73°Clear

by ARLnow.com September 22, 2017 at 5:50 pm 0

Update at 7 p.m. — Power has been partially restored and only 318 Dominion customers are reported to be without electricity.

Earlier: A large swath of Clarendon and Courthouse is currently without power.

The outage happened around 5:40 p.m. and may have been accompanied by a mild power surge. Arlington County offices were affected, and are being powered by generators, according to a police dispatch. Numerous businesses in the area in the dark and traffic lights are out up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds.

Police are setting up cones to direct traffic at the busiest intersections.

According to Dominion, just over 1,700 customers are without power following an issue with a power substation. Crews have been dispatched and power is expected to be restored between 8-11 p.m.

by Chris Teale September 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced today he will send 120 soldiers from the Virginia National Guard to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help with relief after Hurricane Maria.

The 120 soldiers are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will deploy in the next week to mission command headquarters. Up to 400 more will follow to conduct humanitarian assistance, clear roads and give out supplies to citizens.

It is the 10th time Virginia has coordinated an aid mission at the state level, not including efforts by religious and nonprofit organizations based in the Commonwealth.

The Category 5 storm destroyed homes and boats docked on the three islands. Four people were reported dead across the U.S. Virgin Islands; the power grid and other infrastructure was devastated and may take months to restore; and residents are in serious need of aid, which was slow to arrive after the hurricane passed.

“Virginia is ready to help communities facing the long road to recovery from the devastation wrought on their cities and towns by the recent hurricanes,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Commonwealth officials, the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies remain in close contact with our counterparts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We will continue to offer Virginia’s assistance for short and long-term recovery.”

More from a Governor’s Office press release after the jump:

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by ARLnow.com September 22, 2017 at 9:40 am 0

There is a literal north-south divide in Arlington: Route 50, as it runs from Fairfax County to Fort Myer.

But besides the difference in addresses, there is also a bit of a socioeconomic divide separating the two sides of the highway. Neighborhoods south of Route 50 tend to be less wealthy and more diverse than their counterparts in the northern reaches of Arlington.

Arlington’s north-south divide has been subject to quite a few think pieces over the years. One can argue that the inexorable upward march of property prices throughout Arlington has made the divide less pronounced, though it is still there.

Rather than add another think piece to the mix, today we were just wondering: in which half of Arlington do you live?

by ARLnow.com September 22, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

‘Hate Group’ Holding Conference in ArlingtonACT for America, which describes itself as the “nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots national security organization” — but which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group — is holding its annual conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City next weekend. Marriott is refusing calls to cancel the event, saying:¬†“We are a hospitality company¬†that provides¬†public accommodations¬†and function space. Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement¬†of any group or individual.” [Slate]

Private Middle School Opens in Arlington — A ribbon cutting was held earlier this week for the grand opening celebration of The Sycamore School, a new, private middle school in Arlington. “More than 80 percent of our inaugural students are coming from public school,¬† which tells me that our community is aching for smaller class options and more individualized learning,” said the school’s founder. [InsideNova]

Another Arcing Insulator Outside of Rosslyn — A track issue caused problems yet again between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom Metro stations this morning. The initial call for a possible arcing insulator went out around 5 a.m. Normal service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was restored around 7 a.m. [WJLA]

First Day of Fall — Grab your maple lattes, today is the autumnal equinox and the first day of astrological autumn. The equinox will happen just after 4 p.m. Eastern time. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale September 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Fire Department helped out on a structure fire call at the SunTrust Bank in Seven Corners this morning.

ACFD sent units to the bank at 6300 Leesburg Pike around 11 a.m. to assist Fairfax County Fire & Rescue with the reported electrical fire. The bank is near Route 7’s intersection with Arlington Blvd and close to the Eden Center.

Firefighters arrived on scene and saw smoke at the back of the building. A small electrical panel caught fire, and crews determined it had not spread, according to Fairfax County authorities.

Firefighters ventilated the building to remove lingering smoke on two floors. No injuries were reported.

