A new columbarium has opened at Arlington National Cemetery, just in time for Memorial Day.
Columbarium Court No. 9, as it’s called, has more than 20,000 niches for U.S. military veterans and their families. Each niche in the two-acre columbarium has space for 3-4 urns. The project cost $15.6 million and began in January 2012.
A dedication ceremony was held for the columbarium earlier this month. The ceremony included the burial of the unclaimed remains of six war veterans from the Civil War, the Vietnam War and World Wars I and II.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is 2.5 times bigger than the cemetery’s next-largest columbarium. Rockville-based contractor Forrester Construction, which built the new facility, described its construction in a press release.
This project, awarded to Forrester by the US Army Corps of Engineers, required near perfect quality and pristine finishes ensuring longevity and suitability in the greenscape of Arlington National Cemetery. It involved significant grading, landscaping, environmental management and installation of decorative and commemorative stonework, including flagstone walkways.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is nearly the length of two football fields at 116-feet wide, 11-feet tall and 540-feet long. The foundation of the structure is auger cast piles ranging in depth from 15 to 25 feet. More than 6,000 cubic yards of poured-in-place concrete clad with limestone and granite was used to build the structure. The project features interior and exterior landscaping with a central water fountain, new irrigation and underground electrical systems and storm water management.
The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and, according to Forrester, under budget.
The columbarium will help extend Arlington National Cemetery’s effective life as a final resting place for the country’s war dead. While the cemetery will always remain open to the public, it will eventually run out of space for new burials.
“Without the Columbarium Court No. 9 expansion, Arlington National Cemetery would have run out of niche space in 2016,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “By adding more than 20,000 niche spaces for our veterans and their families, Columbarium Court No. 9 is extending the life of the cemetery for years to come.”
Some local residents are fighting another effort to add new burial spaces at the cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project will include a new columbarium and additional in-ground burial spaces — for up to 30,000 military veterans and their families — but will also result in the loss of about 800 older trees.
Photos courtesy Forrester Construction and U.S. Army
(Updated at 12:00 p.m.) Non-profit organization Preservation Virginia has named Arlington National Cemetery to its list of the state’s most endangered sites.
Each year the group chooses historical sites it believes have become threatened due to neglect, insufficient funding, inappropriate development or public policies and procedures. The cemetery made the list due to the Millennium Project, an expansion project requiring the removal of trees on 12 wooded acres, and the removal of portions of the red sandstone Seneca Wall, which was constructed during the late 1800s.
Around 800 trees would be removed from the cemetery as part of the plan, although about 600 would be replanted. Preservation Virginia’s concerns surround not only the tree removal, but also the amount of soil being moved, the extent of the new retaining walls to be constructed and the road to be built across a stream that is “likely to irreparably alter the topography and run counter to the objectives of Congress.”
This isn’t the first complaint about the Millennium Project’s plan for tree removal. Arlington residents and members of citizens groups, such as the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, have voiced displeasure with the plan. In March, a number of people spoke out against the tree removal during an open house at the site.
Preservation Virginia said the following in a written statement:
“Preservation Virginia respects the mission of Arlington National Cemetery to provide for military interments, but along with other partner preservation organizations believes that there is a better way to create additional burial space while also respecting the significant contributions of Arlington House Woods and the existing, historic boundary wall to this sacred place… Preservation Virginia urges the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Environmental Assessment and to seek an expansion alternative that respects the historic significance of Arlington Woods, protects its historic landscape, and provides for additional burial space.”
Preservation Virginia’s full list of endangered sites for 2013 can be found on its website.
Britain’s Prince Harry paid his respects to fallen U.S. servicemembers at Arlington National Cemetery this morning.
The prince, who served as a British Army helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, took a solemn tour of Section 60, the final resting place of many American military personnel who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in a full honors ceremony, before a large crowd of tourists and journalists.
Harry, who’s third in line to the British throne, also left a wreath in Section 60, with a handwritten note that read: “To my comrades-in-arms of the United States of America, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom.” It was signed “Captain Harry Wales.”
The visit to the cemetery will be followed by a trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded veterans. Harry will then continue his week-long visit to the United States, with stops in Colorado, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Additional photos from Prince Harry’s visit to Arlington National Cemetery can be found here.
