Carol Mitten most recently served as Executive Director for Urban Affairs and Headquarters Consolidation at Homeland Security, before which she was chief of the Land Resources Program Center for the National Capital Region at the National Park Service, according to the county’s press release.
“I am thrilled to have Carol join my team,” Donnellan said in the release. “She brings broad and deep experience, as well as a fresh perspective.”
Mitten will oversee Arlington’s largest department, which deals with everything from the county’s roads and waste collection to local transit and parking. She starts work on Jan. 5.
Mitten will be Donnellan’s second deputy county manager, joining Mark Schwartz, who’s been Donnellan’s second-in-command since 2010. Donnellan also employs six assistant county managers among her staff.
Mitten’s experience in local government came across the river, while serving on the District’s Zoning Commission.
“While working in D.C. government, I came to deeply appreciate the positive impact that local government can have on the lives of our community,” Mitten said in the release. “This is where I developed my passion for local government, and I’m so pleased to be joining the Arlington team.”
Arlington’s full announcement of Mitten’s hiring, after the jump: (more…)
The incident took place early morning on Monday, Dec. 15, on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike.
The victim “went to the suspect’s residence and after some conversation, the suspect became sexually aggressive and forcefully touched and penetrated the victim’s anus,” according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
“After the victim received a telephone call from a friend, the suspect stopped touching the victim and a short time later, the victim attempted to leave the residence; however the victim’s exit was blocked by the suspect,” Malcolm continued. “The suspect then forcefully touched the victim… again before the victim was able to run out of the residence. The victim immediately called police who investigated the incident.”
The 45-year-old suspect has been charged with abduction. Additional charges are pending.
From the crime report:
SEXUAL ASSAULT/ABDUCTION, 141215005, 5500 block of Columbia Pike, The victim told police he was sexually assaulted by a male suspect shortly after arriving at his apartment. Both victim and suspect met through an online dating website. Warrants were obtained and the suspect was arrested and transported to booking where he was charged accordingly. The victim was transported to the hospital for examination and did not sustain any injuries.
Also this week, police reported an incident of sexual battery that took place early Saturday morning.
Police say a woman was touched inappropriately by a cab driver while she was on the way home from a company party in D.C.
SEXUAL BATTERY, 141213014, 900 block of N Stuart St, On 12/13/14 at 0620 hours, a female victim told police she was sexually assaulted. After attending a company party in DC, the victim and some friends went to a nearby bar for some drinks. Shortly thereafter, the victim then decided to return to home without her friends and hailed a cab. The victim states the unknown male suspect cab driver, touched her numerous times during the return trip. Upon arrival near the requested location, the victim fled the vehicle and eventually contacted police. The victim was not injured and could not identify the cab company. The suspect is described as a medium complexion male of Middle Eastern or Indian descent, clean shaven with short hair.
On Sunday, a woman said she was raped by a man she met at a bar in D.C.
RAPE, 141215003, 3400 block of Fairfax Dr, On 12/14/14 a female victim reported to police she had unwanted sexual intercourse with a male subject she met at a bar in DC after consuming several alcoholic beverages. The victim is able to identify the suspect but does not wish to prosecute at this time.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Murphy Finalist for Superintendent of the Year — Arlington Public Schools’ Dr. Patrick Murphy is one of four finalists for national superintendent of the year from the School Superintendents Association. Murphy, who was hired in 2009, has previously been recognized as Virginia’s superintendent of the year. [Washington Post]
Optimism for Office Vacancies in Arlington — There’s good news for owners of commercial office buildings in Arlington. Despite high vacancy rates, “Arlington’s location close to D.C. and its numerous transportation amenities give property owners an advantage in attracting potential tenants from other locations in the region,” especially Millennials, writes Keara Mehlert, a business development manager for the county-run Arlington Transportation Partners. [Mobility Lab]
Additional Package Thefts – Arlington County police say additional package thefts occurred in Arlington overnight. That’s after a number of package thefts were reported in Ballston last week. [Twitter]
Kindergartner Makes a Run for It – A five-year-old kindergarten student at Randolph Elementary ran away from school yesterday afternoon, prompting a response from Arlington County police. The student reportedly led staff members on a chase and made it to the area of Four Mile Run as police began arriving in the area to look for him. The youngster was finally nabbed by school staffers who had hopped into a Honda to find him. “He is safely back at school with his mother,” a school spokesman told ARLnow.com after the incident.