Photos 1-3 by Sinti Asmare. Photos No. 4 and No. 5 via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com September 21, 2017 at 8:15 am 0

County Board Stalls on VRE Decision — The Arlington County Board, at a Tuesday meeting that stretched into early Wednesday morning, declined to endorse one of the options for a proposed new Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City. VRE officials, county staff, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Arlington’s Transportation Commission backed Option 2, which places the station closer to the Crystal City Metro station and transit center. Some local condominium residents and the Planning Commission, citing concerns about noise, wanted Option 3 — which places the station behind an office building — to be considered as well. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Michelle Obama Stops By Arlington for Salon Opening — Former first lady Michelle Obama and her Secret Service entourage were among “a crowd of about 40 VIPs” who came to Arlington Tuesday night for the opening of a new salon. The business, Aesthetics Salon, is owned by stylist Yene Damtew, who was part of Obama’s “glam squad” while she was in the White House. Aesthetics Salon is located at¬†2412 26th Road S. in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood just south of I-395. [Washington Post]

Clarendon Day Closures — Expect lots of road closures in central Clarendon on Saturday for the annual Clarendon Day festival, which is taking place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. On Sunday morning Wilson Blvd will be closed from Clarendon to Rosslyn for the¬†Clarendon Day 5K, 10K and Kids Dash races. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

More on Proposed Columbia Pike Bus Revamp — “Recently¬†Metro unveiled the latest¬†proposed changes¬†to the Metrobus network which includes a major restructuring to the 16 series bus lines on Columbia Pike in Arlington. The long-awaited restructuring is aimed at simplifying and improving¬†bus service in the corridor.” [Greater Greater Washington]

County Seeking Pike Bus Feedback — While WMATA continues to collect feedback on the proposed Columbia Pike bus changes via an online survey, a public meeting is scheduled tonight (Thursday) to discuss the changes in person with residents. The meeting is taking place at the Arlington Mill Community Center from 6-8 p.m. [Arlington County]

Local Nonprofit Lender Steps Up Loan Volume¬†— “Arlington-based¬†Capital Impact Partners¬†said Wednesday it provided $75 million in private financing in the second quarter of 2017, the largest quarterly loan volume in its history. The nonprofit community development financial institution backs projects that support increased access to health care, education, affordable housing and healthy food in the United States.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

For the first time in its decade-long history, the National Chamber Ensemble will play concerts at venues other than Rosslyn’s Spectrum Theatre (1611 N. Kent Street), starting next month.

Arlington Cultural Affairs Division director Michelle Isabelle-Stark said the county’s lease on the theater expired in July, and they took “immediate steps” to help find new spaces in which the group can perform.

So instead of performing at the theater, which it has done since its founding in 2007, the NCE will perform its five 2017-2018 season concerts at the Gunston Arts Center (2700 S. Lang Street) and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd).

The ensemble performs chamber music — classical music composed for a small group of instruments in a more intimate setting.

NCE’s season of concerts begins on Saturday, October 14 at Gunston Arts Center with a program called, “Night in the Garden of Spain” featuring a celebration of Spanish classical music and dance.

For NCE leaders, finding space similar to the Spectrum proved challenging.

“It was hard to find a space comparable to the Spectrum, because the Spectrum is a perfect size for chamber music,” said NCE artistic director Leo Sushansky. “Most of the other auditoriums in Arlington, they’re very large school auditoriums. So the Gunston Arts Center is probably the closest to the Spectrum in size, but it was only available for two concerts.”

The Spectrum Theatre is set to be torn down during the first phase of the Rosslyn Plaza Project along with two apartment buildings and four office buildings.

In its place would be 2.5 million square feet of space across five buildings, including 1.8 million square feet of office, 550 residential units, 200 hotel rooms and 45,000 square feet of retail space. And the space once occupied by Artisphere in the same building is set to be a co-working space, opening this fall.

But Sushansky said while having to play in new venues incurs extra costs from rentals, transporting instruments and the like, it will help them show off their talents to more people.

“I’m hoping it’ll bring us into different neighborhoods, bring attention to a different audience,” he said. “It will help bring about some interesting collaborations.”

But the closure of the Spectrum left Sushansky to bemoan the lack of dedicated performance spaces in Arlington outside of the county’s schools.

“The county has been very supportive all these years, and they continue to be so,” he said. “It’s just there’s a problem in Arlington with not enough performance spaces. There’s really no concert hall in Arlington. The Spectrum was the only one. Now that has gone and all that are left are school auditoriums.”

Isabelle-Stark said that such groups can be creative with their venue choices, as it gives them different environments to perform in and introduces their work to more people.

“As they say when one door closes another one opens,” she said. “[Alternative] venues for performance, such as churches, shopping malls, and airports, to name a few, provide opportunities for performers to stretch creatively and cultivate new audiences.”

Photo No. 1: courtesy photo. Photo No. 3 via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com September 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

A man ran up to a jogger on the Mt. Vernon Trail and groped her, according to this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.

