Arlington, VA

by ARLnow.com March 30, 2020 at 7:30 am 0

Reminder: Tap Water Change Today — “The District of Columbia, Arlington County and northeastern Fairfax County will clean out their tap water network starting Monday — a safe, annual process. Service continues uninterrupted during the process, which runs from March 30 through May 4. During that time, drinking water in the may taste slightly different. But the purification process remains unchanged and the water is essentially unchanged.” [ARLnow]

Jail Takes Extra Precautions — “We have created a unit that is strictly for all new individuals that are committed to the jail. These individuals are ‘quarantined’ from the rest of the population for an initial 14 days and checked daily by our Medical Staff. With the Detention Center population being low, we were able to move inmates around, creating the safest environment for those individuals that have been remanded to our custody and for new individuals entering the facility.” [Arlington County]

Human Services from a Distance — “Arlington’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is taking steps to provide services that don’t require in-person visits in an effort to contribute to the community slowdown of the spread of COVID-19.” [Arlington County]

Post Editorial Assails Arlington Judges — “Parisa Dehghani-Tafti last fall ran for commonwealth’s attorney on a promise of criminal justice reform, and voters in Arlington County and Falls Church chose her — and that platform — over the longtime, tough-on-crime incumbent. Now her efforts to deliver on her promise of progressive justice have run into opposition from judges who have taken highly unusual — and some say inappropriate — steps to undermine her discretion as the jurisdiction’s top elected prosecutor.” [Washington Post]

Shirlington Circle Closure in Place — “The northern section of the Shirlington Circle bridge over the general purpose and express lanes on I-395 will close from 10 p.m., Sunday, March 29 until midnight, Wednesday night, April 1… Travelers driving north on the I-395 general purpose lanes will not be able to access Shirlington from Exit 6.” [Press Release]

New Cap Gets Arlington Orientation — “When trying to adjust to life in a new city, it can be nice to have a familiar face around to help you. That’s exactly what Brenden Dillon had after he was traded to the Capitals in Joel Ward… Dillon and Ward were teammates in San Jose for three seasons from 2015 to 2018. Dillon credited Ward for helping him get acclimated to Arlington, Va. and the Washington area.” [NBC Sports Washington]

Tree Advocates Worry About Fate of Big Oak — “In the latest in Arlington’s tree wars, homeowners at 5920 N. 35th St. joined with passionate volunteers from the Arlington Tree Action Group to sound alarms over the threat to a towering water oak outside their home of 28 years, which might soon be a tear-down… The owners believe it is Arlington’s tallest outside the national cemetery.” [Falls Church News-Press]

by Nicole Merlene December 19, 2019 at 2:30 pm 0

What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Arlington is a beautiful community with so much to be proud of.

For my last column of the year, here are some things that have been special to me, that I recommend, or that I want to acknowledge.

Arlington Heros

For 37 years Kip was a staple in thousands of Arlington student’s lives. In athletics he ran the Patriot Girls Hoops Summer Camp, coached Yorktown girls basketball, boys baseball, and the Special Olympics unified track and basketball teams.

More notably, he was a good friend. I don’t think many people knew his actual job, but as I have grown older I realized how important it was to have a non-parent adult at APS that you could always go to without judgement, and Kip was that person. Happy retirement, Kip.

Arlington County Police said goodbye to one really good boy this year. Koda was one of the best bomb sniffers in the region and spent time with his SRO handler welcoming students. Rest in peace and thank you for your service, Koda.

Civic Organizations

A powerful and consistent voice for our tree canopy. Arlington’s trees are what make us less of a concrete urban jungle and more of a livable, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing community to live in.

  • Black Parents of Arlington

If you didn’t read their Washington Post Op-Ed, I highly recommend it: Why black parents of Arlington are joining forces 

Date Ideas

Make sure you or the person you are with knows how to tie a figure 8 knot and belay! Rock climbing is a great way to cheer someone on, overcome failure, and get your endorphins running.

  • Neighborhood events

Local organizations provide great events like Fridays at the Fountain in Crystal City, Rosslyn Movies in the park, and more. Find a full list for your neighborhood: Ballston BID, Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, Crystal City BID, Lee Highway Alliance, and Rosslyn BID,

Artists

Music

A Grateful Dead sound and some killer guitar solos. Having played with Junior Marvin of the Wailers these native Arlington twins are sure to get you grooving. Next local concert: Jan. 21 7:30pm @ Jammin’ Java.