Prince Harry Visits Arlington Nat’l Cemetery – Britain’s Prince Harry is visiting Arlington National Cemetery this morning as part of his two-day visit to the Washington area. The prince is expected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and to visit the burial area for military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. [NBC Washington]
Now Official: Whole Foods to Pentagon City — Whole Foods has made it official and signed a deal with Vornado to open a 37,000 square foot store in on the ground floor of a planned 700-unit apartment building in Pentagon City. The store will be the company’s second in Arlington, and is expected to open in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Wieners Added to Testicle Festival – The Fairfax County-based Top Dog food truck has been recruited to serve hot dogs at next weekend’s Montana State Society Testicle Festival in Virginia Square. Jed Link, an organizer of the event, called the combination of Rocky Mountain Oysters and hot dogs “a culinary reunion that’s guaranteed to entertain.”
Flickr pool photo by Martin Humm
Arraignment for Air Force Officer — Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the airman who was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program after being accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in an Arlington County courtroom. While the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney office is prosecuting the case, the Air Force has the option of bringing its own case against Krusinski. [Associated Press]
CivFed Opposes Tree Removal at Cemetery — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted Tuesday to oppose a plan to remove 800 trees at Arlington National Cemetery in order to make way for about 30,000 in-ground burial spots and niche spaces. The resolution asks Arlington’s congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to stop the plan and asks the County Board to officially support the legislation. [Sun Gazette]
Four Students Earn Nat’l Merit Scholarships — Four Arlington students have been awarded National Merit Scholarships. The students receiving the $2,500 scholarships are: Ariel Bobbett and Elizabeth Roy of Washington-Lee High School, Nicole Orttung of Yorktown High School, and Robert C. Wharton of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [Arlington Public Schools]
Day One of School Board Caucus — The first day of the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus for School Board will take place tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Drew Model Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.). The second day of party voting will take place on Saturday. Incumbent James Lander is facing off against challenger Barbara Kanninen for the Democratic endorsement. [Arlington Democrats]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Expect to see a large tethered balloon over Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow afternoon.
The balloon will be flying over the cemetery between noon and 7:00 p.m. to “to help conduct a height study of Washington, D.C.,” according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall spokesman Stephen Satkowski.
The aerial photography company that’s coordinating the balloon, Falls Church-based Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc., was unable to answer any questions about the project, and referred us to a New York-based architecture firm, which so far hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Prince Harry to Visit Arlington — Britain’s Prince Harry will be in the U.S. for six days in May, and Arlington is among his stops. His trip includes a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will pay respects to those killed in recent conflicts. Prince Harry will also stop at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded warriors, and Capitol Hill to see an exhibition on clearing landmines. [Reuters, Washingtonian]
Tea Party Calls for Action Against “Soviet” Arlington — The streetcar town hall meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday) is drumming up a lot of attention, including a post in the Northern Virginia Tea Party Newsletter. It posted “A Letter from behind the lines in Soviet Arlington,” calling on streetcar opponents to attend the meeting to demonstrate against what it calls “the county board’s pet streetcar project.” [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Unemployment Sees January Increase — The county’s unemployment rate experienced a bump up from December to January, rising from 3.3 percent to 3.9 percent. Figures released last week show there were nearly 131,200 Arlington residents in the civilian workforce in January, with more than 5,300 looking for work. Such unemployment bumps are not unexpected following the holidays, and also occurred in the surrounding areas of Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Alexandria and Prince William County. Arlington still has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, with the exception of the town of Leesburg (3.7 percent) which is not included in the rankings. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Barring an act of Congress, a planned expansion of Arlington National Cemetery will move forward, despite the objections of some residents who say the plan will cut down too many trees and destroy a natural habitat.
Cemetery leaders and the Army Corps of Engineers, which designed the expansion plan, held an open house and site visit last Saturday to brief residents about the recently-updated plan, show them the site, and listen to their comments. The comments were mostly critical.
“There will be 800 trees taken down. That’s a really big loss for the community,” said one resident who declined to provide her name. “I think there would be lots of veterans who would like to be in a place where the birds are singing and creating nests.”
The Millennium Project, as the plan is called, will expand the cemetery’s burial space to a sloped parcel of undeveloped land adjacent to Fort Myer. The expansion is necessary, officials say, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
More than 700 native trees and nearly 70 dead and invasive trees will be removed, though the Cemetery plans to replant 600 trees as part of the project. Between in-ground burial spots and niche spaces in columbariums, the land is expected to provide a final resting place for up to 30,000 military veterans and their spouses.
Critics of the plan say that the loss of older, mature woodlands will have an outsized impact on the natural habitat, given that much of the rest of Arlington County is urbanized. Such older woodlands would take generations to replace, essentially making them “irreplaceable,” said critics, including members of several citizen groups like the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission.
