Arlington, VA

Each week, we highlight select deals and events around Arlington, with help from Tim’s Arlington Directory. Some require a coupon or have more instructions, so be sure to click the link for details and any additional requirements.

Saturday, April 28:
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The possibility of including a swimming pool in Career Center site planning arose at a joint Arlington County Board/Arlington Public Schools work session last week.

Kristi Sawert, who presented Career Center site considerations for programming and amenities during the work session, said that the pool possibility was “one of the more lively discussions” that the working group has had. Sawert listed several reasons for being pro-pool, including what she called a long-standing APS and School Board policy that aquatics education is essential.

“The main reason I hear that we don’t need a pool at the Career Center site is that those students could be bused to Long Bridge Pool when it opens,” said Sawert.

Sawert said that after having consulted with county staff, she believes that busing students isn’t feasible at the high school level because of the lack of free elective periods that students would need for off-campus travel. Busing, Sawert said, would only be a realistic option if students chose to give up core instructional time.

“Those lost hours would really add up,” she said, adding that this was a matter of equality between wealthy students who could afford private swim lessons and those who couldn’t.

High schoolers take at least eight swimming lessons per year in 80-minute blocks. Elementary and middle schoolers are required to take far fewer lessons, at just five swimming instructional hours annually.

Though County Board member John Vihstadt said that he thought a pool is appropriate and necessary, other board members had questions. County Board member Libby Garvey questioned why changes couldn’t be made to students’ schedules to accommodate activities like swimming.

“I appreciate the discussion of swimming and why we need swimming and pools, I totally believe that,” Garvey said. “But listening to the concerns and the difficulties, they all sit around schedules, and the same old block schedules, and the same old constrained day.”

Garvey suggested, as an example, a school schedule of 6 a.m.-11 p.m. for students, which she said would provide flexibility for students to go to Long Bridge to swim. Her intent with the example, she explained, was to highlight the importance of flexibility for students who need to take jobs, go to internships or do other activities that don’t conform well to the traditional school schedules.

“I totally agree with the need for swimming. I’m not sure we have to preserve the same schedule that we’ve had for a hundred years,” Garvey said.

Board member Erik Gutshall questioned how realistic it would be to have another pool in light of county-wide funding concerns.

“I’d want to know that if we’re going to build a pool, and if we agree it’s a great idea, that that pool is going to get absolute, full use and that all of our other pools that we have get full use,” he said. “Money is an object, and it’s going to be highly constrained in every decision [so] every recommendation has to be fully justified.”

Screenshot via Arlington County

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Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.

An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.

The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”

Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.

Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.

The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.

The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).

The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.

The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.

Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.

The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools

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The public will get a chance to give feedback on the draft Four Mile Run Valley policy framework at two upcoming hearings.

The two park concepts detail proposed outlines for redeveloping the area. Both propose two different developmental phases, and at first glance are quite similar. They concepts initially maintain PBS member station WETA’s building, but both anticipate eventually acquiring the space for redevelopment.

The main difference between the concepts is the location of a small baseball field. In concept two, the field ends up where the WETA building currently stands. In concept one, it’s closer to Four Mile Run Drive. The basketball and tennis courts are in different locations in both concepts, and the second concept shows a large shelter in a more southerly spot than in the first concept.

The study aims to codify a long term plan for the area, and its focus includes Jennie Dean Park, Shirlington Park, Shirlington Dog Park, and portions of both the Four Mile Run stream and trail.

According to the county staff document, Jennie Dean Park already has two lighted athletic fields, two lighted tennis courts, a lighted basketball court, a picnic shelter and restroom area, a playground, open space, and natural areas.

The first concept would flip the diamond fields so that the smaller field is closer to Four Mile Run Drive, with a new fenced-in playground and restrooms along Four Mile Run Drive.

The Four Mile Run Valley working group has suffered several setbacks as park stakeholders have weighed in with drastically different viewpoints about how the area should be developed.

