Arlington, VA

Over forty trees are planned to be removed to make way for a new elementary school in Westover, but Arlington Public Schools is hosting one last meeting about potential tree-saving solutions before construction starts.

A discussion is scheduled with neighbors on Monday (Sept. 16) at the edge of the grove will involve discussion of whether any of the trees can be saved. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the basketball court on the Reed site (1644 N. McKinley Road).

The current plans call for the removal of roughly 42 trees to facilitate construction that will add to the building that houses the Westover Library and, soon, a new neighborhood elementary school.

Residents have expressed concerns about the removal of the grove, which includes a variety of maple, cedar and mulberry trees. A presentation on the project noted that an inventory of the trees was prepared by a certified arborist and tree removal was recommended.

According to the presentation:

Decisions on tree removal balanced: Building location and required excavation, site improvements (play areas, universally accessible walkways, etc.) and underground utilities (sanitary, storm, geothermal, etc.).

The designs for the site include adding 82 replacement trees, well above the 49 trees required to be planted according to county regulations.

But the plans have drawn some criticism from neighbors and local environmentalists. County Board candidate Audrey Clement specifically addressed the County Board’s approval of the project for its destruction of the trees at a debate this past Monday  (Sept. 9). Many of the trees are larger, like a silver maple tree 4.5 feet wide.

At the meeting next Monday, the presentation says neighbors will be invited to discuss the removal with an arborist and county staff.

But any moving of the remaining trees will have to occur quickly: construction of the new school is scheduled to start by the end of September.

The Westover neighborhood suffered extensive damage from flooding this summer, but school officials said the new school will include updated stormwater protections.

“Stormwater structures and basins are much enhanced from what exists on-site now as per current state stormwater requirements,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

Map via Arlington Public Schools

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Update at 10:30 a.m. — Power has been restored.

Earlier: Some 800 Dominion customers are without power in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Pentagon City, prompting the closure of the local library.

The Aurora Hills Branch Library is closed until further notice, Arlington Public Library said in a tweet.

The outage is the result of an “equipment fire,” according to Dominion’s website, but restoration of power to the neighborhood is expected no later than 2 p.m.

Map via Dominion

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Autumn-lovers rejoice: a hard cider fest is coming to Rosslyn next month.

Multiple cider breweries are expected to set up stations in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) on Thursday, October 17 so attendees can wander and sip at will. Festival goers will also be able to prove their mettle in a pie-eating contest later that afternoon.

Pie eating champions will compete for “a basket of Rosslyn goodies,” and will have one minute to eat a whole pie, according to the event description on the Rosslyn Business Improvement District’s website.

“We’re sure you’ve done your share of wine and beer tastings, but do you know how to taste cider and distinguish between varieties?” event organizers wrote. “Well, now’s your chance to learn more about this delicious alcoholic beverage that’s favored by many who don’t like beer.”

The festival will start at 4 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. that day. Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets online — which cost $15 and cover the cost of sampling eight different brews — before they sell out.

Other Arlington festivals have offered mulled and regular ciders in years past, but this marks the second time Rosslyn squeezed a cider-only festival into the mix.

Image courtesy of Rosslyn BID

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Morning Notes

GMU to Expand Va. Square Campus — “George Mason University wants to transform its Arlington campus into an ‘innovation district’ as it kicks off an Amazon-inspired overhaul… Mason expects to use the expansion to add 3,000 to 4,000 graduate students to the campus by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Arrested For Assaulting Police in Ballston — “At approximately 8:32 p.m. on September 11, police were dispatched the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant who had allegedly been throwing items and threatening staff. Upon police arrival, the business staff requested the subject be banned from the property. While speaking with the subject, he threatened an officer and took a defensive stance. While placing him under arrest, the subject became combative, kicked and spit at the officers.” [Arlington County]

