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by ARLnow.com — December 18, 2014 at 9:15 am 3,908 0

Artisphere Preview 015(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending that the county close the Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn after the first half of 2015.

Donnellan said Artisphere “has not lived up to projections” and would likely require substantial taxpayer support to stay open — more than $2 million per year.

Based on subsequent comments from County Board members, it appears that the Board is likely to adopt the manager’s recommendation next year.

Do you agree that Artisphere should close?

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,278 0

Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.

“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”

To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.

“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.

Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”

  • They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
  • They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
  • They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
  • They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
  • They work hard and play hard
  • Hanging out with friends is important
  • They like good food
  • Many don’t have cars so location is important
  • They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
  • Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
  • They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them

If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com — November 28, 2014 at 10:00 am 453 0

ARLnow.com is considering options for building a dedicated mobile app in 2015.

While we believe the experience of visiting ARLnow on a mobile browser is adequate for most users’ needs, there are certain enhancements that a mobile app could bring. For instance, features could include:

  • Breaking news alerts
  • Event calendar optimized for mobile
  • Local-specific weather, traffic and/or transit info
  • Instant deals/coupons at local businesses

If we built such an app, would you use it? Also, tell us in the comments if there are any other features you’d like to see.

by ARLnow.com — November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,118 0

Snowstorm hits Arlington 1/21/14 (Photo courtesy @albers_eric)An east coast storm could bring some sloppy snow and rain to Arlington and up to a half foot of snow accumulation to the outer northern and western parts of the D.C. region tomorrow.

Forecasters say above-freezing temperatures should preclude more than an inch or so of accumulation locally. Still, the storm has the potential to have a major impact on Thanksgiving travel from Washington to Boston on Wednesday.

If you’re planning to travel for the holiday, is the storm affecting your travel plans?

by ARLnow.com — November 19, 2014 at 10:15 am 4,154 0

Columbia Pike streetcar renderingAfter years of planning, community meetings and debate, Arlington’s planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system was scuttled yesterday following a somber press conference and brief vote.

County Board Chair and streetcar supporter Jay Fisette said the voters had spoken in their election of streetcar opponent John Vihstadt, and “political realities” meant that the streetcar project must be derailed.

Do you agree with the decision?

by ARLnow.com — November 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 2,999 0

John Vihstadt debates at the Arlington Civic federation on Sept. 2, 2014There are many reasons cited for Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt’s historic electoral victory last week.

Most explanations seem to center around concern about county spending projects. Among them: the delayed and increasingly expensive streetcar system, the indefinitely delayed $80+ million Long Bridge Park aquatics center, the delayed and occasionally problematic $1.6 million Clarendon dog park, and the delayed and occasionally problematic $1 million bus stop.

If you voted for Vihstadt, which of the following, if any, was foremost in your mind in the voting booth?

by ARLnow.com — October 15, 2014 at 10:20 am 4,066 0

Tall brown boots spotted at a beer festival in Courthouse (photo courtesy @SeenInClarendon)Arlington is noted for being home to many male aficionados of brown flip flops.

On Sunday, one observer of local culture might have found the female equivalent of “dudes in brown flip flops” — women in tall brown boots.

At the first annual Arts and Craft Beer Festival in Courthouse over the weekend, Twitter user @SeenInClarendon saw — and photographed — many such pairs of boots, which might seem more appropriate on someone riding a horse than on someone downing a lager and a lobster roll.

Is this a trend that’s especially prevalent in Arlington — a la brown flip flops? Or is it not Arlington-specific? We’ll let you decide.

Photo courtesy @SeenInClarendon

by ARLnow.com — October 6, 2014 at 10:05 am 1,900 0

Columbia Pike streetcar renderingWhat’s in a name? Apparently a lot, if you ask County Board member John Vihstadt. He would like people to stop using the term “trolley” when referencing Arlington’s streetcar project.

As InsideNova reported, although Vihstadt doesn’t support the streetcar, he thinks the word trolley is derogatory and makes people think of the old Rice-a-Roni commercials.

Do you agree that trolley is a derogatory “loaded word” in the debate over Arlington’s streetcar project?

by ARLnow.com — September 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm 3,131 0

Aerial view of apartment buildings in Courthouse (Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian)The local furor over Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) view of Arlington as a “soulless suburb” has yet to die down.

Within eight hours of our article’s first publication, Gillibrand apologized for the remark (which was buried in the pages of her new book, “Off The Sidelines.”) But that didn’t stop the debate over whether Gillibrand was off-base or on-target in her assessment of Arlington.

Among those weighing in: Ben Adler, a former New Yorker and a writer at the environmental news website Grist.org. Penning a piece for the Washington Post’s online PostEverything op-ed section, Adler said Gillibrand shouldn’t apologize.