With over 1 million Spotify streams on their hit, Tired Boy, this local rap group of Arlingtonians is truly a group to keep an eye on.

Paint

You can see this Arlington local’s work at the newly opened Open Road Grill in Rosslyn with his district vibrant portraits of Ryan Zimmerman and Bruce Springstein.

Queen of the “polka daub” you can see her art at local gift boutique, Covet.

(more…)

by Kalina Newman December 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm 0

In the midst of Arlington’s efforts to protect local streams, the county last week released an extensive guide debunking what it says are common stream restoration “myths,” touching on everything from ecology to rain gardens.

The following six “myths” were challenged by the county:

  • #1: If Arlington County did proper maintenance on the streams, we wouldn’t need to do stream restoration.
  •  #2: If Arlington County regulated infill development more, the streams wouldn’t be in such bad shape.
  • #3: More rain gardens and trees in the watershed could restore the streams without having to reconstruct the stream channel.
  • #4: Stream restoration makes stream habitat and stream ecology worse.
  • #5: Streams should never overtop their banks. After stream restoration, stream flow should be significantly less.
  • #6: The July 8, 2019 storm showed that stream restoration projects cannot handle intense storms or climate change.

When storms occur and water builds in steams, the resulting erosion can cause health issues for water-based wildlife and create infrastructure challenges. In order to prevent erosion, restoration alters the stream’s direction and adds step-pool structures to slow water flow, the county said.

County officials argue that restored stream sections of Donaldson Run, Windy Run, and Four Mile Run kept the channels from eroding during the summer storm. On the other hand, “unrestored sections of Donaldson Run did not fare well during the July 8 storm, with new erosion undermining the fence and trail.”

Arlington’s stream restoration projects aren’t without its critics, especially when it comes to the touchy subject of tree removal in Myth #3.

In an email sent to ARLnow, Suzanne Sundburg, a local environmental activist and member of the Arlington Tree Action Group, argues the opposite — “planting trees… ABSOLUTELY DOES reduce the stormwater runoff,” she wrote.

“These stream restoration projects, as implemented in Arlington County, use heavy equipment that involves significant tree loss in the very riparian areas that are supposed to be protected from tree loss and development,” said Sundburg.

Sundburg argued that development has damaged local streams.

“Maintenance of our streams and their banks isn’t the issue and thus stream ‘restoration’ is not the solution,” she wrote. “The underlying cause of urban stream syndrome is the increasing volume and speed of runoff coming from the watershed. Unless and until the county begins to correct and reverse the increase in impervious surfaces — now covering 45% of the county’s land surface — stream restoration is impossible.”

Local advocacy groups have previously sounded off against tree removal, namely in 2017 when local residents launched a petition against the removal of 70 trees in Donaldson Run.

Currently, the county is in the design phase of its Gulf Branch Stream Restoration project, which is intended to protect the waterway and the trees along its banks.

A Gulf Branch-specific “Myths and Misconceptions” was presented during a November 6 community meeting on the project. In the presentation, officials addressed the effects of the July 8 storm on the stream, noting the “unrestored stream segmented eroded tons of sediment, degrading and stressing habitat downstream.”

by Kalina Newman November 20, 2019 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board has signed off for NOVA Parks to apply for a $5.6 million grant that would widen a portion of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

If approved, the project will widen two miles of the W&OD Trail between N. Roosevelt Street and N. Carlin Springs Road by eight feet. In addition, the trail will incorporate a “dual path” to divide walkers and cyclists.

“When I talk to trail users I hear the same complaint, which I will attribute to Yogi Berra, ‘No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded,'” said chairman of NOVA Parks Michael Nardolilli during Tuesday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Officials are expected to know if the grant, submitted to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), has been approved by June 2020. If it is, the County Board will review the project plans before giving an official vote on whether to begin construction.

Nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition the project during Tuesday’s meeting. Many stressed that the project it could destroy a large number of trees and damage storm water management, while others expressed disappointment in what they describe as NOVA Park’s lack of public outreach.

Among the groups opposed to the widening is Arlington Tree Action Group, which called it — perhaps a bit hyperbolically — “the most environmentally destructive project that has ever occurred in Arlington’s public spaces.”

The Arlington County Board has moved consideration of a resolution that will allow NOVA Parks (formerly known as the…

Posted by Arlington Tree Action Group on Sunday, November 17, 2019

“My commission learned of this a week ago with no information about what was being planned,” said Phil Klingelhofer, chair of the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, a county commission that is also concerned about the project. “[This] is in fact putting a multi-lane highway for bikes through the middle of the park.”

Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said widening the trail would be great for the area’s bike community — citing recommendations from the county’s Master Transportation Plan — but also stressed the need for public engagement and environmental analysis.

“This whole conversation tonight has been one big, giant paradox,” said County Board member Eric Gutshall. “I can’t wrap my head around folks who are concerned about preserving nature and trees, allies to those interested in cycling and using alternative modes of transportation to be a part of larger, sustainable society — somehow, you’re against bicycling and trails.”

The County Board unanimously signed off on the application, with two recommendations for County Manager Mark Schwartz:

(1) Determine the data and analyses that NOVA Parks must submit to substantiate the safety and levels of service concerns along the subject street of the W&OD trail, and (2) initiate a process with NOVA Parks to determine the appropriate level of public engagement for the project along with the information that must be developed and presented…[including] plans to address environmental stewardship including impact on vegetation, flood risk management, erosion, and natural habitats.

“Our support for the seeking of funding, so those plans can be drafted, does not mean endorsement of the final design,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Nearby in Falls Church, NOVA Parks has begun a $3.7 million project to widen 1.2 miles of the W&OD Trail in Falls Church, funded mostly through a similar NVTA grant.

by Kalina Newman November 20, 2019 at 1:15 pm 0

Across Northern Virginia, oak trees have started dying in significant numbers — including in Arlington.

The decline, formally called “oak dieback,” has been the subject of research and speculation for months by naturalists.

In a fact sheet produced in collaboration with groups including the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, experts cite the stress of recent droughts and extreme storms, along with construction damage, as potential causes for the dieback.

However, “oak decline is a complex disease with no single causal agent,” writes Lori Chamberlin of the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Currently, county officials are directing concerned residents to use prevention methods on their trees, and to be careful of how they treat trees without an accurate disease diagnosis.

Nora Palmatier of the Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria offered the following advice for trying to fend off tree decline:

  • Avoiding damage to trees, caused by anything from landscaping to rebuilding a home
  • Water trees during dry spells
  • Revitalize the soil with wood chips

Some of the troubled oak trees are on Arlington’s list of “Champion Trees.” Elizabeth Grossman, a representative from the Arlington Tree Action Group, said the county should be held more accountable for its oak tree loss.

“I’ve lived in Arlington Forest almost 30 years, and the rate of tree decline is alarming — I’ve lost two mature oaks this summer and are the first two trees I have lost in all the years I’ve lived here,” Grossman said, pointing to the Arlington Forest neighborhood and the area around Lubber Run as two particularly damaged spots.

“Arlington County has done nothing more than put out the document you have identified, and it is not particularly useful,” Grossman said.

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com June 18, 2019 at 7:50 am 0

Columbia Pike Flooding — Columbia Pike flooded near S. Greenbrier Street during last night’s storms. Drivers could be seen driving through standing water as high as the tops of car tires. [Twitter]

Another Flash Flood Watch — Arlington is again under a Flash Flood Watch from 2-11 p.m. today, as slow-moving storms may produce torrential, flooding rainfalls. [Weather.gov, Twitter]

County to Tackle Premature Tree Deaths — “‘The county is not taking adequate care of its newly planted trees,’ said [Elizabeth] Grossman, a member of the Arlington Tree Action Group, who said that while there were many reasons trees may not survive after being planted, the death rate on Arlington government property seems excessive.” [InsideNova]

Fire at Ballston Building — “Firefighters are on scene of a fire at a high-rise residential building on the 800 block of N. Quincy Street in Ballston. Reportedly a small fire in one of the units.” [Twitter, Twitter]

One Reason Arlington Landed HQ2 — “A West Coast economist’s ideas challenge the ‘world is flat’ conventional wisdom about tech jobs. They’re a major part of the reason Arlington landed Amazon.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Retiring Superintendent Has a New Gig — Last week, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy told the School Board he would be retiring in September. On Sept. 1, he will begin his new job as superintendent of Berkeley County Schools in West Virginia. [Berkeley County Schools]

by ARLnow.com June 10, 2019 at 11:30 am 0

Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the State Senate race for the 31st District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Nicole Merlene:

This Tuesday, June 11th, I hope you vote for a change by voting for me to represent you in the Virginia State Senate in the 31st District. A change for you to be represented by someone who prioritizes public transportation, spearhead infrastructure projects that improve our District’s parks, schools, and housing developments. With your vote, I hope to put our district on a track for continued, sustainable growth, and prioritizes an environment we should be proud to leave for future generations. A change away from representation that is representing themselves for private pay over the interests of the 31st District, and voting against our interests on transportation, development, and the environment because of donor influence. I want to help improve the schools I attended, the parks I played in as a child, the transportation system I use every day to get to work.

