Arlington police have released details of this morning’s pedestrian accident on Route 1 near Crystal City.
In a press release, police say a 38-year-old Arlington resident is fighting for his life after being struck by a taxi in the southbound lanes between 20th and 23rd Streets.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team responded to a pedestrian struck incident at 2:39 a.m. on December 6, 2013 in the 2200 block of Jefferson Davis Highway. The victim, a 38 year-old Arlington man, was transported by emergency personnel to GW Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Police preliminary investigation reveals that the victim was attempting to cross a five lane portion of Jefferson Davis Highway when he was struck by a taxicab driving southbound. A passerby reported the incident and the driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. As a result of the investigation, the driver of the striking vehicle was not charged.
The southbound lanes of Jefferson Davis Highway were closed for several hours during the investigation and were re-opened by 6:00 a.m.
Now, however, the ongoing costs of the center are projected to be even higher than anticipated.
“What had been an expected annual operating deficit of $1 million to $1.3 million has now ballooned to more than $4 million, according to projections included in County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s updated budget forecast,” the Sun Gazette reported on Monday.
This news comes at a time when the county is facing a potential $24 million budget gap. Local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki, who previously declared that the aquatics center could turn out to be “Artisphere on steroids,” said that the county would be better served to use its funds for other priorities.
Still, the aquatics center has its supporters, like the group Friends of Long Bridge Park, which has said it’s needed because “the large demand for aquatic activities can’t be met by… high school pools, which have limited public hours and space, and were designed for instruction, not a wide range of community needs.”
The Friends of Long Bridge Park also argue that other aquatics centers can cover most of their operating costs through memberships and rentals. The county itself, meanwhile, cautions that the latest projects are preliminary in nature.
Pedestrian Struck on Route 1 — Added at 9:15 a.m. — The southbound lanes of Route 1 were closed this morning while police investigated a serious pedestrian accident. A pedestrian was reported struck by a car between 20th Street and 23rd Street overnight. [WJLA]
Civ Fed Considering Televising Meetings — The Arlington County Civic Federation, which has been trying to retain its relevance in the 21st century, is considering televising its meetings either on local cable or the internet. [Sun Gazette]
Firefighters Collecting Money for Kids’ Coats — Arlington County firefighters have launched a fundraising drive online intended to help buy winter coats for children in need in Arlington. [Operation Warm]
EnviroCab co-founder Cord Thomas announced he was running for the vacant seat on the Arlington County Board at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee, declaring a platform of job growth and fiscal responsibility.
Thomas is a newcomer to Arlington politics, having not held a public position before, but after he and his uncle, Hans Hess, sold EnviroCab six months ago, he decided he wanted to do more for the community.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in Arlington politics, but I have a lot of experience in growing Arlington,” Thomas told ARLnow.com. “I know what it’s like to spend money that’s your own. Everyone likes to spend other people’s money, but when it’s their own, they look at it more seriously.”
Thomas, a Nauck resident, is also a co-owner of Ballston-based Elevation Burger, which has grown to more than 40 locations worldwide.
Thomas was a surprise inclusion in the group of Democratic candidates vying for the seat made available by Board Member Chris Zimmerman’s impending resignation. Joining Thomas in the race will be Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association President Alan Howze and former Planning Commissioner Peter Fallon.
Howze’s and Fallon’s candidacies were widely known among local Democrats, to the point where many officials endorsed one or the other at the Democratic committee meeting.
“I was disappointed after I made my speech that so many elected officials had already made an endorsement,” Thomas said. “It seemed rather closed off, almost. I didn’t realize this was happening.”
Thomas, 31, said he plans to represent county constituents he feels are not represented at all on the County Board: small businesses and the county’s largest demographic, 25-34 year olds.
“I have an understanding of what it’s like to buy a home in Arlington these days,” Thomas said; he bought a home in Nauck six months ago. “A lot of small business owners support me in doing this. They really want a voice, and I think that’s important.”
Thomas doesn’t have a stated position on the Columbia Pike streetcar or the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center, but said that fiscal responsibility must be a priority in deciding on all issues. Thomas said he swims at the Wakefield High School pool, but questioned the size of the investment the county was making with the aquatics center.
