Mercedes Catches Fire After Lightning Strike — An Arlington man’s beloved Mercedes 430 CLK convertible was “burned to a crisp” Monday night after a lightning strike. The lightning apparently struck a power pole, which then fell over. A sparking power line ignited the Mercedes. [Washington Post]
Arlington Honors 16 Trees — The Arlington County Board recognized 16 “Notable Trees” around the county at its meeting yesterday afternoon. During the 10-minute ceremony, details about each tree were read individually as the tree’s owner came up to the front of the room to collect a plaque or certificate. Of the 16 trees, 14 are located in north Arlington and only 2 are located in south Arlington. [Arlington County]
Shirlington Apartment Building Loses Power — Io Piazza, an upscale apartment building in Shirlington, had been without power for more than 24 hours as of last night. An underground transformer that serves the building failed during Monday’s thunderstorms. [Patch]
Year-Round Gift Wrapping at Pentagon City Mall — Starting May 8, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will be offering year-round complimentary gift wrapping service. The service is available for purchases of $250 or more at luxury stores. Previously, the service was only offered during certain holidays.
Fmr. Treasurer Endorses Fallon — Frank O’Leary, who retired as Arlington County Treasurer last year, has endorsed Peter Fallon for County Board. “Peter Fallon is a mature, thoughtful, fiscally responsible candidate with an amazing grasp of the issues that confront our county,” O’Leary said in a statement. “I enthusiastically support his approach to improving Arlington.” [InsideNova]
Cristol Published Buzzfeed Listicle — County Board candidate Katie Cristol has published a Buzzfeed listicle, complete with animated GIFs, highlighting “7 Reasons to Vote in Arlington Virginia.” Among the reasons are “housing is getting less affordable,” “over 50% of Arlington is under 35,” “women need a strong voice in Arlington” and “it’s fun.” [Buzzfeed]
In a presentation to the Arlington County Board on Tuesday night, Cherrydale Citizens Association representative Maureen Ross went over several issues during her Neighborhood Conservation plan update, including the upkeep of the North Arlington neighborhood’s street trees.
“Our trees are a huge issue in Cherrydale,” R0ss said. “They’re not in good shape.”
Arlington is spending about $1.2 million on tree maintenance, removal and planting this fiscal year, according to county Landscape and Tree Supervisor Jamie Bartalon. Bartalon said the county has regular tree maintenance programs, but most of the funds are spent on safety-related pruning and removal of hazardous trees.
In county staff’s response to Cherrydale’s tree concerns, the Department of Parks and Recreation said it has recently established new practices for planting urban trees, but said funding is simply insufficient to accomplish all of Cherrydale’s requests.
“DPR’s baseline budget for tree planting is barely sufficient to replace the average number of trees that are removed each year,” the staff report reads. “DPR does not recommend reallocating tree planting funding towards tree maintenance when such reallocation may result in fewer trees being planted than removed from County property.”
Bartalon said the budget for tree planting in FY 2015 is $206,388, and the county has added a net total of 175 trees this year, based on an annual projection of 650 trees removed because they have died or were taken down for development. The majority of trees are removed because they are “dead, dying, hazardous or downed/damaged by storms.”
“Arlington loves its trees as do most residents so we always look for options before removing a tree,” Bartalon told ARLnow.com in an email. “If there is a safety issues… can it just be pruned? If it is diseased, can we cure it? Our last option is to remove a tree.”
Ross and her neighbors contend that the county could avoid removing many of its trees if it simply kept a regular watering schedule. Ross showed examples of other trees, like the one pictured at right. She said the tree on the left in the image was planted by the Safeway 10 years ago.
“We planted our trees 20 years ago, but replaced them two or three times,” Ross said. “Why is Safeway able to do it and we can’t?”
There are more than 19,000 street trees in Arlington, according to DPR, and the county “cannot begin to cover the cost to implement a Countywide regular pruning cycle.”
When trees are damaged or hazardous, residents can report them to parks staff, which will respond. But Ross said she looks at Falls Church’s Willow Oak trees, planted 20 years ago at the same time of many of Cherrydale’s street trees, and wonders what could have been.
“[Those trees] look magnificent,” she said. “Why doesn’t Cherrydale look like that? No excuses.”
Photo, top, via Google Maps. Image, bottom, via Cherrydale Citizens Association
A developer is cutting down an oak tree thought to be more than 200 years old today in Bluemont, prompting outcries from some neighbors.