Cemetery officials, however, say that the land was clearcut during the Civil War and that most of the trees are 50-100 years old, with the oldest at about 145 years old — not meeting the true definition of an “old growth” forest. Further, they say that clearing out the invasive species that have taken root in the current woodlands will provide a better environment in the long run, as the replanted trees grow and mature.
The plan presented last weekend was actually a more environmentally-sensitive revision of a cemetery expansion plan from 2006 that would have clearcut the land and filled in a stream that runs down the middle of it. Instead, the stream will be preserved, the trees adjacent to the stream will be saved, and a small grove of trees in the middle of the land will also be saved, for aesthetic purposes.
Critics of the plan said there are better options than cutting down a mature woodland. Options suggested included clearing invasive species and using the woodland as a place for loved ones to scatter ashes after cremation; converting one of the Pentagon’s parking lots into burial space; limiting expansion of the cemetery to the Navy Annex site; and accelerating the creation a new national military cemetery.
“Long term, you’re going to have to move off anyway and do this sort of thing elsewhere,” said Arlington resident and conservationist Mark Haynes. “Arlington has so little in terms of woods left… why take this now? Leave this here as part of the hallowed ground. You’ve got plans for the long term anyway, why not start them now?”
Arlington Man Sues Uber — An Arlington man is suing Uber, the online car service reservation company, after he says a driver verbally abused him, spit on him and kicked him out of the car last year. The driver allegedly told the man that he “hates Americans and homosexuals.” [WTOP]
Parents Speak Out Against Boundary Plan — Parents spoke out against proposed elementary school boundary changes at a meeting organized by Arlington Public Schools last night. Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to present his boundary change recommendation to the School Board on March 21. [Patch]
D.C. Area High on Home ‘Affordability’ — Homes in the D.C. area are more affordable than the national average, according to new figures from the National Association of Home Builders. Of the homes sold in the last quarter of 2012, 78.7 percent could be considered “affordable” to those making the area median income of $105,700, compared to the national average of 74.1 percent. [Sun Gazette]
WWII Spy to Be Buried at ANC — A highly decorated, Swiss-born World War II spy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this month. The family of Rene Joyeuse was initially denied a burial at the cemetery, but the military reversed its decision after a letter-writing campaign by intelligence service veterans. [WJLA, NY Daily News]
SUV Runs Off Memorial Bridge – An SUV drove off the Memorial Bridge and plunged into the Potomac around 10:00 last night. The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. A bridge barrier was damaged and the bridge was closed by police until the early morning hours. [WJLA, Washington Post]
‘Ballston Southern Gateway’ Plan Approved – The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an addendum to its North Quincy Street Plan, which is designed “to transform the southern gateway of Ballston from an automobile-oriented area into a more pedestrian-friendly, great urban place.” The plan calls for higher residential and commercial buildings in the area around the Harris Teeters and the Mercedes Benz dealership. [Arlington County]
Supreme Court to Consider DNA Practice that Helped ACPD – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of a DNA practice that helped Arlington County Police link former Marine Jorge Torrez, accused of raping an Arlington woman and leaving her for dead, with the murder of two girls in Illinois. The high court will consider whether taking a DNA sample from someone arrested for a serious crime — before they’re convicted — is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. [Los Angeles Times]
Board: We Can’t Sway Cemetery Expansion – Responding to the concerns of tree lovers over the weekend, members of the Arlington County Board said they have little power to sway the Army’s decision to expand Arlington National Cemetery. As originally planned, the expansion would cut down nearly 900 trees from an old growth forest on the cemetery grounds. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently re-evaluating its plan after complaints from tree advocates. [Sun Gazette]
Transpo Plan a ‘Big Win’ for McDonnell – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) scored a big win with the passage of a compromise version of his transportation funding plan, according to Politico. But anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist decried the various tax increases in the bill, which could cost the average Virginia family between $10 and $15 per month. “The Democrats in the legislature mugged him good,” Norquist said of McDonnell. [Politico, Washington Post]
Photos: Demolition of Old Arlington Courthouse – On its blog, the library looks back at the demolition of the old Arlington County Courthouse building on Feb. 23, 1997. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy @mowdymichelle
Kaine Meeting With Defense Contractors in Arlington — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will be in Arlington today meeting with Northern Virginia defense contractors. Kaine will be holding a roundtable discussion at Courthouse-based contractor Dynamis at 3:00 p.m. “The event today in Arlington will discuss the upcoming sequester cuts that are reported to threaten 1 to 1.4 million jobs with a disproportionate effect in Northern Virginia,” a Kaine spokeswoman told ARLnow.com.
