia high school or GED program, provided they attest to filing an application to become a permanent U.S. resident. The bill would also requires that the student and/or a parent has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years.

“A number of talented immigrant students who grow up here and graduate from Virginia high schools are undocumented — through no fault of their own,” Lopez said. “At best, they may be able to take our significant investment in their K-12 education to another state. At worst, they may decide to drop out of high school because college is not a realistic goal.”

“Virginia should be joining states such as Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma in passing the DREAM Act and opening this narrow window of opportunity for students,” he continued. “These States understand that encouraging college access and opportunities reduces high school dropout rates and saves long term costs and public benefits spending for the community.”

Lopez introduced the legislation on Wednesday after vowing last year to introduce the bill “every year until it becomes the law of the Commonwealth.”

“I am encouraged by the prospects for HB 1934 this year,” Lopez told ARLnow.com. “More importantly, I remain strongly committed to seeing that undocumented children are given the opportunity to continue their education.”

HB 1934 is now awaiting a vote in the House of Delegates Education committee.

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm 11,605 158 Comments

Arlington County police carThree men are in custody after an armed robbery, assault and handgun brandishing on the Custis Trail, according to Arlington County Police.

A jogger was robbed by the men around 12:30 p.m. on the trail near the Glebe Road bridge over I-66, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The victim struggled and was struck in the head — possibly with a pistol.

The men took a GPS watch and sunglasses and fled down the trail, Sternbeck said. A short time later, another trail user told police that one of the men pointed a silver handgun in his direction when he passed by.

Police notified Arlington Public Schools of the robbery and three nearby schools — Washington-Lee High School, Arlington Traditional School and Glebe Elementary — were placed in a secured state. Based on that initial notification from ACPD, an email alert sent to parents erroneously reported a shooting.

This afternoon, the Arlington County Police notified us of a robbery of a jogger that occurred on a nearby bike path. The report we received said that the incident also involved a shooting. As a precaution, we have secured the school building and all students are being kept inside.

Three men were apprehended outside the Ballston Metro station around 1:30 p.m., Sternbeck said. A handgun was recovered. The men are now being questioned by police.

“It was great police work… getting these individuals off the street,” Sternbeck said.

The robbery victim is currently being evaluated for injuries at Virginia Hospital Center.

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm 1,760 78 Comments

Editor’s Note: This weekly column is written by Mark Kelly, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.. This is the third of three weekly opinion columns from local thought leaders across the political spectrum that ARLnow.com will be publishing in 2013.

GOP county board candidate Mark KellyAlong with the traditional dose of rhetoric — like a chicken in every backyard and a crusade against plastic water bottles — our County Board produced a predictably steady dose of self-congratulation, and what you might call “indirect” Republican bashing, at its traditional New Year’s Day meeting.

The annual passing of the gavel to the new chairman is followed by speeches from each member to outline their priorities.

Later joined by others, Vice Chairman Fisette bemoaned the fiscal cliff mess and unhealthy leadership in Washington, while specifically exempting President Obama from his critique.

Richmond, controlled by Republicans, did not escape blame. Outgoing Chairman Hynes zeroed in on a call for more transportation funding from the General Assembly.

Chairman Tejada did spend most of his speech laying out the agenda for his one year stint in the center chair. Unfortunately, it included another ill-advised plan to divert future revenue from the general fund to be earmarked for a pet project.

Libby Garvey made a commendable, but lonely stand against the trolley.

But, it was Chris Zimmerman who used his time to extol the virtues of Arlington’s style of governance while demonizing those who take a different view. It is a speech veteran Board watchers have heard before.

Unfortunately, Mr. Zimmerman suffers from two delusions. One is that fiscal conservatives are simply “anti-government.” The second, is that the policies and management of the County Board are responsible for our standard of living and financial stability, rather than our proximity to Washington, DC.

