Arlington Newlyweds Climb Mountain in Tux and Gown — Bob Ewing and Antonie Hodge Ewing, a newlywed couple from Arlington who happen to be avid rock climbers, have attracted national media attention by climbing a summit in Seneca Rocks, W. Va. while wearing a tux and a wedding dress. A small wedding party, including the bride’s mother, also completed the climb with them. [ABC News]
McDonnell Gives Speech at GOP Convention — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention last night. McDonnell said the election “is about restoring the American Dream” and implementing the kind of fiscally conservative policies that have benefited Virginia. [NBC Washington, Transcript]
Boathouse Comment Period Extended – Updated at 12:30 p.m. — The National Park Service is now accepting public comments about preliminary alternatives for a Potomac River boathouse in Arlington County through Sept. 30. Of the four possible locations identified for the boathouse, two are just south of the Key Bridge, one is near Gravelly Point, and one is on Daingerfield Island. “The boathouse facility and its amenities would enhance public waterfront access in the vicinity of Arlington County for non-motorized recreational activities,” NPS says. [National Park Service]
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
Boathouse Meeting Today — A public meeting regarding a proposed boathouse along Arlington’s Potomac River shoreline is being held tonight. The National Park Service is holding the meeting at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Senor Pan Closes — After just 6 months in business, Columbia Pike-area cafe/bakery Senor Pan has apparently closed, according to the Pike Wire Twitter feed. Senor Pan was located at 922 S. Walter Reed Drive.
Student Production Plays at Fringe Fest — Mindset, a “surrealist rock opera” created, directed and choreographed by H-B Woodlawn students, is currently playing at the Capital Fringe Festival. The show originally featured all Woodlawn students, but now professional actors have been added to the cast. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
Because all of Arlington’s land along the Potomac River is actually NPS property, the EIS is mandatory by law. It formally began earlier this year, and assesses the impact a boathouse for non-motorized crafts would have on the natural and cultural resources in the area.
During the public comment portion, which began this week, residents are asked to examine the options in the proposal and voice suggestions or concerns.
There are four possible sites included in the proposal. Two options involve building the boathouse near the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, and another looks at a space near Gravelly Point. One alternative examines Daingerfield Island, which is in Alexandria. The final option is to take no action, meaning no boathouse would be constructed.
The proposal includes a facility with indoor space for storing equipment, training areas and floating docks. The plan has been in the works for years to ease the burden on boathouses in Alexandria and Washington, D.C., all of which are said to be operating at capacity.
A public scoping meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 24, at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street). From 6:30-8:30 p.m., NPS employees will be present to answer questions and to accept written comments.
The various proposals can be viewed online and feedback can be submitted there as well. The public comment period ends on Friday, August 31. If all goes according to plan, the EIS will continue through winter of 2013.
The decades-long mission to build a boathouse for non-motorized vehicles on Arlington’s side of the Potomac River has moved one step closer to reality. After several failed attempts, an environmental impact study is now underway.
Arlington cannot proceed with building a boathouse without approval from the National Park Service, because the waterfront land along this side of the Potomac River actually belongs to NPS. By law, NPS is required to perform a study about how such a venture would impact the cultural and natural resources in the area.
Estimated to take from two to three years, an environmental impact study is the longer and more thorough of two main studies that can be performed. The other is an environmental assessment, which is done on less controversial matters and typically takes one to two years. Environmental assessments had previously been initiated for an Arlington boathouse, but due to various limiting factors including staffing and lack of resources, they were scrapped. This time, all involved parties are dedicated to seeing the EIS through.
“The real emphasis is to make sure it’s really done thoroughly,” said National Park Service Environmental Protection Specialist Thomas Sheffer. “Because with a couple of false starts, we want to make sure this comes to a conclusion.”
The process was re-initiated in late summer, and Arlington was approved as a cooperating agency in the fall. A federal register notice has been submitted, but the process cannot move forward until the notice is officially approved and posted publicly.
