An Arlington Heights parent is launching a challenge to School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein, arguing that the county school system needs a more transparent, comprehensive planning process to match the county’s persistently rising student enrollment levels.
David Priddy told ARLnow that he’s filed papers to compete in the upcoming caucus to win the Democratic Committee’s endorsement in the race. School Board seats are nominally non-partisan, and candidates don’t run under party labels, but local parties frequently endorse candidates for the Board.
Goldstein announced his re-election bid in early January in the race for the lone Board seat on the ballot this fall. He’s seeking his second term in office after winning the seat in 2015, replacing retiring Board member Abby Raphael.
Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo says that Goldstein and Priddy were the only candidates to file for the caucus ahead of last night’s deadline. Considering that every School Board member for the last 15 years has won the party’s endorsement before going on to win the general election, the caucus will likely decide the outcome of the race.
Priddy wrote in an email that he’s an Arlington native, and grew up attending Arlington Public Schools. He serves on Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s Advisory Committee on the Elimination of the Achievement Gap and he has two children currently in the county’s school system: one at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and the other will attend Alice West Fleet Elementary School when it opens next year.
He hopes that, as “a product of APS as well as an APS parent,” he’ll have a unique perspective to bring to the job.
“Priddy is running for the School Board because he believes better transparency into School Board decision-making is needed, along with comprehensive planning for growth to enable fiscally-responsible financial investments in both new and renovated educational facilities,” his campaign biography reads. “He is not afraid to directly confront the tough issues – from technology to inclusion to capacity challenges – that Arlington’s schools are currently facing.”
Priddy’s Arlington Heights neighborhood has a bit of a fraught history with the school system, and Goldstein, in particular.
The process of determining how, exactly, the school system will add new space for high schoolers at the Arlington Career Center has frustrated many parents in the neighborhood, who argue that the school shouldn’t open as a high school serving the South Arlington neighborhood unless APS can guarantee it will boast the same amenities as the county’s other comprehensive high schools.
Similarly, the recent redistricting process to divvy up students from nearby elementary schools and send them to Fleet as it opens next year sparked conflict in the community.
Parents at Patrick Henry Elementary School, which will soon become the exclusive home of Drew Model School’s Montessori program, argued that Board members (Goldstein, in particular) repeatedly promised them that the school community would move as one to Fleet. School officials dispute their account, and the Board ended up directing about a fifth of Henry’s student body elsewhere, prompting plenty of hurt feelings.
However, Priddy does not make any direct reference to those controversies in his campaign materials, and he said he will launch his campaign in earnest in mid-March.
Goldstein and Priddy will square off in a three-day, “unassembled” caucus in June.
Democrats hoping to vote in the race can do so on June 4 at Drew Elementary (3500 23rd Street S.) from 7-9 p.m., June 6 at Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd) from 7-9 p.m. or June 8 at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Anyone hoping to vote in the race will be required to sign a pledge indicating that they are a Democrat and don’t plan to support any other candidate in the race.
Caiazzo stresses that this process is different from a primary, which Virginia law does not allow to decide nominations in School Board races.
Courtesy photo of Priddy, right, file photo of Goldstein, left
A Virginia State Police SWAT team raided a home Tuesday in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and Route 50, but no arrests were made.
A resident said the raid happened around 2 p.m., near the intersection of S. Garfield Street and 6th Street S.
It involved an “armored vehicle [and] 7 or 8 officers with rifles, pointing at basement windows ordering someone to come out with hands up,” the resident said. “[A] woman and girl only in towels were escorted out.”
VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the police activity “was related to an ongoing criminal investigation” and added that no arrests were made.
“Because it’s ongoing, I’m not able to provide any additional information at this time,” Geller said.
While most criminal matters are handled by local law enforcement, Virginia State Police has a mandate to investigate felonies statewide via its Bureau of Criminal Investigation, either at the order of the Governor or at the request of the Attorney General, commonwealth’s attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs and grand juries.
An Arlington woman who looked after dogs in her home was forced to close late last year after a complaint from a neighbor.
A reader emailed to say that a woman she said was “the best dog boarder in Arlington” was closed after a neighbor “complained and effectively shut down her boarding business.”
The reader said she used the dog-boarding service Rover.com to connect with the sitter when she needed to go out of town. Rover.com describes itself as the “nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers,” and allows people to connect with others nearby who can help with their pets.
A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development confirmed the closure at a house on S. Fenwick Street in Arlington Heights.
“The property owner admitted that she was operating a dog sitting business and that she had three adult dogs plus her own two adult dogs but was not able to obtain photos of the three adult dogs she was watching,” the spokeswoman said. “She informed the inspector that she was operating her business from a website called Rover.”
Such services could be illegal under Arlington County Code, which allows no more than three dogs per household. The only exception to that rule, per the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, is when the zoning administrator approves more and the home has a kennel license.
