Sunny and pleasant weather and a big-name headliner attracted the largest crowd yet to the Columbia Pike Blues Festival over the weekend, organizers said.
We’re told more than 7,000 people turned out for the 18th annual Blues Festival, which is held on S. Walter Reed Drive just north of the Pike. Guitarist G.E. Smith, of Saturday Night Live and Hall & Oates fame, headlined the event.
Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, said he wasn’t surprised by the new attendance record. He expects the festival to continue to grow in crowds and quality as community ties continue to strengthen around the developing Columbia Pike town center area.
Asked about the ideal weather condition, Karantonis wouldn’t comment, for fear of jinxing next year’s festival.
“We don’t talk about the weather — before, during and after,” he said.
Disclosure: CPRO is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Joseph Richards, 52, of Arlington and David Lux, 66, of Springfield were sentenced today to 27 and 15 months in prison respectively.
They pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit major government fraud in a scheme that falsely portrayed their company as being minority-owned in order to win millions of dollars in contracts intended for “disadvantaged small businesses.”
Arlington resident Keith Hedman, 53, also pleaded guilty in the scheme and is awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 21. Federal prosecutors say Hedman formed the company Richards and Lux worked for, and also formed a second Arlington-based security contractor that obtained more than $31 million in contract payments under false pretences.
The second company qualified for disadvantaged status as part of the Small Business Administration’s Section 8(a) program — and thus was eligible for preferential treatment in government contracts — after Hedman, a former Marine, selected a Maryland woman to “serve as a figurehead owner.” The woman qualified for the program “based on her Portuguese heritage and history of social disadvantage.”
The Associated Press previously identified the two companies involved as Security Assistance Corp. and Protection Strategies Inc. Both have a listed address in an office building at 2300 9th St S., near Columbia Pike.
“In total, the scheme netted government contracts valued at more than $153 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release today. The full press release, after the jump.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
Whether outdoors or inside, there are numerous events taking place around Arlington this weekend where you can spend some quality time with dad. Here are a few to consider:
Columbia Pike Blues Fest — The free event features food, music and children’s activities. Festivities run from 1:00-8:00 p.m. on Saturday, on S. Walter Reed Drive at Columbia Pike. This year’s headliner is guitarist G.E. Smith, who gained widespread fame through his time as the musical director on Saturday Night Live, following his stint as the lead guitarist for the band Hall & Oates. More information, including a full music schedule, can be found online.
Donuts with Dad — The Cherrydale Branch Library (2190 N. Military Road) still has a few spots open for dads and kids who want to stop by on Saturday for some sweet treats. From 10:30-11:30 a.m., the library will provide donuts and a craft activity for children. The event is free, but advance sign up is required by calling 703-228-6330 or visiting by the library.
Crystal Car Auto Festival — Crystal City is hosting its first annual Father’s Day Auto Festival. Visitors can check out a variety of autos, including innovative electric vehicles and classic muscle cars. The event runs from 2:00-6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free and a cash beer garden offers beer and wine. More information about exact locations for the auto festival can be found online.
Dash 4 Dad Race — Pacers has again partnered with ZERO — The Project to End Prostate Cancer for the four mile Dash for Dad race on Sunday. The 8:30 a.m. race begins at Pentagon Row close to the Pacers store (1101 S. Joyce Street). Registration and road closures for the race can be found online.
Go Fishing — Although the county no longer stocks trout in Four Mile Run due to budget cuts, residents are still allowed to fish in local waterways. Anglers over the age of 16 need a license to fish. The Department of Parks and Recreation website uses a fish logo to indicate parks — such as Alcova Heights, Glencarlyn and Upper Pimmit Run — where visitors may be successful in pulling in a catch.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID and Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization are ARLnow.com advertisers
It’s been open since this spring, but today county and federal officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the South Joyce Street Shared-Use Sidewalk Project,
The $1.8 million Federal Highway Administration project built new, wider sidewalks on the 1/5 mile stretch between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike. The 10-foot-wide sidewalks can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The sidewalks “improve safety and access at one of the few places in Arlington where bicycles and pedestrians can cross I-395,” according to a county fact sheet.