The large, willow oak tree, on the 5600 block of 8th Road N., is on a 12,000-square-foot lot that WSD Homes is in the process of redeveloping. According to nearby residents, the homebuilding company is planning on building two $1.2 million houses on the property — where now sits an unoccupied house ready to be torn down.
A request for comment from WSD Homes has not been returned. The tree was more than 100 feet tall and more than 23 feet around at chest height, neighbors said. WSD Homes had originally said it would try to preserve it, but its director of sales, Jon Ferris, changed his mind after talking with neighbors, they said.
“Ferris stated that even if the tree could be saved, people who would buy a nice $1.2 million home would not want such a tree in their front yard,” Mark Haynes, who has been one of the leaders of the campaign to save the tree, told ARLnow.com in an email this morning. “A petition asking WSD and the County to attempt to save the tree has been circulated and has well over 100 signatures including many from local tree experts and neighbors.
“Last week, when local representatives of the Arlington Tree Stewards group and others requested a meeting at the site to discuss how the tree might be saved (with WSD still able to make a profit), Ferris stated that WSD would hurry to cut the tree down to stop the discussion.”
Workers from The Care of Trees were at the house today, chopping the tree down with chainsaws and woodchippers. Several truckloads of tree chippings had already been hauled off site, with the majority of the trunk still firmly in the ground. It’s unclear what, if anything, will be left of the tree when the work is completed.
“This magnificent Willow Oak is estimated to be 180 to 250 years old and predates the American Civil War by at least 50 years,” Haynes said. “Willow Oaks are one of the more long-lived (up to 400 years) and hearty of the oaks. This particular tree was, in the view of a number of experts, very healthy and had many, many years left in it.”
Arlington keeps registries of “Champion Trees” and “Notable Trees,” but the willow oak does not appear to be on either list. Trees that are listed as “Specimen Trees” or in a Resource Protected Area have some protections on them that prevent them from being cut down. The Willow tree has no protections, said Arlington Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“The County cannot stop a private landowner from taking down a tree on their property unless it is a Specimen Tree or in a Resource Protected Area and sadly this tree is neither,” Kalish said.
One of the residents who contacted ARLnow.com said it was the second-largest tree in the county, but ARLnow.com hasn’t been able to confirm its official height or how it compares to other trees in the county.
“To us, it was a magnificent tree no matter it’s ranking,” Kalish said.
Two Rescued From House Fire — Arlington County firefighters battled an early morning house fire in the Old Glebe neighborhood overnight. Two adults were rescued from the roof of the three-alarm fire. An ACFD spokesman said hoarding conditions inside the home made battling the blaze more difficult. [WUSA9, WJLA]
Two Trees Considered for ‘Specimen’ Status — The Arlington County Board will vote this weekend, then hold a public hearing, then vote again next month, to determine whether two trees should be protected with a “specimen tree” designation. [Arlington County]
Future of Arlington’s Office Market — The Arlington County Board held a work session Tuesday to discuss the future of the office market in the county. Arlington Economic Development produced a video that discusses how the office market is changing and how that pertains to local policymaking. [YouTube]
Anti-DACA Bill Defeated — A bill that would have denied in-state tuition to some immigrant students has been defeated in the Virginia state senate. Last week, Arlington’s Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) vowed to fight the bill, which was aimed at students who had been protected from deportation by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. [Virginian-Pilot]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Optimist Club of Arlington‘s annual Christmas tree sale started this past weekend, giving Arlington residents the chance to stop by the Wells Fargo parking lot at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road to pick out this year’s symbolic evergreen.
This is the 67th year the Optimist Club — which sponsors “academic and sports activities designed to give Arlington’s youth a better chance to succeed in today’s world,” according to its website — has held its annual sale, which is one of its biggest fundraisers.
This year, the lot is open from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Trees range in prices from $30 for a five-foot white pine to $230 for a 12-foot Fraser fir.
All of the trees being sold are “freshly cut” from Jefferson County, N.C., according to the Optimist Club. Garlands and wreaths are also available for purchase.