“With the streetcar, I’m really waiting for the county to have real numbers,” he said. “I want to see companies come and give us real projections. Until that comes out, I don’t think it would be responsible to make a decision on it. When the information comes out, if it supports economic development like we all think it will, then fantastic. But we need to be responsible here.”
Thomas is concerned with many of the ways the current County Board has allocated its dollars, emphasizing his business experience to show that he could correct the Board’s policies and be, as he put it, “good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
“In business, every dollar counts,” he said. “However you spend it, you need to make sure you get the bang for your buck out of it. I don’t believe that’s really looked at in the board. In fact, I know that’s not really looked at. I don’t think anybody wants to cut any programs, and neither do I, but we have to learn how to increase our revenue through growth. In order to spend money you have to bring money in.”
Photo courtesy Cord Thomas
Arlington County Police Department Chief Doug Scott and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos agreed earlier this year that parking tickets that were issued correctly could no longer be reviewed by the police department, and all appeals would have to be taken to court. The policy took effect Oct. 1.
Tickets issued erroneously — for example, a ticket written at 6:05 p.m. for a meter that expired at 6:00 p.m. — can still be resolved administratively, according to Stamos.
When the ticket “was erroneously issued, in that case… the motorist will come to the police department and they’ll take care of that,” Stamos told ARLnow.com. “They’re going to continue to get rid of tickets that were erroneously issued.”
Before Oct. 1, a driver who was issued a ticket could walk into the police station and request a dismissal, and it would be up to the attending officer whether to enforce or dismiss the ticket. For instance, sometimes tickets for compliance violations like an expired state inspection sticker would be dismissed if the recipient could prove they worked quickly to get their vehicle inspected.
“[Chief Scott] didn’t like the idea of officers saying ‘you know what, we issued it, but we’re going to recall it, even though it was legitimately issued for a violation of some kind,’” Stamos said, noting the previously policy was also a drain on police resources. “If the recipient feels that it’s an injustice, they can go to court and deal with it in court.”
If a ticket recipient wishes to meet with a prosecutor to discuss a ticket, they will need to fill out the form on the back of the ticket and receive a court summons first. Then, Stamos said, they can bring the summons to meet with a prosecutor and try to get the ticket dismissed.
The process still involves showing up in person on a work day, something many ticket recipients decide is not worth the time and aggravation. Occasionally, for out-of-state visitors, prosecutors will conduct a dismissal discussion via phone or letter. Stamos estimated that 90 percent of ticket recipients are local.
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.
The Arlington County Board’s budget guidance for FY 2015 fails to provide appropriate guidance on important issues. The guidance was adopted after a flawed process. The guidance reflects a status quo mindset in an era crying out for a new direction.
The County Board needs a completely different, more open and more transparent process for adopting its annual budget guidance. Here is an example of a better process:
- publish a draft set of guidelines 60 days prior to the target date for final adoption;
- invite all citizens and citizens advisory groups and committees, like the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, to comment in writing within 30 days of publication of the draft guidelines;
- post all such public comments on the County website;
- hold a public hearing on the draft guidelines and all written comments, then
- adopt final guidelines.
In significant part because of the flawed process the County Board followed, this year’s budget guidelines fail to provide appropriate guidance on important issues.
Here are some examples of important issues that are not adequately addressed, or not addressed at all, in this year’s guidelines:
- the seriousness and long-term nature of Arlington’s escalating office vacancy rate;
- the impact on Arlington’s residential tax payers of the long-term stagnation in the valuation of Arlington’s commercial tax base;
- the long-term declining share of Arlington’s operating budget dedicated to Arlington Public Schools even before enrollment increases are taken into account;
- the need to devote a higher share of Arlington’s operating budget to APS (even higher than historic levels) to account for surging enrollment;
- the need to introduce rigorous, unbiased cost/benefit tests to evaluate major capital projects like the Aquatics Center;
- the impact on the operating budget, and Arlington’s AAA/AAA credit rating, of the rising debt payments needed to finance the escalating cost of Arlington’s capital projects;
- the failure to impose adequate cost controls or caps on Arlington’s long-term commitment to affordable housing;
- the adverse impact of all of the foregoing trends on Arlington’s ability to fund basic social safety net services, and
- why all of the foregoing trends lead to the conclusion that Arlington needs to re-focus its budget to ensure that core government services are given priority for funding.
