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by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm 5,255 0

Rendering of a streetcar along Columbia Pike

The Federal Transit Administration has declined Arlington and Fairfax County’s joint application for funding for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar system.

In a press release (below), both counties say they will continue pursuing federal funding for the streetcar.

Arlington and Fairfax Counties have been informed that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not included the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project in its Small Starts program for Fiscal Year 2014. The FTA today released its FY 2014 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations.

Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada today reaffirmed the County’s commitment to the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project and noted that the County has not received any official evaluation of the project or explanation for the FTA’s decision. He cautioned against speculating about the reasons for the FTA’s action pending clarification.

“Arlington, in partnership with Fairfax County, is committed to building a modern streetcar line along Columbia Pike as the best long term transit investment,” Tejada said. “We will continue to explore all financing options, including federal financing. While we are disappointed at not being included this year, we believe our application was strong, and will continue to work with FTA for inclusion into the Small Starts/New Starts program.”

“The Pike streetcar will address the community’s needs by providing greater capacity on one of the Commonwealth’s most heavily traveled corridors,” Tejada said. “It will encourage more people to use transit, will reduce congestion, help us meet our affordable housing goals, and will support the sort of development that the community wants.”

Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross reaffirmed Fairfax County’s commitment as well.  “The Columbia Pike Streetcar Project is vitally important to the economic revitalization of Columbia Pike and the Skyline/Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County, which has long desired connection to a rail transit network,” Gross said.  “Although I am disappointed that our joint application for Small Starts funding was not approved this year, I am confident that the strong community and business support for the project and the long collaborative partnership between Fairfax and Arlington counties will merit federal funding in the future.”

Project work on the Columbia Pike Streetcar continues, including conceptual engineering and environmental efforts to finalize project facilities and secure required environmental approvals.

Streetcar funding to come from variety of sources

Arlington and Fairfax applied to the FTA’s Small Starts program in September 2012. The program offers up to $75 million in funding for projects costing less than $250 million to design and build. The funding plan for the Streetcar relies on a combination of federal, state and local funding, with Arlington’s local funding coming from the tax on commercial properties that is dedicated to transportation. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell recently signed into law a new transportation funding bill that makes more money available to Northern Virginia for infrastructure investments such as the streetcar.

Background

In the spring of 2006, both the Arlington County Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed a streetcar line for Columbia Pike that would stretch nearly five miles from Pentagon City to the Skyline Drive area of Fairfax County. The streetcar would serve a corridor that is in the midst of a dramatic transformation into a more transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, vibrant Main Street, a vision developed through years of community planning. Arlington’s plan for the streetcar includes an aggressive plan to preserve affordable housing and diversity along the Pike.

Both the Arlington and Fairfax boards reaffirmed their decisions in the summer of 2012, when they chose streetcar as the locally preferred alternative for Columbia Pike and opted to apply for federal funding under the FTA’s New Starts/Small Starts program.

To learn more about the Columbia Pike Streetcar, visit the County website.

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm 684 0

Spring weather finally has arrived, so this weekend may be the perfect time to get out and visit open houses around Arlington.

See our real estate section for a full listing of open houses. Here are a few highlights:

1211 Eads Street South1211 Eads Street South
1 BD | 1 BA condominium
Laura Johnson, Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $350,000
Open: Sunday, April 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

1530 Key Boulevard North1530 Key Boulevard North
2 BD | 2 BA condominium
Raymond Zakka, Weichert, Realtors
Listed: $665,000
Open: Sunday, April 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

4652 23rd Road North4652 23rd Road North
3 BD | 3 BA single family detached
Patricia Brosnan, Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $835,000
Open: Sunday, April 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

5072 27th Street North5072 27th Street North
5 BD | 3 BA single family detached
Lawanda Swope, Weichert, Realtors
Listed: $879,000
Open: Sunday, April 7 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

2250 Vernon Street2250 Vernon Street
3 BD | 2 Full BA, 1 Half BA single family detached
Patricia Hines, American Realty Group
Listed: $1,150,000
Open: Sunday, April 14 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm 574 0

Cat and kittens (photo via AWLA Facebook page)It’s that time of year again — kitten season.  The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.

Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.

AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.

Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.

Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing semery@awla.org.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm 1,313 0

Rendering of John Wall "virtual statue" (courtesy Ballston BID)The Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) will be showing off some “virtual statues” of local sports figures at Taste of Arlington to highlight the upcoming launch of its new mobile device app.

Users will be able to walk up to one of the posted markers, scan a code with their phone, and see a brief video of a sports star. The first three markers will be unveiled on Sunday, May 19, at Taste of Arlington. Each features one of three local sports stars: Washington Capitals team captain Alex Ovechkin, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall or D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius.

Visitors do not have to bring a mobile device in order to try out the virtual statue markers. Volunteers will be on hand with iPads to demonstrate how the technology works, and to show users how to get a photo of themselves with the virtual statues (see rendering above).

“This is relatively new,” said Ballston BID Chief Executive Officer Tina Leone. “We don’t know of any other examples where this technology has been used before like this.”

The technology will be a small portion of a larger Ballston BID app. More markers with codes eventually will be installed throughout Ballston. Once users download the mobile app, they will be able to scan the markers and learn about the importance of that particular site, or even see a list of events that will take place there. For instance, a marker near Welburn Square could list upcoming dates of the Ballston Farmers Market.

“We want people to enjoy this and try the technology so they get used to seeing this around Ballston,” said Leone. “We’re employing this in stages over time, probably a one to two year period, because there are so many aspects we want to include and we want to do it right. Eventually there will be mobile WiFi hotspots throughout Ballston and there will be a map showing those. This will be a really robust mobile application.”

Although the full application is still in the planning stages, another idea is to have markers posted in the windows of restaurants and businesses.

“This is where everything is going. Everyone uses their mobile device, it’s the first thing that people do,” Leone said. “If you’re walking by a retailer and don’t know them, what do you do? Whip out your mobile device and research it. We want people to know what’s going on here.”

Leone said the virtual statues and the new app bring together some of the best parts of Ballston.

“We have these amazing minds behind the scenes that create this technology. We’re trying to bring this technology and personality to the streets,” she said. “We want to showcase the great minds in Ballston. This is a great marriage of bringing efforts together and bringing our brand to the public.”

Besides the virtual markers, visitors to Taste of Arlington will see a number of other changes. There will be more child-friendly activities at the Washington Capitals and Wizards KidZone, an expanded beer and wine tent and picnic tables. Booths will be repositioned, and some eliminated, to allow for more walking room. Visitors will pay the same price for tasting tickets as they did last year ($30), but will get more tasting tickets (10) for the money.

“We encourage people to come out because we’ve made some great improvements this year,” said Leone. “We’re really excited about it.”

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm 3,446 0

Rodolfo Hernandez-Suazo(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) An Arlington man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the January 2012 abduction and rape of his adult daughter.

Circuit Court Judge Louise M. DiMatteo imposed the jury’s sentencing for 54-year-old Rodolfo Hernandez-Suazo — which included 50 years for rape, 25 years for abduction with intent to defile and 5 years for incest — but ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

Hernandez-Suazo lured his then 22-year-old daughter to a south Arlington hotel room last year, claiming he was going to complete some maintenance work there. Once both were at the hotel, Hernandez-Suazo forced sex on his daughter.

Prosecutors say Hernandez-Suazo then told the daughter to take a shower, but she did not end up doing so. As a result, after she reported the crime to police several hours later,  investigators from the Arlington County Police Department Special Victims Unit were able to retrieve DNA evidence from her.