During work on the latest two concepts, there was still division. Representatives with the Jennie Dean Park Committee were concerned that the first concept situated the small baseball field’s third baseline is 70-80 feet from Four Mile Run Drive. Nauck’s working group representative “voiced that breaking up [this] open space… along Four Mile Run Drive was undesirable to the community.”

The JDPC also had several concerns with the second concept, according to the county document, including that the overall design had “particularly fewer opportunities for connected casual use… along the riparian area.”

The first public hearing will take place before the Planning Commission on May 7, and the County Board hearing will be on May 19.

Photos via Arlington County

Reporting contributions from Anna Merod

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Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) has added several amendments to the FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4) intended to reduce aircraft noise in the region.

One of the amendments would provide for soundproofing “residential buildings located on residential properties that are subject to increased perceived noise levels as a result of the NextGen initiative of the Federal Aviation Administration.”

A press release promoting the amendment did not provide further detail as to how this soundproofing would be executed, though it did note the expansion of discretionary grants to fund “noise compatibility programs” and “noise mitigation projects” in addition to soundproofing.

One of the amendments would charge the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration with developing “a noise inquiry website… to receive, track, and analyze complaints on an ongoing basis from individuals in the National Capital Region.”

There is already information on the FAA’s website about how to report complaints, however the advice generally instructs residents to either contact the FAA ombudsman or to complain directly to the airport about the alleged noise problem.

A separate amendment proposes a monthly helicopter noise abatement working group, led by the FAA and with Department of Defense officials in attendance, to “collect, correlate, and identify trends” relating to regional helicopter noise.

Another amendment seeks to “review and revise helicopter flight paths, including those used by the Department of Defense and all military helicopters, identifying and issuing new official paths for the areas in which helicopters may be able to fly at higher altitudes.”

The FAA’s official website also touches on military-related aircraft noise, noting that the agency “does not have the authority to regulate the operations of military aircraft.”

Back on January 16, Beyer held an aircraft noise community forum in Fairlington to discuss the issue with a few dozen attendees.

“It is frightening, it is often daily, and it is very disruptive to my life,” one woman said at the forum, adding that the noise upsets her pets and rattles her windows.

More from the press release:

Rep. Don Beyer today offered a series of amendments to H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act, designed to mitigate the effects of aircraft noise on communities in the National Capital Region.

“Hundreds of my constituents have expressed to me their frustrations with the slow pace of change prompted by their input to government authorities about aircraft noise,” said Rep. Beyer. “This problem isn’t getting better quickly enough. Northern Virginians have been patient, but there is more that can be done to reduce the toll taken by noisy aircraft on our community.”

He offered two amendments related to airplane noise which would expand discretionary grants which fund noise compatibility programs, noise mitigation projects, and soundproofing of houses in affected communities.

Additionally, Beyer will throw his full support behind an amendment to the same legislation offered by Rep. Barbara Comstock, which would block the expansion of flight slots in the region’s airports, increasing the quantity of flights and the resulting noise from aircraft.

Beyer also offered two amendments based on feedback from constituents presented during his Fairlington town hall on helicopter noise in January. One amendment would require the FAA to review helicopter flight paths, including Department of Defense and all other military helicopters, to find areas where they may fly at higher altitudes to reduce noise for communities below.

The other would require the FAA to set up a noise inquiry website using data from local airports, and to establish a helicopter noise abatement working group to look for ways to reduce helicopter noise in the region.

File photo

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A whole lot of shaking will be going on at Rosslyn’s Freedom Park, where a series of belly dancing classes will occur.

The hour-long classes, which run from May 9-30, target beginners looking to learn belly dancing basics. Classes take place on Wednesdays starting at 6 p.m.

A new move will be introduced each week by an instructor with Saffron Dance, and “particular focus is given to developing correct posture alignment, flexibility, arm positions and paths, fundamental shimmies, basic hip accents, introductory undulations, easy to follow traveling steps and combinations.”

The cost is $25 to attend four classes at Freedom Park, a typically quiet, elevated park at 1101 Wilson Boulevard.

This isn’t the first time that Saffron Dance has brought its craft into the community. Back in 2011, the studio organized a belly dancing flash mob in Clarendon.