Arlington Tax Surcharge Advances – A bill to restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is closer to passing in the Virginia General Assembly. The bill has passed the state Senate and last week passed the House of Delegates Committee on Finance, albeit with a three year sunset provision. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports the tax surcharge, which helps to fund county tourism promotion efforts. [Sun Gazette]
PBS Doc Films at Glebe, H-B Woodlawn — An upcoming PBS documentary called “The Path to Violence” filmed at two Arlington Public Schools on Sunday. The production filmed at Glebe Elementary School and at H-B Woodlawn, according to an email from Arlington County. The Path to Violence, which is expected to air the week of Feb. 18, will tackle the topics of school safety and school violence.
Corps of Engineers to Review Tree Concerns — The Army Corps of Engineers says it will revise its Environmental Assessment of Arlington National Cemetery’s planned expansion in response to concerns from residents about the loss of old-growth trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Flickr pool photo by Jorge Bañales
The Dec. 15 wreath laying, an annual holiday tradition in its 21st year, involved some 20,000 volunteers. The cemetery is hoping to get another good volunteer turnout from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).
From a military press release:
On Sat., Jan. 26, volunteers are picking up Remembrance Wreaths that were placed on approximately 112,000 gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, as part of Wreaths Across America.
The event will occur regardless of the weather. Metro use is strongly encouraged due to limited parking. Information on the Metro system is available at: http://www.wmata.com.
Arlington National Cemetery’s Welcome Center will open at 7 a.m. for volunteers. Wreaths Across America leaders will brief volunteers on the cleanup plan at 8:45 a.m. at the Memorial Amphitheater. Visitors, including those with permanent passes, will not be permitted to drive to specific gravesites to visit loved ones until after the wreath cleanup at approximately 1 p.m. Volunteers should expect to stay until 1 p.m. to ensure the wreath cleanup is complete.
The ANC Welcome Center will open at 7 a.m. for volunteers but there will be no access to other locations within the cemetery until 8 a.m. There will be no vehicular access to the cemetery except through the gate to the parking garage until after the wreath cleanup at approximately 1 p.m.
Shuttle service will be available for a fee via ANC Tours by Martz.
Arlington will be accessible to pedestrians only from the following gates:
- Ord-Weitzel: south of the Netherlands Carillon and the Iwo Jima Memorial
- Main: Memorial Drive by the Women’s Memorial and Welcome Center entrance
- Service Complex: (south side) off Columbia Pike between the Air Force and Pentagon Memorials. This gate will close at 1 p.m.
- Fort Myer (northwest side, Fort Myer’s Old Post Chapel Gate) adjacent to the Old Post Chapel
- South Gate: Henderson Hall, Marine Corps Exchange/Service entrance. This gate will close at 1 p.m.
All vehicular access to the cemetery will be through the Welcome Center parking garage. Vehicular access into the cemetery will begin at 8 a.m. Family members with valid entry passes will enter the cemetery through the Welcome Center parking lot. Parking will be in designated areas only. Handicapped parking will be available in the Administrative Building parking lot.
Metro use is strongly encouraged due to limited parking. There are four Metro stops within a mile of a cemetery gate.
- Rosslyn: Orange & Blue lines (.7 mi) from Ord-Weitzel gate, via Iwo Jima Memorial
- Arlington Cemetery: Blue line – cemetery’s primary Metro stop
- Pentagon: Yellow & Blue lines – (.7 mi) access through south Service Complex gate
- Pentagon City: Yellow & Blue lines – (.9 mi) access through south Service Complex gate
TIPS FOR THE CLEANUP:
* Wear gloves
* Bring a device to collect/hold multiple wreaths (such as a broom handle, rake, rope with a board tied to one end) * Wear comfortable walking shoes * Wear weather appropriate clothing
(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) A man was arrested early this morning after allegedly fleeing from police and crashing his car next to the Arlington National Cemetery Metro entrance.
Around 12:20 a.m., a car took off when an Arlington County police officer attempted a traffic stop on Route 110, near the Pentagon. Following protocol, the officer did not attempt to chase the car. A short time later, however, another officer reported via radio that a car had run off Memorial Drive and crashed through some bushes next to the Arlington National Cemetery Metro station. The car, a Saturn sedan, was later confirmed to be the same one that did not stop for the first officer.
