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by Chris Teale March 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Kitchen sink and tap water (file photo)The county’s drinking water may taste slightly different starting next week, as the regional supply system gets its annual spring cleaning.

From March 20 through April 17, the disinfectant in the water will switch temporarily from chloramine to chlorine, as part of routine cleaning of the drinking water systems by crews from the Washington Aqueduct.

Aqueduct crews will also add a corrosion control inhibitor during the switch to prevent the potential release of lead in system pipes throughout the region. County officials said extensive research in Arlington has never found any lead service lines or lead pipes inside homes.

During the cleaning, the county’s Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau will continually monitor for safe chlorine levels and conduct system-wide flushing. Staff will also start systematically flushing fire hydrants throughout the county.

Running the cold water tap for about two minutes, using water filters and letting water sit in a container in the refrigerator generally remove chlorine taste and odor.

The bureau will release its annual water quality report in May. The county’s drinking water has been found to meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Health.

More from a county press release:

From March 20 through April 17, Arlington’s safe and dependable drinking water may taste slightly different as the regional supply system undergoes its annual spring cleaning.

Crews at the Washington Aqueduct will begin the temporary disinfectant switch from chloramine to chlorine. The annual switch in water disinfection is part of a routine program to clean and maintain the drinking water systems. The Aqueduct also adds a corrosion control inhibitor during the switch to prevent the potential release of lead in system pipes throughout the region. Extensive research in Arlington has never found any lead service lines or lead pipes inside homes.

During the cleaning, Arlington’s Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau will continually monitor the output for safe chlorine levels as well as conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. Concurrently, staff will also start systematically flushing fire hydrants throughout the County.

Running the cold water tap for about two minutes, using water filters and letting water sit in a container in the refrigerator are generally effective for removing chlorine taste and odor.

Customers who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water should continue such methods during the temporary switch to chlorine. As always, those with special concerns should consult their health care provider.

Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Aqueduct is the wholesale water supplier for Arlington, the District of Columbia and northeastern Fairfax.

Arlington’s drinking water meets all of the safety standards established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Department of Health.

The bureau’s next annual water quality report will be released in May.

by ARLnow.com March 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington police carA Cherrydale resident brandished a gun and threatened two maintenance workers who knocked on his door yesterday morning, according to Arlington County police.

The incident drew a big police response at the Horizons apartments (4300 Old Dominion Drive) around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The maintenance workers reportedly ran away after the gun was drawn and nobody was hurt.

More from an ACPD crime report:

BRANDISHING A FIREARM, 2017-03150073, 4300 block of Old Dominion Drive. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on March 15, officers responded to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that a building’s management notified residents that routine maintenance would be conducted in the building. When two maintenance workers knocked on a male subject’s door, the subject answered while brandishing a firearm and threatening the victims. The victims then fled the scene and contacted police. Gin Chan, 71, of Arlington Va, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Ready Arlington banner

This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

Ready Arlington VA Tornado Drill BannerIf the weather can be relied on for one thing so far this year, it’s unpredictability. We’ve gone from record-breaking high temperatures to a winter storm warning within one week. Nothing is more unpredictable than tornadoes. While Arlington County has escaped recent severe tornadoes experienced across the rest of the state, they are a real risk. Tornadoes have struck nearly every locality in Virginia. Do you know what to do during a tornado?

March 21 is Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. Join the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management and participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill by practicing where to go and what to do during a tornado. Register to hold a Tornado drill at your home or workplace & help to prepare your family and colleagues. Look for our notice at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 21, 2017 on Facebook & Twitter stating the drill has begun. Show us how you prepare by posting a picture of your drill @ReadyArlington’s Facebook/Twitter account.  Review these helpful tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

Tornado Watches vs. Warnings

Ready Arlington WatchVWarningKnowing when to take action is critical to keeping you and your family safe.

  • Tornado Watch (Be Prepared) A tornado is possible.
  • Tornado Warning (Take Action Immediately) A tornado is already occurring in your area, or will be soon.

What to do during a tornado

Ready Arlington DuckandCoverMost injuries associated with tornadoes are from flying debris, so protect your head. If possible, continue to monitor media to determine when the risk has passed.