The incident happened around lunchtime last Wednesday, on the trail near Rosslyn.

Police searched for the suspect but were unable to locate him.

More from the ACPD crime report:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2017-09130162, Mount Vernon Trail. At approximately 2:07 p.m. on September 13, police were dispatched to the intersection of Lynn Street at Lee Highway for the late report of a sexual battery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 12:30 p.m. on September 13, a female victim was running on the Mount Vernon Trail when an unknown male suspect approached her from behind and inappropriately touched her. Once the victim called out for help, the suspect fled the area on foot. The suspect is described as a light-skinned Hispanic male, 30 Р40 years old, approximately 180 Р220 lbs with an average to medium build. The suspect is clean shaven with short black hair. He was wearing a light blue long-sleeved shirt, tan khaki pants and brown sneakers at the time of the incident. Officers canvassed the area with negative results. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve¬†already reported, after the jump.

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by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Local nonprofit Phoenix Bikes will rent space in the Arlington Mill Community Center after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a five-year lease Tuesday night.

Phoenix Bikes will lease just over 1,800 square feet of space for its bike repair shop on the center’s first floor at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street. It will also rent office space on the fourth floor and some storage space.

The nonprofit, which lists its mission as promoting bicycling, building community and educating young people, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

It moves into first-floor space that had been vacant since the center opened in 2013. Phoenix Bikes had previously planned to build an education center along S. Walter Reed Drive near the W&OD Trail, but ran into significant opposition from nearby residents concerned about tree removal, parking and unsavory people visiting the public restrooms.

“This is a great location for Phoenix Bikes and a great way for the county to fill vacant retail space at Arlington Mill,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Phoenix Bikes’ award-winning program of mentoring youth through bicycle repairs and sales will thrive in this high-visibility location on the west end of [Columbia] Pike. We’re happy to have them.”

Phoenix Bikes has one year from the execution of its lease to build out its retail space, and 21 months to build out its office space. It will pay just under $9,000 a year in rent. It is estimated the build-out will cost $170,000.

Phoenix Bikes executive director Meg Rapelye said the new space will help the organization add to its programming and help serve more people.

“We are so grateful for Phoenix Bikes’ new home at Arlington Mill Community Center,” she said in a statement. “This move is the most significant event in Phoenix Bikes’ 10 years of existence and will dramatically increase our organization’s capacity to serve the community. We look forward to augmenting the afterschool and summer teen programming the Center currently provides and helping activate Columbia Pike’s West End.”

Courtesy photo

by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Arlington County residents are now prohibited from keeping various “wild and exotic” animals as pets, including alligators, squirrels and skunks, but can keep non-venomous snakes and hedgehogs.

Anyone who already owns a banned animal will be grandfathered in but must immediately contact the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to register their pet. Current owners will then be able to legally keep their pets through the registry.

The County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday for the new restrictions, which take effect immediately. Anyone found in violation of the new rules could be fined up to $500 a day.

The following animals are banned, according to Arlington County.

  • Non-human primates (monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.)
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Wolves or wolf hybrids
  • Coyotes
  • Squirrels
  • Foxes
  • Leopards
  • Panthers
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Bears
  • Wild cats including hybrids (like bobcats, lynx and caracals)
  • Ratites (flightless birds)
  • Crocodilians
  • Venomous snakes, venomous reptiles
  • Any other warm-blooded mammal that can normally be found in the wild state
  • Scorpions other than those in the Pandinus group,¬†which are permitted
  • Centipedes of the¬†Scolopendra group
  • The following spider groups: Latrodectus¬†(widow spiders); Loxosceles¬†(recluse spiders); Dipluridae (funnel-web spiders); Phoneutria¬†¬†(banana spiders aka wandering spiders); Ctenizidae (trap-door spiders); Sicarius¬†(sand spiders); and Theraphosidae (tarantulas), except for Theraphosids native to North and South America and¬†Brachypelma smithi¬†(Mexican redknee tarantula), which are not permitted

Non-venomous snakes are not banned, but the Board set standards for care, handling and enclosures for snakes that weigh more than 25 pounds. That is a change from the previous iteration of the ban in March, which had intended to ban ownership of non-venomous snakes weighing more than 10 pounds.

Each snake must have a microchip and have an enclosure that prevents escape but allows freedom of movement within it.

