(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The president of the Arlington Girls Softball Association says a lack of field space and a newly enforced school policy against signs has him very concerned for the future of the youth league.
The AGSA has been in operation for more than 30 years, President Steve Severn said, and currently serves about 500 girls, 92 percent of whom are Arlington residents. Those girls make up 38 local teams and six all-star and travel teams, who play games on just five fields in the county: Greenbrier Park next to Yorktown High School, Barcroft Park, Wakefield High School, Quincy Park and Arlington Traditional Elementary School.
This year, delayed construction at Wakefield has taken away that field, and Wakefield’s softball teams have taken the AGSA’s field at Barcroft Park. At the same time, the field at Arlington Traditional School is becoming increasingly problematic after Principal Holly Hawthorne banned sponsorship signs, a move the Arlington School Board supports.
“Having so few fields available creates havoc,” Severn told ARLnow.com today, after he sent an email to AGSA’s parents informing them of the issues the league faces. “High schools have the first choice to have fields, and that’s the way it should be… But there aren’t enough fields to go around. Youth sports are screaming for outside field space.”
Severn said the Wakefield field opened for one day this spring, but Arlington Public Schools closed it after it determined the fences were too short to protect the surrounding neighborhood. APS facilities staff said it will reopen in June, but high school teams historically have asked to be the first team to use a new field. Hence, Severn said, he doubts AGSA will be able to use that field until spring 2016.
While field space is a serious issue for every league, sport and age group in Arlington, the sign ban is one that could jeopardize AGSA’s future.
“If sponsors cannot see their banners or recognition for the money they contribute to our organization, they’re not going to contribute,” Severn said. “These are by and large community businesses. Their kids play on the team. That is going to hurt us. We depend on sponsorship money, we do not take in enough money from registration. I don’t know what the end result is going to be. Our sponsorship base is going to dry up eventually.”
Severn said the league has been hanging banners recognizing sponsors for decades. This year, they tried to hang small, individual signs for each sponsor, which Severn said Hawthorne put a stop to. He asked the School Board to step in, and they did — to affirm Hawthorne’s decision.
“Ms. Hawthorne contacted APS senior staff to review APS policies on the display of sponsor banners, and we agreed that display of such banners on school property is not permissible,” School Board Chair James Lander said in an email to Severn. “The School Board wishes the AGSA success with the remainder of their season and we appreciate the patience the teams have shown.”
Hawthorne did not respond to an interview request this morning. When asked for comment, APS forwarded to ARLnow.com Lander’s message to Severn.
Severn said he’s met with APS Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operation John Chadwick, which “opened up a line of communication, but didn’t resolve anything.” The School Board’s ruling could mean no more banners at Wakefield when the new field opens, either. Severn told parents that an anticipated decline in sponsorship revenue could mean a significant increase in league fees.
“I’m not trying to fan any flames here, but I’m upset because the decisions are made in a vacuum,” he said. “When we got the note back from James Lander, it’s the end of the story. There is no other avenue for us. We have no real recourse there. That’s just the disturbing part.”
Photo, top, via AGSA. Photo, bottom, via Google Maps.
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is holding its annual meeting tomorrow evening, but the event is being marketed as a social party with free-flowing booze and a DJ.
Called “City Social,” the annual meeting is at the CEB Waterview Conference Center (1919 N. Lynn Street) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. RSVPs for the event have closed.
The BID’s calling City Social its “annual party,” and will serve hors d’oevures alongside the open bar while Champion Superior Soundsystem spins its “vintage world funk” tunes. In the middle of the partying, six Rosslyn business leaders will take part in a panel discussion of the neighborhood.
“Our panel of Rosslyn heavyweights will loop you in on the the important synergy a neighborhood can create among the companies, employees and residents located there,” the event website reads, “from the access to talented people and one-of-a-kind views to the energy and buzz happening out there on the street, all of which will drive success for you and your company.”
The panel includes ARLnow.com editor and founder Scott Brodbeck, plus executives from Rosetta Stone, Politico, LiveSafe, CEB and Heavy Seas Alehouse.
There will also be prizes for attendees, including one-month memberships to OrangeTheory Fitness and Lava Barre, a 55-hour pass to Cove in Rosslyn and a gift certificate for a Rosslyn “staycation.”
Image via Rosslyn BID
The D.C. region’s annual Bike-to-Work Day is back this year on Friday, May 15, when thousands of the areas residents will ditch four wheels for two on their commutes.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association says there are 79 pit stops for cyclists around the region, including six in Arlington. Arlington’s pit stops will be, rain or shine, at:
- Crystal City: Crystal City Water Park, 1750 Crystal Drive, 7:00-9:00 a.m.
- Shirlington: Village at Shirlington, 4200 Campbell Ave., 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Columbia Pike: Penrose Square, 2503 Columbia Pike, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- East Falls Church: East Falls Church Metro, 2001 N. Sycamore Street, 6:30-9:30 a.m.
- Ballston: FreshBikes, 3924 Wilson Blvd, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Rosslyn: Rosslyn Gateway Park, Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
At each pit stop, there will be free food, beverages and giveaways. Those who want to be entered in raffles for a free bicycle — or be one of 14,000 people to receive a T-shirt — can do so at the official event website. If you’re one of the first 14,000 people registered, your T-shirt will be waiting at the pit stop you choose.
At the Ballston and Rosslyn locations, bike specialists will be on hand to give tuneups. Those who haven’t biked to work before are encouraged to check out BikeArlington’s route map and practice the route before the trails are mobbed with event participants. Arlington’s Car-Free Diet organization put together an intro video to commemorate the day.
The Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop in Clarendon (2930 Clarendon Blvd) reopened yesterday under new management.
The California-based froyo chain closed its only Arlington location last December after its regional franchise owner filed for bankruptcy. The storefront, along with all the other locations in the D.C. area, was sold to a new franchisee at auction, according to store employees.
This afternoon, employees were restocking the shelves, but serving cups of chocolate hazelnut and cinnamon churro flavors, among others. Pinkberry rejoins FrozenYo in Rosslyn and Crystal City, Iceberry in Rosslyn, Menchie’s on Columbia Pike and Tutti Frutti in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center in Arlington’s frozen yogurt shop inventory.
Pentagon City residents are worried about the potential for nightmare traffic and parking woes now that a large portion of the busy Costco parking lot off S. Fern Street has been blocked off for construction.
About half of the parking spaces in Costco’s surface parking lot have been fenced off over the past day or so. Kimco — which owns the Pentagon Centre big box mall and its parking lot — is beginning construction on a seven-story parking garage at the corner of 15th Street S. and Fern Street.
When the parking garage is complete, it’s expected to provide 394 spaces and include 5,919 square feet of ground floor retail as part of a larger development plan. About 260 parking spots were blocked off yesterday, according to George Ronetz, the general manager of Federal Parking, which manages the lot.
The lot will be blocked off until October, Ronetz said, after which time construction crews will repave and reopen it to accommodate the holiday shopping season. In May 2016, construction will resume on the new structure and that portion of the lot will close again.
Shoppers and area residents may worry about a “Costcopocalypse” — the lot is usually packed on evenings and weekends — but Ronetz said he will have staffers direct cars to the parking garage next to the Costco, which has about 520 spaces.
“There’s ample parking spaces, it’s just a matter of parking in a different area,” Ronetz told ARLnow.com today.
Of course, whether drivers who frequent Costco and its notorious parking lot listen to Ronetz and his staff remains to be seen.
“I was literally standing on the street today encouraging people to park in the garage on the roof, and people will flip me off and say ‘No, I will park where I want to park,'” he said. “I’ve been out there personally and have been hit by cars because I’m trying to show a little old lady a place to park and out of nowhere a car hits me in the leg and knocks me down.”
The parking garage has two entrances, off 12th Street and the Fern Street lot. Customers can either park on the roof or a level below it.
It has been nearly a month since ESPN reporter Britt McHenry’s tirade against an Advanced Towing employee went viral — and the company says business is booming.
John O’Neill, Advanced Towing’s owner, said he has received between 10 and 12 inquiries and new clients since the video leaked April 16, about double the company’s normal rate.
“New customer inquiries and acquisitions do increase when parking space poaching receives media notoriety,” he told ARLnow.com in an email. “Every new residential or commercial highrise being built in Arlington and surrounding areas engage towing services and there are a fair number of new projects being constructed. There are often more vehicles than available spaces in residential or multi-use settings causing parking to be an ongoing, popular topic.”