  • Home – Go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • Work – Proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and avoid large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
  • Outside – Seek shelter inside a sturdy building ASAP. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe.
  • On the road – Vehicles are not safe during a tornado. Drive to the closest shelter. If that’s not possible, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

Communications

Getting the warning as soon as possible is critical with tornadoes. Over the last decade, people have significantly changed how they get their news and entertainment, and this puts more importance on the different ways you get important information:

  • NOAA Weather Radios – Available for purchase, these radios often have a distinct alarm the will alert owners when significant weather events occur.
  • Wireless Alert System (WEA) – Messages that appear as text messages on newer smartphones and cell phones automatically to notify you of amber alerts, silver alerts, emergencies where lives may be at risk (such as weather warnings), and Presidential alerts.
  • Arlington Alert – Alerting system used by Arlington County to send emergency, as well as weather and traffic information to residents. Arlington Alert allows you to customize how you want to be notified (such as text, phone, email or App), what you what to be notified about (emergency notifications, weather, traffic) and when.
  • AM/FM Radio and TV – If listening live, radio and TV broadcasts will allow for emergency alerts from the National Broadcast System and local meteorologists on the various local channels and stations

by Mark Kelly March 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

At the last County Board meeting, John Vihstadt proposed that the County Manager outline possible budget cuts to avoid the maximum advertised tax increase. This “radical” idea was meant to ensure the average homeowner’s tax increase was capped at 4 percent instead of the maximum advertised 5 percent (when you combine assessment increases with the proposed tax rate increase).

In response, County Manager Mark Schwartz produced proposed $11.1 million in possible budget cuts this week.

Included in Mr. Schwartz’s statement about the cuts was an emphasis on maintaining the proposed increase in support for Metro. And, Schwartz warned Metro could receive even more.

This comes in the face of a report this week that Metro’s management decisions are once again under fire, this time for its failures regarding the SafeTrack project. According to The Washington Post report, “With better planning, GAO officials said, Metro could have identified opportunities to conduct work more efficiently, reduce disruptions for riders and local jurisdictions, or saved money.”

At some point, the people paying the bills for Metro need to stand up and call for a fundamental reorganization of the system. Arlington could lead the way.

Back to the proposed County Manager’s optional cuts. Many were for newly created positions – almost certainly selected to sound “bad.” No new school nurse, no new sheriff’s deputies, no new ethics attorney and even an existing mental health supervisor would be eliminated, to name a few.

The proposed cuts could also ding road paving, new street lights and even some library hours.

Finally, the proposal calls for the school budget to be reduced by a little over $5 million.

The County Manager’s “cuts” are designed to make taxpayers believe there are few desirable options when it comes to trimming the budget. This of course is not true as has been outlined in this space multiple times. Unfortunately, while Mr. Vihstadt was trying to help taxpayers by giving the County Board options, this exercise may have simply bolstered the Board’s move to raise the tax rate.

As the County continues to move through the budget process, Arlingtonians should keep this Arlington Magazine article on the difficulties homeowners face when dealing with zoning regulations in mind. While Arlington seems to be getting a little better with resolving permitting issues, including improvements to older homes, it points out how the County has not always made basic government services enough of a priority.

by Chris Teale March 16, 2017 at 1:25 pm 0

Pentagon City Metro (photo by Katie Pyzyk)

(Updated 2:40 p.m.) Engineers completed repairs of the tunnel leak, and trains are no longer sharing a track on the Yellow Line.

Original post:

Trains are single-tracking on Metro’s Yellow Line from Pentagon City into D.C. after water entered the tunnel south of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station.

Metro received the report of the infiltration shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Crews removed power to the electrified third rail on the nearby northbound tracks. After an inspection, engineers found water breaching the tunnel under pressure.

As of 1:25 p.m., trains were still single-tracking. Metro officials said an estimated repair time will be posted once more information is known.

Metro posted video of the leak online:

More from a Metro press release:

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Metro received a report of water entering the Yellow Line tunnel south of L’Enfant Plaza. Metro removed third rail power on the inbound Yellow Line track. Upon inspection, engineers found water breaching the tunnel wall under pressure (see video below).

While there is no risk to the structural integrity of the tunnel, Metro has taken this action to prevent water from spraying on the electrified third rail. Yellow Line trains are single tracking between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City. The source of the water has not been determined, but all indications are that the water is originating from outside the Metro system.

Service Information

Yellow Line trains are subject to delays due to single tracking. Green and Blue line trains, while not single tracking, may experience congestion-related delays due to Yellow Line trains waiting to proceed through the single-track zone. Customers on both lines are advised to allow additional travel time.