The County Board is treading water at a time when it needs to swim vigorously and resolutely in a better direction.
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.
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.
Back in January, I wrote about Chairman Tejada’s call for a Columbia Pike Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF. Some have suggested privately that a dedicated stream of funding for affordable housing was a “condition” for Tejada’s trolley support. Regardless of the TIF’s genesis, the Board will hear public comments on it next Saturday.
First, a reminder of how a TIF works. Essentially, Arlington County freezes the tax base of a defined area and dedicates tax revenue from that base to the general fund. The additional future revenue, or a percentage of it, is then earmarked to spend solely in that area, presumably with a pet project in mind. The general fund, on the other hand, is used to pay for the ongoing county services we all use: schools, transportation, police, fire, parks, and other services.
In this case, the Board is proposing a set-aside of 25 percent in the TIF to put toward the construction of affordable housing projects in the Columbia Pike corridor for the next 30 years. Regardless of what you think about the need to fund additional affordable housing in Arlington, the TIF automatically removes 25 percent of the additional real estate tax revenue along the corridor in the future from the general fund. There is nothing to prevent this percentage from going higher in the future to pay for more affordable housing needs or another project in the area.
This is the second TIF proposed in the county, both begun in large part to help get the Columbia Pike trolley project built. The first was put in place for Crystal City — presumably to help finance bonds for that portion of the trolley line. Those bonds would allow financing without a requiring vote by Arlingtonians.
The Board’s willingness to move toward financing projects with TIFs seems to be setting us on a path toward multiple TIFs throughout Arlington. In effect, the new board policy is that they are willing to create long-term earmarks for pet projects. While we will almost certainly never reach Chicago-style TIF levels, with more than 100, what I wrote nearly 11 months ago still holds true today:
The use of special interest TIFs to avoid future public debate, scrutiny, and up or down votes on such projects is a bad idea, plain and simple. It will not only avoid additional public input, but it will inevitably lead to higher tax rates for all of us. When schools, roads, public safety and other services face a squeeze in future budgets, the Board will tell voters they simply have to raise taxes to pay for it.
The County Board should not lock Arlingtonians into this fiscally irresponsible path.
If you are concerned about the long-term earmarks that TIFs will create, you should consider attending the hearing on Dec. 14 to voice your concerns.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Arlington County is preparing to launch its new website homepage.
The new website has been in the works for awhile. Based on open source WordPress software, the new system will reduce the cost of development and upkeep, and make it easier for employees to update web pages.
A number of sections of the county’s website have already been updated, including Water and Utilities, Budget, Real Estate, Police, Fire, Sheriff, Voting & Elections and Housing. The homepage, environment page and trash and recycling page are up next.
“We expect the new homepage to go live by the end of the month,” Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith told ARLnow.com.
A new county-produced video (above) explains some of the changes. Advantages of the new site for residents include a simpler and more mobile friendly interface, better navigation (around topics instead of county departments), fewer links on the homepage and a better search system.
New, easy-to-use features of the site include the ability to quickly find the parks closest to you and finding out whether certain items can be recycled.
Some of today’s big names in local business gathered in Ballston Wednesday night to decide who will be the big names of tomorrow.
Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) were among the judges for the Ballston Business Improvement District Launchpad Challenge Finale. One company was supposed to go home with $15,000 in cash, office space and furniture and free legal advice.
“Both companies made a lot of sense to us,” Leonsis said after the ceremony. “We liked the teams and entrepreneurs. In horseracing, sometimes you bet the jockey and not the horse.”