“As a result of the FHWA project, which was funded with a Congressional allocation… the once highway-style passage has been transformed into an easy-to-navigate bicycle and pedestrian route that connects the east end of Columbia Pike, the Pentagon reservation and Pentagon City,” the county wrote. “Arlington supported the the project, which aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s ‘Complete Streets’ program, with design guidance and funding for some additional elements.”
County Board Chairman Walter Tejada lauded the project, saying that it’s especially useful for those who commute via bicycle from Columbia Pike. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) joked that the new sidewalk “is not the kind of project you’d see on a postcard,” but said it’s important nonetheless.
“This is basic infrastructure,” he said. “If you don’t invest in it, if you don’t do the right thing, you negatively impact a lot of other infrastructure.”
In addition to wider sidewalks, pedestrian-scale lighting was added to the street and automatic bicycle/pedestrian counters were installed. Meanwhile, highway-style guard rails were removed and fire department standpipes were relocated out of the pedestrian route.
Police are investigating a hit-and-run involving a minivan that crashed into the front of the Popeyes at 5007 Columbia Pike this afternoon.
The incident happened around lunchtime at the Columbia Pike Plaza strip mall. After running into the front of the restaurant, the van backed into an SUV and then sped away, according to police and witnesses.
The collision caused minor damage to the Popeyes, including scrape marks on a brick column and a broken front window pane. The restaurant was briefly evacuated, according to scanner traffic, but then reopened and continued to serve lunch patrons. Nobody was hurt.
The SUV driver told ARLnow.com that the van backed into his vehicle as he was trying to leave the parking lot. The collision dented the front of the SUV but did not cause any injuries or significant damage. The SUV driver said the striking vehicle was a gray minivan, and the driver — who he caught a glimpse of as the van fled the scene — was a Hispanic male. He said it was his first crash in his 46 years of driving.
“I just hope they catch the bastard,” he said as he surveyed the damage to the SUV. “They better find him before I do.”
As of 1:00 p.m. police were still looking for the van and its driver. This was at least the third time a vehicle has crashed into the front of a business at the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center since May 2011.
The owners of Cantina Mexicana have opened a new location just off of Columbia Pike.
The new restaurant, at 922 Walter Reed Drive, took over the space previously occupied by Senor Pan. It joins the existing location at 515 23rd Street S. in Crystal City, which has been in business since 1974.
Last year, owner Gloria Arias told ARLnow.com that she had hoped to open the new restaurant in November. It just celebrated its grand opening this past Friday, however.
The restaurant will serve the same “fine Tex-Mex cuisine” as the Crystal City location. In addition to bottled beer, wine and cocktails, the restaurant offers Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo on tap.
A free blues concert will be held Thursday evening (May 16) at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike. The event is being held to promote the upcoming Columbia Pike Blues Festival.
Thursday’s concert will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone and the Chris Polk Band. The concert, at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike), is free and open to the public.
The 18th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will take place on June 15 and feature legendary guitarist G.E. Smith, who’s best known for being the musical director for Saturday Night Live and for being lead guitarist for Hall & Oates, Bob Dylan and other major musical acts.
As always, the Blues Festival will be held on S. Walter Reed Drive just north of Columbia Pike. The performance schedule on June 15 includes:
- 1:00 p.m. — BG and the Mojo Hands
- 2:00 p.m. — Clarence “Bluesman” Turner
- 3:30 p.m. — Chris Polk [Sound Check]
- 5:00 p.m. — Cathy Ponton King
- 6:30 p.m. — G.E. Smith
File photo. Disclosure: Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, organizer of the Blues Festival, is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
A new Arlington County profile has been released for 2013, and it shows a significant uptick in projected population growth, thanks in part to development along Columbia Pike.
Arlington’s population, currently estimated at 212,900, is projected to surpass 250,000 by 2030. The population will hit 258,800 in 2030, according to the latest projection from Arlington’s planning division. That’s up 5 percent from last year’s projection of 246,500.
