Favola: Streamline Development Approval — State Senator and former County Board member Barbara Favola (D) is urging Arlington County to streamline its development approval process in order to make it easier for affordable housing projects to be built. At a fundraiser for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing this week, Favola and others said red tape and community resistance is making it more expensive to build affordable housing in Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington will hold is biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event allows Arlington residents to safely dispose of household hazardous materials and to recycle items like bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing, bed frames, etc. [Arlington County]
NSF Buyers Remorse in Alexandria? — Alexandria officials are thrilled to be taking the National Science Foundation and its more than 4,000 associated jobs from Arlington. But some are now voicing displeasure with a part of the incentive package for NSF that relieved the developer of the agency’s new headquarters from paying what would have been more than $1 million to the city’s affordable housing fund. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
It could have competed against Arlington County’s planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, but instead a proposal to build a massive sports and entertainment complex in Alexandria has been withdrawn.
It was announced in June that a company had submitted an unsolicited proposal to transform Alexandria’s Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. The proposed complex included features like an Olympic-sized pool and water play area; basketball, volleyball, baseball and gymnastics centers; ice rinks; indoor tennis and squash courts; a climbing wall; and a driving range.
A pool, water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts are all also part of Arlington’s plan for the Long Bridge Park facility. (County Board Chair Walter Tejada said in June that he did not expect the Alexandria proposal to impact the county’s plans.)
The St. James Group LLC announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it was withdrawing its unsolicited proposal after discovering that Hensley Park was acquired by Alexandria, in part, via a small federal grant. The grant prohibits development of the park.
The company says it will now seek other D.C. area locations for the complex.
“SJG remains committed to developing the premier sports and entertainment complex in the region,” the company said in a press release. Read the full press release, after the jump.
The first degree murder case against Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson from a fatal shooting in Alexandria in May was sent to a grand jury on Tuesday afternoon.
Patterson, 44, is accused of shooting and killing 22-year-old Julian Dawkins, an Alexandria resident. Patterson and his attorneys claim Dawkins attacked him with a knife, and he fired on Dawkins in self-defense. After hearing more than two hours of witness testimony, Alexandria General District Court Judge Becky J. Moore ruled there was probable cause to move forward and sent the case to a grand jury.
Alexandria Police Officer Judy Taylor, a crime scene investigator, testified that Dawkins, who drove a shuttle for PBS NewsHour in Shirlington, had a knife clipped to the outer portion of his jeans pocket, but it was folded up.
Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel played in the courtroom the 911 call Patterson made after the shooting. It was the first time many, including Dawkins’ parents, had heard the call.
“I was just involved in a shooting,” Patterson said on the call, made at 12:45 a.m. on May 23. “I just had a young man pull a knife on me and I shot him.”
Dawkins suffered one bullet wound to the upper chest, investigators said. Witnesses testifying gave conflicting reports of the incident. Reginald White, who lives a few doors down from the scene of the incident on Lynhaven Drive, said he saw Patterson leave an argument with Dawkins, then return with a pistol holstered to his hip. Three minutes later, White said, he heard a gunshot.
Willie Sydnor, who lives a few houses down the street from where the shooting occurred, said he saw Dawkins chase Patterson after the initial incident.
Dawkins said “this is my block,” Sydnor testified. “Then I saw Julian jump at [Patterson] and say ‘don’t come back around here.’”
Officer David Chamnaiphol was the first to the scene, and he said he immediately placed Patterson in handcuffs and took away his gun, badge, handcuffs, cell phone and wallet. The Officer of the Medical Examiner reported that Dawkins had a blood alcohol content of 0.15.
The courtroom was filled to the point where members of the community were standing along the back wall to fit inside. Many of Dawkins’ peers were wearing commemorative T-shirts that said “R.I.P. Juju.” Dawkins’ parents took questions outside of the Alexandria courthouse once the decision came down, giving their reaction to hearing the 911 call for the first time.
“After hearing that call, I truly feel that it was premeditated,” Gwen Prattmiller, Dawkins’ mother, said.
“He had no remorse,” said Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’ father. “Right now we’re thankful that a decision was made and it was the proper decision.”
Photo via Alexandria Police Department
A ceremonial swinging of sledgehammers kicked off the demolition of an old bridge over Four Mile Run this morning.