Hernandez-Suazo had been estranged from his daughter since leaving El Salvador about 20 years ago. They were reunited in 2009, when the daughter came to the United States to live with her mother, but she broke off contact after Hernandez-Suazo touched her inappropriately. He then re-initiated contact last year, leading to the incident in the hotel room.

“The victim held the understandable but misguided belief that she and the defendant could at last have a normal father-daughter relationship. Unfortunately he turned out to be a predator, not a parent,” said Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Tingle. “Her courage in coming forward should give others similar strength knowing that our community treats these offenses with the utmost seriousness.”

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm 492 0

Location of new Arlington Community Federal Credit Union in BallstonA new Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) branch will open in Ballston next week.

The new ACFCU will replace a White House Federal Credit Union branch (4121 Wilson Blvd) that closed last month. It will be a full-service facility with tellers and an on-site mortgage officer.

This is the third ACFCU branch, joining the one at 2130 N. Glebe Road and another just over the Arlington/Fairfax border at 5666 Columbia Pike. The Ballston branch will be the first that is Metro accessible.

“We are excited to move to the Ballston area as we have been looking for an option that is convenient to both ACFCU members and to Arlington commuters for some time,” said Karen Rosales, ACFCU Chief Operating Officer. “ACFCU members are important to us, and we want them to have access to convenient branch locations they deserve.”

The new branch is scheduled to open on Monday, April 15.

Disclosure: ACFCU is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by ARLnow.com — April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm 437 0

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Katie Carter, cheesemonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)

Cheesemaking (photo by Katie Carter)Cheese has been around for thousands of years not only because it provides us with so much nutrition but because it tastes so damn good. Like wine and beer, it offers a huge variety of aromas, flavors, and textures. And like wine and beer, there is a “proper” way of tasting cheese. But you don’t need to be a cheesemonger, or even a connoisseur, to taste like a pro. Here is a simple guide to fully enjoying your next bite of real cheese.

Step 1. Look.

You can learn a lot from a cheese just by its appearance. If there is one, look at the rind. Is it moldy? Wrinkly? Does it have a pattern? What color is the rind? Is the paste (interior) firm, runny, or pudgy? Again, what color is the paste? If it is naturally bright yellow, it’s most likely made from cow’s milk. A pure white paste tells you it is made from goat’s milk. Are there holes? Some holes in cheese are formed by gas, most are so-called “mechanical holes” that are just spaces between the curds. That tells you the curds were only pressed by gravity and not by external weight.

Cow (photo by Katie Carter)Step 2. Smell.

Most people don’t do this but go ahead, don’t be shy. Get your nostrils right up into it. Try not to mask the aromas with strong hand soap, perfume, etc. You can be broad or very specific in your observations. Is the aroma strong or mild? Would you describe it as earthy, fruity, nutty, or herbaceous? Try to dig deeper and identify that earthy quality. Does it smell mushroomy, like wet leaves, or like a Jersey cow barn? These are simply examples; trust your nose. Also, the aromas of a cheese may not correlate with the actual flavor. In other words, if a cheese aroma is quite strong, the flavors may not be. For example, Epoisses de Bourgogne has a pretty intense aroma (so strong it was banned from the Parisian metro) but its flavor is not overpowering.

Step 3. Taste.

And don’t rush it. Inhaling through your nose while chewing allows you pick up finer details. Keep in mind, there is an evolution of flavor. What you taste up front might change and finish with a completely new flavor. Again, be as broad or specific as you want. Does it taste nutty or taste like roasted hazelnuts? Fruity or peachy? Meaty or like roasted lamb? There are hundreds of flavors descriptors (e.g. grassy, caramel, metallic, vegetal) and even more words to modify those descriptors (e.g. strong, delicate, biting).

Always enjoy cheese at about room temperature. Cold temperatures conceal aromas and flavors, while altering textures. Take the cheese out of your refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you enjoy. Also, if you have bought a pre-cut piece of cheese, the plastic wrap may mask the flavor. Unwrap it and scrape a touch off of the surface where it touched the plastic. This is called “facing” the cheese. Cheesemongers will do this before giving samples at the cheese counter. If you really want to learn more, start taking notes. Record everything from colors to mouthfeel. Formaticum makes a nice journal.