Transportation 

Why Me: Northern Virginia is a transient community. 2/3 of Arlington residents work outside of Arlington. We have systems in place from our buses to roads that do not prioritize regional travel causing unnecessarily long travel times. For example, we have a funding mechanism at the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that by and large has localities submitting separate proposals for roads and highways without regional vision; Arlington, Fairfax, DC, Loudoun, all have their own bus systems that rarely cross jurisdictional boundaries.

As a region must also commit to being forward thinking on projects like high speed rail to connect multiple employment hubs across the east coast. My goal will never be to get “#Back2Good“. My goal will be state of the art. I am proud to be endorsed by Greater Greater Washington, the region’s thought leader on transportation and housing policy, for my vision on how to literally move the region forward.

Why Not My Opponent: Sitting on the Transportation Committee – it is not their priority. Has introduced more bills to toll I-495, I-66, and on towing than anything related to public roads and our public transportation system – after the tolling and towing industry were some of their largest donors (1, 2, 3) – putting in place regressive policy to tax favoring private over public infrastructure.

Development & Economy

Why Me: Due to Virginia being a Dillon Rule state, issues from flexibility for affordable housing zoning laws, allowing taxing flexibility on commercial real estate that would incentivize lower rents to support small and medium sized businesses, allowing local government to negotiate with developers to support local infrastructure, to connecting our schools to employers for 21st Century Jobs — all require state level action. Having experience from the civic association to economic development level, and a professional background in investment policy, I have what it takes to be your leader on development and economic policy in Richmond.

Why Not My Opponent: Sitting on the Local Government’s Committee – it is not their priority. Voted for the 2016 Proffer Bill that cut local government’s ability to negotiate with developers to give back affordable housing and other infrastructure funds to offset overdevelopment. This past session introduced a replacement bill that barely puts a dent in reversing the detrimental effects of what was passed in 2016.

Environment

Why Me: Environmental protections need to be baked into every policy that is written, from our roads to buildings. I would prioritize increased energy efficiency standards, alternative energy and solar freedom, expanding our state parks, and preserving our watershed – as this district is gerrymandered along the Potomac River. I believe in a green economy where we can do things like take our, now un-recycled glass, and transform it into road pavement in a joint venture with Fairfax and other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. I am proud to have been endorsed by leadership of the Arlington Tree Action Group and Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks for my commitment to preserving our parks, greenspace, and watershed.

Why Not My Opponent: After pledging not to take money from Dominion Energy, the state regulated utility that has been a massive hinderance to moving environmental legislation forward, my opponent immediately broke her pledge and took money from Dominion Energy lobbyists just weeks later.

There is no Republican challenger in this race and the winner of the Primary is likely to be your next State Senator. I hope to be your choice to represent the interests of our community in Richmond. This is just the beginning of a continued two-way policy conversation between you, and I, as your representative.

I humbly ask for your vote on June 11th.

by Airey May 20, 2019 at 11:00 am 0

Many Arlington homeowners can now build backyard cottages, thanks to a vote from the County Board.

Board members unanimously voted to loosen zoning regulations on so-called detached “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs) during their Saturday meeting. The vote came after a contentious discussion with residents who said they feared the impacts of greater density and fewer trees in their neighborhoods.

“I am very pleased to support this motion for the benefits I think we’re going to see,” Board member Erik Gutshall said. “In my view the benefits far outweigh the potential impacts. To me it’s about housing. Period.”

Board members have long eyed small backyard homes as a way to help increase the county’s available affordable housing stock.

The newly amended zoning rules allow Arlington homeowners to build detached ADUs on their property without first seeking county permission to do so — as long as it’s a one-family property. Previously, homeowners could only build an ADU inside their house (such as an English basement) or convert an existing outside structure into one.

Now, homeowners can build an ADU on an interior lot as long as the structure is at least 5 feet away from the property lines. ADUs built on corner lots must sit 5 feet from the side yard line and 10 feet from the rear yard line.

Previously, the County Board debated whether to allow 1-foot setback distances, but members ultimately nixed the idea, citing privacy concerns between neighbors and the fact it would only increase the number of ADU-eligible properties by 2 percent.