BuilDatAnalytics is a business intelligence company aimed at solving inefficiencies in construction projects. Founder Tiffany Hosey Brown worked two years in construction for her family’s construction company before deciding the day-to-day operations needed radical improvement. Her company guarantees a 1 percent savings on all construction projects for its clients; considering her pilot clients’ projects cost more than $1 billion combined, she said she’s already saving them $10 million.
“It was kind of surreal, but it was exciting,” Brown said of when Leonsis called her name. She donned a hard hat during part of her presentation, and strode about the stage with confidence. When asked if there was a point during her speech if she knew she was going to win, she answered, “when [Leonsis] asked me ‘what are you going to do with the money?’”
Carsquare is billed by its founder and CEO, Khurrum Shakir, as the Kayak for cars; an aggregator of different online car shopping sites, brought together in one place. Shakir, who worked under Leonsis at AOL as a business development manager for AOL Cars, is hoping to raise $2 million in funding to fuel marketing to bring more eyeballs to his site.
“Next for us is taking it to the next level,” Shakir said afterward. “We need to finalize the app we have and integrate our new website.”
The two finalists not selected, Changecause and M2 Labs, will join BuilDatAnalytics and Carsquare next month in actual pitch meetings with Leonsis, where they will have a chance to convince one of the D.C. area’s richest people to invest in their company.
Attorney Mark Gruhin, the fourth judge on the panel and a venture investor in his own right, said each company had a strong idea, but it will take more than a 10-minute presentation in a movie theater to convince investors.
“They’re scaling right now. They have to prove their management skills,” Gruhin said. “They need to get ready for the curveballs, because they’re coming.”
There were 14 semifinalists in the field before it was narrowed to four. Before the field was narrowed down, members of the community chose Tomorrow’s Lemonade Stand — a company aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in children in grades 2-4 — for the Customer Appreciation Award. The company was founded by 7-year-old Kylee Majkowski and her mother, Amanda Antico-Majkowski, who were presented with the award on stage.
Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone announced 2014′s LaunchPad Challenge at the event, a different competition than 2013′s startup competition. Starting in January, the BID will accept applications for a new signature restaurant in Ballston. The prize will be a year of free restaurant space and the competition will be helmed by chef Mike Isabella, owner of several D.C.-area restaurants, including an upcoming eatery in Ballston.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles’ budget calls for bus fares to increase by 15 cents, Metrorail fares to increase by 10 cents, and parking fees to increase by 25 cents. Will that lead to significantly more commuters hitting the road in cars? Probably not, says AAA Mid-Antic.”
“Even with a three percent average increase, area commuters will still save by using public transit after doing the math,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After adding up the costs of driving and parking, commuters will often find that public transit is a more economical way to get to work and stick with Metro.”
For instance, AAA says a commuter who drives to work in downtown D.C. from Alexandria pays about $500 per month in vehicle costs, gas and parking. Someone who parks and rides from the Huntington Metro station will pay about $330 per month after the fare hike.
Three Vying for County Board Nod — Three candidates for the upcoming Arlington County Board special election kicked off their campaigns at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Among them are Alan Howze, president of the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association; Peter Fallon, former Planning Commission member; and Cord Thomas, who helped found Envirocab and Elevation Burger. All three will compete in a two-day Democratic caucus, to be held Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]
Remembering the Ballston Skulls — Up until the 1940s, the Ballston Skulls, a semi-pro football team, played at Ballston Stadium, on the site of what’s now Ballston Common Mall. The Washington Redskins also conducted work outs from the facility. [Ghosts of DC]
Attorney General Recount to Start Dec. 16 — The recount process in the election of the Virginia Attorney General will take place from Dec. 16-19. Currently, Democrat Mark Herring has a 165 vote lead over Republican Mark Obenshain. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Editor’s note: This post is written and sponsored by Urban Turf.
Are you considering buying a home in Arlington in 2014?
If so, attend this Arlington home buyer seminar in Clarendon on Tuesday, December 10th.
Three industry experts – Joe Zamoiski of 1st Portfolio Lending, George Papakostas of Long & Foster, and George Glekas of GPN Title – will give an informative talk about the process of buying a home in Arlington. Joe, George, and George have years of experience between them in the Arlington market, not to mention hundreds of successful transactions.
