Arlington County appears ready to move forward with selling Rosslyn Highlands Park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station, and some residents are protesting the deal.
This Saturday, a new group called Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park will host a rally at the park (1555 Wilson Blvd) to try to garner support and more signatures for its petition to the Arlington County Board. The rally will run from 10:00 a.m-noon and the group says it has invited all members of the County Board and the six announced candidates to attend and listen to park advocates’ concern.
Of particular concern to the group: the revelation that Arlington signed a letter of intent with developer Penzance to trade the piece of land for a new fire station in January 2013, six months before the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) was launched.
“Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, along with neighboring civic associations and countless citizens, are dismayed that a negotiation behind closed doors would threaten, and in effect predetermine the fate of, one of Arlington’s cherished neighborhood parks,” Katie Elmore, spokeswoman for Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, said in a press release. “Such action by the County Board corrodes public belief in the ‘Arlington Way’ and the viability of future public processes.”
The WRAPS Working Group was formed by the County Board to determine the best mix of uses for the area between 18th Street N., Wilson Blvd, N. Quinn Street and the edge of the 1555 Wilson Blvd office building. The WRAPS group has met regularly since the summer of 2013 and the County Board will vote on the area’s future next month.
The park currently includes a small playground, basketball court, parking lot and some open green space; a total of 30,182 square feet. It’s adjacent to a 45,000 square foot playing field behind the Wilson School that will stay in place when the site becomes the future home of H-B Woodlawn.
The proposal that county staff recommended to the Board earlier this month would reduce county park space to 11,500 square feet, but add a publicly-accessible plaza in between new high-rise, mixed-use office and residential buildings.
The proposal also calls for Penzance to construct a N. Pierce Street extension between Wilson and 18th, even though some residents said they preferred an extended N. Ode Street, slightly farther east. County staff say Ode Street would interfere with traffic from the new fire station and the new school.
While preserving open space and parkland has been a stated County Board priority, the panel has made it clear that it would be willing to sell the land in exchange for fulfilling other priorities. Residents say not only is the county selling one of the last remaining green spaces in Rosslyn, but it’s not even getting a good deal.
“This is trading a public good for private gain, the sale price of the land is significantly undervalued, the financial trade off is short-sighted and not ‘fiscally responsible,’ and the board has been deaf to the input of residents on this issue,” Elizabeth Schill, who lives nearby, told ARLnow.com in an email. “This is not a NIMBY issue, but rather one in which we are opposed to the sale of rare and irreplaceable parkland to a private, commercial developer at below-market rates for purely private gain.”
Some of county staff’s proposals for Rosslyn Highlands Park’s replacements include more urbanized versions of playgrounds, or basketball courts integrated with plaza seating like the new plaza on 19th Street N. But the Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park say it just won’t be the same as the park they’ve been bringing their children to for years.
“The park is a second backyard, a friendly place,” Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park leader Anna Duran said in an email. “The park for us is a place to relax, a place to nod in humanity at other humans, perhaps unknown at the time, but just a moment away from friendliness. There, we’ve gotten much further with making friends than in passing each other on the street — and much further than in passing through a jungle of tall business buildings.”
Photo, bottom, courtesy of Anna Duran
Earth Day in Arlington — Today is Earth Day around the globe, but Arlington County has declared that “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county detailed the steps it has been taking to enhance environmental sustainability and also highlighted some environmentally-friendly events around Arlington. Among the upcoming events are the Green Living Expo on April 26 and Bike to Work Day on May 16. [Arlington County]
School Board Candidate Visits All 52 Precincts — Arlington School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen says she has now knocked on doors in all 52 Arlington electoral precincts. Last year Kanninen was criticized for reportedly holding all of her published campaign events in north Arlington. [InsideNoVa]
Rally Against Rape in Rosslyn — The annual Rally Against Rape will be held in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to raise awareness of sexual violence in Northern Virginia. The event is free and includes speakers, music and a resource fair. [Clarendon Nights, Eventful]
The Memorial Bridge will be closed from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March & Rally.
The event, which will commemorate the anniversary of 1963 march and rally that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, will take place Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial.
The National Park Service says it’s taking “every effort… to minimize traffic delays during this event.”
“Variable message boards will be put in place in advance on Memorial Circle and the ramps from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to warn drivers of the [Memorial Bridge] closure,” NPS said in a press release.
Those heading to the rally are encouraged to take Metro to the Arlington National Cemetery station on the Blue Line.