Remember to convey your observations and preferences when at the cheese counter, it will really help your cheesemonger find you the perfect cheese. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.

Katie Carter is Arlington’s first and only ACS Certified Cheese Professional. She has worked in the cheese industry for ten years as a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, and educator. She can be found on Twitter@AfinaCheeseThe views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 10:55 am 984 0

Starting tonight and continuing each day this weekend, races will temporarily close down some Arlington roads.

The Arlington County Police Department is assisting with controlling traffic during a 5K and 10K race around Yorktown High School on Sunday, April 14.

The following restrictions will be in effect from 7:30-11:00 a.m.:

  • Yorktown Blvd will be closed to westbound and eastbound traffic from N. 30th Street to N. Edison Street
  • N. 28th Street will be closed to northbound and southbound traffic from Yorktown Blvd to N. Greenbrier Street
  • Yorktown Blvd will be open to eastbound traffic from N. Edison Street to N. 26th Street

Residents are asked to park their vehicles in driveways instead of on the street in order to reduce the congestion in the affected areas. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the impact to the community can contact Lieutenant Bob Medairos at 703-228-4160.

Roads will also be closed temporarily for the Nottingham Elementary 5K on Saturday (April 13) and the Crystal City 5K Friday tonight. Drivers are advised to find other routes during the affected times.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 9:55 am 820 0

Money (file photo)(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) When it comes to online activity, apparently local residents aren’t just shopping and checking Facebook all day. Arlington has been ranked as one of the top cities in America for online donations.

Blackbaud, a company that provides software and services to nonprofits, put together the list after examining 265 cities’ online donations. Arlington came in fourth, just behind third place Washington, D.C. and second place Alexandria. Seattle took the number one spot. The top ten list is:

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Alexandria, VA
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Arlington, VA
  5. Ann Arbor, MI
  6. Cambridge, MA
  7. Berkeley, CA
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Minneapolis, MN

The analysis ranked 265 cities with a population of 100,000 or greater based on per capita online giving. The rankings cover the time period from January 1-December 31, 2012. The full list of cities and where they stand can be found online.

“Online giving continues to be an important part of a nonprofit’s overall fundraising strategy,” Steve MacLaughlin, director of Blacbkbaud’s Idea Lab, said in a press release. “While overall giving remains relatively flat, we continue to see double-digit growth in online giving and expect the trend to continue throughout the year.”

In total, the cities included in the analysis donated more than $509 million online, which is a 15 percent increase from 2011.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 12, 2013 at 8:55 am 2,350 0

B-R Corridor at Sunset (photo by Jason OX4)

Va. Sq. Giant Celebrates Changes –  The Virginia Square Giant grocery store (3450 Washington Blvd) is celebrating its “grand reopening” following recent renovations. A representative for Giant says new features include a redesigned produce department with a better fruit and vegetable assortment, a new gourmet cheese case, a new bakery and an expanded natural foods section. Customers at that location will have the opportunity to take part in tastings, raffles and prize giveaways over the next four weekends.

Event Examines Seniors’ Transportation Needs — A Mobility Lab regional symposium held at George Mason University yesterday focused on the transportation needs of residents aged 65 and older. Speakers voiced the need for better coordination of senior transportation programs that would keep seniors mobile in their communities. Suggestions for improvement included better marketing and promotion, using volunteers and issuing performance surveys. [Mobility Lab]

Streetcar Debate Focuses on Types of Riders — At the Arlington Committee of 100 streetcar forum on Wednesday, speakers addressed which riders prefer different modes of transit. Speakers debated whether the Columbia Pike streetcar or a bus rapid transit system would better draw in “choice riders” — those who have access to a car but could be persuaded to take transit under the right circumstances. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

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