Arlington, VA

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) When medic Ryan Denelsbeck heard the call come in, for a person struck by a train at the Courthouse Metro station, he assumed the worst.

But yesterday evening, Denelsbeck and Arlington County Fire Department were able to rescue the woman who fell under a Silver Line Metrorail car — and she’s expected to survive.

“We normally expect the worst for a person vs. train scenario,” Denelsbeck said.

He said he was surprised to find the woman in relatively good condition, for someone who had reportedly been hit by a Metro train. While Denelsbeck worked on trying to calm her down and assess her injuries, others members of the fire department were trying to figure out how to extricate her.

Denelsbeck said when he sees the images of the rescue, like the video below, it takes him back to laying down on the side of the Metro platform trying to talk her through it.

The woman had suffered a medical emergency and fallen in an 18-inch gap between the train and the platform, as the train was arriving. The space, according to Captain Kevin Troiano, was a very tricky area for the firefighters to reach. Adding to the difficulty: the woman was disoriented and confused about how she had wound up there, and Troiano said medics had to explain her situation as best they could without causing her to panic.

Battalion Chief Matt Herbert said the main difficulties were the confined space and concerns about the electrified third rail. She wasn’t close to the rail, but Herbert said the rail electrifies all of the “feet” on the bottom of the train.

“The bottom of a Metro car is a very dangerous place,” Herbert said.

There was also the evening rush hour crowd inside the Metro station to deal with. Denelsbeck said one of their initial challenges was dealing with the crowd pressed in around them, but the police were able to keep people back and the station was evacuated to help clear the escalators.

Herbert said they called up the fire officer at WMATA and were able to get power shut down to the trackbed at the station. Once they had assurances that no other trains would be coming through, firefighters were able to get her out of the gap and get her to a hospital. The fire department said it’s unclear whether her injuries were caused by the train or from her fall.

As of today (Friday), officials said she’s in stable condition.

“We got into this job to help people,” Troiano said. “An outcome like this makes that all better.”

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If the shelves are looking a little bare in the underground Rite Aid at 1671 Crystal Square Way, it’s because the store is set to close next month.

A sign at the front says the pharmacy is scheduled to close Monday, Feb. 17, and staff at the store said the full store is planned to close sometime later that month.

“The rest of it is being liquidated,” a store manager said. “It’s likely to close by the end of February.”

Signs at the store told visitors that their pharmacy records will be transferred to the Walgreens at 1301 S. Joyce Street.

The store, located at the north end of the sprawling underground complex, was still in fairly heavy use yesterday (Thursday) with visitors taking advantage of scattered discounts across the store. It’s closing despite the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 in the area.

While the store is slowly getting rid of its inventory, many of the shelves further back in the store with toiletries and other goods are still well-stocked, along with a plentiful supply of beer and White Claws.

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(Updated at 9:40 a.m.) Staff at A-1 Arlington Clarendon Valet — a dry cleaner at 3110 Washington Blvd. in Clarendon — said a financial dispute has led to the store closing next month.

The store is closing because a person who purchased the business was defaulting on their payments, an employee said. The original owner is now back running the business, but planning to close it, we’re told.

There was also a sign taped to the front desk explaining the closure and cautioning that customers who dropped off items under its previous ownership might not get their clothes back. The contents of the sign — minus the names of the parties involved, who ARLnow was not able to reach for comment — are below.

A1 Clarendon Valet was sold to [REDACTED] on 13 October 2018 on a five-year payment plan. He appointed his nephew… to operate the business and after only one payment, the business defaulted on their payments. On Wednesday 8 January 2020, the Arlington County Sheriff’s Department executed the Court ordered eviction and changed the locks.

Since 9 January 2020 we have been trying to locate your items. If we cannot locate your missing items, you should lodge a direct complaint to [REDACTED]. Please understand that while we are making every effort to locate your items, we are under no legal obligation for items that were left in their care between 13 October 2018 and 8 January 2020. We will continue our efforts to find those missing items until 12 February 2020, after which A1 Clarendon Valet will close its doors.

The store also offers leather and shoe repairs, key duplication, and other services.