Home Inventory Tight in Arlington — “New listings in Arlington declined 16.5% in August compared with last year, said Chris Finnegan, vice president at Bright MLS. The median sale price for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $749,000 in August. It’s a 23% jump since the company made its HQ2 announcement in November 2018.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Coffee Beanery Open in Va. Square — Coffee Beanery, a coffee chain with locations across the northeast, has opened a new location at 3444 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square. [Facebook]

Tech Company Picks Arlington for U.S. HQ — ” Varjo, the technology leader in industrial-grade VR/XR headsets, today announced the opening of its U.S. headquarters… in Arlington, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.” [Varjo via Potomac Tech Wire]

Potomac Kempo Now Open — Martial arts studio Potomac Kempo yesterday held a grand opening ceremony for its fifth location, at 3650 S. Glebe Road, in the Potomac Yard area. The studio started holding classes on Aug. 31, we’re told. [Facebook]

Video: USS Arlington Crew Welcomed at Fire Station — “Crew members from the USS Arlington were welcomed at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 before running in the The Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race. The USS Arlington honors the 184 victims and the thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and localities in the National Capital Region who provided critical emergency assistance after the attack on 9/11.” [YouTube]

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Book It For Books 5K/One Mile Run

Book It For Books 5K/One-Mile Run, sponsored by Reading is Fundamental of Northern Virginia (RIF of NOVA), will raise funds to provide books for deserving NOVA children in Alexandria city and in Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Arlington’s real estate market picked up some steam this week as we head into a typically strong fall market.

Sellers did their part by listing 72 homes, while buyers ratified 48 contracts. That’s an improvement over last week’s 45 ratified contracts, but I would have expected much more this week.

The week started with interest rates taking some leaps. The 30-yr fixed rate mortgage went from 3.5% last week to 3.625%-3.75% early this week. Despite the uptick, the number of mortgage purchase loan applications so far this month is up 9% over last year, according to Freddie Mac.

So far, all the media talk about a possible recession around the corner hasn’t hurt our housing market locally. One of the first indicators that our local market is slowing is the number of sales in luxury homes. Higher end sales are doing well. Last summer, there were 88 homes that sold for $1.2 million or more. This summer, there were 106 sales, and the days on market dropped from 92 to 45. However the average sales price also dropped a bit from $1,639,246 last summer to $1,609,176.

Buyers should be happy to hear that Arlington’s inventory has improved. Just a few months ago, there was less than 1 months supply, meaning at that pace of sales there would be no homes left to buy if nothing else was listed. This week the inventory is now 1.4 months, a big improvement.

Click to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS and call Team Cathell (703-975-2500) when you find a home you like.

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VIDA Fitness is expanding our family and opening our doors in Virginia!

Lock in our special Ballston introductory rate by September 18, to take advantage of pricing that will never be this low again! You will receive discounted personal training, discounts off Aura spa services, access to SweatBox and much more!

Coming in early 2020, VIDA Ballston will be our sixth location and promises to offer all the exceptional and upscale amenities that members have come to expect over the years.

VIDA has been voted the Best Gym in D.C. by Washington City Paper and The Washingtonian, and offers countless services to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle. VIDA features state-of-the-art equipment, and boasts spacious weight room floors perfect for all types of strength work. We draw some of the best instructors in the D.C. area to drive results and engage members in hundreds of classes on our expansive group fitness schedule.

Between yoga, mat Pilates, barre, Zumba, Body Pump and much much more, we have something that every member is sure to enjoy. Our dedicated staff of Personal Trainers are some of the best in the industry, and will work with you to create and design individual workout plans to help you achieve your goals.

All of our facilities feature luxurious locker rooms that are fully stocked to ensure you have everything you need to start your day, and leave the gym feeling refreshed. Relax in our steam rooms and saunas after your workout, and enjoy quality Bang Salon products to leave feeling nourished and restored.

Visit www.vidaballston.com today, and become the latest member of the VIDA family! We can’t wait to share the VIDA experience with you.

Follow VIDA Fitness on Facebook and tweet @VIDAFitnessDC to stay up to date!

