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by Ethan Rothstein — July 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm 1,316 0

Pan American Bakery and Café will be the in-house restaurant at the new Arlington Mill Community Center after it opens later this summer.

The location in the four-story community center, at 909 S. Dinwidde Street, will be Pan American’s fourth, but it will be decidedly different than the storefront a few blocks down Columbia Pike — which will remain open — and the shops in Alexandria and Fairfax.

The restaurant in Arlington Mill will specialize in healthier foods and offer options like specialty coffee, gelato and its specialty, salteñas, according to its lease agreement with the county. The County Board is expected to approve  the lease at its meeting Saturday. The restaurant will be on the ground floor and occupy 1,875 square feet.

The owners, Maritza Genny DeFoor and Ramiro Morgana, were chosen, according to county staff, because of their “business experience, local presence, financial strength, willingness to accept the county’s monetary terms, and readiness to proceed.”

The community center is on target for completed construction in early August, Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy said. The first programs are expected to be held in early September and the DES has planned a ribbon-cutting for the new building Sept. 28.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm 1,439 0

Hazmat investigation outside Le Méridien in Rosslyn Hazmat investigation outside Le Méridien in Rosslyn

Authorities are trying to figure out why a box of old medical waste was left outside a hotel in Rosslyn this afternoon.

Police were first called around 3:00 p.m. to investigate a suspicious package, found next to a trash can outside Le Méridien hotel at 1121 19th Street N. Upon looking through the contents of the worn cardboard box, police discovered what was reported to be human waste.

Firefighters were then dispatched to the scene to conduct a hazardous materials investigation. They discovered sealed medical waste with labels indicating it was from 1985, according to Battalion Chief Daniel Fitch. Among the contents were blood and various needles.

“There was no leakage, no threatening note,” he said. “I guess whoever dropped it off wanted it to be someone else’s problem.”

A duty fire marshal is remaining on scene to ensure that the waste is disposed of by a qualified contractor. So far, there’s no word of any suspects or criminal charges related to the incident.

Photos by Audrey Batcheller

by Ethan Rothstein — July 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm 630 0

Colonial Village apartmentsThe Arlington County Board is scheduled to approve putting an housing authority referendum on the ballot this November.

By statute, the Board must approve the referendum if 2 percent of the county’s qualified voters sign a petition. After a six-month campaign championed by the Arlington Green Party, the petition to create the authority got the necessary 2,845 signatures in June.

Approval is scheduled for the Board’s Tuesday meeting, its last meeting until September. The Board must approve the measure before it goes on its summer recess in order to meet the state-mandated deadline of August 16.

The item is not on the Board’s public agenda, which prompted a concerned email to County Board Chairman Walter Tejada from Arlington Green Party treasurer Audrey Clement earlier this week. Though Tejada assured Clement that the resolution will be brought up, she’s now worried that the county will try to influence voters into voting down the referendum, which was on the ballot but failed to pass in 2008.

At that time, a county-disseminated Q&A flyer stated that a housing authority would not produce more affordable housing, and “would only have access to the same tools and finding that the County currently uses.”

“Not only is this language non-neutral, it is false,” Clement told ARLnow.com. “Unlike the subsidies currently awarded by Arlington County to private housing corporations, a housing authority would get most of its funds not from the taxpayers but from [Department of Housing and Urban Development] guaranteed bonds issued in private capital markets.”

“In light of county government’s longstanding opposition to establishment of a housing authority, I am concerned that it will once again lobby to stop the referendum dead in its tracks by disseminating biased information about the referendum in contravention of state law,” she said.

County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the county stands by its statements in the Q&A from 2008. The County Attorney is not aware of any legal complaint over the message.

“We reject any allegation in any way we acted improperly or illegally, then and even now,” Curtius said. “We feel that everything we said then was factual and neutral, and if we say anything this time, it will be factual and neutral.”

According to HUD’s website, there are 17 buildings that offer subsidized housing in Arlington, compared to nine in Alexandria and 42 in Fairfax County. Both of those jurisdictions have their own housing authority.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm 1,148 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotThe hit show Parks & Recreation is “a hilarious ensemble comedy” that follows its lead character (played by SNL’s Amy Poehler), “a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, and her tireless efforts to make her quintessentially American town just a little bit more fun.”

