Some long-awaited improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians on S. Walter Reed Drive in Shirlington could soon move forward.
Arlington County has been hoping for years to add a series of new features to the road as it runs between S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive, and the County Board is poised to award a roughly $1.8 million contract for the construction this weekend.
County planners are looking to improve access to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail along the road, and the county is aiming to add new crosswalks and curb ramps, ADA-compliant bus stops, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals and additional street lighting in the area.
The plans also call for a slight widening and resurfacing of S. Walter Reed Drive, and the elimination of a westbound turn lane on Arlington Mill Drive to improve the crossing for walkers and cyclists. County officials started testing the latter change last summer, briefly prompting a few traffic back-ups in the area. According to a report by county staff, transportation planners managed to resolve those problems by tweaking the timing of traffic signals around the end of 2017.
The Shirlington Civic Association is supportive of the project. Its president said in a letter that the association hopes, among other things, that the project will improve access to the western end of the Shirlington dog park.
The county is hoping to start construction sometime this spring or summer, pending the Board’s approval of the contract. The Board is set to vote to vote on the matter on Saturday (May 19), as part of its “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items that are approved all at once.
The total cost of all phases of the project, including the current contract, is listed as $2.8 million.
Arlington County Police have arrested a suspect in the attempted rape of a woman near Columbia Pike on Friday.
Police say Jermaine Johnson, a 30-year-old Arlington resident, broke into an apartment on the 800 block of S. Frederick Street, brandished a knife and tried to sexually assault the victim. She suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital.
The perpetrator fled the scene of the crime, evading a police K-9 track and helicopter search, according to a police press release.
On Saturday police announced that Johnson was the suspect, “based on crime scene evidence collected and witness interviews.” Later that day, officers conducting surveillance in the Courthouse area saw him and gave chase. From ACPD:
While conducting surveillance in the 1700 block of N. Troy Street, officers observed the suspect flee from a residence. Following a foot pursuit, Jermaine Johnson was apprehended and taken into police custody. He has been charged with attempted rape and burglary and will be held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.
Update at 1:40 p.m. — The Arlington County Police Department has released a description of the man that police say attempted to sexually assault a woman in the Arlington Mill neighborhood this morning.
Police were unable to find the suspect despite an extensive search. More from an ACPD press release:
At approximately 9:05 a.m. on April 20, Arlington County Police were dispatched to the report of a late assault in the 800 block of S. Frederick Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., an unknown male suspect forced entry into a residence, brandished a knife and attempted to sexually assault the female victim. The victim suffered minor physical injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The suspect fled the area prior to police arrival.
The suspect is described as a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 5’7″ tall with short cropped hair. He was wearing a black shirt and black jeans at the time of the incident.
Detectives from the Special Victim’s Unit are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers established a perimeter, canvassed the area and spoke with possible witnesses. Arlington County canine units attempted a track of the suspect and the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Unit provided an aerial search with negative results. Officers will continue conducting extra patrols in the area.
If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective J. Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4241 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
Earlier: Police are actively searching for a suspect following an attempted sexual assault this morning.
A man armed with a knife strangled and tried to sexually assault a woman in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, according to scanner traffic. A responding officer reportedly spotted a man matching the description of the suspect, but he was able to flee on foot.
Police officers, a K-9 unit and the Fairfax County Police Department helicopter are now searching the wooded area around Glencarlyn Park for the suspect.
Campbell Elementary School has been secured while the search is in progress.
Suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’7” tall with short cropped hair. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black jeans at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 20, 2018
Campbell is on Secure the Building due to police activity in the community. Students are having regular classes and a SRO is present.
— Maureen Nesselrode (@CampbellAPS) April 20, 2018
The police have been searching a grassy area near this playground. pic.twitter.com/WchzWnRxxJ
— Tim Barber (@ABC7TimBarber) April 20, 2018
Photo via Google Maps
Residents at the Arlington Mill Residences affordable housing complex could be set for free wireless internet access.
The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to offer the free service to tenants at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street as part of a new initiative called Arlington Digital Inclusion.
The initiative by the county’s Department of Technology Services and Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, will use the county’s dedicated network of dark fiber to provide free broadband internet for three years.
