Arlington Public Schools is backing off a plan to sell its Wilson School property to a developer. Instead, the school system and the county is exploring the possibility of building a new 1,300-student secondary school on the property.
Located at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, the Wilson School was built in 1910 and preservationists have been calling for it to be restored rather than torn down. Under a plan approved by the School Board last summer, it was to be demolished to make way for a private mixed-use development with affordable housing, a new fire station and a 1.5 acre park.
Now, according to a press release (after the jump), that plan has been scrapped in favor of retaining the property and perhaps building a new secondary school at the site, to address the school system’s capacity crunch.
No word yet on whether this might be a new location for the 624-student H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, currently located in Cherrydale, or whether it would be a new secondary school entirely.
The alleged incident happened around 2:00 a.m. this past Saturday.
“Officers witnessed a SUV stop in front of Mr. Days bar and throw a water bottle out of the vehicle at other patrons,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The vehicle took off at a high rate of speed, struck a median and was driving recklessly before stopping at a traffic light.”
Foot patrol officers chased down the SUV and, standing on either side of the vehicle, ordered the driver to get out, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The driver “acknowledged their presence and chose to ignore their commands,” said Sternbeck, then “accelerated forward and knocked over the officer with the side of his vehicle” in an attempt to flee.
The officer was knocked to the ground and rolled several times, but only suffered minor injuries. Police caught up with the accused driver, 27-year-old Evan Rowland, in Alexandria. He was arrested and charged with Malicious Bodily Injury to a Law Enforcement Officer.
Photo courtesy ACPD
The incident happened around 9:00 Friday night at Doctor’s Run Park, in the Douglas Park neighborhood. The male victim had hopped a fence at the park to retrieve a ball when he was bitten by a Chihuahua, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The victim confronted the dog’s owner, who was at the park with a large group of people. The owner of the dog became agitated and tried to punch and kick the victim, Sternbeck said. Then the man allegedly went to his car, retrieved a machete, and threatened the victim with it.
A female acquaintance of the suspect convinced him to put the knife away and leave the scene, Sternbeck said. The victim escaped the confrontation with only minor scratches from the dog bite.
The suspect is described by police as “a Hispanic male, 5’5″, with black hair and brown eyes, and approximately 150 pounds and 40 years old.” Anybody with information about the man or the incident is asked to call Arlington County police at 703-558-2222.
File photo via Paul Komarek/Wikipedia
Arlington officials and real estate developer JBG Companies broke ground this morning on the 31-story residential skyscraper at 1823 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn called Central Place.
The development, which is expected to be complete in 2017, will have two floors of retail, a 17,00-square-foot public plaza and six levels of parking — three below ground and three above. Once the residential tower, which will be one of, if not the tallest, residential building the D.C. area, is complete, JBG will begin construction on an accompanying office space next door, between N. Lynn and Moore Streets.
“Rosslyn is going to continue to benefit from this type of development,” Rep. Jim Moran (D) said from the podium. “The first time I visited Rosslyn close to 50 years ago, it was a place for pawn shops and prostitutes. Today, it’s a dynamic community. It’s going to be the place where people are going to want to work, live and play.”
Although Wednesday morning marked the official groundbreaking ceremony, construction has been ongoing for months on the project. It’s closed several lanes of N. Lynn Street at different times, causing major backups, as well as the McDonald’s that stood in the spot the apartments will soon be. JBG also removed the skywalks over both streets as part of its agreement with the county to bring foot traffic back to street level.
“I think I was here when we knocked down the Orleans House,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said of the demolition of the restaurant at 1213 Wilson Blvd nearby. “I can’t say which I’m more excited about. It was a landmark and had its place in our history, and the McDonald’s does too, but it’s time to move on.”
The groundbreaking was another in a slew of recent landmarks for Rosslyn after the framework for the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update was approved by the County Board earlier this month. The plan would extend 18th Street through central Rosslyn — including between the two Central Place buildings — and connect Arlington’s core developments with the surrounding parks.
“A project like Central Place really changes the neighborhood,” Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said. “I can tell you, this is what our community wants. We really want a place to hang out and congregate.”
Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]
Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]
County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]
Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]
Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Arlington County Board adopted a $1.15 billion budget Tuesday night.