Three main sites are being examined for the boathouse. The first is called “Lower Rosslyn” and consists of the area directly along the river near the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt Island. The second is called “Upper Rosslyn,” close to where Lee Highway, I-66 and the Key Bridge converge. A multi-level hybrid of the two Rosslyn locations could be a possibility. Another site is Gravelly Point, which allows for a more spacious facility but has less ideal conditions for rowers because of wind and motorized boats. Daingerfield Island, though not in Arlington County, is also being considered.
After the EIS concludes and a site is chosen, it will be some time before Arlington residents actually get to use a finished boathouse. Public meetings would ensue, followed by final approval of a plan, and a competitive process to find a company to construct the boathouse. Considering the EIS portion isn’t even expected to be finished before the winter of 2013, a completed structure is likely years away. Additionally, the entire idea could be abandoned if no sites are deemed acceptable. However, Arlington is hopeful the boathouse will eventually reach fruition.
“The County is excited to be at this point in the process and excited about the opportunity presented by the Park Service to be an operating agency in the EIS,” Arlington County Federal Liaison Brian Stout said. “It appears they’re taking a very thoughtful approach to this.”
The Park Service has voiced a number of concerns about development on Arlington’s side of the Potomac. Some of those include harm to species along the river, negative impact on cultural sites such as Theodore Roosevelt Island and the area’s position along a flood plane. Arlington County thinks the concerns are valid, but can be worked around.
“We think they can be overcome, and there are answers,” said Stout. “We think there are a lot of ways for us to achieve all of the goals of increased access to the water while staying true to the Park Service goals as well.” (more…)
Michigan-based Gibbs Amphibians held the demonstration in the shadow of the Pentagon in hopes of convincing the military to place orders for their newest land/sea vehicle, dubbed the Phibian.
Company engineers say the Phibian is revolutionary for being able to travel at a high speed on land and on sea. The vehicle can reach up to 80 miles per hour on land, 45 miles per hour on the water, and can enter the water from land at a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, we’re told. The 30-foot craft has a 7,000 lbs hauling capacity and can transport about a dozen people.
Phibian sports a carbon fiber hull, twin turbo 250 horsepower diesel engines, four wheel drive, and a patented, hydraulic suspension system that retracts the wheels above the water level when at sea (somewhat like landing gear on a plane). It’s the retractable wheels that allow better speed and maneuverability in the water, engineers said.
The Phibian will be produced in Michigan and will create 200 jobs, according to Gibbs. The company hopes to sell the Phibian to the military and to various federal and local government agencies for search and rescue and disaster relief operations.
Gibbs also manufacturers an amphibious sports car, which was on display today at the marina.
Thanks to shifting political winds and dogged determination, the decades-long quest to get a boathouse built on the Arlington side of the Potomac may finally result in action on the part of the federal government.
The National Park Service is expected to launch an extensive environmental and historical impact study for potential boathouse locations in the next several months, the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy but, at last, finite process.
The impact study would likely wrap up by the end of 2011. If it the boathouse then gets the go-ahead, and if funding can be secured for the project, the Park Service would seek bids for the planning, building and daily operation of the boathouse.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.
“We’re still a very, very long way away from the finish line, even if it is approved,” said Brian Stout, Arlington County’s federal government liaison. “There will be a lot of issues for them to study.”
The Park Service is a central player in the boathouse process because it controls most of the riverfront land in Arlington County. The Park Service would be responsible for building and running the boathouse, but county leaders hope the agency would allow “robust community and public access” to the facility. Among the local groups chomping at the bit for a new boathouse are Arlington’s three public high school rowing teams (Yorktown, Washington-Lee and Wakefield), which currently pay for access to crowded boating facilities in the District.
Stout says the county hopes the Park Service would choose to build the boathouse just north the the Roosevelt Island parking lot, near the pedestrian access from the Mount Vernon Trail to Key Bridge. That part of the river is uniquely suited for rowing facilities, he said.