Metro will provide an update on an estimated time of repair once more information is known.

by Peter Rousselot March 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter Rousselot

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

At its January organizational meeting, the County Board approved a new policy governing its consent agenda.

At any County Board meeting, all consent agenda items — representing as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of the Board’s entire agenda — are passed as a group by a single Board vote and without any further review or public discussion.

In describing that change, the Arlington Sun-Gazette reported:

No longer will members of the public be able to remove any item from the County Board’s “consent agenda” for a full airing. While they will still be able to seek full discussion of items that are subject to Virginia’s public-hearing rules, in other cases members of the public will need to convince at least one board member to pull the item for discussion.

Under the current consent agenda policy, new items can be added (or changes to existing items made) and posted online less than 24 hours prior to a meeting’s start time — leaving the public and Board members with little opportunity to review new materials or changes and leaving citizens with insufficient time to ask a County Board member to pull any item now categorized as a “nonpublic” consent agenda item.

Significantly, consent agenda items may be added to the Board’s agenda in an incomplete form — for example, items may lack staff reports or essential supporting documents and information, may contain material omissions or errors of fact, or may not have met the Board’s guidelines for a full public process or review.

The County Board should reconsider its January decision

Until January 3, any member of the public could pull any County Board consent agenda item for any reason, thereby shifting that item to the regular agenda and providing an opportunity for public comment and Board discussion. To pull an item, a citizen needed only to be physically present on Saturday morning to submit a request prior to the Board’s vote on the consent agenda.

The Board changed the consent agenda policy to prevent what it considered abuse by a small number of citizen-activists. However, its new policy provides too few safeguards and too little transparency in limiting or eliminating all citizens’ ability to comment on certain items before a vote is taken.

The Board failed to seek public input or feedback before passing this significant procedural change. Had it done so, it would have been reminded of multiple historical examples documenting how important public policy matters initially placed on the consent agenda subsequently proved to merit a full Board hearing or deferral based on citizen-supplied comments or questions.

Conclusion

On March 7, the Arlington County Civic Federation unanimously passed a resolution asking the County Board to reconsider its new consent agenda policy. The ACCF resolution:

asks the Board to seek input and suggestions from the public and civic groups to create an alternative policy that allows the Board to conduct orderly meetings within a reasonable timeframe while also meeting the Board’s stated goals of improving government transparency and encouraging greater public participation in Arlington County government.

I agree. The Board should seek citizen feedback on its current consent agenda policy. Possible adjustments to this policy include limiting citizens to pulling only one item per speaker per meeting.

by Gillian Burgess March 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Gillian Burgess

As Arlington grows, more people will travel around our County. Realistically, we don’t have space for more pavement, so we must find a way to allow more people to make more trips without clogging up our roads and parking lots.

Over the past few decades, Arlington County has steadily increased transportation choices, by making it safer and easier to walk, bike, and take transit to get around. Despite our growth, traffic congestion has stayed steady. This year, Arlington has the opportunity to make another such improvement on Washington Boulevard.

Arlington County is planning to expand the transportation network between East Falls Church and Westover by adding bike lanes on Washington Boulevard between North Sycamore Street and North McKinley Street. Best of all, the Virginia Department Of Transportation will contribute by painting the travel markings to incorporate bike lanes after the street is repaved later this year.

These lanes, which are called for in both the East Falls Church Area Plan and the Master Transportation Plan, will make biking west from the Metro and east to Westover (both of which will have Capital Bikeshare stations by the end of this year) much easier.

The route between the Metro and Westover shops via Washington Boulevard is shorter, flatter and easier to follow than via the trails. The lanes will connect to the current bike lanes on Washington Boulevard stretching east to George Mason Drive.

In order to fit in the bike lanes, VDOT will reallocate space that is currently used for parking cars in front of 21 houses, mostly on the south side of the road. This reallocation of space will allow for bike lanes in both directions.

The County has studied parking along Washington Boulevard and has observed parking patterns that support reallocating this space. People will generally have to go only one block farther away to find a free parking space and, in most places, people will only need to cross the street. Additionally, County staff believes that there will be significant available parking on side streets (which were not in the study, but should have been).

Bike lanes on Washington Boulevard will improve the transportation network for everyone in this area.

By allowing space on the road for people on bikes, people biking on Washington Boulevard will be safer, and cars won’t get stuck behind slower moving cyclists.