The Fiscal Year 2015 budget trims one cent from the county’s real estate tax rate while — thanks to a rise in property assessments — adding funds for schools, road paving and high speed fiber optic infrastructure. It also maintains service levels in other areas of county government.
The real estate tax rate is now $0.996 per $100 in assessed value, bringing the annual county tax burden on the average Arlington homeowner to $7,327.
The budget includes merit pay raises for county employees, which the County Board added back into the budget after an outcry from police and firefighter employee associations.
The Board, including newly-elected member John Vihstadt, voted unanimously for the budget. Vihstadt, who was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, said he was pleased with the tax rate reduction and did not want “to let the perfect be the enemy of the good” in budget deliberations.
Two other Board members echoed that sentiment in voting for the budget. Libby Garvey said she didn’t approve of the budget’s cut to mental health services for prison inmates (a grant that funded an employee for that task had run out) and accused the Board of squirreling away transportation money in various funds with the intention of, at some point, using it for streetcar projects, which she opposes.
Walter Tejada spoke out against budget guidance that directs the county manager to study the possibility of privatization and outsourcing Volunteer Arlington, which promotes and coordinates volunteer opportunities.
Other budget guidance for the manager (which was added by the Board outside the normal public budget process) included:
- A request for a report by the end of the year on the financial sustainability of Artisphere
- Enhancement of the county’s internal audit functions and the establishment of a fraud and waste hotline
- Improved parking ticket adjudication for tickets issued in error
- A plan for a phased implementation of staffing increase for the county’s police, fire and other public safety departments
The county’s press release on the budget passage, after the jump.
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Arlington County surveyed more than 250 residents, workers and visitors to Courthouse Square to assess public opinion of the area’s future.
The survey was conducted as part of the county’s “Envision Courthouse Square” initiative, which is trying to get the public involved in the process of planning the future development of the 9-acre area surrounding the county’s large surface parking lot.
That lot in particular was the subject of many survey respondent’s suggestions, who desire to see it become an underground parking lot with a different use for the surface area up top.
“I live in the neighborhood, so for me the parking is a waste,” one respondent said. “However I recognize the need for parking near the courthouse and government buildings to serve other residents of Arlington. I would think that an underground parking structure with a public space on top would be the best way to balance these needs.”
“Please underground the parking,” another said. “The surface parking detracts from the neighborhood’s streetscape. We should create a walkable environment that encourages visitors to utilize Arlington’s multimodal options.”
More than 13 percent of respondents listed “market events” as their preferred future use of open space in Courthouse Square, followed by 12.2 percent in favor of outdoor movies and evening events. Social gathering and social seating received 11.7 and 9.8 percent of the vote, respectively.
When asked if public events, celebrations and demonstrations should be encouraged in Courthouse Square, 73.1 percent of those asked answered, “yes,” but some said they worried the events would benefit only those from other areas.
“Courthouse Square should be a place for those who live there or nearby to enjoy the open space,” one response said, “not an area for out of towners or others to use to hold political events.”
Of the “yes” answers, many cited Courthouse’s civic identity as a reason to encourage First Amendment expression in the open spaces.
“It should be celebrated as THE civic space in Arlington,” one answer said. Another respondent said only, “Because America, that’s why.”
A majority, 53 percent of respondents said Courthouse Square should be a “beacon” for all of Arlington, while 29 percent said it should be mostly designed for the surrounding neighborhood. Only 17 percent said it should be designed for use by the entire D.C. metro area or region.
“Courthouse does not currently have much of neighborhood feel,” said one of the “neighborhood” respondents. “It is nice to feel some smaller community in a large city. New York City neighborhoods have this and it makes them unique. It also draws people from other places to experience their unique aspects.”
“We all have plenty of regional attractions,” said a respondent who thought Courthouse should be designed for all of Arlington. “[We] need to develop sense of place — Arlington specific, beyond just being across river from D.C.”
Said another: “Arlington needs a town center. An identity. A place people can say ‘I’ll meet you on the town square.’ Arlington lacks that now — and I think that harms our identity and cohesiveness.”
