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
On Saturday, Oct. 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., behind the ballfield at the corner of S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, residents can show up with a ticket, printed out from the county’s Eventbrite page, and go home with a “whip,” or a baby tree planted in a two-gallon container.
The county offers six different species of tree: sweet birch, white oak, black gum, black haw, pagoda dogwood and sweetbay magnolia. As of this morning (Thursday), sweet birch and sweetbay magnolia were sold out, and reservations for black haw were running out quickly.
Only one tree is allowed per residential property, according to Nora Palmatier, president of the TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria.
County staff will be on hand to provide guidance on maintaining the trees, as well as to help carry the containers to vehicles. Residents of multifamily properties are encouraged to contact TreeStewards for information about planting trees on their property.
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
WRAP Offering Free Cab Rides July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is again sponsoring free taxi rides on Independence Day for those carousing in the D.C. region. From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., those interested in taking SoberRide can call 1-800-200-8294 and have a free ride home worth up to $30. If the fare would cost more than $30, then the rider would be financially responsible for the difference. Riders must be 21 years or older to participate. [WRAP]
Labels for Ornamental Tree Garden – Members of TreeStewards have set out labeling trees in the Ornamental Tree Garden along the W&OD Trail north of Wilson Boulevard. Many of the trees’ identifying signs had been damaged, lost or, in some cases, switched so they are no longer identifying the correct trees. About 30 trees have been relabeled so far along Four Mile Run. [TreeStewards]
Local Newsletter Pioneer Profiled – Longtime Arlington resident Tom Whipple started sending out summaries to stories on Virginia politics to anyone who wanted them in the late 1990s. A decade later, the “Whipple Report“ became the most widely read email newsletter among the Commonwealth’s legislators, lobbyists and media. Whipple, who’s married to former state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, passed on his newsletter to the Virginia Public Access Project in 2011. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by christinerich.
(Updated at 12:00 p.m.) Non-profit organization Preservation Virginia has named Arlington National Cemetery to its list of the state’s most endangered sites.
Each year the group chooses historical sites it believes have become threatened due to neglect, insufficient funding, inappropriate development or public policies and procedures. The cemetery made the list due to the Millennium Project, an expansion project requiring the removal of trees on 12 wooded acres, and the removal of portions of the red sandstone Seneca Wall, which was constructed during the late 1800s.
Around 800 trees would be removed from the cemetery as part of the plan, although about 600 would be replanted. Preservation Virginia’s concerns surround not only the tree removal, but also the amount of soil being moved, the extent of the new retaining walls to be constructed and the road to be built across a stream that is “likely to irreparably alter the topography and run counter to the objectives of Congress.”
This isn’t the first complaint about the Millennium Project’s plan for tree removal. Arlington residents and members of citizens groups, such as the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, have voiced displeasure with the plan. In March, a number of people spoke out against the tree removal during an open house at the site.
Preservation Virginia said the following in a written statement:
“Preservation Virginia respects the mission of Arlington National Cemetery to provide for military interments, but along with other partner preservation organizations believes that there is a better way to create additional burial space while also respecting the significant contributions of Arlington House Woods and the existing, historic boundary wall to this sacred place… Preservation Virginia urges the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Environmental Assessment and to seek an expansion alternative that respects the historic significance of Arlington Woods, protects its historic landscape, and provides for additional burial space.”
Preservation Virginia’s full list of endangered sites for 2013 can be found on its website.
Arraignment for Air Force Officer — Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the airman who was removed from his post as head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program after being accused of sexual battery in Crystal City, is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in an Arlington County courtroom. While the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney office is prosecuting the case, the Air Force has the option of bringing its own case against Krusinski. [Associated Press]
CivFed Opposes Tree Removal at Cemetery — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted Tuesday to oppose a plan to remove 800 trees at Arlington National Cemetery in order to make way for about 30,000 in-ground burial spots and niche spaces. The resolution asks Arlington’s congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to stop the plan and asks the County Board to officially support the legislation. [Sun Gazette]
Four Students Earn Nat’l Merit Scholarships — Four Arlington students have been awarded National Merit Scholarships. The students receiving the $2,500 scholarships are: Ariel Bobbett and Elizabeth Roy of Washington-Lee High School, Nicole Orttung of Yorktown High School, and Robert C. Wharton of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [Arlington Public Schools]
Day One of School Board Caucus — The first day of the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus for School Board will take place tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Drew Model Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.). The second day of party voting will take place on Saturday. Incumbent James Lander is facing off against challenger Barbara Kanninen for the Democratic endorsement. [Arlington Democrats]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
New Bikeshare Stations in Shirlington – Two new Capital Bikeshare stations have been installed in the Shirlington area. The stations are located at Four Mile Run Drive and S. Shirlington Road, and at S. Arlington Mill Drive and Four Mile Run Drive. [Facebook]
Notable Trees Recognized – The Arlington County Board recognized 19 “notable trees” around the county on Tuesday. The honor is “an initiative of the Arlington Beautification Committee that recognizes residents who maintain and preserve outstanding trees.” There are now 265 trees registered in Arlington as part of the Notable Tree program, which began in 1987. “I am proud to live in a community that places such value on its trees,” said County Board Chair Walter Tejada. [Arlington County]
Lee Arts Center Lauded – The Lee Arts Center, at 5722 Lee Highway, is “one of Arlington County’s best kept secrets,” according to local arts writer James George. The county-run facility hosts a gallery and studios for ceramics and printmaking. [Examiner.com]
Fatshorty’s Now Open for Lunch – Fatshorty’s, the new beer and sausage restaurant in Clarendon, is now open for lunch, according to owner Aaron Gordon. The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Monday, and 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Flickr pool photo by m01229
Barring an act of Congress, a planned expansion of Arlington National Cemetery will move forward, despite the objections of some residents who say the plan will cut down too many trees and destroy a natural habitat.