By making biking more comfortable, less hilly, and easier to follow, more people will choose to bike, improving traffic and parking availability.  Moreover, by diverting some bike traffic off of the W&OD and Custis Trails, these bikes lanes will improve the experience for people on our trails.

Putting in bike lanes now is also fiscally responsible. Because the lanes are being installed with repaving, the costs above what would already be spent for repaving are negligible.

By building out a transportation network that gives people options beyond the car, the County stands to save significant money in the future.

Arlington is building more schools, parks, and community centers, and car parking is a significant cost to these projects.  By making it easy and attractive to get to County locations by foot, by bike and via transit, we can reduce the amount of parking needed — with significant savings to the County.

Reallocating this space from parking to bike lanes is a good deal for the County and for the neighborhood. Change, of course, is difficult, especially for those immediately impacted. The County should look for creative solutions to ease the transition.

For example, Arlington could look at options for allowing Sunday-only parking on some of the neighborhood streets around Resurrection Lutheran Church. Arlington should also work with the schools and preschools in the area to ensure there are safe places for children to be dropped off and picked up by car or bike or on foot.

Westover and East Falls Church are becoming interesting, dynamic activities centers. With the opportunity to add an elementary school at the Reed School beside the Westover Library, delicious restaurants at the Westover shops, and expected development near the East Falls Church Metro stop, we can expect activity — and travel — through this area to increase.

Adding bike lanes on Washington Boulevard is an important step in improving our transportation network to address the increased needs in this area.

More information about this project can be found on the County’s project site.  The County is accepting public comment on the project until Friday, March 17.

Gillian Burgess is the current chair of Arlington County’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the founder of Kidical Mass Arlington, and a member of the County’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission and APS’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices. She lives in Cherrydale with her husband and three children.

by Chris Teale March 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The campaign to save the IOTA Club and Cafe is gaining support, but organizers said there’s still much uncertainty about the redevelopment plan for IOTA’s building.

Organizers of the “Save IOTA” campaign — local residents and IOTA regulars Harry Blackwood and Melissa Mannon — said the lack of public, detailed plans from the developer is making them nervous.

Already, the pair launched a Facebook page for their efforts and have circulated paper petitions at the venue, in addition to an online petition.

“Right now, we’re in such early stages of the process that all we can really do is express concern about it and ask for more information,” Blackwood said.

A community meeting to discuss the redevelopment of a group of buildings on the 2800 block of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds by Regency Centers has been rescheduled from March 29 to May 10.

Eric Davidson, spokesman for Regency Centers, said the delay is because the firm has new renderings and video materials for the project, which includes IOTA’s current location.

“We just got some new visuals we want to get ready so we can tell the story of what we want to do here more clearly and get more community feedback on this project,” Davidson told ARLnow.com Wednesday morning.

The campaign brought more than 70 supporters to a meeting of the Clarendon/Courthouse Civic Association, where those present heard a presentation from Regency Centers vice president of investments Devin Corini.

And at that meeting, Mannon said, Corini emphasized that the company wants to keep IOTA in place. But organizers said those assurances are not enough to calm their fears.

“He [Corini] said some nice things about how they don’t want IOTA to go away, they want to work with the community and want them to stay,” Mannon said. “We like that sentiment, we just haven’t seen that proven in their actions yet. That’s very frustrating.”

Mannon and Blackwood said the petitions are just a first step, and they plan to continue to mobilize as the site plan moves through the county’s approvals process. The pair added they are seeking a private meeting with Regency Centers representatives to discuss the plans, but have been unsuccessful so far in scheduling one.

They said they have engaged not only local residents but those in the local music community, who all want to make sure the building and its mission are preserved.

“You have all these regulars and musicians and people who listen to music speaking from this very emotional place,” Blackwood said. “They have a lot of emotional attachment and affection for a building and a place and a location.”

by ARLnow.com March 16, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Crowds gather in Courthouse for same-sex marriage press conference on 10/6/14With a few exceptions — like breaking news — ARLnow does not publish on weekends.

We also only sparingly cover things like high school sports or do long human interest feature stories, things which readers have told us — in surveys and in their actions — are a lesser priority than news about core topics like crime, fire, local government, local businesses, weather and traffic. At the same time, readers frequently ask for us to “investigate” various topics, but true investigative journalism is time-consuming and expensive and hard to do while on the daily local news grind.

So what’s the solution to this for those readers who have emailed us and asked for more weekend coverage, more in-depth features and more investigative stories?