“Currently, there are 122 committed affordable units at Arlington Mill Residences and 159 children are currently residing at the development,” county staff wrote in a report. “About half of all households (61) do not currently subscribe to an internet/data service. This program would provide free, in-unit high-speed Wi-Fi access to every unit. It would also help alleviate the cost of Internet/data service (which can range from $50-$75/month) for those households currently paying for the service.”
Staff said the initiative would particularly help the children that live there to close the “homework gap,” where students find it difficult to access online resources at home.
The total cost of the project over three years is just over $140,000, funded in part by $95,400 in grant money from the county through allocating Columbia Pike Tax Increment funds that help pay for affordable housing. The remaining cost of $44,809 is provided for free by service providers as what staff called a “goodwill contribution.”
The Board will vote on the plan at its meeting Saturday (December 16). Staff recommended approval.
Photo via Google Maps
A farmer’s market could return to the Arlington Mill Community Center next spring, with organizers planning to operate it on Saturdays.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is proposing reviving the market at the center at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street, having decided to close it in 2014 due to a lack of customers. It would be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and be one of two along Columbia Pike.
Originally, the Arlington County Board approved a permit for a market in July 2014, and it began the following month, opening each Wednesday from 3-7 p.m. But CPRO decided to close the market that October, citing a lack of sales, and “reassess the needs for a successful re-launch of the open-air/farmers market,” staff wrote in a report. Its permit expired in July 2016.
CPRO believes the new day and hours will attract more customers, and staff wrote it will benefit those along Arlington’s western end of Columbia Pike. They added that the Arlington Mill Civic Association, Columbia Forest Civic Association, Douglas Park Civic Association and Barcroft School and Civic League all expressed their support for the market.
“The proposed open-air market is strongly supported by the surrounding community and will provide a community amenity to the residents and this portion of Columbia Pike,” staff wrote.
Staff’s report on the plan recommends the County Board advertise a public hearing on the market for next month.
Columbia Pike is set for a new piece of public art: a 60-foot wind turbine blade on Arlington County’s western border with Fairfax County.
The blade, entitled “The Pike,” is designed by the noted sculptor Donald Lipski, and will stand on the southern side of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Jefferson Street in the Arlington Mill neighborhood.
At a talk at the Columbia Pike Branch Library last month, Lipski said he was inspired by the design of wind turbine blades and the pike weapon, which is a long thrusting spear. He also noted that there are still disused windmills along Columbia Pike that were once used to pump water.
“It’s just put up as this big beautiful thing,” Lipski said. “It’s a found object, it’s recycled, it’s emblematic of wind energy, it’s emblematic of a Pike, but one that’s vertical, one that’s in the open position and says, ‘Come on in. Everybody is welcome. You don’t have to pay a toll even though it used to be a Pike'”
Lipski said he will reuse an old 50-foot-long turbine blade, stand it up vertically on a 10-foot pedestal and then cover the pedestal in coins from the various countries and nationalities represented along the Pike. The sculpture will be lit at night by a series of lights around its base.
The use of coins also harks back to when the Pike used to be a toll road, first designed to connect the District of Columbia with areas to the west.
“Citizens of Arlington would go and rummage around in their drawers and find coins from their home country and give me those coins, and I would build them into the sculpture,” Lipski said.
And in return for letting him use their coins in his sculpture, Lipski said he will design a commemorative coin and give one to each person who donates in exchange.
But not everyone is so sure about the new piece of art. In letters provided to ARLnow, leaders at the Arlington Mill Civic Association said a decision approving the project was made without enough input. Planning for the art has been underway since 2012, and Lipski was selected from 88 applicants the following year.
“Remember, Lilly [Mancilla, the neighborhood’s representative on the county’s Art Advisory panel] specifically requested — and assurances had been made — that we would have input in this design process so that our neighborhood would have a piece of sculpture that pleases us,” association president Kay Langenbeck wrote in a letter to County Manager Mark Schwartz on September 18. “So you can imagine our surprise when, late in 2016, someone shared a rendering of this sculpture and told us the county had moved ahead without us.”