Earth Day in Arlington — Today is Earth Day around the globe, but Arlington County has declared that “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county detailed the steps it has been taking to enhance environmental sustainability and also highlighted some environmentally-friendly events around Arlington. Among the upcoming events are the Green Living Expo on April 26 and Bike to Work Day on May 16. [Arlington County]
School Board Candidate Visits All 52 Precincts — Arlington School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen says she has now knocked on doors in all 52 Arlington electoral precincts. Last year Kanninen was criticized for reportedly holding all of her published campaign events in north Arlington. [InsideNoVa]
Rally Against Rape in Rosslyn — The annual Rally Against Rape will be held in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to raise awareness of sexual violence in Northern Virginia. The event is free and includes speakers, music and a resource fair. [Clarendon Nights, Eventful]
An armed robbery suspect is facing numerous criminal charges in Arlington after allegedly leading police on a high speed chase down Columbia Pike while a total of ten people, including six young children, were in his car.
The incident started just past 10:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Arlington police were notified of an armed robbery that took place near Kenmore Middle School, just over the border in Fairfax County. Two men robbed a pair of sisters at gunpoint in a parking lot on the 3100 block of S. Manchester Street in the Falls Church area, according to Fairfax County Police. The suspects allegedly robbed the 17- and 24-year-old of cash and possessions, then took off on foot.
Shortly thereafter, Fairfax officers located a suspect vehicle near Bailey’s Crossroads and tried to initiate a traffic stop, but the driver refused to stop, leading them on a chase, according to FCPD.
After a be-on-the-lookout broadcast, an Arlington officer spotted the suspect’s vehicle being chased eastbound on Columbia Pike and joined the pursuit, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. During the chase down the Pike the suspect drove at high rate of speed, ran red lights and swerved into the oncoming lanes to get around slower traffic, Sternbeck said.
The suspect crashed into a sedan at S. Glebe Road, then reversed into an unmarked Fairfax cruiser, before continuing to drive down the Pike, according to Arlington and Fairfax police.
The suspect eventually crossed the 14th Street Bridge into D.C., at which time Arlington called off its chase but the Fairfax units continued to pursue. The chase ended when the suspect’s car crashed into a barrier wall at C Street and Washington Avenue, according to FCPD.
Six children, all ages 6 and younger, were inside the suspect’s four-door Ford Focus during the chase, Arlington and Fairfax police said. The children were turned over to Child Protective Services in D.C. Four adults were inside the car at the time, police said.
The alleged driver, 25-year-old Marcus Woodland of D.C., is being held in the District pending extradition to Arlington. Woodland faces 11 charges in Arlington including 2 counts of attempted malicious wounding on law enforcement, felony eluding, felony hit and run, six counts of child endangerment, and reckless driving.
A second suspect, 31-year-old Christopher Woodland, also of D.C., is facing robbery charges in Fairfax County. Two other adults — 19-year-old Abena Okrah of Annandale and 25-year-old Beverly Starr of D.C. — are being charged with receiving stolen property. Fairfax County is seeking extradition of all four suspects.
Witnesses said a police helicopter was involved in the chase, but that couldn’t be immediately confirmed.
“Many police cars and a helicopter just went flying eastbound on Columbia pike @ Walter Reed dr,” @OwenHassig tweeted shortly after 10:30 p.m.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) A worker is fighting for his life after his head was crushed by a trailer hitch in the Arna Valley View neighborhood, between Pentagon City and Shirlington.
The accident happened around 1:15 p.m, outside an apartment complex in the area of 26th and S. Troy Streets. Initial reports indicate that an older man was working under a white van with a trailer attached, trying to fix a tire, when something happened to cause the trailer hitch to come down on the man’s head, crushing it.
An Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue team worked for 30-45 minutes to safely lift up the van and free the victim, who’s said to be alive but in critical condition with a grievous head injury. He was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital.
The victim’s son, who was working with his dad at the time of the accident, helped to flag down emergency responders. Unconfirmed reports suggest the men work for a pool services company.
The crash happened around 3:00 a.m. Police say the officer was heading eastbound on Clarendon Blvd and was approaching a flashing yellow light at the intersection with N. Barton Street.