The bridge, located between Potomac Avenue and Route 1 near Potomac Yard, was used by trains until the late 1980s when the railroad was decommissioned. It has since sat out of use, overgrown with vegetation.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette and Alexandria Mayor William Euille were at the bridge Monday morning, sledgehammers in hand, to announce the start of demolition, which will get fully underway in two weeks. The demolition is expected to be completed by April.
The bridge is being taken down to create open space above Four Mile Run, which environmental officials from both jurisdictions say will allow the stream to grow vegetation and develop a healthier ecology. Moran recalled a large flood in the 1970s, after which the local governments decided to pour in concrete. The concrete mitigated flood impacts but wound up damaging the stream’s ecosystem, Moran said.
“The vegetation serves its purpose if you allow it to grow,” Moran said, “and this does.”
The Pulte Group, which owns the Potomac Yards development adjacent to Four Mile Run, will fund the $3.5 million demolition and the stabilization of the stream banks. After the demolition, Alexandria and Arlington will jointly fund a new, urban-style park on another unused bridge, adjacent to Potomac Avenue.
The plan to transform the area started in 2006 when both jurisdictions passed the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan, and has been helmed by the Arlington/Alexandria Four Mile Run Redesign Task Force.
“We finally are seeing these plans come to fruition,” Moran said. “We’ve been waiting 25 years for a ribbon cutting here, and now we’ve got a sledgehammer smashing.”
An unsolicited proposal from a private entity has been submitted to the City of Alexandria to transform Hensley Park into a sports and entertainment facility. Although parts of the proposal appear strikingly similar to Arlington County’s plans for the Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility, so far the County Board is not concerned.
The Alexandria City Council discussed the proposal it received from The St. James Group LLC during its meeting on Tuesday. The plan involves a long term lease of the 15 acre city owned property currently occupied by Hensley Park.
The Alexandria proposal includes amenities such as an Olympic sized pool and water play area, climbing wall and racquetball courts. Those features had already been included in Arlington’s long term plan for Long Bridge Park.
Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada said although there may be similarities, he doesn’t anticipate that a private facility in the southwest part of Alexandria would impact Arlington’s plans.
“I wouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions. I think our approach is much different,” he said. “We have a public facility we are creating, but this is private proposal. The context is so different.”
In fact, Tejada believes it could be considered a compliment that other jurisdictions may be interested in creating facilities similar to Arlington’s.
“The best flattery or compliment is duplication,” he said. “It’s flattering that someone would want to copy or do something we’re already doing.”
Tejada noted that because Arlington’s complex is publicly funded, residents from all walks of life will be welcome to use it. Because that may or may not be the case with the private proposal for Alexandria, Tejada said “we aren’t concerned” about the threat of competition.
“For our project we are looking to be inclusive, so people of all incomes and backgrounds will have access to our facilities,” said Tejada. “Whereas in a private facility it’s for profit and the purpose is whatever the personal group sets forth, so that’s a different matter.”
Kendrick Ashton, Jr., Co-founder and Managing Partner of The St. James Group, agreed that the intent was not to create competition between the two jurisdictions. He said Northern Virginia has a great need for sports facilities that isn’t being addressed.
“There’s certainly a tremendous need in this area for enhanced aquatics facilities,” said Ashton. “I think given the dearth of high quality aquatic facilities at this point, the region needs more of them. It’s not competitive at this point.”
The group looked for potential locations for the complex in Arlington, Fairfax and other localities, but no options appeared as feasible as the Henley Park land. Ashton reiterated that although the Alexandria complex would likely draw visitors from around Northern Virginia, it isn’t expected to create competition for Arlington’s $80 million Long Bridge Park facility.
The City of Alexandria’s website assures the public that it has not gone forward with any plans, it has simply heard the proposal from The St. James Group. The website reads: “All that has happened is that an outside party has made an unsolicited proposal to the City about a potential use of City-owned land. Neither City Council nor City staff have reached any conclusion about the merits of the proposal, nor have made any decisions other than the decision to evaluate it.”
The St. James Group will hold a public meeting to further explain the proposal on July 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Eisenhower Avenue. The City of Alexandria stresses that the meeting will not be led by or sponsored by the city, so residents should not consider it an official public hearing.