A-1 isn’t the only dry cleaner to close over the last year. Family Dry Cleaners on Columbia Pike closed last July and Georgetown Valet dry cleaners closed last January.

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Arlington is planning to host an open house to mark the start of the development of the county’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

Last July, the County Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to develop goals and an action plan for a comprehensive analysis of traffic safety in Arlington as part of the County’s Vision Zero goals — the name for a series of initiatives aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities.

Details on the plan were vague at the time, though similar plans have been enacted in Alexandria, where some changes like traffic calming measures and lane reductions have been famously controversial.

The open house is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 5-8 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street). An event listing said visitors will be able to learn more about current Vision Zero plans and share their priorities for improving transportation safety in Arlington.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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In some ways, Justin Stegall has a hard time recognizing his bakery — Bakeshop at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon — today, given how it started.

When the shop opened, in 2010 during the middle of the Snowpocalypse, it was just him in the kitchen and a guy working in the front. Over the next ten years, that staff grew and each of them left their mark on the bakery. A tableau of printed pictures on wall is a silent testament to the years of memories.

This Sunday, Jan. 26, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Bakeshop will celebrate ten years in business with a community-oriented celebration. Bakeshop staff said they are planning to pass out cake and ice cream samples, along with cookies. The celebration will have a photo booth and — permit pending — a fire truck to entertain children could make an appearance, staff said.

The shop now operates in two locations, the original one in Clarendon and one at 100 E. Fairfax Street in Falls Church. Stegall said he has no immediate plans to open more, but he enjoyed the expansion and will do it again if the moment feels right.

Looking back on the last ten years, Stegall and his staff said it was a lot of long hours and difficult work that made the shop viable.

“I went into it thinking it would be a lot of fun, and it is, but it’s a lot of hard work,” said Alyson, an employee at Bakeshop. “You’re in the ovens, it’s hard work, and you’re carrying trays… You make all these delicious treats, but for the bakers, it’s a lot of hard work.”

As Sol Schott from Acme Pie on Columbia Pike could also attest, staff said the work involves working long, odd hours.

“Bakers get in really early,” Alyson said. “A large part of that is there are orders you have to bake for the day or people picking up cakes on the way to work. It’s early mornings and late nights.”

When Bakeshop opened during that blizzard, Stegall said one of the first orders was a couple for a cake, which he walked through the snow to deliver to them. The couple still comes into the shop, he said with pride.

(Bakeshop launched around the same time as ARLnow, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, and our company’s paths have occasionally overlapped — like the time we ordered a cake decorated with a waving chalk body outline as a farewell present to an outgoing Arlington police spokeswoman.)

“I believe towns need these kinds of things,” Stegall said. “It gives Arlington a little community spot for the neighborhood, for kids and adults, for people that want to work there and bake. Now we constantly have a crew of awesome kids that come through, go to college, and come back.”

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A plan to redevelop the Key Bridge Marriott is moving forward, but some Arlington officials have lingering concerns about parking and impervious space at the site.

At a Transportation Commission meeting earlier this month, project representatives laid out plans to demolish a portion of the existing 582-room hotel and redevelop the 1401 Lee Highway site with two residential buildings and a smaller, renovated hotel space.

The remodeled hotel would include 449 rooms, bordered by a 150-unit condominium building to the east and a 300-unit apartment building to the west above an existing parking structure. A representative said the redevelopment would include a “slew of interior changes” to the hotel.

Part of the plan involves the addition of a new bike path connecting to the Key Bridge, near where improvements were made to the Custis Trail last year. While there was widespread praise for the new bicycle connection, some on the Transportation Commission had reservations about the project. Chair Chris Slatt said he still wanted to see a Bikeshare station added and wanted to see a lower parking ratio on the site, partially to allow for less impervious surface area.

“There’s work that can be done on circulation areas of the site to make them less impervious,” Slatt said. “It really feels like there’s a lot of pavement [and] a lot of sidewalk. I look down at this plan view and I expect to see a lot more of those tree circles than I do.”

The project is also being discussed by the Site Plan Review Committee at a meeting next Thursday, Jan. 30. It will go back to the Transportation Commission for a vote after that, before going to the full Planning Commission and ultimately the Arlington County Board for approval.

