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If readership is any indication, it seems like a lot of Arlington residents have the same itchy red insect bites described in this week’s most-read story.

It was, in fact, a busy week for readership given that we’re in peak summer vacation season. Speaking of which, August begins on Sunday — enjoy summer while it lasts! Saturday in particular should be a perfect summer day.

Here are the most-read articles of the past week on ARLnow:

  1. Residents Abuzz Over Mysterious Bug Bites Possibly Tied to Cicadas
  2. Local Couple Killed in California Plane Crash (July 19)
  3. New County Logo Designs Released
  4. Apartment Management Tells Parents to Get Kids Off Their Lawn
  5. Apartment Building with Grocery Store Proposed for Ballston Macy’s
  6. President Biden Speaks at McAuliffe Campaign Event in Arlington
  7. Olympic Heartbreak for Huske in Tokyo
  8. Police Investigating Serious Bike Crash Near Yorktown HS
  9. Morning Poll: Which Proposed County Logo Do You Like the Best?
  10. What $1 Million Can Get You in Northern Virginia Real Estate
  11. Coronavirus Cases Still Rising in Arlington Amid Renewed Focus on Masks
  12. Local Democrat Challenges Rep. Don Beyer in 8th District Primary

Feel free to discuss those stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Have a nice weekend!

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(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A multi-year legal battle between a family and Arlington Public Schools over the appropriateness of their child’s special education support ended this summer with a decision in APS’s favor, handed down by federal court.

While the avenues for dispute resolution dead-end there for the family, the decision provides an insight into how fraught the special education system can be. What is supposed to be a collaborative effort among schools and parents can turn into a grueling legal process if the parents and the school system disagree over aspects of the child’s disability or which setting best meets their needs.

In this case, the parents sued APS, requesting it pay for tuition at a private day school that — according to them — would be better for their child than Williamsburg Middle School. The federal court decision said APS did not have to pay the cost of tuition.

The court also overturned a lower ruling by a state officer who said the school system should reimburse the parents for a private evaluation they obtained. A psychologist found their child exhibited disabilities that APS did not find in their evaluation.

This case reveals how some decisions favor schools partially because parents make procedural missteps before they realize that every step of the process could become evidence in a hearing later on, special education lawyer Juliet Hiznay tells ARLnow.

She said both the hearing officer and the federal decision were well-reasoned, and that the parents made a couple of common errors.

“A lot of parents get caught up in sort of what I call traps for the unwary: not preserving their claims, not communicating them during meetings, not getting them on the record,” she said.

That the case reached federal court is also exceedingly rare, because the special education legal system is set up to have these issues resolved in meetings and mediation sessions, she said. The parents sued after an administrative process with an independent hearing officer did not go in their favor.

“There is a risk associated with doing this. There’s an emotional toll, and practical price to pay: School districts don’t like being sued, so the relationship gets destroyed when you sue a school division,” she said. “And many parents are afraid, and some of them have more than one child, and they don’t want to risk any kind of retaliation by the school district.”

One family’s experience

The boy at the center of the lawsuit is currently attending a private school in Sterling, Virginia, according to federal court documents. The home school is Nottingham Elementary School, which he attended from kindergarten through fourth grade.

While at Nottingham, his parents and school officials noticed he struggled academically and socially. During an assessment in the first grade, he “presented with difficulty in a number of different areas” including reading, writing and math, attention and organization and making friends, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the parents.

He was given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a document outlining the services the school will provide, under the category of “specific learning disability.” But by fourth grade, he “still continued to struggle greatly,” per the lawsuit.

According to Virginia Department of Education data, APS has been providing services to steadily more children with presumed or diagnosed specific learning disabilities in the last four years.

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The Salt Line in Ballston is now “looking at a September opening,” restaurant representatives tell ARLnow.

This another push back from the restaurant’s initial opening in spring 2020. Pandemic-related delays caused that to be moved to 2021. Then, construction delays shifted it again to summer and, now, opening appears to be set for late summer or early fall.

Current construction does appear to be further along than it was two months ago, with ARLnow observing several people working on the outdoor bar.

When the restaurant was first announced in January 2019, the Arlington County Board had to approve the building of the outdoor portion of the restaurant since the plan was for it to be permanent.

The Salt Line is located at the base of 4040 Wilson Blvd. in Ballston, the tallest building in the neighborhood.

The seafood spot comes from D.C-based Long Shot Hospitality and will be the second location of the popular Navy Yard restaurant. That location was the Washington Nationals’ unofficial party spot during their World Series run in 2019, partly due to Ryan Zimmerman being an investor and part-owner.