The officer proceeded through the flashing yellow, but at the same time a Jeep traveling on Barton Street ran through the flashing red, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The resulting collision heavily damaged the front of the officer’s cruiser and caused the Jeep to flip on its side. The officer suffered minor injuries but did not need to go to the hospital. No other injuries were reported.
The driver of the Jeep was issued a ticket for a red light violation and was released, Sternbeck said.
Vihstadt Backs Off Independent Auditor Push — Newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt is backing off a campaign promise to push for an independent auditor for Arlington County. Vihstadt “learned of the internal auditing that the county does and its plans to make that role more robust.” He plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the county’s auditing project around mid-year. [Washington Post]
Howze Won Pike Precincts — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze, who lost to John Vihstadt in the April 8 special election, narrowly won the precincts around Columbia Pike. Opponents of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar say the slim victory — Howze supports the streetcar while Vihstadt does not — is proof that even Columbia Pike residents who stand to benefit from the streetcar are lukewarm on the project. [InsideNoVa]
A Weekend in Courthouse in 2.5 Minutes — Timelapse photography of Arlington’s Courthouse Square area shows 2.5 days in just 2.5 minutes. The video includes a view of the Courthouse farmers market from setup to break down. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) Two days after the Arlington County Board voted to offset a one-cent tax rate cut by eliminating a pay raise for county employees, the Board has changed course.
County Board Chair Jay Fisette told ARLnow.com Friday afternoon that, after the Board met with representatives from the police and firefighter unions this morning, it decided to cut from other areas to make up the $6.6 million gap in the budget the tax cut will create.
The Arlington County Police Union, the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association and the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (Local 2800) each released statements denouncing the Board’s decision to go against County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommendation to keep the property tax rate at 2014′s level of $1.006 per $100 in assessed value — and to pay for it by eliminating pay raises in favor of a “modest” 1 percent Cost of Living Adjustment and a one-time $500 employee bonus.
The decision was made in the days leading up to Wednesday’s budget mark-up, leading the police and firefighters to question the process and transparency of the Board’s budget process.
“Throughout the budgetary process that started in September 2013, there were no discussions by the County Board that indicated that step increases would be eliminated,” Local 2800 said in a statement. “Only now, six days before the vote, have we been informed… We understand that there needs to be a balance and restraint in the current economic times but there also needs to be transparency.”
The APBA said the cut in step increases would have hit twice as hard because the county changed employees’ healthcare plans this year, resulting in increases in premiums as high as 7 percent for some employees.
“Not only is this budget cut targeting employees in one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S., it also was made at the 11th hour, outside of Arlington’s well-accepted and long-established budget process and after the last opportunity for public comment,” the APBA said in a statement.
“It is the opinion of the APBA and Union that this last minute decision is politically motivated as a newly elected County Board Member was just sworn into office,” APBA member Jim Tuomey said in a separate email. “We feel this is a last minute effort for the County Board to try and ‘win over’ the voters by saving a penny on the real estate tax rate at the expense of all County employees and we have no opportunity to be heard at future work sessions with the budget adoption next Tuesday night.”
Fisette said the Board unanimously decided to cut the tax rate “a few weeks ago,” before the April 8 special election that saw John Vihstadt became the first non-Democrat elected to the Board since 1999 by a 57-41 percent margin over Democrat Alan Howze.
The decision to do away with the step increase came as a shock to the employees because it hadn’t been mentioned in any public hearings or meetings. Moreover, Fisette said, it’s rare that the Board goes away from the county manager’s recommendations on compensation. It’s particularly rare that the Board lowers salaries or cuts pay raises, Fisette said. (more…)
Rosslyn Startup to Be Featured on ‘Shark Tank’ — Rosslyn-based startup Zoobean will be featured tonight on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Zoobean, which describes itself as “a web service that recommends apps and books for children,” will pitch itself to a panel of wealthy investors, including billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The show airs at 9:00 p.m. on ABC. The company will also be profiled as part of ARLnow.com’s “Startup Monday” feature next week. [PR Newswire, Des Moines Register]
Pentagon City Mall Expansion Imminent — Work is expected to “begin soon” on a planned 50,000 square foot expansion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The expansion will add two new levels of retail, restaurants with outdoor seating, new elevators and escalators, and an expanded food court. Mall owner Simon is also expected to announce some of the new restaurants and retailers coming to the mall “shortly.” [Washington Business Journal]
We, The Pizza Eyes ‘Late Spring’ Opening – We, The Pizza, the pizza restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, will be opening soon in Crystal City. No specific date has been set, but a spokeswoman said the restaurant is expected to open in “late spring.” Mendelsohn also operates burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City.