Recent news about a private developer’s proposal to build a sports and entertainment facility in Alexandria — a facility containing many elements that are “strikingly similar” to Arlington’s planned Aquatics Center – again raises issues for Arlington that are a little bit less fun.

The Alexandria private proposal is just the latest evidence that Arlington’s Aquatics Center contains elements that exceed the type of core services for which Arlington should pay, or elements that are too extravagant, or both.

Of course, Arlington should be offering a series of geographically-dispersed swimming and recreational facilities at public expense. I applaud Arlington for working diligently to do that. But, the Aquatics Center at Long Bridge Park goes far beyond that to include “a 50 meter by 25 yard fitness and competition pool, a family leisure pool, a hot water therapy pool, a ‘teaching pool’, and a ‘free-form water play area’ that will …have a lazy river, slides, play features, and a zero-depth ‘beach’ entry.”

Just because there was a long public process during which many Arlington residents supported having the public pay for these features, or because there are many Arlington residents who might use these features, doesn’t make it right. Many of these design elements at the Aquatics Center are elements that either ought to be provided by the private sector or not provided.

This is precisely the reason why Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada’s comments about the Alexandria proposal miss the mark: “For our project we are looking to be inclusive, so people of all incomes and backgrounds will have access to our facilities… whereas in a private facility it’s for profit and the purpose is whatever the personal group sets forth.”

Arlington shouldn’t be making these kinds of design elements available at public expense to any members of the public because it is not an appropriate government function to do so.

The County Board has erred on this and other issues because the Board lacks a systematic framework for deciding which core services of government deserve funding in the first place.

It’s long past time for the Board to develop such a framework.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm 1,080 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyWhen I campaigned for the County Board, I called for the county manager and superintendent of schools to both be required to live in the County. The superintendent currently does, but the county manager does not.

In a recent story on the idea, Board Chairman Walter Tejada resorted to the line “we want the best person for the job.” Of course we do. However, if the best person wants a job that pays nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year, they should be willing to move to Arlington.

Here are my top six reasons why:

6. Circling the wagons. There are times when Arlington must act in a parochial interest when it comes to dealings with Alexandria or Fairfax or Washington, D.C. We should have someone who is 100% invested in the community quarterbacking the team in those situations.

5. Credibility. Arlington County’s press releases usually end with boilerplate language praising the county as a “world-class” community. How can we make such a claim when our county manager, the one who ultimately signs off on all county actions, is unwilling to live here?

4. Perspective. You have a different perspective about the community you live in. You explore on the weekends, finding new places to eat. You walk or bike around the neighborhoods for exercise. Your kids play in recreational leagues. Regardless of how long Ms. Donnellan has worked in Arlington, it is not the same thing as living here.

3. Emergency Response. In the case of emergencies, a county manager should be able to get into the office within minutes if necessary. We certainly live in a technological age, but we also live in a region with heightened security concerns. If you were here on 9/11, you remember that the phone lines on the East Coast were completely jammed.

2. Consequences. If a county manager is going to recommend a tax increase, they should have to pay the tax increase. Our Board members live with the tax increases they vote for, despite drawing salaries that are roughly 20% the size of the manager’s. It only makes sense that the county manager can live with it as well.

1. Feedback Loop. Arlingtonians are not shy about sharing their views on an issue. The county manager should not be able to drive out of the county at the end of each day to avoid hearing them.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm 699 0

Yorktown High School classroom trailersThe final phase of construction on the new Yorktown High School is on track to be completed by the end of this summer.

The construction began in 2009 and has been split into three phases, with Phase 1 completed in the summer of 2010 and Phase 2 in December 2011. Phase 3 is now in its finals stages.

Meanwhile, the classroom trailers that had housed overflow students during construction have been moved into the parking lot for Phase 3 while the tennis courts are being replaced. Arlington Public School officials sent a letter last month to parents assuring them that the trailers will be removed soon and will not be there when school starts in September.

The work on Phase 3 includes the demolition of the school’s Greenbrier Wing — facing Greenbrier Park and 28th Street N. — as well as its original gymnasium and swimming pool. In its place will be an auxiliary gym, new media center, permanent locker rooms (Phase 2 included temporary ones), classrooms and an interior courtyard.