The expansion will add a 33,040-square-foot addition in the northeast corner of the school, at 1030 N. McKinley Road, and smaller additions in the southwest corner and at the main entrance to the school. The project is expected to be complete by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
An expansion of this size would, according to the county’s Zoning Ordinance, necessitate that Arlington Public Schools add 108 parking spaces. But because open space and a number of mature trees surround McKinley, the County Board approved plans to add just 20 spaces to the existing 36 spaces. Even those 20 spaces were the source of controversy; the county’s Planning Commission and Transportation Commission recommended adding no spaces and instead using street parking to accommodate the additional staff and parent vehicles.
Advocates from the school and community who were a part of the planning process, including McKinley Principal Colin Brown, spoke in favor of adding the 20 spaces.
“I’ve said from the start that we enjoy a fantastic day-to-day relationship with the neighbors and the community,” Brown told the Board. “At this point, the neighborhood is able to handle the volume of staff and parents parking on the street given the current capacity of the parking lot. We’re at a tipping point. We need to maintain a fine and delicate balance.”
Ultimately, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended keeping the 20 spaces in the plan, and the County Board approved it unanimously. Only three members of the general public spoke, two of whom, School Board candidate Audrey Clement and Jim Hurysz, decried APS’ inability to expand schools “up, not out,” which would save green space. Despite that opposition, County Board Chair Jay Fisette marveled at the lack of animosity toward the plan, which marked the expansion of Ashlawn Elementary School.
“I think it is quite a testament to this process that we had three speakers,” he said. “This is one of the easiest things I’ve seen to come before the Board.”
To make way for the school expansion, 78 trees will be removed — 12 of which are gingko trees that will be transplanted elsewhere in the county. Nearly 150 trees will be planted once construction is complete, according to APS Director of Design and Construction Scott Prisco.
“We feel strongly this is a sensitive approach to the neighbors, and it will meet our needs as a school system,” Prisco said.
In total, the expansion will mean a net increase of 32,250 square feet and include 10 new classrooms, two art rooms, two music rooms and expand the gymnasium to have enough space for the entire, expanded school. The expansion will also add a stage. Construction will include pedestrian improvements on N. McKinley Road and 11th Street N.
Photo via APS
(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) More than a dozen trees that lined the median of Fairfax Drive in Ballston were chopped down this weekend to make room for a new landscaping project.
Seventeen trees, some of which were around a foot in diameter, were removed by the Ballston Business Improvement District last weekend and this weekend. According to Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone, landscapers will be removing the stumps before they put in new trees and other plants.
Leone said 27 bald cypress trees will be planted in the median, accompanied by shrubbery and both annual and perennial flowers. Most of the work is projected to take between four and eight weeks, Leone said, but the perennials won’t be planted until the fall.
“We have started the implementation of our really dramatic landscaping for Fairfax Drive,” Leone said. “We see it becoming our grand boulevard for Ballston.”
The 17 trees removed “were near the end of their lives,” Leone said. “We had both our arborist and Arlington County’s take a look at them before the decision was made to remove them.”
The landscaping is the beginning of a re-envisioning of the way Ballston looks, and next year the improvements will begin in earnest to the “hardscape,” Leone said. The planned changes will be revealed on June 23 at the Ballston BID’s annual meeting, when attendees will be given a “3-D video tour” of the future of Ballston. Leone said the project should take about five years to complete.
“Ballston is going to look very different in the next five years,” she said. “This is just the first step.”
ARLnow.com received numerous tips and inquiries about the tree removal.
“A real shame,” one tipster said about the tree removal, before hearing about the replanting plans. “[It will result in] less green in the cityscape, less shade, less CO2 consumed, less oxygen produced, more of an urban heat island effect.”
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Thirteen of the trees are in North Arlington and five are in South Arlington. Most of them are on private property and owned by the residents, who are granted either a certificate or a plaque. The trees, according to the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, “may be nominated for their size, age, species, historical interest or because they have a special significance to the neighborhood.”
“It is an honor to be a part of a culture that values and recognizes its tree canopy,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “All of the nominees and winners should take great pride in their efforts and dedication to a flourishing environment.”
The notable trees designations coincide with Arbor Day. The county will hold an Arbor Day ceremony today (Thursday) at 2:00 p.m. at Barcroft Elementary School, 625 S. Wakefield Street, where it will receive its 18th consecutive “Tree City USA” designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Below are the list of trees, and their locations, that are now known as Arlington notable trees. Photos of each winner can be found at DPR’s website:
2014 Certificate Winners:
- Two Tulip Trees, 5249 26th Street N.
- Two Red Maples, 5923 3rd Street N.