“What began as a seemingly straightforward effort to ban exotic pets in Arlington became much more complex and nuanced as the process evolved,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Ultimately, through a lot of conversation with the community, we were able to adopt a Code amendment that reaches a practical balance of the input received from all sides and is enforceable.”

Rabbits, rats, mice, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and guinea pigs bred in captivity are permitted as pets. Also allowed as pets are all domestically bred or legally imported birds — other than flightless ratites — plus¬†non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians and fish.

County staff said the decision aligns county and state law, and now allows local animal control officers to take actions that previously could only have been taken by state officers.

Photo No. 1: File photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Photo No. 2 courtesy Kelly.

by ARLnow.com September 20, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Residents Irked at App-Directed Traffic — Residents who live just west of Crystal City are upset that map apps like Waze keep directing cut-through traffic down S. Fern Street as an alternative to S. Eads Street or Route 1. A resident who spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting said her complaints to Arlington County staff have not resulted in any action. [InsideNova]

Army Ten-Miler to Close Roads Next Month — A number of roads around Crystal City and Pentagon City will close on Sunday, Oct. 8 for the annual Army Ten-Miler race. [Arlington County]

Lions Club Scrambling to Find Xmas Tree Lot — The South Arlington Lions Club is not even sure they’ll be able to hold their annual Christmas tree sale in South Arlington this year. The club’s usual location in the parking lot of the former Food Star is under construction and the club just learned that county land is off-limits to nonprofit fundraising. [InsideNova]

Colorado Has Its Own Serial Pooper — A bizarre situation that’s drawing comparisons to Arlington’s own serial pooper of 2016¬†is playing out in Colorado. Residents in Colorado Springs say a female jogger has been repeatedly, unapologetically defecating in their neighborhood. [Deadspin, Washington Post]

Nauck Leaders Lauded — A pair of community stalwarts were honored by the Nauck Civic Association in a ceremony this past weekend. “Wanda Pierce was lauded for her tenure leading the Arlington Community Foundation,” while “Cleveland ‘Bubby’ James Jr., another longtime resident, was honored for his work with the youth and young adults of Nauck and the entire county.” [InsideNova]

by Chris Teale September 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Efforts by residents to remove a requirement for a public courtyard behind their Ballston condo building was unanimously rejected on Saturday by the Arlington County Board.

Members of the Berkeley Condo Association (1000 N. Randolph Street) applied to remove the requirement for 24-hour public access to the courtyard, citing concerns about safety and public nuisances.

Peter Schulz, a staffer at the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, acknowledged that the easement for the courtyard — which also serves as a cut-through to the Ballston Metro station — had not been properly recorded by county staff. But county staff recommended against¬†removing the easement, arguing that without it “there is no guarantee that the space will remain open to the public.”

The issue came to light after the association erected gates at entrances to the courtyard without a permit and someone complained about it to the county. A notice of violation was issued and then upheld by the Board of Zoning Appeals; the case is pending in Arlington County Circuit Court after the applicants sued to keep the gates.

Residents said there are problems with nuisance behavior like littering, public drunkenness, drug use and loud music playing in the courtyard, exacerbated by the presences of nearby bars like A-Town Bar & Grill, on the opposite side of Fairfax Drive. Residents said problems persist day and night, and are not confined to bar patrons.

“We’ve really had to put up with a great deal of noise,” said resident Charles Richter. “It’s sometimes at very uncomfortable hours, both from people who have had too much to drink in the evening, and in the day we’ve had several dog fights [and] people fights.”

“When people come out after an evening of drinking, they help themselves to our rear yard,” said William Lawson, the attorney for the condo association.

Police, however, did not report any significant issues associated with the space.

“Staff has only been able to find one (1) police report concerning the outdoor space in the past year,” said the staff report.

In letters to the County Board, both the Parks and Recreation Commission and members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association opposed closing off public access to the park.

While County Board members were sympathetic to the condo owners, and promised to look again at finding ways to improve public safety in the area, they said they could not get rid of the public space requirement.

“This was an easement granted to the people of Arlington County,” said Board member Libby Garvey. “We can’t just give it up willy-nilly because there were some mistakes made.”

Fellow Board member John Vihstadt said there were “dirty hands here all around.” Schulz, the county staffer, said with better coordination between plan reviewers on staff, such mistakes are unlikely to be repeated.

“It was an unfortunate case of too much silo-ing in county staff at the time,” he said.

Photos via county presentation

by ARLnow.com September 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The victim of a vicious stabbing is expected to survive after the early Monday morning attack.