The increase, according to county demographer Elizabeth Rodgers, is largely due to the fact that the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan, approved in July 2012, was incorporated into the projection. The plan calls for the Pike to be transformed into a more populated, urban and walkable community, with 10,000 new housing units added by 2040.
With the Columbia Pike plan incorporated into the projection, the county’s population is expected to hit 276,100 by 2040.
Employment in Arlington, meanwhile, is projected to increase to 308,000 jobs in 2040, up from the current level of 228,700 jobs.
According to the profile, 40,671 Arlington residents live and work in Arlington. Another 47,226 residents work in the District of Columbia. But that’s less than the number of Fairfax County residents who work in Arlington, which stands at 48,242.
Other vital statistics can be found in the 2013 Arlington County Profile.
Graph via Arlington County
A new t-shirt pokes fun at the $1 million bus stop on Columbia Pike and the often tongue-in-cheek rivalry between north and south Arlington.
The t-shirt was created by PikeBuzz.com, a new website that offers deals and events at Columbia Pike “town center” businesses, and will be given away at the site’s launch party Wednesday night. The first 100 attendees at the event will receive the shirt for free.
(Disclosure: PikeBuzz is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
“We were looking for something funny to put on a shirt,” he said. “The national level attention that the bus stop got in our neighborhood made for an easy target. We also see the Columbia Pike neighborhood changing significantly for the better and thought it would be funny to use the bus stop as a silly measurement of that improvement.”
The shirt takes a jab at the northern half of the county with a scoreboard that shows “South Arlington 1, North Arlington 0.”
“The reference to the scoreboard is to make light of the home grown competitiveness between the two sections of Arlington,” Godbout explained. He continued:
Prior to moving to South Arlington 13 years ago, I would not have been able to tell you the difference between North Arlington and South Arlington, except that one is south of Rt. 50 and the other north of Rt. 50. But after meeting people in the neighborhood, the general belief shared by some is that “North Arlington” has it better… better schools, more funding, more representation on the County Board, etc. So for some in South Arlington, the feeling is that we don’t have it as good. The reality is quite the opposite. I live in the Penrose neighborhood of South Arlington and love it here. My daughter goes to Patrick Henry which is exceptional. My business is in South Arlington and has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. I love the advantages that South Arlington offers.
Godbout described PikeBuzz as a site that “promotes local businesses and allows us to increase the number of events offered on the Pike” by bringing more people to the area.
The site’s launch party will be held Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). In addition to the free t-shirt, the event will feature free food, Karaoke and live acoustic music.
The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) night. Police say German Cruz-Coreas, 49, entered Miguel’s Q-Mart on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and demanded money from a store employee.
“When the employee refused, the subject proceeded to light coffee filters on fire and announced that no one could leave the store,” according to the Arlington County Police crime report.
The man started throwing mangoes and avocados at store employees and a 16-month-old child, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. He tipped over the store’s shelves, destroyed merchandise, broke the store’s slushie machine, and partially melted a television with the flaming coffee filters, Sternbeck said.
“He literally destroyed the entire store,” said Sternbeck.
Store employees barricaded themselves in a room inside the store during the incident, but the store’s manager was eventually able to subdue the man and hold him to the ground until police arrived and placed him under arrest.
Cruz-Coreas was charged with arson, attempted robbery, four counts of abduction, felony destruction of property, and three counts of assault and battery. He is currently being held without bond.
The store employees suffered minor injuries, Sternbeck said, but the baby was unharmed.
Photo courtesy ACPD
Va. Sq. Giant Celebrates Changes – The Virginia Square Giant grocery store (3450 Washington Blvd) is celebrating its “grand reopening” following recent renovations. A representative for Giant says new features include a redesigned produce department with a better fruit and vegetable assortment, a new gourmet cheese case, a new bakery and an expanded natural foods section. Customers at that location will have the opportunity to take part in tastings, raffles and prize giveaways over the next four weekends.