- Willow Oak, 1700 S. Pollard Street
- Pin Oak, 4919 33rd Road N.
- Tulip Tree, 2320 N. Tuckahoe Street
- Black Cherry, 3557 N. Abingdon Street
- Eastern Red Cedar, 4814 3rd Street N.
2014 Plaque Winners:
- Ohio Buckeye, 4863 28th Street N.
- Loblolly Pine, 5331 32nd Street N.
- Eastern Redcedar, 1718 S. Quincy Street
- Black Oak, 1718 S. Quincy Street
- Southern Red Oak, 1718 S. Quincy Street
- White Oak, 400 N. Manchester Street (pictured)
- White Oak, 315 N. Garfield Street
- White Oak, 4508 8th Street S.
- Deodar Cedar, 2223 N. Quantico Street
Photo via Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Several cherry trees were chopped down this week, while fully flowered, for a new landscape design in Rosslyn.
The trees were several of about a dozen planted in front of the Colonial Village Shopping Center, home to the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, along Wilson Blvd. Xtra Care Landscaping & Design was hired by the strip mall’s property manager to remove the trees, according to an Xtra Care employee.
“The manager just wants the shopping center to look better and to cut some trees down,” the employee told ARLnow.com. “There are going to be a lot of new plants going in and the whole center is going to be landscaped.”
The employee estimated the landscaping work will be completed by Friday.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) It’s cherry blossom season in the D.C. area, and the more than 1,000 trees that call Arlington home are beginning to bloom.
The most famous of the local cherry trees, those along the Tidal Basin in D.C., will be in peak bloom next week, from April 8-12, according to the National Park Service. Although spring officially began on March 20, the cherry blossoms blooming in places like Clarendon and Pentagon City are one of nature’s better indicators that warm weather is here to stay.
Arlington plants between 25 and 35 flowering cherry blossom trees each year, county Landscape and Forestry Supervisor Jamie Bartalon told ARLnow.com. The trees planted in Arlington include the Yoshino, Okame and Kwanzan varieties. The Yoshino cherry blossom is the primary species in the Tidal Basin in D.C. that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Bartalon said most of the recent tree plantings are Okame trees, which are the pink flowering trees pictured above. The Yoshino trees are the plants with white flowers.
The “epic treehouse” featured on ARLnow.com in January is now for sale.
The treehouse — described by its 36-year-old owner as a “mancave in a tree” — is for sale along with two surrounding structures: a renovated 3 bedroom/2.5 bath house originally built in 1904, and a detached 1 bedroom/1 bath “guest/in law cottage.”
Owner Andrew Knight said he has invested much of his money into repurposing a church and rectory in Lewiston, Maine into an events venue and, “after crunching the numbers,” he realized he had to sell his house.
“I need the liquidity in my Arlington house,” he said. “I was planning on staying here potentially permanently. It was a very sad moment when I crunched the numbers and realized I just couldn’t do it. I was hoping to get a variety of sources of commercial financing for the building I just purchased, but they all decided it was too risky. So I had to do it with cash.”
The 199-square-foot treehouse — which was built on a 150-year-old oak tree at a cost of about $20,000 — is described as “magnificent” in the real estate listing. The 0.16 acre property, at 1747 S. Glebe Road in Nauck, also includes a number of hidden features.
“The stylish pub in the basement provides perfect space for entertaining or for a quiet retreat,” the listing says. Knight describes it as a “medieval pub” in his basement. There is also a “spacious workshop.”
Knight said he envisions himself returning to northern Virginia and is particularly regretful he didn’t have a summer with the treehouse to grill and relax outside.
“I’m hoping that the right family will find this property,” Knight said. “I imagine it will be a family with kids. The kids love the treehouse, the parents love the guest house they can put their in-laws in, the dad loves the pub in the basement.”
Hat tip to @dpan
Arlington Public Schools has almost doubled its estimate for how many trees need to be removed to make way for the 12-room addition at Ashlawn Elementary School.
The initial use permit for the addition called for 54 trees to be removed to make room the expansion. After consulting a certified arborist, Arlington Public Schools staff is asking the County Board to approve the removal of 40 additional trees.
Once construction is complete, APS is suggesting planting 224 new trees, up from the 127 that was approved by the County Board last May. The increase is to comply with county policy on replacing trees that are removed for construction, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick told ARLnow.com.