In response, Michelle Isabelle-Stark, the county’s Cultural Affairs Division Chief, said the project selection “followed County Board policy and County Manager approved guidelines for project development.” Isabelle-Stark said panels were convened to discuss the project in 2012 and “were fully inclusive and representative of the diversity of the residents of Columbia Pike and its Civic Associations.”
Some also objected to the design of the sculpture, in particular the use of a turbine blade, in a June letter to Angela Adams, the county’s director of public art.
“Recognizing Arlington Mill is the county’s most impoverished neighborhood, we firmly object to the implementation of any form of blade as representative of our community,” former association president Ric Birch and Douglas Park Civic Association president Adam Henderson wrote. “Further, turnpike gates are never welcoming. Their purpose and design is to stop traffic. They disrupt the flow. Surely this is not how Arlington County’s Southwestern Gateway should be depicted.”
The pair also said in the same letter that the art’s location at a heavily-trafficked intersection means further contemplation on the meaning of the sculpture by those passing by is unlikely.
“Regardless of the merits of the symbolism embedded in the art, it is doubtful that people will have the ability to, or make a point to linger to ruminate its significance,” they wrote.
Lipski said installation of the project could begin as early as next year.
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.”
According to an Arlington County Police Department crime report, below, Lorenzo Rivas-Martinez was upset that two women inside the car “asked to be left alone” after he and a companion approached them. He then allegedly threw a brick at their car multiple times.
“The vehicle’s windshield and passenger door sustained damage,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
Rivas-Martinez was later located by police and arrested. He is facing a pair of charges, including destruction of property.
More from ACPD:
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2017-08280025, 800 block of S. Dinwiddie Street, At 2:33 a.m. on August 28, officers responded to a dispute in progress. Upon arrival it was determined that two female victims inside a parked vehicle were approached by two male suspects. When the victims asked to be left alone, the suspects initially walked away, but returned shortly after. One suspect repeatedly threw an object at the vehicle before fleeing the scene on foot. The victims were not injured. Lorenzo Rivas-Martinez, 21, of Arlington, VA was located in the area by officers and arrested and charged with Missile into Occupied Vehicle and Destruction of Property. He was held on no bond.
The new “Premium Transit Network” on Columbia Pike is being greeted with cautious optimism by some community members after years of discussion and delays.
But some raised questions about what will mark the new bus system as “premium,” considering it will not run in dedicated lanes due to the layout of Columbia Pike and will have a fleet of standard buses, at least for now.
The mood appears to be more positive than previously, when a group of civic association leaders derided the service for a lack of ambition in a letter last year.
“A bus is a bus,” said Ric Birch, president of the Arlington Mill Civic Association, one of several along the Pike. “You can dress it up, you can paint it a different color, use different fabric on the seats, it’s a bus. I’m not sure what the real drive is for a premium bus.”
Staff explained at a work session about the network last month that the standard buses are being used for cost reasons, as electric vehicles or ones powered by alternative fuels would be too expensive at this stage.
County Board vice chair Katie Cristol, a Pike resident, said that most important for the new service beyond the buses themselves will be the frequency, which she said she hopes to see at six-minute intervals for at least a large portion of the day.
“I think it’ll be more incremental, but I do think once the system is operational and its component pieces are in place, Pike residents will feel something different, we’ll experience something different,” she said.
Residents did give staff credit for looking at ways to keep costs down when constructing the 23 “premium transit stations” along the Pike. The successor to the nixed $1 million “Super Stop,” the new stations will be factory assembled to save money, and include features like electronic arrival boards and the option to pay a fare before getting on the bus.
However, some questioned the need for the technology in the bus stops, given the proliferation of smartphones and bus tracking apps.
“Adopting all the technology, I’m a little ambivalent about it,” said Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association. “I know they put a lot of effort in coming up with a design and they want it to be distinctive but that’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t have to be quite so elaborate.”
“I don’t know that they’re making that same mistake there [with the $1 million bus stop],” said Birch. “The county learned to watch the price on it. But I do think it’s tying a bow on it and calling it something that it already is. It’s a bus stop. They don’t really shield you from the elements that well, and I don’t understand all the need for all the electronic connectivity in the bus stops.”