Event Examines Seniors’ Transportation Needs — A Mobility Lab regional symposium held at George Mason University yesterday focused on the transportation needs of residents aged 65 and older. Speakers voiced the need for better coordination of senior transportation programs that would keep seniors mobile in their communities. Suggestions for improvement included better marketing and promotion, using volunteers and issuing performance surveys. [Mobility Lab]
Streetcar Debate Focuses on Types of Riders — At the Arlington Committee of 100 streetcar forum on Wednesday, speakers addressed which riders prefer different modes of transit. Speakers debated whether the Columbia Pike streetcar or a bus rapid transit system would better draw in “choice riders” — those who have access to a car but could be persuaded to take transit under the right circumstances. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) While the planned Columbia Pike streetcar has been making local headlines, Arlington County has been quietly moving forward with a project that’s bringing significant infrastructure improvements to the busy thoroughfare.
Arlington County’s Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements Project seeks to implement “streetscape and related improvements for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and vehicles along Arlington’s 3.5 mile Columbia Pike corridor.” The improvements include a completely reconstructed roadway, new left-turn lanes, planted medians, additional street trees, enhanced pedestrian crossings and so-called bicycle boulevards.
The $80 million project is currently in progress, and expected to run through 2018. About $72 million of the $80 million price tag coming from the county’s commercial tax-funded Transportation Capital Fund.
The turn lanes in particular are expected to “lessen delays and improve traffic flow,” said Bill Roberts, Transportation Program Manager for Arlington County. Meanwhile, the bike boulevards, which will run parallel to Pike along 9th and 12th Streets, will combine with planned 10-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian sidewalks to make it easier for cyclists to traverse the Pike away from traffic. But residents might be happiest to learn about the roadway reconstruction.
The project will ultimately result in the reconstruction of the entire stretch of Columbia Pike from the Pentagon to Fairfax County. That should be welcome news for road users, who have been grumbling about the pockmarked state of portions of the Pike.
Currently, road crews are working on the stretch of Columbia Pike between S. Wakefield Street and Four Mile Run Drive. That work is expected to wrap up this fall, according to Roberts.
The stretch of road is in especially bad shape, Roberts said, thanks to runoff from multiple water main breaks, which seeped into the project area, and heavy bus traffic, which has caused depressions in the roadway, particularly around bus stops. Even with plans to reconstruct the roadway, Roberts said crews will be doing some temporary repaving in the westbound lanes in the next 2-3 weeks.
Following that work, the county expects to start road reconstruction between the Fairfax County line and Four Mile Run Drive. That portion of the project is slated to start in the spring of 2014 and end 24 months later, in the spring of 2016.
Next up after that is S. Wakefield Street to S. Oakland Street, and Walter Reed Drive to S. Scott Street. Those projects will happen concurrently between early 2015 and early 2017.
Project work has already been completed between S. Oakland Street and Walter Reed Drive.
The work is necessary, Roberts says, because the underlying roadbed has become uneven due to its age and the patchwork nature of previous roadwork. Some of the existing infrastructure along the Pike dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, while the Pike itself was first built in 1810.
“What we’re going to be doing is installing a consistent sub-base and a thicker layer of asphalt,” Roberts said. “We’re completely reconstructing the roadbed.”
While the road improvements will be the most visible part of the project, much of the funding will actually going to work well below the roadway. Aging and leak-prone 8-inch water and sewer pipes under the road will be replaced by new 12-inch pipes, and existing overhead utilities will be placed underground. The utilities are all being placed in the middle of the roadway, so that water main breaks or other utility work doesn’t disrupt the future streetcar.
The timeline for the final piece of the multimodal project — from Washington Boulevard to S. Joyce Street — is still up in the air. The county is currently in talks with the federal government about a land swap that would allow the county to “realign” Columbia Pike to make a straighter, more direct connection with S. Joyce Street. If all goes well, Roberts says that work could be completed in 2018.
The Multimodal Improvements are a necessary warm-up act for the ultimate construction of the planned Pike streetcar, but the project is being run independently of the streetcar project. County Board member Chris Zimmerman, who lives along the Pike, said that improvements to the Pike are necessary regardless of whether the streetcar gets built.
“We’re going to have big traffic challenges in the next few years on the Pike, streetcar or no,” he told ARLnow.com late last year. “It’s been a good road for a long time but it’s really old now. The street itself has to be upgraded.”