That could mean that more users of Rover.com in Arlington — there are nine sitters and walkers listed in the county on the website — are in breach of county code. In an email, the reader bemoaned the loss of a favorite service.
“This was the most lovely, family-run business you could imagine,” she said. “Kids at home helped look after the dogs. [They had] 112 repeat clients.”
A Japanese restaurant is now open at the Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike.
Takohachi opened last Monday (December 11) at 3249 Columbia Pike, near its intersection with S. Glebe Road in Arlington Heights.
It replaced the Sports House Grill, a sports bar that ran into some controversy in recent years, between a State Farm agent and a Mattress Firm store.
The restaurant has a sushi bar, as well as traditional Japanese food like noodles, ramen, tempura and several types of saki — a Japanese rice wine — on the menu.
It is open for lunch every day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On Sundays through Thursdays, it is open 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-10:30 p.m.
— SRtwofourfour (@SRtwofourfour) December 12, 2017
Construction crews have moved into the Dominion Arms apartment building as major renovations begin.
The building at 333 S. Glebe Road in Arlington Heights is set for renovations inside according to permit applications filed with the county. This will include converting 2,400 square feet of retail space on the building’s first floor into amenity space for residents.
Six laundry or storage areas will be converted into residential units, while the sprinklers and fire alarms will get an upgrade and the building’s roof will be repaired. Several trees will also be removed.
To prepare for the project, which appears to have shuttered the entire building, first-floor businesses have moved out. That included the likes of a barber shop, dry cleaners and convenience store. The entire site has been fenced off by the construction crews.
Several readers had asked whether the building would be “razed,” but no demolition permits have been filed.
Arlington Heights Gets New Stop Sign — “The Arlington Heights neighborhood became a safer place for students and other pedestrians on Oct. 30,” after the neighborhood got a new all-way stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Irving Street. Residents collected some 500 petition signatures in support of adding the stop sign. [InsideNova]
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time — Early Sunday morning is the time to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time ends and clocks get set back an hour. [USA Today]
Clean Air in N. Va. — “This past summer’s air was among the healthiest in memory across the commonwealth. The summer months were the cleanest in terms of ground-level ozone in at least 20 years, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported on Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]
Police were called to the 4100 block of N. Henderson Road in Buckingham just before 1 p.m. after reports a man exposed himself to a woman. The suspect, described as a black male in his early thirties, between 5-foot-10 and 6 feet tall, weighing 180-190 pounds and wearing a white shirt and khaki pants, is still at large.
That same day at around 8:10 p.m., police arrested a 43-year-old man for indecent exposure after he allegedly exposed himself to several victims on the 100 block of S. Old Glebe Road in Arlington Heights.
A police spokesman said that investigators “do not believe” the two offenses are related. They follow a spate of similar flashing incidents in Arlington over the past few weeks. Police arrested a man last week for exposing himself to multiple people in the Ballston area.
More from a crime report by Arlington police:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-07020189, 100 block of S. Old Glebe Road. At approximately 8:10 p.m. on July 2, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined a male suspect exposed himself to several victims. Alexei Cordero Rodriguez, 43, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-07020105, 4100 block of Henderson Road. At approximately 12:55 p.m. on July 2, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown male subject exposed himself to a female victim. The subject is described as a black male in his early thirties, approximately 5’10”-6’0″ tall and weighed 180-190 lbs. He was wearing a white shirt and khaki pants. The investigation is ongoing.
Police to Hold Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The All American Bar Crawl will be taking place in Clarendon from 1-9 p.m. Saturday, and the Arlington County Police Department is planning some complementary programming. ACPD and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program are holding a “free interactive anti-drunk driving event” from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on N. Highland Street, in the heart of Clarendon. [Arlington County]
Local ‘Big Brother’ Houseguest Getting Attention — Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant and fitness buff from Arlington, is being mentioned as a frontrunner on the new season of CBS’ Big Brother. “Many ladies swooned over” him, US Weekly writes. Clines has suggested he “would rather have America love him… than actually win the game and the $500,000.” [Us Weekly, Reality TV World]
Woman Wanted for Hit and Run Near Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are looking for a woman who struck a pedestrian on the 3400 block of 7th Street S., in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Wednesday night. The suspect, described as a “white female in her mid-twenties to early thirties, approximately 5’6″ tall… wearing a white sweater,” fled the scene after the collision, which sent the victim to a local trauma center with significant but non-life-threatening injuries. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bradley Teague
Police are investigating yet another series of vehicle break-ins that occurred overnight.
The break-ins were reported in various locations, but were centered around the Arlington Heights and Lyon Park neighborhoods and Route 50.
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said nearly two dozen cars were broken into, with items stolen from many.