According to the timeline offered in the proposal, the hope is to have a recommendation from Alexandria by October regarding whether or not to move forward. If the City Council determines that a sports and entertainment complex is a feasible option, it will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to allow any interested party to make a bid. If the City Council decides such a facility is unnecessary, the process will end without any further action.
“We have to wait and see what becomes of it. They’re evaluating it, like anyone would,” Tejada said. “We’ll see what happens. For us, we’re focusing on our own project.”
Meanwhile, there has been no change announced to the schedule for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park project. In January, Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com that construction on the project is expected to begin this fall.
Despite some resident concerns over the cost of the facility, Tejada said the county will continue on with it and make all efforts to keep the project on budget.
“I think that we certainly will continue to practice our best fiscal management qualities that have earned us a AAA bond rating from all the bond rating agencies,” said Tejada. “It’s important to remember that we have a sound fiscal management record. I know sometimes that may get lost when one or two projects may be in the news.”
Man Shot By Arlington Sheriff Worked for TV Show — Julian Dawkins, the 22-year-old man shot and killed by an off-duty Arlington deputy sheriff in Alexandria early Wednesday, worked as a shuttle bus driver for the PBS Newshour in Shirlington. He was also the cousin of Washington Mystics player Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. [NBC Washington]
Chamber’s ‘Best Business’ Awards — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has handed out its 2013 Arlington’s Best Business awards. The winners were: John Marshall Bank (Business of the Year), Dante Consulting (Business of the Year), InfoLock Technologies (Technology Small Business of the Year), Minuteman Press Crystal City (Service Small Business of the Year), House of Steep (Retail Small Business of the Year), AHC Inc. (Non-Profit Small Business of the Year), BbG Fitness (Home-Based Business of the Year Award). [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Sells $77 Million in Bonds — Arlington County issued $77 million worth of bonds at an average interest rate of 3.6 percent on Tuesday. The bonds will help fund the acquisition of the office building at 2020 14th Street N, for use as a year-round homeless shelter and for county offices, and for the affordable housing redevelopment of Buckingham Village 3. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy CG Liacouras
Update on 5/30/13 — Patterson has been charged with murder.
An Arlington County deputy sheriff is being interviewed by detectives regarding a shooting death in Alexandria overnight.
Around 12:45 a.m., Alexandria Police responded to reports of a person being shot in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive, just south of Arlington and a block away from Potomac Yard.
Officers found the victim unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives on the case are interviewing Arlington County Deputy Sheriff Craig Patterson, a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and an Alexandria resident, who was involved in the shooting. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office says it is cooperating with the investigation and is also doing its own internal investigation. Patterson, 44, has been placed on administrative leave while the case is ongoing.
Police have not said how Patterson, was involved, but according to scanner traffic the off-duty deputy said he shot a man who pulled a knife on him.
The victim has been identified as 22-year-old Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins. The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death during an autopsy.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6711.
Hat tip to John Antonelli
Thousands of Armed Protesters Expected on July 4 — Pro-gun activists are planning an open carry protest march from Arlington National Cemetery, across the Memorial Bridge and into D.C. The protest, which is being organized on Facebook, is to take place on July 4. Participants are encouraged to march with loaded rifles slung across their backs. More than 2,000 have indicated their intention to participate in the “non-violent event.” [Huffington Post]
DJO Softball Finishes 24-1 — The elite Bishop O’Connell softball team has finished the regular season with a 24-1 record after consecutive victories against Yorktown and Paul VI. The nationally-ranked Knights will now advance to the playoffs. [Sun Gazette]
Too-Tall Parking Meters Being Replaced — A manufacturer of Arlington’s multi-space parking meters is replacing 16 meters that don’t meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements because they’re too tall. The replacements are being done at no cost to the county. [Arlington Mercury]
New Bus Shelters Vandalized in Arlandria — There has been a wave of vandalism directed toward new glass-paned bus shelters in the Arlandria section of Alexandria, adjacent to Arlington. [The Arlandrian]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
The GenOn Potomac River Generating Station, a 63-year-old coal-fired power plant on the Potomac River, north of Old Town Alexandria, permanently shut down this week. The plant closed after dogged efforts by local residents and environmental activists, who argued the 482-megawatt plant was harming local air quality and endangering residents.