The casting call will be held inside the mall from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 3, 2015. Casting directors are “looking for females and males, ages 18 to 27, of diverse backgrounds, shapes, sizes with no minimum height requirement,” according to a press release.
Two local judges will be among those evaluating the hopefuls: Paul Wharton, the fashion and lifestyle correspondent for DCW50, the local CW station that’s organizing the casting call, and Maggy Francois, a D.C. and New York event and fashion marketing executive.
“Wharton and Francois will select three contestants that day to set up immediate Skype interviews with Los Angeles-based ‘Top Model’ casting directors,” the press release says.
DCW50 says it will also be conducting a $1,000 giveaway as part of the event.
The tower, currently under construction at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Moore and Lynn Streets, will provide the public with a place to look down on D.C., the National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery from 390 feet up. The building will be one of the tallest in the region, and local officials think it will be the key for making Rosslyn a major tourist hub.
“We really believe that’s going to be a game changer,” said Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick. “Moreso than other projects because it will really position Rosslyn as a tourist destination. This is something that we really think will be quite a draw into Rosslyn.”
The observation deck will pair with the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, five blocks down the road, for major tourist destinations that will create a “critical mass,” Burick said.
“Iwo Jima, the Netherlands Carrilon, Arlington Cemetery is a few blocks away,” she said. “All these things are right within this core area, and it’s so centrally located and accessible. We have a large cluster of hotels here with the Marriott, the Hyatt, Le Meridien … I think when you look at all that together, you’re now starting to see a critical mass of things happening in Rosslyn.”
The Iwo Jima memorial and Netherlands Carrilon drew a combined 1.4 million visitors in 2007, the most recently available data, according to Arlington Director of Convention and Visitor Service Emily Cassell. Arlington National Cemetery was the county’s most popular attraction, at 4 million visitors.
Cassell said Arlington expects the CEB Tower observation deck to draw comparable numbers to similar decks in New York City and Chicago, cities with larger – but perhaps less monumental — skylines than D.C.
“Being able to see the nation’s capital from that perspective and having a 360-degree view would be really exceptional,” Cassell said.
Another potential tourist attraction down the road: a boathouse along the Potomac River. The National Park Service, which owns Arlington’s shoreline, said this summer that “the ball is rolling” on preliminary plans for the boathouse and Rosslyn boosters are salivating at yet another feature for the neighborhood. They’re also eyeing the potential for a gondola across the river to Georgetown.
“The gondola would represent the fun aspect of what Rosslyn is all about,” said Peter Greenwald, the Chairman of the Rosslyn BID and a senior advisor for Penzance, “with connectedness in new, fun and different ways that play into the creative class and the innovation that Rosslyn is becoming known for.”
The “critical mass” would likely benefit the future development planned for Rosslyn. Besides Central Place (the CEB Tower project), there’s the approved Rosslyn Gateway and Colony House project, plus plans for a Rosslyn Plaza redevelopment. In total, those could bring more than 800 new hotel rooms to Rosslyn in the not-too-distant future.
Despite its bright future, there still lingers the perception that Rosslyn is nothing more than a transit hub filled with office buildings. Burick’s charge since she was hired at the BID last fall is to change that perception.
“We want to market Rosslyn as a modern, premier destination,” Burick said. “I think when you come here on weekends and evenings, you’re already seeing that the streets do have life. I think the perception is already changing.”
Image courtesy The JBG Companies
John Vihstadt was sworn in for his first four-year term on the Arlington County Board yesterday evening before an overflow crowd in the County Board room.
It was the second time in a year Vihstadt was sworn in, after winning a special election in April to replace Chris Zimmerman, who resigned in February. In both cases, Vihstadt, a Republican-endorsed independent, defeated Democrat Alan Howze, who was in attendance yesterday.