File photo

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Some members of the Washington-Lee High School Parent-Teacher Association are concerned that the Arlington School Board may re-purpose the adjacent Arlington Education Center into an elementary school instead of adding high school seats, as was previously decided.

The concern stems from a working session on April 12 centered on the Arlington Public Schools Capital Improvement Plan, in which School Board members briefly discussed the costs of potentially converting the Education Center into elementary school space rather than up to 800 high school seats.

John Chadwick, Arlington Public Schools assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, said that the cost determination was done in anticipation of the possible need for swing space in the future, to make sure the numbers are correct from the get-go.

The Washington-Lee PTA circulated an email last week noting that changing the Arlington Education Center plans would make it “extremely likely that boundaries will be redrawn.” If a boundary re-working were to occur, it could knock some Washington-Lee families out of the school’s district, the PTA stated.

At the April 12 working session, School Board members Nancy Van Doren and Tannia Talento both voiced concern about confusion within the community about actions that the School Board may take.

“I’m very concerned that we have two months to make this decision,” said Van Doren at the working session. “This is a compacted time frame and a very complex set of decisions… I’m worried that we need to take the community along as we make that set of decisions.”

Talento added that the Board “cannot be vague” about its future plans, and that the community should be kept apprised of the entire process, even just casual discussions about future facility repurposing. She noted that many families might have already tuned out of school planning discussions because they assumed that nothing would change dramatically, which could cause confusion for those just hearing about a possible Education Center plan change. In fact, Talento said that she herself is unclear on where the Board stands on the matter at this point, and she asked for direction.

“I’m happy to consider, if we’re reconsidering the use, I just need to know and we need the community know that we’re reconsidering,” Talento said.

The email from the WLHS-PTA added that if a re-worked Education Center plan were to come to fruition, the future of and use guidelines for certain facilities — like sports fields and the planetarium — is an open question.

More from the PTA’s email:

In June 2017, the School Board voted to create 500-600 high school seats at the site of the Ed Center building, next to W-L by the planetarium and to create 700-800 high school seats at the Career Center. While the program details for the Ed Center site was not decided at that time, there was a strong possibility that they would have been added as an expansion of WL. If this occurs, W-L would likely get additional benefits such as a black box theater (which YHS and WHS have today, but we don’t) and the capacity to expand our IB program to offer it to any Arlington student who wants it. (Note: For the freshman class entering W-L in 2018, we could accept less than half the students who applied.)

During the April 12 School Board work session, it was revealed that APS staff has been working to determine costs for using the Ed Center site as a Middle School or an Elementary School and to move ALL the new high school seats to a comprehensive neighborhood school at the Career Center school. If this actually happens, it is extremely likely that boundaries will be redrawn such that some W-L families will no longer be in the W-L district. Furthermore, it is not known whether W-L students who can currently take advantage of classes offered at the Career Center would still be allowed to do so. There are questions about facilities such as fields – will we have to give up some of our sports fields to be used by a Middle or Elementary School? What other ramifications are there if a MS or ES is built at this site? Will the planetarium remain or will that be destroyed to make room for parking, a playground, or something else?

It is urgent that W-L’s community be aware of this possible change in plans because the timeline for finalizing decisions is extremely short, and the board is bypassing the typical community engagement process to which we are accustomed. The school board vote to finalize its decision is June 21.

File photo

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ARLnow has hired a new full-time reporter.

Alex Koma joins ARLnow from Inside NoVa, where he covered Prince William County as a multimedia reporter.

Koma is originally from Pittsburgh, Pa. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a communications and media studies bachelor’s degree.

Before joining Inside NoVa, Koma worked as a staff reporter for Scoop News Group and NBC29’s night producer in Charlottesville. He also earned a first place award in general news writing from the Virginia Press Association in 2017.

His first day at ARLnow was yesterday (April 23), so readers may have already caught his byline this morning.

With the new addition to the ARLnow team, the hyperlocal news company is one step closer to a premium newsletter initiative that it hopes to roll out this year.