The Washington Post called the plant the “largest single source of air pollution in the Washington region.” The plant’s smokestacks emitted fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, occasionally at levels that could temporarily harm sensitive individuals, according to a recent air quality study.
Jeff Harn, the Bureau Chief of Arlington’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management, said the plant’s closure is a positive development for local air quality.
“I think generally it’s a good thing,” he told ARLnow.com. “We sort of look at that plant as a regional source of air pollution. It affects the whole region. [The closure] would be beneficial, I’m sure.”
At a press conference on Monday, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said the closing of the plant will benefit the health of local residents.
“Today marks the conclusion of a long fought but well won victory for Northern Virginia residents and the health of citizens in the National Capital Region,” he said. “What once was the largest stationary source of air pollution in the metro area will be no more. With the extinction of this dinosaur, our air will be cleaner. As much as 600,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide, 1.9 million lbs of nitrogen oxide, and 325,000 lbs of sulfur dioxide will be in the air we breathe.”
Harn said the areas closest to the plant — parts of Alexandria, as well as parts of South Arlington and Crystal City — should see some air quality improvement as a result of the plant’s closure. D.C. should also benefit, he said, as prevailing winds often carried the plant’s emissions across the Potomac and into the District.
Since there is not much heavy industry in the area, Harn says most of the air pollution in the D.C. area is transportation-related — from sources like cars, buses and airplanes.
Flickr pool photo by Afagen
Route 1 Streetcar Compromise? – Arlington and Alexandria officials are considering a compromise that could end their reported impasse over the planned Route 1 streetcar project. Under the compromise, the streetcar line that starts in Crystal City would end at the new Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria, instead of at the Braddock Road Metro station, as originally proposed. [Connection Newspapers]
Cocaine Trafficking Ring Busted — Twenty-eight individuals have been arrested and charged with operating a cocaine trafficking ring in Northern Virginia. Five of those arrested are said to be Arlington residents. The Arlington County Police Department and other local agencies assisted the FBI in the investigation. [U.S. Attorney's Office]
Arlington, Alexandria Compete for Federal Funds — Alexandria’s planned transit corridor along Route 1 is competing with Arlington’s proposed Columbia Pike streetcar for a limited pool of federal transporation funds. Meanwhile, Alexandria officials are still upset that Arlington declined to help pay for a study that could have helped Alexandria obtain federal funding for the Route 1 transit project, which the two jurisdictions have been otherwise cooperating on. [Connection Newspapers]
Democratic School Board Slate Set — Incumbent Emma Violand-Sanchez and political newcomer Noah Simon have received the Democratic endorsement for Arlington County School Board, all but guaranteeing their election in November. [Sun Gazette]
Condo Building Sells Out in Weeks — A new condo building at 1221 N. Quinn Street, in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, sold out of all 13 units in just a matter of weeks this past winter. [CityBiz List]
A report that Arlington backed out of an agreement with Alexandria to conduct an environmental assessment for the Route 1 transit corridor project is incorrect, according to a county government spokeswoman.
The two jurisdictions have been cooperating on a transit project that will bring bus rapid transit and, ultimately, a streetcar to the Route 1 corridor of Crystal City and Potomac Yard. But today Connection Newspapers reported that Alexandria officials were upset because Arlington supposedly withdrew from an agreement to pay $2.4 million of the $3.4 million cost of an environmental analysis.
In reality, says Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius, the environmental analysis is currently underway and Arlington County is paying its $1.78 million share of the $3.56 million cost. The Arlington county manager and the Alexandria city manager signed an agreement to split the cost of the analysis in 2010, she said.
At issue, according to Curtius, is an “Alternatives Analysis” that was optional under the agreement.
“Arlington recently informed Alexandria that we do not intend to do an Alternatives Analysis,” Curtius told ARLnow.com. “Such an analysis is required in order to apply for federal small/new starts funding. Arlington does not intend to apply for such funding for Route 1. We are continuing to work with Alexandria on how to proceed in a way that enables Alexandria to apply for federal funding for its part of the transit project, should it choose to do so.”
In an apparent effort to dispute the report about rising tensions between the two jurisdictions, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes and Alexandria Mayor William Euille have issued a joint statement regarding their transit partnership.
Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have been transit partners for more than 35 years. Together, we’ve ensured safe, efficient transit options for hundreds of thousands of people … every day.
Throughout our region’s history, federal and state transportation funding has been the backbone of supporting transit projects. Unfortunately, that landscape has changed dramatically in just the last few years, greatly impacting local transit planning across the country. All of us have to reassess transportation projects, determine how we can fund them, and make some tough strategic decisions.
The City of Alexandria has decided to focus its attention and its funding on the planned infill Metrorail station; this investment will benefit not only the City, but the entire region.
Arlington needs a streetcar system in Crystal City to support development there — and has funding available through a special tax district.
We are both committed to providing more transit options for people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor. Our strategies are not exactly the same at this point in time. We look forward to working together collaboratively as we continue to move people efficiently through our communities and the region.
County Urges Residents to Buy CO Alarms — Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch is urging residents to buy, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms. The recommendation, in the form of a press release, came one day after five people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Oxon Hill, Md. [Arlington County]
Route 1 Transit Corridor Tension – Arlington and Alexandria are at odds over the proposed transit corridor along Route 1, reports Michael Lee Pope. Arlington has, for some reason, backed off a promise to kick in $2.4 million for an environmental analysis for the project, according to Pope. [Arlington Connection]
United Exempts Foreign Service from New Pet Fees – Rep. Jim Moran is applauding a decision by United Airlines to exempt the cost of transporting pets overseas for the country’s more than 5,000 Foreign Service workers. Last month United announced new charges to transporting pets, but at the time exempted only military personnel. “The policy change could have added thousands of dollars in moving costs to Foreign Service personnel,” Moran’s office said in a press release.
No Drones Over Arlington — Despite a report that the Arlington County Police Department has been cleared by the FAA to operate drone aircraft, the department says they’re drone-free. “The Arlington Police Department cleared is in Arlington, TX,” said department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “ACPD has no plans [for] ever using drones.”
Eaglets Hatched? — Flickr pool photographer Philliefan99 says the eagles in the photo above are exhibiting behavior that suggests they have eaglets in their nest. The nest is located near Spout Run. [Flickr]
No Streetcar Stalemate, Arlington Says — There is no discord between Arlington and Alexandria when it comes to plans to build a streetcar line along the future Route 1 transit corridor, according to a joint statement issued by Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan and Alexandria City Manager Rashad Young. The statement was in response to an article that suggested diverging transit plans were causing tensions between the two jurisdictions. [City of Alexandria]
New Data on Remodeling Expenses in Arlington — Households in Arlington spend an average of $5,801 per year on remodeling expenses, well above the national average of $1,907 per year, according to new data from the National Association of Home Builders. Falls Church households, meanwhile, spend the most on remodeling of any southern jurisdiction: $6,099 per year. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Civic Federation Budget Proposal — The Arlington County Civic Federation has unanimously approved its own vision for the county’s budget. The Civic Federation’s budget proposal would hold the current real estate tax rate steady, while providing more money for schools and public safety, funding an inspector general position and eliminating 16 long-vacant county government positions. The Civic Federation also voted 30-12 for a motion calling on the county to close Rosslyn’s Artisphere by the end of the year unless significant progress is made in turning around the struggling cultural center’s finances. [Sun Gazette]
Streetcar Stalemate with Alexandria — Arlington County’s plan to build a streetcar line from Crystal City to Potomac Yard is facing resistance from Alexandria. While Arlington has financing for the streetcar lined up, Alexandria says they don’t have the money for a streetcar line — and would like the planned Crystal City/Potomac Yard transit corridor to remain a bus rapid transit system for the foreseeable future. [WAMU]
Thousands Sign Up for Housing Aid — Arlington County opened up its waiting list for federal Section 8 housing assistance for one day, after keeping the list closed for the past seven years. In that one day the county received 5,300 pre-applications from those seeking rent assistance. [Patch]
Fund Set Up to House the Homeless — The Arlington Community Foundation has announced a $500,000 private gift that will allow it to create a new fund for the 100 Homes campaign against homelessness. With a $500,000 match from Arlington County, the $1 million public/private partnership will be “dedicated to housing Arlington’s most vulnerable citizens.” [Arlington Community Foundation]