“Our campaign brought so many people together, united with a message of fiscal responsibility, greater transparency, accountability and checks and balances,” Vihstadt said. Each of his electoral victories were by substantial margins, and came as surprises to many election observers.
“They were not victories based on one issue, despite what some have said, but many issues,” he continued. “They were not victories for national issues, but local issues. Issues that our county can do something about today, tomorrow and the next day.”
Vihstadt’s election was the biggest factor in the County Board’s decision to cancel the Columbia Pike streetcar last month, and as he laid out his priorities for his term, his fifth and final one was directed at the residents of the Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City corridors. Despite the streetcar’s cancellation, he vowed to bring a more robust transit system to the corridor in the future.
“Yes there are wounds in our community,” he said, “but we need to work together to bind them up in a collaborative fashion.”
Vihstadt acknowledged his 94-year-old father, Ed, whose bible he was sworn in on, and his two sons, Ben, a college student, and Jack, a resident of the Columbia Pike area. He also reminded residents that his contact information is on his website. “Please use it,” he said.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette closed the ceremony, minutes before his last meeting as this year’s Board chair, and said he already has a good working relationship with his newest colleague.
“John’s sense of stewardship and responsibility have already become apparent and are very much appreciated,” Fisette said. “I have no doubt that Arlington’s future is bright and that John Vihstadt will be a part of that future success.”
The decision came just hours after County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended closing Rosslyn’s Artisphere next June. The County Board ultimately decided that the two arts organizations’ situations were different enough to begin a new investment as it acknowledged the failure of a previous one.
“Signature really is an Arlington treasure,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It reaches into our community and impacts our community in substantial ways.”
The theater will receive the loan at a low, 1 percent interest rate; it will no longer have to pay $411,000 in unpaid county taxes and fees; and $2.7 million of its $7.7 million debt to United Bank will be forgiven.
“Signature will pay back this loan in full and on time,” the theater’s managing director, Maggie Boland, told the Board. “We often joke that ‘hope is not a strategy’ at Signature. We don’t commit to a production plan that we can’t afford.”
Signature’s yearly debt payments will be reduced from more than $1 million to about $300,000, a difference that county Director of Management and Finance Michelle Cowen called “transformative.”
“It allows them to bulk up on their balance sheet, which is in poor shape,” Cowen said.
There were 11 speakers from the public, and eight of them spoke in support of the County Board’s action. Many of the supporters were either current or former members of the Signature in the Schools program, Shirlington business owners or those with active interests in the theater’s success.
“We believe Signature is vital to the overall success of Shirlington and the greater Arlington County community,” Ken Mosig, director of asset management for the Village at Shirlington’s parent company, Federal Realty Investment Trust, said. “Their programs attract people to the Village of Shirlington. Having Signature Theatre as an entertainment venue has helped bring 100,000 people to the area per year.”
Among the dissenters were Jim Hurysz and Tim Wise, two frequent County Board critics and opponents of government spending.
“Taxpayers who oppose public subsidies for the arts do not oppose the arts,” Wise said. “We just think the arts should pay for themselves.”
Board member Libby Garvey asked Boland why they couldn’t raise ticket prices to generate the additional revenue, needed, but Boland said that if the tickets were any more expensive, “that would be detrimental to our business.”
Although the County Board unanimously approved the loan — the money for which comes from FY 2014 closeout funds — several members indicated that this would be the last chance Signature has for county funding for some time.
“We don’t want to be here again,” Fisette said.
Photo via Signature Theatre website
Donnellan made the recommendation at today’s County Board meeting, after being charged by the Board earlier this year to study Artisphere and suggest a way forward for the money-losing, county-run center.
“I will be recommending that the county close the Artisphere as a cultural center in fiscal year 2016,” Donnellan said. “This was a business decision… this was a tough decision, a disappointing one. The reality is that the Artisphere has not lived up to projections.”
Donnellan said Artisphere, in her opinion, would require “substantial ongoing tax support.”
“That is not what we promised our community when we opened Artisphere,” she said. Artisphere will remain open through June 30. It will close after that, if the County Board adopts Donnellan’s recommendation. After Donnellan gave her report, it became clear that the Board was behind her decision and it’s likely the art center will close on June 30.