Yorktown High School construction sitePhase 1 included the cafeteria, administration offices, classrooms and the renovated auditorium. Phase 2 consisted of the set shop, dressing rooms and green room for the auditorium, music rooms, the black box theater, the main gymnasium, weight room, wrestling room and the aquatics center. Both phases also integrated the school’s 58,000-square-foot 2004 renovation and a portion of the original auditorium.

The old school was built in the 1940s and originally opened in 1950 as an elementary school. It was converted to a high school for the 1960-1961 school year to alleviate overcrowding at the county’s first secondary school, Washington-Lee High School.

Wakefield High School has also undergone the construction of a new school building, which is scheduled to be finished August 2013. Both new buildings are expected to receive LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 10:55 am 1,731 0

Key Bridge closed for bomb threat

Update at 11:50 a.m. — All lanes are now back open.

Update at 11:35 a.m. — The Key Bridge is being reopened, D.C. police said via Twitter. Traffic is currently flowing from the D.C. to Virginia side of the bridge, but so far the inbound lanes have not reopened. NBC Washington is reporting that the closure was due to a phoned-in bomb threat.

Earlier: Police have closed the Key Bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to police activity on the D.C. side.

News outlets have alternately reported the closure is due to a suspicious package or a bomb threat.

No word yet on when the bridge might reopen.

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 9:45 am 8,641 0

W&OD trail at Columbia Pike (photo via Google Maps)A Florida man has been charged with reckless driving after driving nearly a mile on the W&OD trail in Arlington yesterday (Wednesday) evening.

The man was in a rental car with his wife and kids when he drove northbound onto the trail at Columbia Pike, according to Arlington police spokesman Lt. Mike Watson. After receiving numerous calls from trail users, a police officer on a motorcycle caught up with the vehicle, a Chrysler 300 sedan, in Glencarlyn Park.

According to Watson, the man claimed that a GPS navigation system on his phone directed him to use the trail. The Florida resident was issued a court summons for reckless driving and was escorted off the trail and back onto local roads, Watson told ARLnow.com.

While trying to catch up with the errant driver, police officers marveled at the fact that he didn’t realize he was driving on a bike trail.

“He must think it’s the world’s smallest two-lane highway,” one said on a police radio channel. No one was hurt during the incident.

Last month, a McLean woman was arrested after allegedly driving five miles while drunk on the W&OD trail in Fairfax County, striking and seriously injuring a 65-year-old bicyclist in the process.

Also last month, gates were installed on the Capital Crescent Trail in Northwest D.C. to prevent drivers from mistaking it for a road. No such gate was in place where the man entered the W&OD trail yesterday.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2013 at 8:45 am 811 0

Flowers on the grounds of the Pentagon (Flickr pool photo by Eschweik)

West Nile Detected at Fort McNair — West Nile Virus have been detected in mosquitoes across the river from Arlington at Fort McNair. Fort McNair is part of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall; West Nile was not found in the Fort Myer portion of the base. [U.S. Army]

Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven — Today, 7/11/13, customers can get a free small Slurpee from 7-Eleven stores from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This year, instead of 7.11 ounces, the free Slurpees have increased in size to 12 ounces. [USA Today]

ART Now on Google Maps – Google Maps now allows you to plan trips and get additional information on Arlington Transit (ART) bus routes. [Arlington Transit]

Favola Calls on McDonnell to Resign — Arlington state Senator Barbara Favola (D) is calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to resign in the wake of accusations that he and his family received a series on undisclosed gifts while in the governor’s mansion. [WAMU]

Median Sale Prices Dropping in Arlington — According to numbers from Rockville-based data firm RealEstate Business Intelligence, the median home sales price in Arlington was $535,000 in June, down 2.7 percent from one year prior. The drop comes while prices in Fairfax and Alexandria were up significantly. Meanwhile, Arlington’s median sales price is also down 0.1 percent year-to-date. Possible explanations for the drop, other than potential weakness in the real estate market, include a preponderance of condo sales this year or a raft of high-end sales last year. [Washington Post, RBI]

Flickr pool photo by Eschweik

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