As an original piece of what was to be our nation’s capitol, no community is more heavily benefitted by the presence of the federal government. Most Arlingtonians are employed by the government, lobbying and PR firms, law firms, think tanks, non-profits, trade associations, political organizations or the service industries supporting them. Our fortunes are directly, and indisputably, tied to the never ending stream of dollars flowing into our nation’s capitol from around the U.S.

It is understandable that Mr. Zimmerman would take credit for things he has no control over, it’s what politicians often do. What cannot stand is the notion that all, or even most, fiscal conservatives are anti-government.

In fact, we believe there is an appropriate role for each level of government. The most important of which, outside of self-government, is local government. It is where our tax dollars meet the asphalt. It is where our children attend school, our homes are kept safe, our water is dispensed, and our trash is collected. It is where we can most easily and directly petition our elected officials for assistance. And, at least theoretically, it should be the most responsive to changing community needs with the smallest amount of bureaucracy and red tape.

What Mr. Zimmerman seems to actually have a problem with is the notion that not everyone thought driving up spending at two to three times the level of inflation for a decade was a good idea. He does not understand why many of us might oppose borrowing another $300 million for a trolley when the County already has $1 billion in debt. Or, he is perplexed that we ask why the Board would pay 50% more than the assessed value for a building, before millions in renovation costs, to house a new homeless shelter.

When we question these free-spending, debt-driving government exercises, it does not make us anti-government, it makes us pro-common sense.

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm 22 Comments

Long line to vote, as seen from the roof of Arlington Central Library (photo courtesy Peter Golkin)(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) In the wake of a presidential election that saw 3+ hour lines at polling stations in Arlington, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has proposed a bill to extend polling hours in Virginia.

Ebbin, who represents parts of Arlington and Alexandria, is proposing extending the poll closing time to 8:00 p.m. from 7:00 p.m.

“My legislation to extend polling hours to 8:00 p.m. is designed to make it easier for Virginians to participate in our democracy,” Ebbin said in a statement. “Particularly in Northern Virginia, unforeseen circumstances like ice storms, earthquakes, traffic tie-ups and work emergencies have prevented people from getting to vote. Based on our recent presidential election, we know that a successful voter turnout can lead to long lines at the polls, particularly early in the morning. SB 964 would make it easier to vote — as it should be!”

Ebbin’s bill, SB 964, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee on Tuesday, Jan. 15, according to the legislative tracking website Richmond Sunlight.

Photo courtesy Arlington Public Library

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 11:15 am 2,901 180 Comments

Del. Patrick HopeDel. Patrick Hope (D) of Arlington has introduced a bill that would require boys to get vaccinated for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Girls entering the sixth grade in Virginia are already required to get vaccinated for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. By law, parents can opt out of the HPV immunization, if they wish. Still, the measure isn’t without controversy — Republicans in the General Assembly nearly succeeded in lifting the mandate last year.

Hope’s bill would simply remove two words — “for females” — from the mandate, thus requiring boys to receive the vaccines too. Hope said he realizes his bill is not likely to see the light of day on the House of Delegates, but proposed it because it’s consistent with current medical best practices. In boys, the HPV vaccine can prevent certain types of genital warts and cancers, and prevent them from spreading the disease to girls, who can suffer more serious consequences from contracting it.

“Given last session where a majority of House Republicans wanted to gut existing law that simply recommends girls receive the vaccine, this legislation will be met with extreme opposition,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “But there is absolutely no controversy within the medical community: Immunizing boys against HPV will help save lives.”

“As the father of three young girls, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them,” Hope continued. “I just hope we can let the expertise of the medical community guide our policy decisions and not let politics get in the way.”

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 10:00 am 1,427 10 Comments

395-truck-axUpdate at 10:10 a.m. — One lane of traffic is now squeezing by to the left of the accident while crews work to clean up the spill and clear the scene. HOV traffic is backed up to Shirlington circle.

The HOV lanes of I-395 have been shut down due to a jackknifed tractor trailer that struck the highway wall divide.

Police have blocked traffic because the truck is leaking fuel and they fear it might ignite. The fuel is coming from a 100+ gallon saddle tank, according to scanner traffic. A hazmat team is being dispatched to the scene.