While Advanced Towing trucks may be getting busier, they won’t be towing cars away from the Hunan One Restaurant parking lot in Clarendon, at 3033 Wilson Blvd, where McHenry’s car was towed.
Hunan One General Manager Dale Jin told ARLnow.com yesterday that the restaurant’s building — a seven-story mixed-use structure with offices on top of ground floor retail — was recently sold to Carr Properties. When Carr Properties bought the building, it brought in Henry’s Wrecker Service to patrol the lot.
“We’re much happier now,” Jin said. “We complained for years about the towing company.”
O’Neill confirmed that Advanced no longer serves the lot, but said the change had “no connection whatsoever” with the McHenry incident
Hat tip to @6number6
(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) A two-story building on the 2700 block of Columbia Pike caught fire at about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.
The building, the headquarters of High Sierra Pools and former location of Ski Chalet, was safely evacuated, according to scanner traffic and company employees on the scene. Forty minutes after the fire was first reported, firefighters have contained it. Smoke stopped coming out of the building at around 10:40 a.m.
Fire and rescue crews from Fairfax and Alexandria joined the Arlington County Fire Department to battle the flames. The Pike is shut down from S. Walter Reed Drive to Barton Street to accommodate the large response, and ACFD Capt. David Santini expects it to be shut down past noon.
Santini said High Sierra Pools employees smelled smoke and called 911 at 10:05 a.m. When fire crews arrived, they found the fire had originated in the space between the roof and the second floor ceiling.
“We called a second alarm because of the intense work needed to gain access to the roof,” Santini said. “There were heavy fire conditions and we had to tear up several sections to gain ventilation.”
So far, Santini said there’s no estimate on the damage to the building, and inspectors are conducting an investigation to determine the fire’s cause.
The building’s exterior, from the street, looks largely unaffected by the fire, save for a few scorch marks on the roof.
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board could take a large step toward solving one of its pressing issues: transportation facility space.
The County Board will vote on a $14.2 million contract to build a new facility to store and maintain Arlington Rapid Transit (ART) buses on S. Eads Street in Crystal City, right next to the current bus facility already there.
The site, at 3201 and 3175 S. Eads Street, would include a two-story building, a bus wash bay, a light maintenance bay, storage and parking and four compressed natural gas fueling stations.
“Services currently provided by ART are limited by a size-constrained storage facility that provides no capability for on-site fueling or light vehicle maintenance,” the staff report reads. “The construction of the ART Bus Facility will improve transit facilities, reduce costs, and increase utilization of mass transit services in the County, and assist with the integration of transit facilities into surrounding communities.”
In a separate County Board agenda item, county staff proposes to eliminate 32nd Street S. between Jefferson Davis Highway and S. Eads Street, which would allow two existing ART bus lots to be connected. The county has purchased, or already owns, the land on either side of the street, and transportation staff has determined “the Abandoned Street is no longer needed to provide public access from Jefferson Davis Highway to South Eads Street.”
The total cost of the new facility is estimated at $17.6 million, $5 million more than the county had budgeted in the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. County staff said that discrepancy was caused by a revised site concept with added capability for maintenance and fueling, roadway improvements to Route 1 and S. Eads Street and the increasing price of construction materials in the region.
The county plans on covering the funding gap using $1.3 million in state funding and $3.7 million through a rebalancing of ART budgets and dipping into contingency funds.
Once approved and built, the new facility is expected to save the county $57,000 a year thanks to ART buses no longer needing to use a nearby WMATA fueling and washing facility.
Photo via Google Maps
A new restaurant that puts a focus on the arts is planning to move into the Village at Shirlington, in the former Extra Virgin space.
The venture, called Palette 22, was announced by Village at Shirlington’s owner, Federal Realty Investment Trust. The new restaurant, at 4053 Campbell Ave., will be the first business in the corner storefront since Extra Virgin closed in March 2013.
In between, Italian restaurant La Tagliatella had signed a lease to move into the vacated shop, but the international chain’s planned U.S. expansion fizzled out, and it never moved in. It has since closed its location in Clarendon.
It’s unclear when Palette 22 will open, or who will be running it when it does. Multiple calls to Federal Realty today have not been returned.