“I support what you suggested, that next June, Artisphere would close as we know it,” Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “My hope is whatever option will move forward on our economic competitiveness goals one way or another.”
County Board member John Vihstadt, who had used the Artisphere as an example of wasteful county spending in his election campaign this year, obliquely referenced the county’s cancellation of the streetcar last month.
“I think we all realize the changing course on a long community initiative, as has happened in the last few years and months, is never easy,” he said. Speaking to reporters after the meeting had adjourned, he added, “I think it was the right decision. I was concerned about the Artisphere all along.”
County staff will be studying options for sub-leasing Artisphere to a private company or a private-public partnership in the “arts, media, technology” space, or returning it to landlord Monday Properties, Donnellan said.
She called the recommendation “a repositioning, not a retreat.” County staff will be tasked with coming up with a new art plan for the county, one that reflects current fiscal realities.
“Smart communities know when to reevaluate decisions,” Donnellan said.
The 62,000 square foot facility opened with a flourish, at a cost of $6.7 million in October 2010. Optimistic projections of a quarter million annual visitors quickly crashed down to earth in 2011. Visitor revenue was 75 percent below expectations, and Artisphere’s in-house restaurant closed after just a few months in business.
Arlington Economic Development assumed control of Artisphere by the end of 2011, and began implementing a business plan that included shorter hours and actively renting the facility for non-art-related events. The changes were successful by some measures, but problems remained — the facility again went over budget in Fiscal Year 2013. Last month, County Board allocated $1.3 million in its annual budget close-out for Artisphere-related expenses next year.
Donnellan told reporters after her report that 20 part-time and 12 full-time staff work at Artisphere, and some may be able to continue working in other areas of the county, but there will be some who lose their jobs.
The County Board may officially decide to close Artisphere before its April budget motion, Vihstadt said, and Donnellan said she will soon begin discussions with Monday Properties about the space’s future.
This evening, Donnellan will ask the Board to approve a $5 million loan to another art center, Signature Theatre. She said the two recommendations are “business decisions” and should be looked at separately.
Current Board chair Jay Fisette announced the expected leadership succession at the Board’s afternoon meeting today (Wednesday). Hynes is currently vice chair of the County Board.
Walter Tejada, meanwhile, is to be next year’s County Board vice chairman. The changes will take effect with the Board’s Jan. 1 organizational meeting.
Hynes and Tejada are both up for reelection in 2015.
Today Obama announced that his administration will normalize diplomatic relations and ease economic restrictions on the island nation. Also announced: that American Alan Gross and a U.S. intelligence asset were freed from Cuban jails, in exchange for three jailed Cuban spies.
Kaine’s brief statement:
“I am overjoyed by today’s announcement of Alan Gross’s release and wish him the very best as he reunites with his family and loved ones. His release marks a victory for American diplomacy. I’d like to especially thank Pope Francis and the Canadian government for their role as intermediaries in this effort.”
“Our relationship with Cuba will not change overnight – human rights and political freedom are important concerns that we will continue to raise with the Cuban government. But as the reestablishment of U.S. diplomatic ties with Vietnam proved, engagement rather than isolation is often more effective at advancing American interests and democratic values.”
HOT Lane Lawsuit May Haunt County — At a time when the state is studying HOT lanes and other possible changes to I-66 inside the Beltway, Arlington County’s past actions may come back to haunt it. County officials “burned some bridges” when they filed a lawsuit against VDOT in 2009 to block HOT lanes on I-395. The county has also lost some regional credibility by abruptly canceling the streetcar project. Efforts by Arlington to oppose any changes on I-66, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. [InsideNova]
Incubator Launches in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a “veteran-owned government technology and innovation incubator,” celebrated its launch in Crystal City yesterday. The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear. [PR Web]
Man Arrested for Arlington Attack — Fairfax County Police have arrested a man wanted for allegedly attacking his ex-wife’s boyfriend in Arlington. In the June 15 attack on Columbia Pike, police say Edwin Patino-Medina ripped two necklaces off the boyfriend’s neck then tried to run him over with a car. [WUSA 9]
Menorah Lighting Tonight — Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight, in the park next to the Clarendon Metro station, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington will hold a menorah lighting and community celebration. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a “giant 6 foot menorah” plus music, potato latkes, chocolate gelt and “dreidels for all.” Tomorrow, the group will hold its annual Chanukah on Ice event at the Pentagon Row ice rink.