‘Miss Gay Arlington’ Pageant Tonight — The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Freddy’s Beach Bar in Crystal City (555 23rd Street S.) will host the annual Miss Gay Arlington pageant tonight. Four contestants will compete in four categories: presentation, talent, evening gown, and on-stage question. The event starts at 8:00 p.m. and admission is $10. [AGLA]
Enterprise CarShare Launches in Rosslyn — A car sharing service from Enterprise Rent-A-Car has launched in the D.C. area. Two of its car share parking stations are located in the Rosslyn area. [Enterprise CarShare]
Photo courtesy Rick Shewell
Arlington’s emergency responders were recognized for their acts of bravery and public service yesterday during the annual Valor Awards.
The Lifesaving Awards for the Office of Emergency Management and the Arlington County Fire Department were given to dispatchers and firefighters who responded to a kitchen fire in the Dominion Hills neighborhood on April 1 last year.
Two emergency communications technicians, Rachel Moreno and Heather Horan, were honored for their work dealing with the caller, the woman who was rescued from the scene of the fire. Moreno, who wasn’t a fully trained ECT at the time, and Horan, who was training her, took the woman’s call, dispatched a fire response in 50 seconds, told the victim to get to a window and punch through the screen so she could lean out to get air.
“ECT I Moreno was not fully qualified as a call taker but she showed tremendous poise,” OEM Director Jack Brown wrote of the dispatchers. “Her ability to stay calm and maintain control of the call was outstanding and showed experience beyond her years. Together, ECT I Moreno and ECT III Horan were able to obtain critical information and provide life-saving guidance that kept this incident from ending in tragedy.”
The victim eventually fell unconscious, but Moreno and Horan were able to give firefighters the victim’s exact location on the second story of the house. Soon after the victim fell unconscious, firefighters Nicolas Calderone and Jamie Jill entered the house, located the victim, carried her outside and extinguished the fire.
When Calderone and Jill set the victim down, firefighter Joseph Marr noticed she didn’t have a pulse and conducted a minute of CPR. When her pulse returned but her consciousness didn’t, Marr had to carry the victim up the street, since it was too narrow and there were too many firetrucks for the ambulance to get through. The victim made a full recovery.
“Often, this is the only public recognition these officers receive,” Chamber of Comerce President Rich Doud said. The chamber presented the awards. “It is unique to hear the stories of their heroic acts and to meet the officers involved. We are fortunate that they work in Arlington and perform so selflessly in the service of our businesses and citizens.”
Four Arlington police officers and one sheriff’s deputy were honored with lifesaving awards for preventing suicide attempts in three separate incidents.
Officers Stephanie Rodriguez and Kenneth Kernicky were honored after saving a man trying to hang himself from a tree in Douglas Park. Rodriguez caught the man while Kernicky cut the noose from the tree. Days later, according to the Sheriff’s Office, the man thanked the officers for saving his life. Deputy Andrew Woodrow found himself in a similar situation when he rescued an inmate at the Arlington County Jail tried to hang herself with a shoelace from her cell bed.
ACPD First Sgt. Latasha Chamberlain and Det. Paula Brockenborough were given the award after they prevented a woman from jumping off her apartment balcony after she learned of the death of her husband. Through background investigation on the way to the hospital, they discovered the woman was suffering from a mental illness.
Two police lieutenants, two firefighters and a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office were given Meritorious Service awards, the valor awards’ equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. Police Auxiliary Lt. Heather Hurlock was given the award after volunteering for 1,724 hours in Arlington in 2013 and, since 1997, she has volunteered more than 30,000 hours.
Other recipients of the Meritorious Service Awards were: Lt. Mark Belanger, Sgt. Kevin Pope, Firefighter/EMT Clare Burley and Fire/EMS Capt. Brandon Jones.