“Palette 22 combines food, art and fun, focusing on modern street food small plate dishes with an international flavor,” The Village at Shirlington’s website says. “It will integrate local art and artists into the whole dining experience.”
Parking in Arlington could get more expensive this fall if the Arlington County Board approves a staff proposal On Saturday to raise rates and extend hours of parking meters in the county.
If the County Board votes in favor of the motion, meter rates will go from $1.25 to $1.50 an hour, while hours will be extended from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. County transportation staff estimates the measures would generate an additional $1.6 million in combined revenue in FY 2016.
The changes would go into effect on Sept. 7, 2015.
“County fees are intended to recover the costs of the respective programs,” staff report reads. “The proposed increase in parking meter rates and the proposed extension of hours will cover more of the costs for providing, administering, and maintaining curb-side metered parking spaces than is presently the case, thereby reducing the subsidy currently being provided by General Fund revenues.”
The 181 metered spaces in the county that currently cost 50 or 75 cents an hour would not be affected by the change. Raising the rates, according to the staff report, would bring Arlington more in line with the rest of the region. The District charges $2 an hour in most locations, Alexandria charges $1.75 an hour in most spaces and Bethesda charges $2 for on-street parking, $1.25 for public lots.
If the County Board elects to extend the hours of meters and keep rates flat, it would still provide the county an extra $550,000 in revenue in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
(Updated Tuesday, 9:45 p.m.) Twenty years ago, Hollice Stone watched the Oklahoma City bombing unfold on television, emergency workers crawling through blocks of wreckage, picking out survivors or victims, and she felt an urge to do something.
She later volunteered with the same company that helped with the search and rescue missions in Oklahoma. That experience led her to what she feels is her true calling: preventing a tragedy like the bombing — which killed 168 people and wounded 680 others — from happening again.
Now, Stone is founder and CEO of Stone Security Engineering, which helps design explosion-proofing for buildings, coordinates security for existing buildings and consults with governments to ensure buildings affected by terrorist attacks are as safe as possible.
“It was something that was really needed, and I could make a difference,” Stone told ARLnow.com last week. “I really feel like we have made a difference. That’s why we do what we do.”
Stone Security contracts with the U.S. government, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations and private companies to design protections for buildings, military bases and chemical plants. Stone personally has been on dozens of trips to the Middle East, including Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. She founded her company in 2008 because her previous blast-protection engineering firm wasn’t going where the need was greatest.
“I wanted to do more in high-risk and high-threat environments,” she said. “The need is so much greater there, and the budgets are tighter.”
For some buildings, that could mean creating barriers far from the structure to prevent ground attacks. For others, it could be hardening of the structure itself. Each case is unique, and for a company that does so much of its work in the most dangerous areas in the world, there are innumerable challenges.
That’s why Stone herself goes to many of the foreign countries, preferring to keep her six full-time employees — four of whom are in Crystal City’s Eastern Foundry — out of harm’s way. But there are more than just security concerns when protecting buildings in war-torn countries.
“There you don’t have access to all the materials you do here,” Arturo Montalva, an associate principal and vice president with Stone, said. “You need creative alternatives. Sometimes you’re working with cables and clips.”
Domestically, Stone has contracts with the Government Services Administration to coordinate the design of government buildings, and has worked with private companies to ensure security of their headquarters. While the market has long been around for protecting buildings from attack, Stone said her company is still well-positioned as more and more entities acknowledge the need to make their buildings safer.
“The number of agencies, organizations and governments looking to provide protection is growing,” Stone said.
“There’s more awareness of safety and security requirements and more awareness of providing safer environments,” added Khaled El-Domiaty, associate principal/vice president and director of D.C. operations.
Stone also provides training seminars to educate about building safety, is investing in research into new techniques and materials. The market for blast-proofing is only growing in both the government sector and, particularly, with high-rise buildings in urban environments.
If one of the buildings that Stone has worked on is attacked, it’s more likely to withstand and explosion and stay upright, limiting the damage and casualties. With those protections in place in dozens of buildings around the world, it’s not a stretch to say the company has made thousands of people safer.
“Sometimes my husband makes me take a step back and realize what we’re doing here,” Stone said with a smile. “We’ve made a difference, and it’s been very satisfying.”