A group of nuns critical of Republican budget plans launched a one-day bus tour of Virginia today (Friday) in Arlington.
The advocacy group Nuns on the Bus held a reception, speaking program and press conference this morning at St. Charles Borromeo Church (3304 Washington Blvd) near Clarendon. The event was the launch of a one-day bus tour of Virginia, which includes planned stops in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
A reported crowd of nearly 200 supporters, and a few critics, turned out for the event. The nuns spoke about “moral budget priorities” and argued against cutting social welfare programs — a move they say would “further [enrich] the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families.” They singled out the budget proposal of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan as a plan that would hurt the needy.
A few protesters held signs at the rally critical of the Obama administration’s requirement that larger employers — including some religious employers — pay for for health insurance that includes coverage of contraception.
Photos courtesy James Webster
Planned Parenthood’s “Women are Watching” bus tour stopped at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City on Sunday morning. With a bright pink bus as a backdrop, Kaine told the crowd that he was committed to pro-choice policies and against efforts to place restrictions on birth control.
“Often, these issues are pushed by the other side as wedge issues. They want to use wedge issues that divide us,” Kaine said. “Women’s lives are not political issues, women’s lives are not wedge issues. Women have the ability to make their own health care decisions and their own moral decisions.”
Kaine was joined at the rally by several local Democratic elected officials, including County Board member Walter Tejada, state Senator Janet Howell, Del. Charniele Herring, and Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy.
Howell and Herring spoke of some of the bills pushed by Republicans during the latest legislative session in Richmond, including a bill that originally would have required women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. (The bill was amended to only require an external ultrasound after it made national headlines.) Also discussed was the more recent controversy over remarks by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Akin falsely suggested that the female body “has ways to shut… down” and prevent a pregnancy during a “legitimate rape.”
Charniele told the crowd of more than 100 Planned Parenthood supporters that politicians should be required to have a basic understanding of biology before they try to legislate on it.
While politics dominated the rally, not everything discussed was of a political nature.
One of the speakers was a young female immigrant who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a Planned Parenthood screening. She spoke of how, though she lacked health insurance, the organization provided the support and financial assistance she needed to get a mastectomy and emerge from treatment cancer-free.
Kaine will face Republican George Allen on the Nov. 6 ballot in Virginia.
Photos courtesy Kaine for Virginia and Cliffords Photography, as labeled
Gingrich’s campaign has scheduled a rally from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Key Bridge Marriott (1401 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn, according to an email published by Politico. The rally is apparently part of an effort to make sure Gingrich collects enough signatures to appear on the ballot in Virginia.
This is not Gingrich’s first appearance in Arlington as a presidential candidate. The former House speaker was in Arlington this summer for the grand opening of his campaign headquarters, which is located on Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia
It may be the most exciting thing to happen outside Ballston Common Mall since this happened last year. The Virginia Sierra Club is planning a made-for-TV rally tomorrow at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Stuart Street.
With the help of some interesting visuals, environmental activists will be calling for policies that support cleaner air in Virginia. Specifically, the Sierra Club is asking for public hearings regarding Dominion Virginia Power’s long-term energy plan. They’re also asking for the State Corporation Commission to approve Dominion’s plan to retire two coal-fired power plants in Virginia.
To help put an exclamation point on their message, demonstrators will be bringing along “a 6-foot cardboard asthma inhaler… 6-foot tall mock wind turbines…. pinwheels symbolizing desire for wind energy… and posters and signs calling for a transition from dirty coal to clean energy.” In addition, rally bystanders will be encouraged to place phone calls to the State Corporation Commission requesting public hearings about Dominion.
“Switching to cleaner energy sources can not only reduce dangerous air pollution, but also create high-skill, high-wage jobs for Virginians,” the Sierra Club said in a press advisory. “Activists seek public hearings so citizens may voice their strong support for clean energy and clean air in person”
Flickr pool photo by Tim Kelley
Former Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell joined the Northern Virginia Tea Party organization for a small rally at Fort C.F. Smith’s Hendry House in Arlington this afternoon.
O’Donnell, promoting her new book “Trouble Maker,” told the audience that the Tea Party movement should not “take the bait and respond respond in anger” to attacks by the “not-so-nice liberal media.” If they can “rise above it,” O’Donnell said, the Tea Party can bolster its image as “a middle class movement” instead of “the angry extremists that they’re accusing us of.”
The advice comes less than 24 hours after O’Donnell walked off the set of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight for what has been portrayed in the press as frustration over a line of questioning about gay marriage.