More via Savage:
Arlington County Police are investigating a series of larcenies from auto overnight originating in the unit block of S. Highland Street. Approximately 20 mostly unlocked vehicles were entered, rummaged through and various items of value were reported stolen. Police remain in the area investigating. Citizens are reminded to remove valuables, lock vehicle doors and keep windows up whenever their vehicle is not in use. If you see something suspicious in your neighborhood, report to the emergency communication center at 703-558-2222.
The new elementary school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road would provide 752 seats and replace the current Patrick Henry Elementary School at 701 S. Highland Street. A naming process for the new school is underway. It is projected to cost $59 million and to open in September 2019.
But a report prepared by county staff acknowledges the project still has concerns, including theater parking during construction, the impact on homes at the north side of the site, whether an existing surface parking lot should remain and neighbors’ desire for sidewalk improvements in an area outside of the project’s scope.
As part of the approval process, the County Board will also discuss leasing county-owned land at the site to the School Board so the new school can be built.
If the County Board allows the lease to be executed, Arlington Public Schools would then have the right to use the land to build the new elementary school and a 214-space, joint-use parking garage. The lease would be set to expire in 75 years, in 2092.
A report by county staff found that executing the lease would not impact the county financially, but an agreement will be necessary to solidify how the county and APS will share the parking garage’s operating and maintenance expenses.
Staff recommends approval of the use permit for the new school and the execution of the lease.
The proposed elementary school on the site of Thomas Jefferson Middle School is on track for County Board approval next month.
The new elementary school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road would house the current Patrick Henry Elementary School at 701 S. Highland Street and provide 725 seats. A naming process for the new school is underway. It is projected to cost $59 million and be open in September 2019.
A previous report by county staff noted the unique nature of the project as it was evaluated by both Arlington Public Schools’ Building Level Planning Committee and the county’s Public Facilities Review Committee.
But concerns remain over the project, particularly the impact of construction on the 3.85-acre site.
A tipster emailed ARLnow to say that while construction is underway, a large portion of the western parcel of the campus will be unavailable for public use, limiting access to the middle school. The tipster said this may put the programs at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater “at risk of failure.”
Meanwhile, parking at the community center along 2nd Street S. will be reduced during the day, as portions will be used as drop-off and pick-up points for the middle school. And school staff will park in the east lot at S. Irving Street and 2nd Street S.
Previously, community members have also raised concerns about the impact of construction on nearby homes and the effect moving a sidewalk north will have on existing mature trees and green space.
In the last few weeks, the project has been examined by the Urban Forestry Commission; the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission; and the Park and Recreation Commission. It will also go before the Transportation Commission in April 3, before heading to the Planning Commission two days later.
Reminder: Inauguration Closures Today — Many Arlington County facilities are closed today, Inauguration Day, and parking meters are not being enforced. Traffic is light around Arlington but drivers should expect closures and delays approaching the District. [ARLnow]
Arlington EOC Open — Arlington’s Emergency Operations Center is open and fully functional today for the inauguration. [Twitter]
Two Local Neighborhoods Among D.C.’s Hottest — Arlington Heights, between Columbia Pike and Route 50, and Yorktown in north Arlington, are No. 2 and 3 respectively on real estate firm Redfin’s list of the hottest Washington, D.C. area neighborhoods for 2017. [Redfin]
Schlow May Open Arlington Restaurant — Restaurateur Michael Schlow, the man behind Tico and The Riggsby in D.C., is “close to a deal” to open a new restaurant in Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]
School Bus Accident — There was a minor collision between two school buses at Randolph Elementary yesterday afternoon. According to initial reports more than a dozen students were evaluated by medics, but ultimately no injuries reported. [Twitter]
Schmuhl Sentenced for Home Invasion — Former lawyer Alecia Schmuhl was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her role in the home invasion attack on her former boss and his wife. Leo Fisher, a shareholder in Arlington law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman, was held captive by Schmuhl’s husband, who shot, stabbed and tased the couple during a three hour torture session. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
A car overturned on a residential street in the Arlington Heights neighborhood this afternoon.
The incident happened around 1 p.m. on S. Fenwick Street, between 2nd Street S. and S. Fillmore Street, a few blocks from Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
According to witnesses, “the driver became distracted and rear ended a parked vehicle causing the car to flip.” The driver, we’re told, was able to walk away stunned but otherwise unscathed. Luckily, no one else was reported to be hurt.
A Fenwick Street resident said that neighbors refer to their windy stretch of road as the “raceway.”
“Many vehicles use this street as a cut through and the 25mph speed limit is ignored,” said Zelmira McCann. “As neighbors we’ve been trying to get the [County] Board’s attention about this street in particular. It’s a neighborhood street but people use it like a raceway.”