One possibility is for ARLnow to launch a membership program as part of a larger community journalism project.

Services like Patreon allow fans to support, with a small monthly contribution, the creators who are making content they’re passionate about. Similarly, we’re wondering if Arlingtonians would be interested in supporting local content that goes above and beyond ARLnow’s core news mission.

Those who sign up as members would get to weigh in on what kind of content their contribution should be funding — features, investigative pieces, coverage of local arts and nonprofits, etc. The new content would run as an ARLnow “weekend edition” — so as to not overwhelm readers who follow our weekday news coverage.

At the same time, members could get other benefits. We’re considering exclusive discounts from local businesses, access to exclusive ARLnow member events, access to a members-only online forum and perhaps the occasional ARLnow schwag (if NPR has totebags, we can have totebags).

That all said, maybe a $6 a month for local news isn’t something that people want to pay, or you’d rather we just stick with our core mission. Tell us what you think in the poll below and in the comments.

by ARLnow.com March 16, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

County Manager Mark SchwartzArlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a series of budget cuts to halve his proposed two cent tax increase to one cent.

The cuts to Schwartz’s proposed budget total $11.1 million and include everything from a multi-million dollar reduction in school funding to a reduction of hours at the Glencarlyn library and the elimination of a management intern position in the parks department.

From a county press release:

The potential reductions would affect a range of County services, including Human Services, Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Community Planning and Housing and Economic Development. The options also include eliminating both planned service improvements in the streetlight program and additional staff for the County jail. Schwartz also recommended that, based on the principles of revenue sharing between County Government and Arlington Public Schools (APS), $3.5 million of the cuts from the on-going budget and $1.7 million of the cuts from the one-time budget come from the APS budget.

The Arlington County Board advertised Schwartz’s recommended two cent tax rate increase but also asked him to recommend some budget cuts, as an option to consider.

“Putting together budget reduction options is always difficult, particularly given the growing demands and potential impacts on our community,” Schwartz said in a statement. “The package makes no change to the additional resources committed to Metro. Since we presented our Proposed Budget on Feb. 25, jurisdictions are facing a Metro funding deficit that may grow even larger.”

Under the advertisement, the Board cannot raise the property tax rate more than two cents for every $100 in assessed value this year. (At last month’s meeting, Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey proposed, unsuccessfully, setting the advertised rate three cents higher than the current $0.991 for every $100.)

The Board will hold public hearings on the budget and the tax rate on March 28 and March 30, respectively. Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for April 22.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

The second annual DC Bike Ride is your chance to pedal down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, taking in the iconic sights of Washington, D.C., but without dodging traffic!

As a bonus, this year’s DC Bike Ride offers a fun and exciting Mother’s Day opportunity that the entire family (ages 3+) can enjoy. The 20-mile, car-free ride takes place Sunday, May 14, starting in West Potomac Park and finishing, after traversing closed roads in Washington and Arlington, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol.

DC Bike Ride begins at 8 a.m. and music and activities at the Finish Festival wrap up at 1 p.m. Registration is now open at this site. Register by March 26 and use the code ARLNOW to save $10.

The course, which will have live music and aid stations, is designed for riders of all fitness and experience levels. The ride is mostly flat, very scenic and noncompetitive. If 20 miles sounds like a lot, there is a 6.5-mile turnoff point, but most riders complete the course and start enjoying the Finish Festival in about 90 minutes.

DC Bike Ride was created in 2016 by Arlington-based Capital Sports Ventures as a way to “celebrate life on two wheels,” said Tassika Rodphotong Fulmer, senior director of business operations. “We wanted to do an event locally for the vibrant bike community, to get new folks onto bikes, and to provide a unique perspective in our nation’s capital.”

Tassika said last year’s inaugural DC Bike Ride raised $38,750 for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, to help support street safety initiatives in the region as part of  Washington’s Vision Zero effort, which works to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024.

New this year is an opportunity to sponsor riders from underserved communities. You can chip in $1, $5, $10 or $48 and sponsor the registration fees for selected participants from organizations like Gearin’ Up Bicycles whose purpose is to create career development opportunities and teach essential workplace skills to teenagers from underserved communities.

Children must be 3 years old or older and those under 7 participate for free but must ride in tandem or pulled in a trailer by an adult. Bike, tandem and trailer rentals from our partner Bike and Roll DC are available at DCBikeRide.com.

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