Joking that the interview is now “infamous,” O’Donnell explained that she was late for another appearance and that Morgan’s questioning before the gay marriage question was “rude.”
“It was very sexist, the line of questioning,” she said. “I think I was a good sport leading up to his questions. He took a decidedly creepy turn… He asked question after question after question about sex. Then he threw a question about gay marriage in there… He wouldn’t let up, and I was well over a half hour late for a Republican women’s event covered by C-SPAN.”
“I think Piers Morgan exaggerated what happened,” O’Donnell added.
In addition to taking digs at the media and talking about her book, O’Donnell repeatedly implored audience members to stand up for “the power of our principles.”
“These principles are nothing to be embarrassed about,” she said.
O’Donnell also discussed the need for the Republican Party’s “D.C. cocktail crowd” to unite with the Tea Party to better pursue the goal of smaller government.
“Just like America is at a crossroads, the Tea Party is at a crossroads… Right now we need leadership, we need stability,” she said. “If the Republicans as a party can unite and stop shooting within the tent… then we can make sure Barack Obama is a one-term president.”
“We crave freedom, and when you articulate that to people they get it,” O’Donnell added.
More than 100 demonstrators marched through the busy streets of Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse last night in support of immigrant rights and against deportations.
The protesters, assisted by a police escort, marched from George Mason University’s Arlington campus to the Arlington County jail. Holding signs and chanting slogans in English and Spanish, the protesters made their message loud and clear for scores of bewildered bystanders and outdoor diners in Clarendon.
Once at the jail, a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Most condemned the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program while praising Arlington for attempting to “opt-out” of the program.
“Arlington was one of the first communities to opt out of Secure Communities,” said Tenants and Workers United Interim Director Jennifer Morley. “When people who live in Arlington heard about it, they spoke out, the organized. Arlington knows that Secure Communities is not the kind of initiative we want in our community.”
“Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary community!” shouted Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU’s National Capital Area chapter, to loud cheers.
A woman identified as “Elizabeth” tearfully spoke about how she was deported before, but made her way back to the area so she could support her young daughter, who has a heart condition.
Also speaking at the rally was Arlington County Police Capt. Jim Wasem, who spoke on behalf of the department. ACPD Chief Doug Scott has previously expressed concern that Secure Communities could dissuade immigrants from cooperating with police investigations.
Protesters will march from George Mason University Founder’s Hall, at 3351 N. Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, to the Arlington County jail, at 1435 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, where they will hold a rally against the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program.
The march is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. Organizers expect the rally outside the jail to start at 7:15 p.m.
“Speakers at the rally will include representatives from Virginia, Maryland, DC, New York, Illinois, California and other locales affected by the discredited deportation program,” organizers said in a statement.
The march and rally will coincide with the start of the Turning the Tide National Summit, a three-day pro-immigration gathering that’s being held this year at GMU’s Arlington campus.
Secure Communities helps federal authorities enforce immigration laws by checking the fingerprints of those arrested by local law enforcement through a Department of Homeland Security immigration database.
In September the County Board voted unanimously to attempt to withdraw from the program, saying that Secure Communities “will create divisions in our community and promote a cultural fear and distrust of law enforcement.” County officials eventually determined that it was not feasible to withdraw from the program. A coalition that helped organize local opposition to Secure Communities was later given the county’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award.
The Caps pep band and drumline will be on hand starting at 1:00 p.m., along with Slapshot (the Capitals mascot) and the Red Rockers cheerleaders. There will also be balloons for the kids and a slapshot cage for fans to test their hockey skills.
At 3:00 p.m., the rally will head into Hard Times Cafe (3028 Wilson Blvd) to watch Game 3 of the Capitals playoff with the New York Rangers. During the game, there will be raffles of autographed items and a giveaway of two Game 5 playoff tickets.
“We are proud to host this event and bring the Caps Playoff excitement to the streets of Clarendon,” said Hard Times owner Doug Welsh.
The Capitals are again headed for the playoffs, and to celebrate the team is holding a pep rally at its practice facility in Ballston.
From 10:00 this morning until the end of the team’s practice session, fans are encouraged to come to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 North Glebe Road) to “Rock the Red” and show their support. Caps announcer Wes Johnson will be there to pump up the crowd, and 106.7 The Fan’s Mike Wise Show will be broadcasting live.
There will also be t-shirt giveaways and an appearance by Slapshot, the team’s avian mascot.