Police say someone approached the victim from behind along N. Glebe Road in the Buckingham neighborhood, just south of Ballston, and stabbed him multiple times. The man was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with what were described as “non-life threatening injuries.”

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-09180026, 300 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 3:00 a.m. on September 18, police were dispatched to the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that a suspect approached a male victim from behind and stabbed him multiple times. The victim was transported to G. W. Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect is described as an adult Hispanic male. The investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com September 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

For at least the second time this year, fraudsters have installed credit card skimmers at a gas station in Cherrydale.

Police say a skimming device was found inside a gas pump on the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive yesterday afternoon, after customers of the gas station “reported fraudulent activity on their bank statements.”

The Arlington County Police Department is encouraging residents to take precautions when pumping gas, noting that new credit card skimmers are more sophisticated and “are undetectable without opening the pumps.”

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about skimming devices used to steal banking and personal information.

At approximately 2:50 p.m. on Monday, September 18, police were dispatched to a gas station in the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive for the report of a credit card skimming device located inside a gas pump. Citizens having used this location have reported fraudulent activity on their bank statements. Police are encouraging anyone who has used this gas station to review their bank statements for any fraudulent activity. If fraudulent activity is located, report to police by calling the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222 or file an online police report.

Citizens can take the following crime prevention steps to avoid skimmers at gas stations:

  • Skimming devices have become more sophisticated. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside the machine and are undetectable without opening the pumps.
  • Pay inside at the gas station, rather than at the pump.
  • Always pay using a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
  • If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in. That way, the PIN number is safe.
  • Consider purchasing a refillable prepaid card to purchase gas at the pumps.
  • If you have not already switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
  • Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.

Criminals will use a variety of different scams and the Arlington County Police Department wants the public to remain alert so you don’t become a victim. Individuals seeking more information about fraud can visit our¬†website¬†or contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at¬†[email protected] .

Photo via Google Maps

by Chris Teale September 19, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A report on the future of the Shirlington Dog Park did not recommend reducing its size, but still left members of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group with plenty of questions.

The report, prepared by a committee of five group members over the summer, made various recommendations for the park’s short, medium and long-term future.

It looks to find ways to manage stormwater runoff into Four Mile Run from surfaces that do not absorb rainwater and to ensure the park remains well-used. The report was drafted after the Arlington County Board sent plans to reduce its size back to the drawing board.

The report said taking down two county-owned warehouses on S. Oakland Street, adjacent to the park, would help manage stormwater runoff and allow a connection between the dog park and a proposed arts district nearby.

“In addition to addressing some adjacent stormwater issues, this would serve an array of complementary objectives such as integrating this new park area and the dog park with the arts district, provide a flexible-use area for festivals and arts events, provide swing space for recreational functions as Jennie Dean Park is developed, and improve connectivity and open up the line of sight from South Four Mile Drive into the park,” the report reads.

But in suggesting those warehouses be taken down, some group members argued the committee exceeded the scope of its study.

“I felt as though the report spent a lot of time on issues that frankly were not in the group’s charge,” said group vice chair Robin Stombler. Others noted that a report on a potential arts district suggested using the warehouses as space for artists.

Longtime civic leader Carrie Johnson expressed her disappointment at what she described as a “disputed space problem,” and urged the group to find a compromise between the warehouses’ use in the arts district or removal for the dog park.

“I would have hoped to hear less fighting over acreage and more about how it could be used for everybody’s benefit,” she said.

In the short-term, the group recommended various small ways to help manage stormwater at the park, including no longer mowing the grass, protecting existing trees and limiting access to the stream.

But in the medium term, the report called on county government to show leadership in managing stormwater runoff from its buildings to help protect the park. They also urged an expansion of a program where businesses receive grants and other incentives to install ways to manage stormwater through green roofs, rain barrels and the like.

The area’s current zoning encourages making changes through redevelopment, as opposed to incentivizing existing businesses to make those environmentally-friendly tweaks.

“There seems to be no answer here, because the county seems unable to change anything for the existing businesses until they redevelop,” said Anne Inman, a group member.

The report noted that the need to balance stormwater with the park’s popularity is a “catch-22,” as “leaving the park in its current condition is not a viable long-term solution, but efforts to mitigate the environmental issues would trigger significant, costly and undesirable changes to the park.”

Group chair Charles Monson said they will not look to endorse any report prepared by a committee, but will instead use them to guide their thinking as planning the area’s future continues.

The report’s full recommendations are after the jump.

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