Cemetery leaders and the Army Corps of Engineers, which designed the expansion plan, held an open house and site visit last Saturday to brief residents about the recently-updated plan, show them the site, and listen to their comments. The comments were mostly critical.
“There will be 800 trees taken down. That’s a really big loss for the community,” said one resident who declined to provide her name. “I think there would be lots of veterans who would like to be in a place where the birds are singing and creating nests.”
The Millennium Project, as the plan is called, will expand the cemetery’s burial space to a sloped parcel of undeveloped land adjacent to Fort Myer. The expansion is necessary, officials say, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
More than 700 native trees and nearly 70 dead and invasive trees will be removed, though the Cemetery plans to replant 600 trees as part of the project. Between in-ground burial spots and niche spaces in columbariums, the land is expected to provide a final resting place for up to 30,000 military veterans and their spouses.
Critics of the plan say that the loss of older, mature woodlands will have an outsized impact on the natural habitat, given that much of the rest of Arlington County is urbanized. Such older woodlands would take generations to replace, essentially making them “irreplaceable,” said critics, including members of several citizen groups like the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission.
Cemetery officials, however, say that the land was clearcut during the Civil War and that most of the trees are 50-100 years old, with the oldest at about 145 years old — not meeting the true definition of an “old growth” forest. Further, they say that clearing out the invasive species that have taken root in the current woodlands will provide a better environment in the long run, as the replanted trees grow and mature.
The plan presented last weekend was actually a more environmentally-sensitive revision of a cemetery expansion plan from 2006 that would have clearcut the land and filled in a stream that runs down the middle of it. Instead, the stream will be preserved, the trees adjacent to the stream will be saved, and a small grove of trees in the middle of the land will also be saved, for aesthetic purposes.
Critics of the plan said there are better options than cutting down a mature woodland. Options suggested included clearing invasive species and using the woodland as a place for loved ones to scatter ashes after cremation; converting one of the Pentagon’s parking lots into burial space; limiting expansion of the cemetery to the Navy Annex site; and accelerating the creation a new national military cemetery.
“Long term, you’re going to have to move off anyway and do this sort of thing elsewhere,” said Arlington resident and conservationist Mark Haynes. “Arlington has so little in terms of woods left… why take this now? Leave this here as part of the hallowed ground. You’ve got plans for the long term anyway, why not start them now?”
Vote Expected on Homeless Shelter — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote this weekend on a use permit for the planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N. in Courthouse. A group of neighbors has vehemently opposed the shelter, which is located two blocks from the existing emergency winter shelter. [Sun Gazette]
Opposition to Environmental Cuts — One local environmental advocate is sounding the alarm about proposed cuts in the County Manager’s proposed budget. The budget would cut a Natural Resources Specialist at the Long Branch Nature Center, would eliminate an “urban forestry” position,” and would shrink the budget for tree plantings, tree supplies and invasive species control. [Arlington Mercury]
Proposed 2013-14 School Calendar – The 2013-14 school year for Arlington Public Schools would begin on Tuesday, Sept. 3 under a proposed calendar that administrators presented to the School Board. [Arlington Public Schools]
Volunteers Pack 60,000+ Meals — A group of volunteers packed more than 60,000 meals for the hungry on Saturday. The meals — a lentil casserole consisting of “lentils, dehydrated vegetables, rice, vitamins and Himalayan sea salt” — were packed in baggies that will be distributed through the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Capital Area Food Bank. [Sun Gazette]