“We’re adding more trees than required in order to be good neighbors and help to screen our property from our neighbors,” Chadwick said.
The revision is necessary because the original use permit was approved before the construction designs were finalized. APS and county staff agreed more trees needed to be removed to make room for stormwater construction, Chadwick said, and the arborist recommended dead and dying trees for removal.
The tree removal at Ashlawn generated some local outrage when the school system started removing trees not included in the use permit. That led to a verbal reprimand from the County Board in January.
“We cannot let this happen again — we cannot allow trees to be chopped down… this is a problem,” board member Walter Tejada said at the time, according to the Sun Gazette.
The use permit amendment that’s being considered on Saturday only addresses the trees, Chadwick said. The “loop road” dropoff from N. Manchester Street, which had been a source of controversy last spring, is not being recommended for change.
County Board Still Steamed Over Tree Removal — Arlington County Board members are still lashing out against Arlington Public Schools’ removal of some trees from the grounds of Ashlawn Elementary School, which is beginning an expansion project. The school system received county staff approval to remove the trees but did not receive County Board approval. “The community has reason to be upset,” Board member Walter Tejada reiterated on Saturday. County Board members also questioned whether a controversial plan to create a loop road for student drop-off was still necessary. [Sun Gazette]
Transitway Stops Cheaper than Superstop — The new transit stops along the just-approved Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway will cost between $345,000 and $530,000. That’s significantly less than the cost of the $1 million “Superstop” on the corner of Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike. The new transit stops will still come with an “[improved] sidewalk, boarding platform, benches, trash cans, lighting, information signs, canopy, bike racks and windscreen.” [Washington Post]
W-L Wrestler Finishes Second in Tourney — Washington-Lee senior wrestler Narankhuu Ganbaatar has finished second in the 6A state tournament. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
‘The Springs’ Affordable Apartment Complex Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved “The Springs,” a 104-unit affordable apartment complex in the Buckingham neighborhood. The $38 million project was partially funded with a $7.82 million loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. [Arlington County]
Don Beyer to Run for Moran’s Seat — Former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer, co-owner of the local car dealership chain, says he will enter the race for the Congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Beyer, a Democrat, recently served as a U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. [Washington Post]
Board Puts Kibosh on School Tree Removal –– The County Board has ordered Arlington Public Schools to halt the removal of trees at Ashlawn Elementary School ahead of a planned addition to the school. The order follows a public outcry about the tree removal, which was initially authorized by county staff but without a public process. ““We cannot let this happen again . we cannot allow trees to be chopped down,” Board member Walter Tejada is quoted as saying. “This is a problem.” [Sun Gazette]
Burst Pipe at Uncle Julio’s — A pipe burst at Uncle Julio’s in Ballston over the weekend, sending water “pouring” from the ceiling. No word on any damage to the restaurant. [Twitter]
Edelman to Talk at Library — Best-selling author and financial adviser Ric Edelman will discuss his book “The Truth About Retirement Plans and IRAs” at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) in March. The talk will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Board Takes Action on Affordable Housing — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted on a series of measures to preserve some of the county’s supply of affordable housing. The Board approved a set of financial tools — including a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) area — that will help preserve the affordability of 6,200 market rate affordable homes along Columbia Pike, an estimated $6.7 million Tenant Assistance Fund for tenants of affordable housing that is being renovated or redeveloped, and a $8.3 million loan to keep the 101-unit Arna Valley View Apartments near I-395 affordable. [Washington Post]
Tree Removal Concerns County Board — County Board members said they were “deeply concerned” and “shocked” at reports that Arlington Public Schools allowed the removal of protected trees on the site of the Ashlawn Elementary School expansion project. [Sun Gazette]
Preservation Arlington Touts Colonial Village — The group Preservation Arlington says “it is a prime time to move to Colonial Village,” touting the community — the first Federal Housing Administration-insured large-scale rental housing project in the U.S. — as “an urban oasis: historic and protected in the heart of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.” [Preservation Arlington]
DJO Coach Named to Hall of Fame — Bishop O’Connell High School softball coach Tommy Orndorff has been named to the 2014 National Softball Hall of Fame. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Arlington Athletes Make All-Mets — Yorktown football running back M.J. Stewart, Washington-Lee cross country runner Sarah Angell, and Bishop O’Connell soccer midfielder Lauren Harkes have been named to the 2013 first-team fall All-Met. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Chase McAlpine