A long line of northbound traffic is now at a standstill in the HOV lanes.

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 9:45 am 999 38 Comments

Red bench in Arlington by Wolfkann

Bill Would Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving in School Zones — Sen. Janet Howell (D) has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving in a school zone or school crossing zone. Violations will be considered a traffic infraction and will be punishable by a fine of up to $250. [Richmond Sunlight]

CaBi Trip Data Online — Where do trips from your local CaBi station usually end? A new visualization tool allows you to see where CaBi users are traveling to. [MV Jantzen, Mobility Lab]

Brink Supports Two-Term Va. Governor — Del. Bob Brink (D) of Arlington is one of several General Assembly lawmakers to introduce or patron a constitutional amendment that would allow the governor of Virginia to serve a second term. If passed, the amendment will take effect for the governor elected in 2017. [Richmond Sunlight]

USS Arlington Crew Members Get Decal Vote — Crew members of the USS Arlington, set to be commissioned soon, will get a vote on the new Arlington County parking decal. This year, the contest challenged entrants to design a decal incorporating the USS Arlington. Voting is open through Jan. 21. [Sun Gazette]

Civic Federation Supports LEAP — The Arlington County Civic Federation has approved a resolution to promote the non-profit Local Energy Alliance Program, or LEAP, which offers free home energy efficiency assessments to homeowners, along with cash rebates for energy efficiency measures. [Arlington Mercury]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 7:00 am 2,116 79 Comments

Proposed PenPlace development in Pentagon CityThe large-scale PenPlace development proposed for Pentagon City is now going on its 10th Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting, but the project is expected to reach the Arlington County Board for a vote as soon as May.

Developer Vornado is proposing five buildings for the project: two secure office buildings, two standard office buildings, and one 300-room hotel, on a currently vacant parcel of land along Army Navy Drive, near the Pentagon. The 9.2 acre parcel is large enough that it was once considered as a possible site for the Nationals baseball stadium.

The buildings would be between 16 and 22 stories, and in all, the project would consist of 1.8 million square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space, mostly along the future extension of 12th Street S. between Eads and Fern Streets.

It appears likely that there will be more SPRC meetings on PenPlace even beyond the 10th meeting, scheduled for Feb. 4. The SPRC will eventually make non-binding recommendations to the Planning Commission, which will then consider and vote on whether to recommend the project for County Board approval. We’re told the Board is likely to take up the matter in May or June.

Rendering of PenPlace's 12th Street PlazaThe extra-long SPRC process can be attributed to the size of the project, additional considerations required for the secure office buildings, and stiff opposition from some nearby residents.

While actual Pentagon City residents have been relatively quiet about PenPlace, members of the nearby Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) are among the project’s biggest critics. The project is not within the civic association’s boundaries, but residents there have circulated petitions, held meetings and posted flyers listing various objections to the project.

ARCA’s compaints include building height (nearly 300 feet); the proposed number of parking spaces (2,235) and the potential for increased traffic; a lack of public open space and insufficient community benefits; and the security measures necessary for the secure office buildings.

PenPlace "high density" plan“Build a community not a compound,” said an ARCA presentation given on Nov. 15, 2012. Project critics say the secure office buildings will prevent full “activation” of the area for public use. They call for reducing the number of secure office buildings in the project to one, and placing that building along Army Navy Drive instead of the middle of the parcel.

ARCA has also proposed shorter buildings (<200 feet), replacing an office building with a residential building, and limiting parking. The association is also calling on Vornado to include an acre of contiguous public open space on the site, including a play area for children, recreation ares for adults and a dog park.

Molly Watson, who has been leading ARCA’s opposition to PenPlace, said jokingly at a SPRC meeting in December that she would prefer a baseball stadium to PenPlace as proposed. ARCA fought a proposal in 2003 to build the new Nationals baseball stadium on the current PenPlace parcel, which was vacant at the time and has remained so since.

“I would take the baseball stadium with only 80 games per year” over the traffic PenPlace would generate on a daily basis, she said.

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