Image via Arlington County

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) With a new Democratic majority, Arlington’s state Senators have doubled down on earlier efforts to pass gun control reform and make progress on other issues — like marijuana decriminalization — that made limited progress under a Republican majority.

Some of these proposals have already faced substantial pushback, particularly from a crowded gun rights rally on Monday that drew national headlines. Democrats notched a gun control victory today, however, with the state Senate narrowly passing a “red flag” gun law that allows guns to be taken away by those judged as dangerous to themselves or others.

Nestled among the high profile issues are other items of interest for Arlingtonians, like the ability to require labor agreements as part of the zoning approval process.

Sen. Barbara Favola

Among the bills introduced by Favola in the 2019-2020 legislative session are SB 116, which would say that defendants in a capital case who have a severe mental illness are not eligible for the death penalty, and SB 179, which adds gender, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation to the state’s hate crime definition. SB 116 was moved to the Judiciary committee and SB 179 was referred to the Finance and Appropriations committee.

Favola is one of the chief co-signers of SB 35, which authorizes localities to prohibit the possession or carrying of firearms, ammunition, or components thereof to government buildings, public parks, or any public right of way being used for an event. The bill was passed in the state Senate on Jan. 16.

Sen. Adam Ebbin

According to Henry Watkins, communications director for Ebbin, the bills he has proposed are:

SB 868 — Prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Also includes additional protections for veterans and pregnant persons.

SB 2 — Reduces penalty for possession of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil penalty.

SB 852 — Institutes a tax on e-cigarettes at 39% of the wholesale price. Also raises the Virginia cigarette tax to $1.80 per pack and the tax on other tobacco products to 39% wholesale.

SB 11 — Imposes a five-cent fee on throw-away bags to reduce litter and waste.

SB 838 — Makes construction contractors liable for their subcontractors if the subcontractor does not pay their employees, and allows employees to sue employers for nonpayment of wages.

Ebbin has also proposed SB 839, which would allow localities to require project labor agreements and worker protections on high-density development projects that go through a special exception zoning process. While approving an incentive package for Amazon’s HQ2, Arlington County Board members lamented not being able to require such labor provisions.

Board member Katie Cristol lobbied for the bill in Richmond on Monday.

Sen. Janet Howell

Like many other Democratic Senators from Northern Virginia, Howell introduced gun control legislation during the current session. SB 75 would make it a Class 3 misdemeanor to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm “in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any person under the age of 18.” The current law makes it illegal for under the age of 14.

Other bills introduced by Howell include SB 111, which allows people to vote absentee without needing to list a reason why they can’t vote in person. SB 111 was passed in the Senate on Monday.

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Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg recently opened a campaign office in Pentagon Row (1301 S. Joyce Street) amid an unprecedented blitz of campaign spending.

The new office for the largely self-funded candidate is located between the DSW shoe store and Planet Fitness, on the ground floor of the shopping center.

As of Tuesday afternoon, staff at the campaign outpost were making phone calls to voters to talk about Bloomberg’s gun control plans, which have been a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign. The office is also scheduled to phone bank from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursday.

Bloomberg has not made any public appearances in Arlington so far, but did hold a campaign event in Alexandria last month.

Other 2020 candidates also have active campaigns in Arlington.

Donald Trump has his secondary reelection campaign office in Rosslyn. While Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren don’t seem to have official campaign offices in Arlington, Sanders-supporting group Our Revolution is active in Arlington and the Elizabeth Warren campaign has phone banked from local residences. Pete Buttigieg, endorsed by local Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), held a campaign fundraiser in an Arlington backyard this past summer.

While Sen. Amy Klobuchar does not currently have any campaign events listed in Arlington, she does reportedly rent a house here.

H/T to @CartChaos22202

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If state Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-36) bill passes the Virginia legislature, businesses in Arlington could be on the line for recovering shopping carts people have taken but not returned.

Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.

Surovell told the state Senate’s Local Government Committee that his frustration was borne out of years of personally pulling shopping carts out of a creek in Fairfax.