Some excerpts from that article:

For one year I worked at an office in Arlington, Virginia. There were virtually no restaurants that were not chains. Everything was crowded at peak lunch hour but completely empty by 3 p.m. and closed by the time I left work.

Kirsten Gillibrand… correctly identified Arlington in her new memoir as a “soulless suburb.” That’s exactly what most of my friends who have lived in D.C. would call it. In fact, when I was recently trying to describe the cultural vacuity of the “Williamsburg Edge,” a new apartment tower in Brooklyn, I called it, “Arlington on the East River.” My friend who lived in Washington laughed knowingly. He required no further explanation.

Arlington… lacks a physical center, a public space like Dupont Circle, where buskers can play music and activists can make speeches. A centrally located, and well-designed park — with facilities for both active and passive recreation such as basketball courts, chess tables, and benches — would go a long way towards giving Arlington a soul. Most important, unlike all of Arlington’s misbegotten little plazas, it has to be designed to draw passersby in and to engage with the streets around it.

That prompted at least one notable D.C. resident to call foul.

“At the risk of defending Arlington (!), isn’t this @badler piece just about Rosslyn, not all of Arlington?” asked Washington City Paper editor Mike Madden, via Twitter.

Perhaps the best judges of whether Arlington County does or does not lack a soul are those who actually live here. So what do you think?

Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian

by ARLnow.com — July 28, 2014 at 11:00 am 884 0

Heat Advisory hits ArlingtonIt should be a comfortable weather week, with high temperatures in the mid-to-lower 80s through Friday.

With July, usually the hottest month of the year, coming to close this week, it appears that the D.C. region has dodged the usual 100+ degree heat waves of summers past.

In fact, the area seems to have had an inordinate number of relatively mild days this summer.

How do you feel about the weather so far this summer?
 

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2014 at 10:20 am 2,302 0

Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.

On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.

On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.

Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.

On balance, do you think the Silver Line will help or hurt Arlington County?
 

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2014 at 10:55 am 1,241 0

Rendering of a streetcar along Columbia PikeArlington County’s PR campaign to inform residents of the benefit of the streetcar continues.

This week we reported — followed by other local TV, print and online outlets — that the county had produced more television spots that try to explain “why streetcar.”

Among the expected benefits along Columbia Pike are more development, increased county tax revenue, increased transit ridership, and the preservation of affordable housing.

If you could look into a crystal ball to 2030, and see a revitalized Columbia Pike where all of those things came true thanks to streetcar, would you support the project now?
 

by ARLnow.com — July 9, 2014 at 11:55 am 1,801 0

Washington Redskins HelmetThe controversy over the name of Washington’s professional football team shows no signs of dying down.

Earlier this week, Democratic blogger and former Arlington resident Ben Tribbett made national news when he resigned from the Redskins. The team hired him two weeks prior to support the public relations battle against sentiment that “Redskins” as a racial slur against Native Americans.

Tribbett, a supporter of the name, said he resigned because the debate got too personal — “things got too hot to handle” and became a distraction to the team.

Tribbett’s hiring came as pressure mounts on the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder to change the name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month revoked the trademark on “Redskins,” saying it is “disparaging of Native Americans.” For that same reason, media organizations from the Washington City Paper to the Seattle Times to a student newspaper in Pennsylvania have been banning the use of the team’s name in news coverage.

Tribbett, who now lives in Lorton, says he continues to support the Redskins and thinks news outlets should report, not moralize when it comes to the name.

“The reason I support the Redskins name is, I don’t think it’s a slur first of all,” Tribbett told ARLnow.com this morning. “Having grown up in this area, nothing brought the entire D.C. area together more than the Redskins, and the idea that it’s now a divisive issue really bothers me.”

“I don’t see why anyone would not publish the name, the name of the football team is the Washington Redskins,” Tribbett continued. “Until Dan Snyder or someone else says otherwise, i think journalists should report the news and not make it.”

What do you think? Should news outlets — including ARLnow.com — ban the name or keep using it?
 

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2014 at 9:30 am 731 0

ARLnow.com as displayed on a smartphoneARLnow.com is about to embark on a minor redesign of our website and we would like your opinion on one aspect of this process.

Currently, our site is not optimized for smartphone readers. Instead, those who visit us on iPhones, Droids and other mobile phones simply see our desktop website rendered by their smartphone’s browser.

Many news websites, however, are designed to display in a more “native” fashion on smartphone screens — in a way that doesn’t require the user to zoom in to read text. One criticism of such mobile-optimized sites is that they can sometimes hide certain features and make navigation more difficult.

ARLnow.com is considering three approaches to our redesign:

  1. Develop a mobile-optimized site, from scratch, for smartphone users
  2. Optimize the existing site to simply display with larger text for smartphone users, to make articles more readable
  3. Don’t make any changes for smartphone users

Which would you prefer?

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