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When Mrinal Oberoi first moved her family from London to Arlington in 2014, she struggled to find a way to settle into the community — and then she found MONA.

MONA, or Mothers of North Arlington, is a nonprofit group for mothers and families across six ZIP codes. First established in 2001 with less than 70 members, the group now has more than 2,200 member and is ready to prove those who think the group exists merely as an exclusive social club wrong.

Oberoi, who has since become president of MONA, says 75 percent of the group’s members have either part time or full-time jobs, and a growing number of fathers have also joined. Though MONA membership is geographically exclusive — applicants who live in South Arlington are gently informed that they cannot join — the group has been working on new initiatives and events that are free for all to attend.

“This year, we’re focusing on external partnerships with local organizations — to be able to expand our reach to the wider community,” said Oberoi.

This Saturday MONA is launching a series of free, family social events at Ballston Quarter mall.

“Ballston Quarter is such a kid-friendly place, and I think it’s important that this sense of community and belonging doesn’t have to stay within the context of the group, which is why we opened it to anyone who wanted to come,” said MONA vice president Amy Waldron.

Additional free public events include a new, ongoing partnership with The Sycamore School, where MONA will be hosting a series of workshops on topics like bullying. The first event will be held October 23-24, from 7-9 p.m. The film Finding Kind, about female bullying, will be shown followed by a discussion led by the school counselor.

Also on tap for this fall is the annual MONA Sip n’ Shop, held in November at the Knights of Columbus on Little Falls Road. Forty local vendors will offer their wares at the free event, while drink bracelets for an open beer and wine bar will be offered for $7.

“I cannot stress enough how much we encourage everyone from the county and beyond to come and enjoy our public events,” said Oberoi. “We decided to move socials to Ballston Quarter, so we are able to reach their community as well.”

MONA accepts members in the 22201, 22203, 22205, 22207, 22209 or 22213 ZIP codes. Membership is $30 per year plus a $20 initial registration fee. Members have access to an online listserv, marketplace, and special events, and there are several sub-groups including those for mothers with children in preschool, a business entrepreneurial network, and more.

“Our main source of income comes from this registration fee, and 100 percent of this goes back into events, both ones that are open for everyone and others that are for MONA members,” said Oberoi.

MONA works with additional mother support groups in the area, such as the MOMS Club of South Arlington. For mothers of children with special needs, MOMS Club of South Arlington and MONA work together across a county-wide network.

“We aim to be as inclusive as possible,” said Oberoi. “Personally, for me, this was a great way to get settled into the community.”

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(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A portion of the Custis Trail in Arlington will be soon detoured for the next year as crews continue to work on the widening of Interstate 66.

Starting Monday, September 16, trail riders and walkers will not be able to follow the Custis under I-66 where the trail now passes near Bon Air Park until fall 2020, per the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Instead, the department will detour people over the highway via an existing pedestrian bridge about 750 feet from the underpass.

“Extensive work will occur on the I-66 bridge that runs above the trail, which requires the underpass to be closed for safety,” VDOT officials wrote in a statement yesterday (Wednesday.) “As part of the construction, the Custis Trail alignment will be modified to improve safety for trail users.”

The pedestrian bridge travelers will be re-routed to is paved and connects the Custis Trail to Fairfax Drive near Kensington Street.

The trail closure itself was previously expected to start this past May.

“Construction schedules can be fluid with design built projects, but overall we are still on track and schedule,” VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Holland told ARLnow today (Thursday.)

The $85.7 million highway widening project also closed a section of the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway. That trail section will remain closed until next fall as crews build a new bridge over Lee Highway.

Holland said while construction crews work on widening the I-66 overpass near Bon Air Park, crews will also add a rotary to the south side of the Custis passage underneath. The new roundabout is designed to eliminate the sharp right turn into the tunnel that currently causes conflicts between those entering versus exiting the passageway. She added that current plans call for no trees to be cut down in the park.

As part of the I-66 project, officials have pledged to make several improvements to county’s trails, including new park benches, bike shelters, fencing, and trail signage.

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