“These carts often end up in drainage ditches and when it rains they end up going in the creek,” Surovell said. “I’ve taken 230 shopping carts out of the creek myself.”

Abandoned shopping carts have been a plague on areas of Arlington, particularly the Pentagon City area, so prevalent they inspired Twitter accounts that have obsessively documented abandoned scooters around the area for the past several years.

The bill was reported from the Local Government Committee on a narrow 8-7 vote, where it faced pushback both on the dais and from public speakers. Parker Slaybaugh, executive director of the very newly formed nonprofit Virginia Food Industry Association, said the bill would make shopping carts the only stolen property where the victim of the theft is charged for its recovery.

That criticism was a recurring theme of opposition to the bill.

“If somebody steals your property, then abandon that, I don’t think you should be charged to have to go retrieve that property,” said State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-82th District). “Businesses already paid to purchase it, [then] somebody stole it. The right thing to do would be to charge someone who stole it.”

DeSteph compared the proposal to requiring someone whose vehicle is stolen to retrieve the vehicle or pay for it to be recovered.

“It’s one of the points people raise every year and it’s totally wrong,” Surovell fired back. “To prove someone guilty of petty larceny [you] have to show intent to permanently deprive someone of something. The reason you don’t see these people charged with crimes is because it’s not a crime.”

Surovell said the legislation included a section that would allow localities to make it a civil infraction to take the carts from the business owner, though a police officer speaking at the meeting who claimed to have arrested someone for stealing a shopping cart disagreed with Surovell’s statement that it wasn’t a crime.

Sarah Taylor, Alexandria’s legislative director, said the city had asked to join the ordinance to give them another “tool in a toolbox” to encourage businesses to better manage their carts, such as geofencing.

Surovell also noted that at ALDI, customers put a quarter in to get the cart, get a quarter back when it is returned.

“It’s not about punishing the victim,” Surovell argued. “Retailers could take steps to keep this from happening, they just choose not to do it.”

Photo (top) via Scott Surovell/Twitter

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Arlington is once again planning to convert an outside lane on Lee Highway to bus and HOV only.

The Transportation Commission unanimously approved staff’s request to seek $1 million in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for pavement treatment, restriping, and signage for a new bus lanes.

The lanes would operate eastbound from N. Veitch Street to N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn during morning peak period, and westbound from N. Oak Street to N. Veitch Street during evening peak periods, staff said in the application. The lane would otherwise be open to general-purpose travel.

The sections with a bus lane are three lanes in each direction, and during peak periods roughly 25 loaded buses travel down that stretch of Lee Highway per hour, according to county documents.

“The section between North Veitch Street and Rosslyn is very heavily congested and sharply degrades bus performance and reliability, which will be improved by the lane conversion,” staff said.

An application for the project was submitted last year, but staff said at the Transportation Commission that funding was not approved because the designs had not advanced enough and were too broad in scope.

“The FY 2021-2022 application has been re-scoped to focus on the portion of Lee Highway with the greatest need,” staff said in a request to file the applications. “That has in turn reduced the estimated cost by one-third compared with the previous application.”

Staff said the deadline for grant submission is the end of January and the county would hear back in the spring. If approved, funding would include a feasibility test and the project could be incorporated into ongoing plans to reshape Lee Highway.

Photo via Google Maps

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Barry’s Clarendon — the first Virginia studio for international fitness chain Barry’s Bootcamp — is getting ready to open its location at 2825 Wilson Blvd next week.

The gym will open on Saturday, Jan. 25, according to a press release.

Barry’s describes itself as a “boutique lifestyle brand” with an “immersive and transformative full-body workout experience.” The L.A. Times once described the gym, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1998, as “one of the toughest workouts” in the city.

The Clarendon location, a 5,695 square foot space next to the Chase bank, is the second location in the D.C. area after one in Dupont Circle. While there’s no shortage of gyms around Arlington, Barry’s Clarendon will help fill the void left when Washington Sports Club closed last year nearby.

The location will have 23 treadmills and a capacity for 50 people to work out at one time, according to the press release. The location will also sell clothing like workout clothes and athleisure wear, along with smoothies and snacks.

Classes at the gym are $34 per session, though other types of packages and memberships are also available.

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