They’ll cover the home-buying process in detail, including:
- Identifying a home.
- The offer, negotiation, and closing process.
- Financing, including loan approval and figuring out what you can afford.
- State of the Arlington market.
In addition to the above, the purpose of the seminar is to answer your questions. Attendance is kept low to allow ample attention for all attendees. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions during the Q&A or afterwards if you’d prefer to ask a question privately.
The speakers will present for 45 minutes or so, after which there will be Q&A for 30 minutes, when the seminar officially ends. But Joe, George, and George will stick around as long as necessary to answer all questions.
- Location: In the heart of Clarendon at 3033 Wilson Boulevard, suite 700 (map).
- Parking: Yes, free parking.
- Metro-accessible: One block from the Clarendon station.
- Cost: $15 per person here, $20 at the door.
- Food: Snacks and drinks will be provided.
- Questions: Email email@example.com or call 703-842-1391.
Repair crews are still working to repair the 16-inch water main that burst yesterday morning in Shirlington.
According to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher, water pressure was normal for the Fairlington Community Center as of 1:00 p.m. However, just before 4:00 p.m., Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation announced that the community center would remain closed all night Wednesday.
Repair work is running into complications and crews are widening the pit size for safety reasons. We are estimating a minimum of 4 hours away from completion. Traffic is still in the mode of one lane for each direction on Arlington Mill Drive. Valve crew confirmed that water pressure was normal for the Fairlington Community Center at about 1 p.m.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — Repairs are now expected to continue into Thursday.
Crews have halted repair work today due to the unstable bank, warranting unsafe operation. Repair work will resume tomorrow morning with the equipment needed to reshape the bank. Pumps will run overnight to prevent residual water damage. Traffic remains open with one lane on each direction on Arlington Mill Drive. There is no change on the condition of the Fairlington water pressure from the last update.
On Friday, Dec. 13, all day long, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District will host a “#HolidayReady” pop-up market at 1500 Wilson Blvd. Billed as a “day-long, music-filled, party-like atmosphere,” there will be boutique shopping, gift wrapping as well as snacks, sweets, cigar and spirits tasting and massages.
Rosslyn BID also encourages shoppers to bring gently-used clothing to donate to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. New Rosslyn coffee shop Caffe Aficionado will be giving coffee roasting demonstrations and handing out free samples. Several D.C.-area confectioners will also be selling their wares.
“It’s part of our job to build community in Rosslyn and create retail opportunities here,” Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said in a press release. “As Rosslyn gradually transforms into a vibrant urban community with a strong retail presence, this #HolidayReady Market fills an important need for Rosslyn residents and workers to shop, socialize and just relax and have fun.”
In addition, the Rosslyn BID, after canceling its annual Light Up Rosslyn celebration, will start lighting rooftops in Rosslyn tomorrow (Thursday), according to the BID’s Lee Anne McLarty.
The incident happened Friday afternoon at a residence in the Alcova Heights neighborhood. The upper portion of man’s ear was severed, but he was “very uncooperative” and wouldn’t tell police what happened, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police do not have any suspects in the case.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 3600 block of S. 3rd Street. At 2:00 pm on November 29, an intoxicated male subject’s ear was severed in a fight. An investigation is ongoing.
Earlier this week, someone lit a field marker flag on fire at Long Bridge Park, causing minor damage.
ARSON, 400 block of S. Long Bridge Drive. Between 3:00 pm on December 2 and 7:00 am on December 3, an unknown subject lit one of the field markers on a soccer field on fire. No suspect description is available.
Police are also investigating a report of a woman being sexually assaulted after leaving a bar in the Courthouse neighborhood last Sunday night.
The woman was intoxicated at the time, can’t remember details of the alleged incident and reported it three days later, according to Sternbeck. There are no suspects in the case.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Sternbeck said.
SEXUAL ASSAULT, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. Between 10:30 pm on November 24 to 12:07 am on November 25, a female victim reported she was allegedly sexually assaulted after leaving a bar. An investigation is ongoing.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Note that ACPD is now including case numbers and basic details of minor incidents in its crime report.