The 3,800-square-foot space in Ballston will include spread-out booths, a large patio, and outdoor bar and lounge area in response to “COVID-conscious guests requests for more space,” we’re told.

The kitchen will be managed by executive chef Matt Singer and Kyle Bailey of Long Shot Hospitality. The Ballston restaurant will have a menu similar to that of the Navy Yard location, including clam chowder, lobster rolls, rockfish, and clams. The seafood is sourced from a New York-based cooperative supplemented by local, freshly caught fish from Maryland.

There will also be house-made pastas, daily lunch service, and an “expanded selection of crudos.”

Long Shot also just opened a New Orleans-style eatery called Dauphine’s in D.C. in May.

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4853 Little Falls Road

Looking to buy a home in Arlington? Stop by one of the many open houses taking place throughout the area this weekend.

Before diving in, let’s take a look at what the market has been up to. In the past four weeks, there have been 188 new listings, giving us a total of 710 homes for sale, according to Homesnap. That includes 466 condos, 202 single-family homes and 42 townhomes.

  • 1611 N. Bryon Street
    5 BD/4.5 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Fenced-in backyard, screened porch off kitchen, short walk to Courthouse Metro
    Listed: $1,935,000
    Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m. and Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • 5501 11th Street N.
    5 BD/3 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Back deck, lower recreation room, one car garage
    Listed: $1,085,000
    Open: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
  • 4853 Little Falls Road
    3 BD/2.5 BA single-family home
    Noteworthy: Wood burning fireplace, built-in bookcases, brick patio
    Listed: $899,000
    Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m.
  • 2220 Fairfax Drive #507
    2 BD/2 BA condo
    Noteworthy: Blocks from Courthouse Metro, wood floors throughout, gas fireplace
    Listed: $675,000
    Open: Sunday, 1 p.m.
  • 2142 S. Pollard Street
    2 BD/1.5 BA sing-family home
    Noteworthy: Enclosed front sunroom, back patio, rear addition
    Listed: $559,000
    Open: Sunday, 12 p.m.

Image via Google Maps

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Grab a few friends and register for the fall Arlington County Parks & Recreation 3v3 adult basketball league! New this year!

Choose from two divisions: I (competitive level) and II (rec level). Games begin September 1 and will be held on Wednesday nights at Lyon Village Park (1800 N Highland Street) and Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S Hayes Street). Cost is $260 per team. Learn more and register here by August 15.

Submit your own Community Post here.

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Mortgage rates are at historic lows and we can help start your journey. You no longer need a 20% down payment so homeownership

Arlington Public Schools will require universal masking at the start of the school year, regardless of vaccination status, according to an email to families this morning.

The order applies to all students, staff and visitors inside APS buildings and on school buses, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in the announcement. Masks will not be required when eating or during outside recess, P.E. class, athletics and other outdoor activities.

The new school year begins Monday, Aug. 30.

“Universal masks are part of a layered approach to help our schools stay open and safe, and to ensure all students can safely return to our buildings, especially when physical distancing is not possible at all times and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations,” Durán wrote.

APS’s new mandate mirrors the rules for in-person summer school. It comes amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Arlington County, fueled by the more contagious Delta variant. The announcement comes on the heels of similar universal mask mandates announced this week by Fairfax County and Montgomery County public schools.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings where prevalence of the virus is elevated.

“Universal masking for the start of the school year aligns with the latest CDC guidance, and the recommendations of local and state public health authorities, to help ensure all students can safely return to school buildings,” Durán said.

Citing CDC guidance, Durán said a student who is within three to six feet of an infected student will not be considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing masks and the school takes other precautions.

“We will continue to regularly review our masking practices and other health and safety measures to keep them in line with national, state and local health recommendations,” Durán said. “As guidance changes, we will keep the community informed of any changes to our practices.”

Durán encouraged families to vaccinate children ages 12 and older.

“The most effective tool for protecting our school community and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming students back to school for in-person learning, five days per week.”

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The county review process is just about to begin for Greystar Real Estate Partners’ proposed redevelopment project for the vacant Wendy’s site in Courthouse.

It’s the same process that former developer Carr Properties went through seven years ago to get county approval to build an office building. After Carr received the County Board’s go-ahead in 2015, the fast food spot was demolished in 2016 but the office building never materialized.

For almost five years the triangle lot sat vacant; for the last two years it was used as a construction staging area for the 2000 Clarendon condo project across the street. Now, the site plan review process is about to kick off for Greystar’s plans to turn the 0.57-acre lot at 2025 Wilson Blvd into a 16-story apartment building, with up to 231 residential units and 4,000 square feet of retail, according to the county’s site plan website.