The alleged driver of the car was found about an hour later during a search of the surrounding area, parts of which are heavily wooded. The search involved police dogs, and the U.S. Park Police Eagle helicopter. In addition to Arlington County and U.S. Park police, Metro Transit police assisted at the scene.
A row of bushes between the escalators and elevator to the Metro station suffered noticeable damage as a result of the wreck. The car came to rest about 10 yards away from fencing around the station. We’re told it would have been visible from the station platforms.
It’s unclear whether there were any passengers in the car, but as of 2:30 a.m. no other arrests had been made.
The driver is being held on a $6,000 bond, and was charged with misdemeanor hit and run, felony eluding and driving while revoked, according to police.
In the coming years, Arlington National Cemetery will expand and the eastern end of Columbia Pike will be realigned, according to an agreement between the Arlington County and the U.S. Army.
The Arlington County Board today approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets the basic framework for a land swap between the county and the Army, which oversees the cemetery. As outlined in the MOU, the Army will acquire the Southgate Road right-of-way behind the Navy Annex, which is currently being demolished to make way for more cemetery burial space. In exchange, the county will be given land south of Columbia Pike, which is to be straightened and rerouted down the former Navy Annex parking lot to form a right-angle intersection with S. Joyce Street.
The actual land exchange is not likely to take place any time soon, but Board members are looking forward to some of the opportunities it promises to bring, including land for a future Arlington Heritage Center and Freedman’s Village Museum.
The Board voted 3-0 Thursday afternoon to approve the Memorandum of Understanding. Board members Mary Hynes and Libby Garvey were not present for the vote.
From a county press release:
The Arlington County Board today unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of the Army that establishes a framework for a future land exchange agreement between the two parties at the Navy Annex site.
“While there undoubtedly will be some time before property is actually exchanged, today’s action is an important first step in this process,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners at Arlington National Cemetery, the Army and other stakeholders to realize the vision set forth in this MOU by executing a new land exchange agreement. There is no doubt that this will be a huge win for the cemetery and for our community.”
Key objectives outlined
The MOU outlines the key objectives for both parties and the framework for a future land exchange. Under the future land exchange agreement, the Army would be provided with all property north of a realigned Columbia Pike in exchange for providing the County with land south of a realigned Columbia Pike.
The existing Southgate Road would be realigned to the western edge of the Navy Annex site to maintain appropriate access to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, while directly linking the Navy Annex site to the existing Arlington National Cemetery grounds. Engineering and design work must be completed to determine the exact location for a realigned Columbia Pike and the parties must work out the exact acreage and parcels to be exchanged.
“Arlington National Cemetery is sacred ground for our community, our region and certainly, our nation,” Board Chairman Walter Tejada said. “This MOU paves the way for an agreement that will allow us to support their expansion goals. At the same time, it enables us to meet our goals: preserving and displaying Arlington County’s history and heritage by establishing an Arlington Heritage Center and Freedman’s Village Museum, and fulfilling our transportation and economic development vision for Columbia Pike.”
Today’s County Board action was necessitated by the decision of the Department of Defense last year to terminate the previous land exchange agreement executed in 2008. That agreement would have provided the County with 4.23 acres of land on the Navy Annex Property north of Columbia Pike in exchange for providing DOD with an equivalent acreage of the Southgate Road right-of-way. Since the previous agreement was terminated, Arlington County has been working with the Department of the Army and Arlington National Cemetery to formulate this MOU and ultimately work toward a new land exchange agreement.
Board to Hold New Year’s Meeting — The Arlington County Board will hold its traditional New Year’s Day meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. At the meeting, Walter Tejada is expected to be elected County Board chair. Tejada and the other four Board members will then outline their policy goals for 2013. In a press release, Arlington County billed itself as “the only local government that “gets to work” on the New Year’s holiday.” [Arlington County]
Cemetery Expansion Concerns Tree Lovers — A plan to expand Arlington National Cemetery has some tree lovers crying foul. The cemetery is projected to run out of additional burial space in 2025, prompting the need for the expansion. Some Arlington residents, however, have been critical of one particular part of the expansion plan, which calls for the clearing of 890 “old-growth” trees. The cemetery plans to replant 600 trees and to preserve a stand of 220-year-old trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Bike Arlington’s Top 10 List — Staff from Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published a list of their “top 10 favorite topics from 2012.” Among the entries in the top 10 list: Capital Bikeshare’s expansion, Bike Friendly Business awards to local shops, and the county’s Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) safety campaign. [Bike Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick