Arlington, VA

On the heels of being named the fittest “city” in America, Arlington has also earned a fourth-place ranking in parks from the Trust for Public Land (TPL).

The national ranking has been fairly consistent for Arlington, while neighbor D.C. surpassed Minneapolis to take the first place spot. The “ParkScore” rankings rank the quality of the park system of the top 100 cities in the United States, including Arlington.

Arlington scored in the top percentiles for access, investment and amenities, though it scored fairly low in overall acreage.

The TPL noted in its report that 98 percent of Arlington residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park — exceeding the national average of 54 percent — and that park access was consistent across all income levels.

“Parks build community. Our mission is to promote wellness and vitality through dynamic programs and attractive public spaces. And it looks like we are right on track,” Jane Rudolph, Director of Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation, said in a statement. “Our public spaces, which include parks, playgrounds, trails, fields and nature and community centers, bestow a unique and irreplaceable benefit to everyone in Arlington. Our public spaces make us happier and healthier.”

The assessment noted that Arlington has a particularly high amount of basketball hoops — 7.8 per 10,000 people — and playgrounds — 4.4 per 10,000 people.

Arlington was commended for the amount the county spends on parks: $267.23 per resident.

But with 11 percent of Arlington’s land used for parks and recreation, the TPL noted this as being below the national median of 15 percent and D.C.’s 21 percent.

The TPL also pointed to locations across Arlington in need of a new park, mainly locations around the northwest periphery of the county.

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One month after it served its last beer in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Meridian Pint is planning to open its new location in the Dominion Hills shopping plaza tomorrow.

For owner John Andrade, the move brings his new bar — at 6035 Wilson Blvd — a little closer to home. Andrade is from the neighborhood and many of the wait staff are hired from the nearby neighborhoods.

“I live a quarter-mile away and my daughter goes to Ashlawn,” Andrade said. “I know the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to understand the void for folks here for craft beer.”

Andrade said oversaturation and competition with a new wave of breweries having their own bars forced Meridian Pint out of D.C., but added that the move is also an opportunity to rebuild the small community bar scene.

“There is a focus on D.C. or even Clarendon or Ballston for beers, but the neighborhoods are neglected,” Andrade said.

A sign at the front says the restaurant will be called Dominion Pint, but Andrade said there was a legal challenge to the name so the bar is sticking with Meridian Pint. The restaurant has been holding a series of soft openings for neighbors and other invitees this week, but the official public opening is Thursday.

It will be the sixth restaurant Andrade has opened, including those no longer operating. Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland PintRosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Andrade said the focus of Meridian Pint will be on American grilled food and craft beer — both local and national brands. In addition to beers, Andrade said he’s focusing on the restaurant’s homemade ice cream.

Jace Gonnerman, the beer program director for Meridian Pint, said his goal is to maintain a careful balance of obscure and approachable beers.

In addition to the obscure and higher-end craft beers, Gonnerman said he’s happy to have two more affordable brews for the opening: Narragansett Lager and Genesee Cream Ale.

“We want to have a beer for everyone,” Gonnerman said. “We want something for the community, but also the latest and greatest for aficionados.”

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Arlington County’s Election Board asked residents to vote on a new design for its 2019 “I Voted” sticker and they responded, picking the winner by a slim, two-vote margin.

Election officials, in partnership with the Arlington Artists Alliance and Arlington Public Library, solicited votes on the county website earlier this month. Voters cast their votes for five different designs over four rounds of voting.

John Musco’s design, “Shout It From the Skyline,” received 543 votes in the final round, edging out Anna Radjou’s “Voting, the Language of Arlington’s Diversity,” which received 541 votes.

The winning “Skyline” sticker will be distributed to voters who vote at the polls on Nov. 5.

Because the final voting was so close, election officials decided the second-place design will be given to voters who cast in-person absentee votes. Absentee voting for the November general election begins on Sept. 20.

Arlington first-grader Mira Shomali’s design, “The Arlington Stars and Stripes,” received an honorable mention. Her design will be adapted as a new Future Voter sticker, which will be given to kids accompanying their parents to the polls.

The county is currently in the run-up to a primary election, which decides the candidates for the November election.

Images via Arlington County

 

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(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) The annual Rolling Thunder rally is coming to an end, but first a final big motorcycle gathering is planned this weekend.

Locals have a love-hate relationship with Rolling Thunder, which means increased traffic and noise along local roads and highways, plus road closures and other disruptions over Memorial Day weekend. In an ARLnow poll, however, most people said they either enjoy or do not mind the rally.

Rolling Thunder — which helps bring attention to American military Prisoners of War, Missing in Action and veterans issues — has for years used the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City as its home base over the weekend. Bikers typically start to arrive on Friday before departing on Monday.

As in the past, this year’s schedule of events includes a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday and the main event — a rally in the Pentagon parking lot — on Sunday. During the day, the bikers hang out on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.

A number of road closure are planned around the Pentagon for the Sunday rally. Per Arlington County Police:

The following closures will be implemented from 7:00 a.m. until approximately 4:00 p.m.:

  • Washington Blvd. (Route 27) will be closed from I-395 to the Memorial Bridge.
  • Route 110 southbound from Iwo Jima to I-395 will be opening and closing intermittently
  • I-395 North Exit 8B will be CLOSED

In addition, Arlington National Cemetery will only be accessible from southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway or northbound Route 110.

ACPD says drivers should also expect numerous rolling road closures Saturday for a separate veterans motorcycle ride and memorial service.

The Arlington County Police Department will implement multiple road closures on Saturday, May 25, 2019, resulting in traffic disruptions, to accommodate escorts of Vietnam veterans groups.

  • From approximately 7:50 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., I-66 Eastbound will be closed at N. Sycamore Street to allow police to escort 400 veterans of the Vietnam War to travel by motorcycle to Arlington National Cemetery. The escort will proceed east on I-66, south on Route 110, west on Washington Boulevard and exit onto Columbia Pike to Southgate Road. Significant travel delays can be expected along this route during this time period.
  • From 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., traffic in the Crystal City area may experience delays as another veterans group is escorted through the area.

Motorists should expect large numbers of motorcyclists in Northern Virginia and the entire Washington Metropolitan area throughout the weekend.

The Rolling Thunder organization says its mission will continue despite the annual event coming to an end.

“The organization will continue to bring awareness to the public, in years to come, with regional demonstrations,” Rolling Thunder said in a press release.

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UNTUCKit, a clothing brand focused on untucked, professional shirts, has just launched a new store in Pentagon City.

The new store opened late last week on the second floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

According to a press release:

UNTUCKit was created in 2011 to solve the problem of the long, sloppy look of untucked and ill-fitting dress shirts, by designing shirts that are meant to be worn untucked. They’ve since introduced categories ranging from t-shirts and polos to sports jackets and performance wear — plus, the launch of women’s and boys’ lines in 2017.

UNTUCKit at Pentagon City was the brand’s 61st store nationwide and the third in the region.

“We’re excited to be here, even closer to the District,” said Tomas Kurtz, assistant manager at the Pentagon City location. “It’s a new brand and we’re excited to see it grow.”

Kurtz said the store stands out for the way staff works closely with customers to find the right cut and style for them.

“It’s interesting because it’s not at all like a department store,” said Kurtz. “If you come in, you get fitted and staff will help walk you through it. It’s very personalized.”

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) It was clear skies for commuters this morning (Friday) celebrating Bike to Work Day.

The annual tradition encourages commuters to ditch their cars and ride their bikes to and from work. In Arlington, 10 pit stops and themed celebrations were sprinkled across the county.

The Bike to Work event at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park filled the park with spandex-clad cyclists mingling and expressing exuberance at the perfect weather. In the tight-knit community of cyclists, there were frequent reunions between riders throughout the park.

“It was a great ride today,” said Henry Dunbar, director of active transportation for Bike Arlington and a coordinator of the event. “This is about as ideal as it gets.”

Dunbar said the event caters to the one-third of riders who are first-time bicycle commuters. Dunbar said the goal is to teach them about bicycle safety and encourage them to make bicycle commuting a daily habit.

For new riders, Dunbar said the best thing to do is find a more experienced rider and tag along with them.

“Ride with experienced cyclists,” Dunbar said. “All the brochures in the world aren’t as good as someone guiding you through that one tricky intersection on your way into work.”

Dunbar nodded over to the N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection — a crossing regularly packed with cyclists, pedestrians and cars. The crowding is exacerbated by construction around the intersection that’s part of the Custis Trail improvements — construction Dunbar said is likely to continue for another full year.

Several bicycling-focused organizations had stands set up in Rosslyn to help encourage a car-free lifestyle. Robert Santana attended on behalf of the Arlington Car-Free Diet campaign and distributed information about the impending Metro closures.

“I was worried we’d be talking mostly to people who were already car-free,” Santana said, “but people have seemed really interested.”

Tents were set up around the park, with businesses like Nando’s Peri-Peri offering free meals or other local organizations offering bicycle-specific services.

“Today has been fantastic,” said Bruce Deming, a “bike lawyer” who specializes in representing injured cyclists. “There’s a huge crowd, just tremendous turnout. I’m proud to be a part of this event.”

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With summer around the corner, Arlington County has shared an update regarding four newly renovated parks.

The parks have either recently completed renovations or are planned to open soon.

The Fairlington Park playground opened in March. The project included a complete redesign and reconstruction of the playground, exercise equipment, park trail and more. The renovated play area offers options for different age groups and exercise equipment for all ages.

For a more subdued park experience, Glencarlyn Park has also recently opened a new picnic structure surrounded by forest. The shelter includes accessible picnic tables and power outlets with USB ports. The project page noted that renovations also brought the park into compliance with Americans With Disability Act standards.

While there has been no ribbon-cutting yet at McCoy Park, it is fully accessible to the public. Enhancements at the park, which is wedged between Lee Highway and I-66, include a realigned sidewalk and a seating deck with tables and chairs.

Dawson Terrace Park hasn’t reopened yet, but the Arlington County website says it will be “later this spring.” Plans are for the two small courts at the site to be replaced with a single, lighted court that can be used for basketball, volleyball or other court games. A separate playground area will cater to kids and the park will have have upgraded picnic areas and trail connections.

Images 1, 2, 3 via Arlington County

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Arlington County has a plan to lure in fitness-lovering tourists with retro sports ads.

The County Board is considering accepting $10,000 in state funds for a marketing campaign designed to attract exercise enthusiasts to Arlington, as the state celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia Is for Lovers” slogan.

staff report to the Board said the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) will use the money to promote sports tourism in the county:

The goal is to attract travelers from at least 50 miles away to stay in Arlington hotels on vacation. Centered on the fall race season and major Arlington-based events like the Army Ten-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon, ACVS’s initiative will appeal to fitness-focused leisure travelers through retro, 1969-style visuals and sports accessories, along with creative storytelling via blogs, videos and national social-media influencers.

The item is included in the Board’s agenda for its meeting this Saturday.

If approved, the county would accept $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and apply the funds to the Arlington’s Economic Development Commission.

“This fall, ACVS will use the grant funds to collaborate with local fitness and neighborhood organizations to fuse Virginia’s ’50 Years of Love’ campaign with the idea that ‘Arlington is for Fitness Lovers,'” said the report.

The report also noted the county’s 2018 ranking as the fittest American “city” — a title it won again this week.

Photo via Arlington Sports Hall of Fame

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The STEM Preschool at 3120 S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington is planning a sizable capacity increase.

According to an application filed on this Saturday’s Arlington County Board agenda, the facility is proposing an expansion from 66 children to 106 and employee increase from 15 to 22.

The new capacity is nearly double the 55 children originally approved by the County Board in 2014. In October 2015, the board approved a use permit amendment, allowing the facility to expand to its current capacity of 66 children.

In a report on the project, staff said the facility can accommodate the number of children proposed with the expansion.

Staff noted that the facility also has adequate parking under current zoning and has more than it would need under a new zoning ordinance taking effect on July 1, which would shift the parking measurement from one space per staff person to one space per eight children.

In the report, staff recommended approval of the application.

“The operation of the existing child care center has not and is not expected with the increase in capacity to adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing or working in the neighborhood and is not in conflict with the purposes of the master plans of the County,” staff wrote. “Overall, staff believes that the amended use will continue to be a quality addition to the community and have minimal impacts on neighboring areas.”

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(Updated on 05/17/19) A new bus will arrive tomorrow in Ballston, but the only place it’s going is to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC).

Arlington Transit (ART) is organizing a “food drive” for AFAC by building a 10’x10′ bus sculpture from canned food to celebrate the transit agency’s 20th anniversary, per a press release. ART will then donate the food to AFAC after disassembling the sculpture.

ART staff and volunteers will start building tomorrow at 1 p.m. inside Ballston Quarter mall, nearly the newly-opened, health food-focused True Food Kitchen.

The construction is part of AFAC’s annual slew of “Canstruction” food drives. In the past, architecture groups have built elaborate sculptures from thousands of dollars worth of canned goods at the Dulles and Reagan National airports as part of a national movement of donation-by-can-sculpture.

In 2016, the American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter built a lighthouse out of soup and bean cans in the Ballston mall for one of the building competitions.

Image via Twitter

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Arlington County is seeking volunteers to participate in focus groups and provide feedback on proposed changes to Lee Highway.

Residents can sign up online if they want to represent their neighborhood in discussions about future plans for the roadway and land use around it.

Last August, former Board member John Vihstadt called Lee Highway “the next big planning frontier” but said it was important to be “sensitive” to the neighborhoods bordering the roadway.

Feedback formally kicked off in February, when the county began hosting “Plan Lee Highway” community events to discuss ideas for redeveloping housing and retail areas along the corridor between the East Falls Church Metro station and Lyon Village near Rosslyn.

The area’s many single-family home neighborhoods and possible increases in density will likely be a topic for discussion now that Amazon’s 25,000 newly promised jobs is a done deal.

“Plan Lee Highway will meet with community members over the course of the planning process to get feedback on proposed potential areas of change along Lee Highway and the types of change that should be planned for in these areas,” notes the county website.

Those who live in the neighborhoods or own businesses along Lee Highway can sign up to join focus groups, and those who don’t but are still interested in the process can sign up to be “notified of other engagement opportunities.”

Previously, the Arlington County Board considered spending millions for dedicated bus and HOV lanes along the highway to move more people and reduce congestion, among other improvements.

Images via Arlington County 

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