McCann said she has spent $250 of her own money to put up signs to “remind people that children and pets are at risk.” The signs, she said, have since been stolen.
Photo courtesy Zelmira McCann
S. Fillmore Street between Columbia Pike and Route 50 has closed to traffic this afternoon as crews work to fix a gas leak.
The blocks between 2nd Street S. and 6th Street S. were shut down after gas began to seep out around the 400 block of S. Fillmore Street earlier today. Initial reports suggest a construction crew working on the sidewalks ruptured a 3/4 inch gas line.
Police are on the scene with Washington Gas personnel.
In past years, Arlington has been ranked as having some of the worst drivers in the nation. That doesn’t surprise Brian Meenaghan, who has started a Twitter account to document what he views as a never-ending parade of bad drivers on his block.
Meenaghan, an Arlington Heights resident, started the Twitter account @BadDriversof1stRdS at the end of April. The account focuses on the worst offenders on the 3600 block of 1st Road S., a one-way street located in a high traffic area around S. Glebe Road, Route 50 and the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center.
“I started this account as a cathartic thing because we’ve had a lot of frustrations on our little block. We’re about 400-450 feet long as a block and we dead end at a middle school,” said Meenaghan. “We have people whipping up this block and people coming the wrong way from the middle school. Because of the oddity of the exit for Route 50 around Glebe Road, we also have a lot of people turning around in driveways and going back up the wrong way, trying to go back to 50.”
Meenaghan’s main concern is drivers going the wrong way on the one-way street (traffic is supposed to only flow from S. Glebe Road to Old Glebe Road). From cars to school buses and even Metrobuses, Meenaghan has caught all types of drivers driving the wrong way or speeding — or both — on the narrow street. Photos and video posted to the Twitter account document the broken traffic laws. (See some of the tweets, below.)
“I work downtown and I’m not here physically during the day all that much and I personally see three or four people turning around every day. I’m probably outside maybe 45 minutes to an hour before dinner with my daughter and I see in just that short amount of time a lot of people going the wrong way,” said Meenaghan.
The Twitter account is a joint venture with his neighbors, who often supply the photos he uploads to the website. Meenaghan said he and his neighbors have been trying for years to convince Arlington County to implement traffic calming measures on the block.
“My neighbors are all very involved in this,” said Meenaghan. “I’m not here that much so I’m not here to take a lot of these pictures. You miss a lot of them because they happen so quickly. Probably six of my neighbors have given me photos over the last couple of weeks. It’s kind of a group-wide effort.”
Part of the impetus for the effort is that the block is now chock full of children.
“We now have 15 kids on this block. There are only 23 houses and there are 15 kids under the age of 10. There have been five kids born in the last six months,” said Meenaghan. (One could perhaps see the block as a microcosm of the challenges with burgeoning enrollment facing Arlington Public Schools.)
Along with the kids living on the block, the presence of Thomas Jefferson Middle School at the end of the block means that there is a constant stream of kids on the block during the school year. It’s only set to become busier, with continued growth at the middle school and the construction of a new elementary school on the middle school’s former parking lot.
Meenaghan feels that the persistent speeding and wrong-way driving represent a tragedy waiting to happen. He says he and his neighbors have been advocating for traffic calming measures on the block since 2012, writing letters to Arlington County but being met by frustration.
Arlington will typically only implement traffic calming — speed bumps and other preventative measures — if a traffic study reveals that the average speed of vehicles driving down a street exceeds the speed limit by a significant margin. The problem with Meenaghan’s block, he says, is that it’s too short and narrow for most drivers to work up the speed to break the 25 mph limit.
Without that, county officials said they would need some other form of documented proof of persistent traffic law violations. That, Meenaghan said, was his final motivation for launching the Twitter account.
“One of the things we were told was that the county didn’t believe there was a problem,” said Meenaghan. “They wanted photographic evidence. This is almost a flippant response to that. Here’s some photographic evidence that’s going to go out into the great wide world. Ultimately yes, we want change.”
This couldn't capture the wrong way aspect of this scene any better! pic.twitter.com/7YnSz3DCsh
— BadDriversOf1stRdS (@BadDrvrsOf1stRd) May 19, 2016
When I leave for work, when I come home from work- Near accidents from people turning around. Hey Mini! Wrong way! pic.twitter.com/BqLYK5M48N
— BadDriversOf1stRdS (@BadDrvrsOf1stRd) May 12, 2016
Zoom! One of these speed demons is going to hit one of the dozen kids on this block or crash into a wrong-way driver pic.twitter.com/8yId4iZ5j2
— BadDriversOf1stRdS (@BadDrvrsOf1stRd) May 12, 2016
WMATA getting in on the wrong-way action pic.twitter.com/OLi4VvV0hw
— BadDriversOf1stRdS (@BadDrvrsOf1stRd) May 1, 2016