In September, residents will have an online engagement opportunity in which they can comment on land use, building size, architecture, transportation and open space. Site plan review meetings are slated for the fall, but dates for the final approvals from the Planning Commission and the County Board are still to be determined.

As part of the project, Greystar proposes a nearly 3,300-square-foot public pedestrian plaza at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road, Wilson Blvd, and Clarendon Blvd. The plaza, with movable tables and chairs and space for temporary vendors, would surround a possible retail entrance at the tip of the Wendy’s site, facing N. Courthouse Road.

The project includes a 104,789 sq. ft. transfer of development rights from “Wakefield Manor,” a small garden-apartment complex less than a half-mile from the proposed development. The housing on N. Courthouse Road — featuring Art Deco and Moderne design elements — is designated as having “a historic easement,” according to the county.

That could be part of Greystar’s plan to achieve higher density while providing affordable housing. Greystar’s proposal clocks in at 166 feet tall and 16 stories, much higher than the recommended maximum of 10 stories in the Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study.

Documents filed in April stated Greystar “is open to the provision of on-site affordable housing to further justify the increase in height” but said nothing further than that the developer is committed to “work with staff throughout the site plan process to develop an affordable housing plan.”

Another development preparing for site plan review also proposes using the transfer tool. Insight Property Group plans to transfer density from garden-style apartments it owns on Columbia Pike to the Ballston Macy’s, which is set to be redeveloped as an apartment building.

Greystar, meanwhile, has another project in the works nearby. Demolition has started of the low-slung commercial buildings that make up the Landmark Block, making way for a new 20-story apartment building adjacent to the Courthouse Metro station.

Hat tip to @CarFreeHQ2

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It’s not a good year to be an allergy sufferer.

“Allergy season in North America has been the lengthiest and the most severe in decades,” Axios reported yesterday. A number of factors are making allergies worse, from climate change lengthening the pollen-producing season to an overabundance of pollen-producing male trees in urban areas.

That’s not to mention added air pollution from western wildfires and the pandemic potentially leading to more outdoor activity.

Today, we’re asking how this year compares with last year those with seasonal allergies in Arlington. Is it worse, better, or about the same?

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Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Vaccine Mandate for Feds — “Requiring vaccinations for the full federal workforce is the right thing to do for the health of the workforce and the nation they serve. Including all civilian federal employees and contractors in this mandate is huge, it will mean this covers a very large number of workers. This policy rightly prioritizes federal workers’ health.” [Press Release]

No Mask Mandate in Va. So Far — “Virginia recommends that even vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in certain circumstances, but with different locations experiencing different levels of COVID-19 transmission, the state has stopped short of issuing a mandate.” [Tysons Reporter]

Mask Mandates for Pentagon and D.C. — “Effective immediately, the Department of Defense has ordered that masks must be worn at all Pentagon facilities, regardless of vaccination status.” “Masks will again be required indoors in D.C. beginning Saturday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser ordered, in a reversal of recent policy driven by new federal guidelines that recommend indoor masking in areas where coronavirus transmission is high.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Reports of Sick Birds Decreasing — “After Virginia and other states began receiving reports of a mysterious illness sickening or killing birds in late May, reports are starting to go down. However, the cause of the birds’ illness and deaths remains unknown.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources provided the update on the bird mortality event Wednesday.” [Patch]

Bus Bay Closures Start Sunday — “To make way for the Ballston-MU Multimodal Improvements Project, the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) will be temporarily closing several Metrobus bays near the Metrorail station. Starting Sunday, bus bays A,B,C,D, and J will be closed, which will impact a number of Metrobus routes. The changes will also cause many detours as the buses alter their routes to access the new bays.” [Patch]

Local Diver Wins Another Title — “A triple-crown high-school diving champion from the winter season has added another title to her 2021 resume. Dominion Hills diver Ellie Joyce won the oldest-age senior girls age group with a 227.75 point total at the Divisional 4 championships of the Northern Virginia Swimming League. During the high-school campaign as a sophomore for Washington-Liberty, Joyce won Liberty District, 6D North Region and Class 6 state championships for the Generals.” [Sun Gazette]

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The arts industry in Arlington is reopening and we at Embracing Arlington Arts are urging Arlingtonians to get out and enjoy the many diverse offerings coming your way! From galleries to performing arts to music events to children’s theater and everything in between, the extremely talented artists and arts organizations in the County are ready to entertain you and help us cope in these post-COVID times. Our website hosts a chronological Calendar of Events, as well as a listing of arts organizations located in Arlington.

We also are asking you to patronize these events to help these critical organizations get back on their financial feet after more than 16 months of little opportunity for earned revenue due to the pandemic and shutdown. Yet during this same time period, these organizations continued giving back to our community.

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