The exact distance didn’t matter to Urban Forestry Commission member Phil Klingelhofer, who said Saturday he had “serious concerns” about allowing any detached ADUs because laying sewer lines and footings anywhere could hurt the county’s tree canopy coverage.

“I want to make sure that we’re not… losing the forest for the trees,” Board member Katie Cristol replied. “Nationally, the biggest driver of emission and therefore climate change is sprawl development.”

Previously, several members of the activist Arlington Tree Action Group cited concerns about ADU construction killing trees and adding impervious surfaces to the county, which is already at a higher risk of floods.

Among the opponents was former County Board member John Vihstadt, who said the measure was part of a bigger mismanagement of density and natural resources.

“We must do better with managing our growth,” he said.

County Housing Planner Joel Franklin said since Jan 1, 2018, the county has approved 10 requests to build ADUs, three of which were converting existing structures into detached backyard cottage-style units.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com February 22, 2019 at 7:30 am 0

Another Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn — “Two local hospitality ventures have already announced plans for food halls in Rosslyn, and now a third food hall-type venue is being floated for the Arlington neighborhood. Even weirder? All three are on the same block of North Moore Street, the street where the Rosslyn Metro station is located.” [Washington Business Journal]

HQ2 Boosting Real Estate Market — “Real-estate professionals from across the local area already are seeing spring-level interest among prospective buyers, raising hopes for a solid start to the year. ‘The Amazon HQ2 announcement, plus favorable interest rates and a relatively mild winter, have all contributed to bringing the buyers out early this year,’ Northern Virginia Association of Realtors president Christine Richardson said.” [InsideNova]

Local Healthcare Firm Makes Acquisition — “Arlington-based Advantia Health LLC has acquired Illinois-based OB-GYN practice Heartland Women’s Healthcare in a deal that nearly doubled the local group’s size overnight.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘Coffee with a Cop’ Next Week — “The Arlington County Police Department, in partnership with the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is hosting its next Coffee with a Cop event on February 26, providing the public with an opportunity to meet and interact with the department’s Community Outreach Teams.” [Arlington County]

More Ballston Road Closures Planned — Additional road closures are planned along Wilson Blvd near the mall this weekend for continued work on the new Ballston pedestrian bridge. [Twitter]

‘Tree Action Group’ No Fan of Bike Trails — The Arlington Tree Action Group, a vocal local activist organization that often speaks out against plans to cut down trees, is apparently no big fan of bike trails. In response to a photo of a dog in front of the Eden Center after Wednesday’s snow, the group wrote on Twitter: “To [sic] bad the County doesn’t care how icy the sidewalks are as long as the bike trails and the other trendy County thoroughfares are clear.” The Eden Center, however, is in the City of Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com October 10, 2018 at 8:30 am 0

Man Punched Outside Ballston Subway — A man was punched in the face outside the Subway on Fairfax Drive in Ballston yesterday. The assault occurred just before lunchtime and those flocking to the restaurant for footlongs had to step over splatters of blood on the sidewalk. No word yet on what prompted the fight nor whether the suspect, who reportedly fled into the Metro station, was later apprehended. [Twitter]

Tonight: Committee of 100 County Board Debate — The Arlington Committee of 100 will be holding a County Board debate tonight at Marymount University. The program, moderated by ARLnow’s Scott Brodbeck, will start at 8 p.m. after a meet and greet and dinner. [Committee of 100]

History of the W&OD Railroad — Before it was a bike and pedestrian trail, the W&OD was a regional railroad that transported goods and people across Northern Virginia. How would the area and our transportation problems be different if it had stayed a transit corridor, asks a GGW contributor. [Greater Greater Washington]

Local Social Media Influencer Profiled — Clarendon resident and mother of two Angelica Talan “has made a career out of building a loyal following on social media.” She blogs at Clarendon Moms and Angelica in the City and also has done some modeling and acting. [Arlington Magazine]

Tree Group Wants More Trees — The Arlington Tree Action Group replied on Twitter to a posting of the photo above: “Beautiful sky! It would look even better with more trees! #ArlingtonVA #trees.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Alexandrians Worry About Takeout Window — A proposed takeout window for a new Mexican restaurant on King Street prompted a protracted debate among members of the Alexandria city council. Said one opponent on the council, who ultimately lost out on a 4-3 vote: “I think this is maybe one small step in the direction of what we don’t want Old Town to become.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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