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Someone squealed on the owner of a pet pig who has been bringing his or her precious porcine to the Shirlington dog park.

A tipster tells ARLnow that a pig has been coming to the dog park with its owner for at least the past two Saturdays, even though county code specifies that “no animals should be inside the dog park perimeters whether on or off of a tether or leash except for dogs.”

Additionally, Arlington residents cannot keep or maintain “any pig, shoat, sow, hog, or other porcine animal anywhere within the confines of the county.” Pigs have been illegal to keep as pets in the county, according to the local ordinance, since 1935.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington have heard of the pig, which arrives on a leash and harness with its owner.

“It was casually mentioned to me today that a friend was aware that a pig had been in the dog park,” said Jennifer Toussaint, the county’s chief animal country officer, told ARLnow Monday.

However, the AWLA had not received any complaints or service calls regarding the prohibited pig. Toussaint has never received a formal complaint about a pig in the county during her ten years with organization.

The Dept. of Parks and Recreation would, in fact, have to be first to get involved, given that it is a question of inappropriate park usage, according to Toussaint.

AWLA is an education-based agency, she added, so pigs wouldn’t be confiscated immediately. After informing owners of the county code, the shelter’s policy would be to give owners a week, as a compliance period, to re-home their pet where it could be legally kept.

If an owner was unable to find a suitable home, there are “quite a few farm sanctuaries known to assist locals in Northern Virginia with pets” that were, intentionally or otherwise, illegally acquired.

Unlike some more nuanced local laws, Toussaint said it’s not difficult to understand that it’s illegal to have a pet pig in Arlington.

“Some ordinances are very tricky to understand,” she said. “This is pretty much a clear, one sentence ordinance.”

Courtesy photo

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The Arlington County Board has approved a site plan that would bring 97 affordable housing units and two rows of townhouses to Buckingham.

The “100 percent affordable” multi-family building and townhouses will replace the former local Red Cross headquarters.

The approved development comes despite complaints from nearby residents about the proposal. The new development’s density, potentially increased traffic, and “the desecration of the tree canopy” were all cited as dealbreakers for some locals, though supporters asserted that the building was vacant, the affordable housing is “badly needed” and complaints were overblown.

A partial rezoning of the site was approved alongside the site plan at Saturday’s County Board meeting (April 21). There are currently two single family homes on the site, in addition to the former headquarters and an existing playground.

The townhouses will be built in the first phase of the project, with construction on the multi-family building, which is required to “achieve Earthcraft Gold or LEED v4 Homes and Multifamily Midrise Gold certification,” following in a second phase.

The developer, Wesley Housing Development Corporation, agreed to preserve the on-site apartments, known historically as the Windsor Apartments but now called the Whitefield Commons, which the county says were built in 1943. Unit incomes will average 80 percent of the average median income, and the building will average 60 percent of that figure.

Whitefield Commons’ interior will be reconfigured to add five units, bringing the total units inside that complex to 68. The multi-family building will have 97 units, and the townhouses will have 19.

There will be 187 parking spaces between the developments — 45 at Whitefield Commons, 88 at the multi-family building, and 42 for the townhouses. The townhouses have the highest parking ratio per unit, at 2.26 spots per unit plus four visitor spots.

Wesley Housing Development Corporation will be required to “encourage transportation alternatives.”

That will be done via a transportation management plan, which includes a provision to give “each new tenant in the multi-family building… a choice of a SmartTrip card preloaded with a $65 balance or a bikeshare or car share membership,” according to a county project website.

A Google Maps estimate shows that the site is approximately a 22 minute walk to the Ballston Metro station. The 3.95 acre parcel is bordered by N. Thomas and N. Trenton streets, 2nd Road N., and Arlington Boulevard.

Plans estimate that 60 trees will be removed, three of which are dead or dying and another 17 of which are located on top of or near an existing storm pipe.

An estimated 132 tree credits will be granted, according to the site plan. One credit is given for each planted shade tree or large evergreen tree, or for every three deciduous, ornamental, or small evergreen trees.

Map via Google Maps

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