The Capitals will face off against the New York Rangers tomorrow at Verizon Center, the first game of the first round of the playoffs.
Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Comedy Central personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert helped Metro set a Saturday ridership record with 825,437 Metrorail trips taken.
But while setting the record may sound like a positive development for the beleaguered Metro system, those who actually took Metrorail before and after the rally told tales of overcrowded trains and stations.
It was so bad after the rally that some local residents decided to return to Arlington on foot rather than brave the “zoo” at the Metro stations near the mall.
To give you an idea of how crowded it was, check out this video from the Rosslyn Metro station before the rally.
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
This weekend, as many as 300,000 conservatives from across the country will flock to the DC area to attend Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin’s Restoring Honor rally at the Lincoln Memorial.
Many of the Tea Party activists who will be attending Saturday’s non-political event be staying at hotels in Arlington, so it’s important that they know the best places to eat! As such, we’ve compiled a guide to everybody’s favorite non-partisan food: pizza.
Thanks to the Maine Tea Party’s advice to members for navigating the multicultural environs of the greater Washington area, we have a pretty good idea of what Tea Partiers like. So, without further adieu, here are the top five places to go for pizza in Arlington (and none of them are on the dreaded Yellow Line!).
1. Lost Dog Cafe (5876 Washington Blvd) — Safely nestled in a small shopping district in North Arlington, Lost Dog serves not one but five types of white pizza. From the Popeye Pie, with spinach and chicken, to the Ricky Ricotta, described as a white pizza lover’s dream, Lost Dog has plenty of variety to satisfy even the pickiest eater. To wash it down, choose from Lost Dog’s great beer selection. Recommended choices include the Blue Moon White Ale, the Menocino White Hawk Ale, and Allagash White.
2. Pupatella Pizza (5104 Wilson Blvd) — Pupatella just opened its first brick and mortar restaurant to rave reviews. The restaurant is owned by Enzo Algarme, a legal immigrant from Europe — an inspiring story! Forget the fancy gourmet pizzas on the menu, however. Instead, design your own made with Buffalo mozzarella imported from Naples and Pupatella’s homemade cream and garlic white sauce.
3. Piola (1550 Wilson Blvd) — Imagine yourself in a cozy Italian pizzeria when you visit this imported gem in scenic Rosslyn. Piola’s menu features an entire section devoted to Le Pizze Bianche, the original Old World pizza style. Just be glad you weren’t here when the World Cup brought out noisy crowds that insisted on challenging this country’s sport sovereignty by calling the game “football.”
4. Ledo Pizza (1501 Arlington Blvd) — Conveniently located in the Best Western near the Iwo Jima memorial, local chain Ledo Pizza serves reasonably-priced food that will remind you of neighborhood pizzerias back home. But here’s the twist: the pizzas are square. We recommend the Italian White Pizza, with garlic herb aioli, fontina, and a delicious blend of three cheeses. If you’re trying to feed a large group, check out the giant tray of Fettuccini Alfredo.
Around noon today at Gravelly Point, there they were, together at last: about 65 flag-waving, sign-holding and gun-toting Second Amendment advocates, swarmed by a slightly larger crowd of photo-snapping and microphone-wielding members of the media.
Off to the side, under the shade of some tall trees, about two dozen police officers looked on. Further in the distance, CNN’s John King chatted up a young man wearing nylon cargo pants, a florescent vest and a large rifle.
Nearly all the rally participants had rifles or handguns, and a solid minority had both.
From the bed of a pickup truck, in the middle of the park’s large grass field, people started giving speeches.
“I want to thank the media for coming out, as much as I dislike the media,” said Tom Fernandez, co-founder of a group called Alarm & Muster.
Two counter-protesters held handmade signs criticizing the timing of the rally — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Fernandez thanked them for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Further into the program, another speaker compared the government’s bailout of banks to the hijacking of United Flight 93.
“Does our government not act like suicidal hijackers?” he asked, later shouting the newly-minted term “commie-kazies” as a commercial jetliner roared overhead (it was, at best, a poorly thought-out venue for speeches).
As the speeches continued, reporters conducted one-on-one interviews. Pointed questions were asked.
“What constitutional rights do you think are being violated?”
“What do you think about President Obama?”
“What kind of gun is that?”
Amid the media circus, joggers and bicyclists continued on with their daily routines, some shooting quizzical looks at the gathered crowd.
“I think it’s another Tea Party,” one bicyclist said to another.
Lot of photos, after the jump.