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
Arlington-based PBS is celebrating the upcoming fifth season of its hit Downton Abbey with a building-sized mural on its Crystal City headquarters.
The temporary art installation, featuring the likeness of Downton character Lady Mary , is 90 feet high and 54.5 feet wide — 4,900 square feet total — and took about 140 hours to complete. It was installed at 2100 Crystal Drive in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District and building owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
“Downton Abbey is the top PBS drama of all time and we are thrilled to showcase that in Crystal City, where PBS calls home,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City BID, in a press release.
“Crystal City residents, workers, and visitors are encouraged to take photos of themselves with the project, and hashtag #DowntonPBS,” the press release said.
The fourth season of the British period drama drew an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, according to PBS, making it one of the highest-rated dramas on American television. The fifth season will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Last week, we reported on a gift shop in Ballston that had been robbed not once but twice by the same armed robber.
It turns out, the same guy has actually robbed the store three times in the past month or so.
Police say the man, pictured above, robbed the City News and Gift Shop inside 950 N. Stafford Street on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The first time, he displayed a handgun and demanded money. The second time, he displayed a “large kitchen knife” and demanded money and Newport cigarettes. The third time, he again flashed a gun and demanded money.
Arlington County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man. The police department’s press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an armed robbery suspect who has robbed a Ballston convenience store on three occasions and has been captured on surveillance video.
On November 8, 2014, the suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop located inside 950 N. Stafford Street at approximately 3:10 PM. The suspect was wearing black pants and was layered in a Washington Nationals jacket over a red and white striped polo shirt which was over a black hoodie. The suspect displayed a handgun tucked into his front waistband and demanded money. After the robbery, the suspect fled towards Fairfax Drive.
On December 3, 2014, it is believed that the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 2:55 pm. This time the suspect was wearing black pants and a black jacket layered over a tan hoodie. The suspect displayed a large kitchen knife, demanded money and Newport brand cigarettes before fleeing towards the Ballston Metrorail station.
On December 4, 2014, the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 8:20 pm. The suspect appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the day before with blue jeans. During this robbery, the suspect again displayed a handgun before demanding money. It is believed that the suspect fled again towards the Ballston Metrorail station after the robbery.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s-30s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10″ tall, with a medium build. In all three robberies, he appears to be wearing black and white soled tennis shoes, similar to Converse All-Stars, and a black beanie-style winter cap.
There were no reported injuries during any of these armed robberies
If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or email@example.com. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
The Arlington County Board voted on Saturday to approve the licenses for 60 new taxis, all wheelchair accessible. Ten of those taxis will be operated by Blue Top Cab while the other 50 licenses will be owned by new company All Access Taxi.
The Board’s unanimous decision adds 20 more taxis to the county’s fleet than County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended, bringing the total number of licensed cabs in the county to 847, 97 of which will be accessible cabs.
“Our taxi companies, members of the disability community and riders are telling us there is a growing demand for accessible taxi service in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We strive to be a fully welcoming community, and these additional cabs will provide more options and convenience to many people with a disability.”
County staff’s report on the licenses said people with wheelchairs have had to wait three hours for an accessible taxi and have had trouble getting taxis from Reagan National Airport. Julie Piche, the CEO of All Access Taxi, said the County Board’s approval will drastically improve the lives of disabled Arlington residents.
“This is ground-breaking because for the first time a local government has recognized that accessible and equitable service requires a fleet and a dedicated effort,” Piche told ARLnow.com today. “This is a victory for people with disabilities across the nation because their needs have been recognized and their quest for accessible, on-demand transportation has been validated. Arlington’s leadership will set the standard for the nation.”
All Access Taxi anticipates offering rides on demand — via phone, online and a mobile app – in February, Piche said, and its full fleet is expected to be operational by April.
Photo courtesy All Access Taxi