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
At last week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, party leaders stressed the importance of giving voters a positive reason to come out and support gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in November.
You might question the sincerity of that plea since the meeting took place immediately after a “dramatic reading” of excerpts from Attorney General Cuccinelli’s book. Based on Mr. McAuliffe’s ongoing resume problems, they may actually spend a lot of time talking about the Attorney General instead.
But, what about a little farther down the ticket? What does County Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette offer to inspire Arlingtonians to vote in 2013?
Mr. Fisette stands firmly behind the Columbia Pike trolley boondoggle. And, he has offered no indication that he would support a straight up or down vote on the issue. Yes, a vote is possible if the Board adjusts the funding mix to include a small amount from general obligation bonds.
It follows that Mr. Fisette is squarely in favor of building the 24 super bus stops on Columbia Pike as well. Yet, the first one took so long, cost so much, and was subject to such intense public ridicule, that the project has now been stopped pending review.
ARLnow ran a story on Monday on the black hole of spending known as the Artisphere. Mr. Fisette recently admitted the arts center did not meet expectations. It should not have surprised him as the Board ignored those who predicted the Artisphere’s shortcomings at the time the Board approved the project.
The Board will raise taxes yet again this year and still may not be able to fully fund our police and fire departments. Remarkably enough, fiscal responsibility and public safety are the top two issues listed on Mr. Fisette’s campaign website.
Website issues list aside, Mr. Fisette has made a “crusade” against single use water bottles — his number one pet project for the year. He announced it at the Board’s kick-off meeting January 1st and has followed through by scheduling a public forum on the topic.
Any effort to legislate on water bottles at the County level will likely go the way of efforts to regulate single use plastic bags, single use styrofoam, or even energy use in private homes — another Fisette idea. The Virginia General Assembly is unlikely to lift the Dillon Rule for Arlington to regulate these items any time soon.
However, it might make you wonder if a water bottle “crusade” was what the local Democratic leaders had in mind to inspire voter turnout.
It might be time to schedule another dramatic reading.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Streetcar Forum Tonight — The Arlington Committee of 100 will be holding a forum tonight entitled “Streetcar for Columbia Pike: Are the Benefits Worth the Costs?” The forum will be moderated by Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey and the scheduled speakers are Arlington Chamber of Commerce Chairman David Decamp (speaking in favor of the streetcar) and ARLnow.com columnist Peter Rousselot (speaking against the streetcar). The event will take place at 8:00 p.m. at Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road). [Arlington Committee of 100]
Pricey Streetcar FOIA Request — Local fiscal watchdog Tim Wise is decrying the price tag attached to a Freedom of Information Act request he made regarding the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The county says Wise’s wide-ranging request will cost $2,858 to process. More than 80 percent of that cost would go to AECOM, a consultant working on the county’s transit program. [Sun Gazette]
Record Temperature Possible Today — The official high temperature at Reagan National Airport might be tied or even broken today. The high temperature at DCA for today, April 10, is 89 degrees, set in 1922. [Capital Weather Gang]
Mary Marshall Scholarship Applications – The Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women is now accepting applications for the 2013 Mary Marshall Memorial Scholarships. The $1,500-2,000 scholarships are intended for Arlington high school graduates who intend to attend Northern Virginia Community College and pursue careers in public service. [Arlington County]
Casa Furniture, a local discount furniture chain, has opened a new location in the former Capital Jewelers storefront on Columbia Pike.
Casa Furniture opened at 3219 Columbia Pike about two weeks ago, an employee told us. It’s the chain’s fourth location; other stores are located in Alexandria and D.C.
On its website, Casa Furniture says it “has become known for the lowest prices in town, quick, efficient “no frills” delivery, and customer service that redefines the word, ‘smile.’” The store has a small showroom but also offers a catalog of furniture that’s available for delivery.
Capital Jewelers owner Tommy Wong was gunned down during a robbery at the store on the afternoon of July 27, 2012. D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline was later arrested and charged with Wong’s murder. A hearing in the case is scheduled for April 17.