With the new network set to begin operations next summer, Cristol said she hoped it would help spark more economic development and revitalization along the Pike, as businesses look to capitalize on more regular service. Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, did not respond to requests for comment.
But Birch said he would like to go further, and see long-term planning for Columbia Pike include a long-range goal of an elevated light rail system, as well as maintaining good bus service. Durgan said plenty of people were “totally bummed” when the streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, as it would have been something different for the Pike.
“You’ve got to get the transit out of the lanes of Columbia Pike,” Birch said. “[In] today’s political climate, I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a long-range plan that even if the county were to start today, we’re talking 15 years. I think someone needs to be courageous and start doing that.”
Police say 20-year-old Arlington resident Dimas Reyes and two others were apprehended after a K9 search and a brief foot chase. Reyes is also accused of wearing a mask during the crime.
More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.
ROBBERY, 2017-07090239, 900 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 10:04 p.m. on July 9, officers responded to the report of an assault that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined three male suspects assaulted a male victim and stole his belongings. The suspects then fled the scene on foot. A perimeter was established and a K9 track was conducted. Officers located the three suspects in the area and following a brief foot pursuit, they were taken into custody. Dimas Ulices Reyes, 20, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Robbery, Malicious Wounding, Wearing a Mask in Public, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Preventing 911 call. Warrants were obtained for the two juvenile suspects.
The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
ROBBERY(Late), 2017-07100134, N. Glebe Road at Arlington Boulevard. At approximately 11:50 a.m. on July 10, officers responded to the report of a late assault. Upon arrival, it was determined between 1:00 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on July 4, three unknown male suspects approached a male victim from behind and assaulted him. The suspects then fled the scene on foot with the victim’s belongings. The suspects are described as black males in their twenties, approximately 5’07” -5’08” tall and were wearing dark clothing. The investigation is ongoing.
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2017-07070122, 1100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 12:50 p.m. on July 7, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined a male suspect discharged a BB gun, striking a residential window causing it to shatter. Benjamin Casey, 35, of Arlington VA, was charged with destruction of property and missile into occupied dwelling.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-07100208, Key Boulevard at N. Queen Street. At approximately 3:40 p.m. on July 10, 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 Hispanic male in his early thirties, approximately 5’6″ tall and weighed 160-180 lbs. He was wearing a black shirt, grey shorts, and a black baseball hat. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY(Late), 2017-07090129, 1800 block of N. Highland Street. At approximately 1:01 p.m. on July 9, officers responded to the report of a late breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined between 10:00 a.m. on June 24 and 3:00 p.m. on July 6 an unknown subject(s) entered a residence and stole items of value. There is no subject(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
LARCENY FROM AUTO(Series), 2011-07100058, 2700 block of S. Adams Street. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on July 10, officers responded to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined between 9:00 p.m. on July 9 and 5:30 a.m. on July 10, an unknown subject(s) forced entry into at least 8 vehicles and stole the airbags. There is no subject(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 2017-07070281, 5300 block of S. 8th Road. At approximately 10:40 p.m. on July 7, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown subject(s) threw an object at a residential window causing it to shatter. There is no subject(s) description and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING (Series), 2017-07080285, 1200 block of S. Buchanan Street. At approximately 11:04 p.m. on July 8, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown subject(s) threw an object at a residential window causing it to shatter. A short time later, another resident in the area reported their window had been struck by an object and broken. There is no subject(s) description and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.
GRAND LARCENY, 2017-07070103, 2600 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 11:06 a.m. on July 7, officers responded to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined a male suspect concealed store merchandise and fled the scene. The suspect information matched the description of another larceny that had just occurred prior. Arriving officers located the suspect in the area and took him into custody. Charges are pending for the juvenile suspect.
BOMB THREAT, 2017-07050054, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 8:57 a.m. on July 5, an anonymous subject called in and stated there was a bomb in the building. Multiple units responded to the scene and conducted a search for a device with negative results.
Police say Heber Amaya-Gallo killed 55-year-old Michael Wiggins after a “verbal altercation between roommates became physical” in an apartment. Amaya-Gallo has been charged with first degree murder and is being held without bond.
From an Arlington County Police Department press release:
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on January 30, 2017, Arlington County Police officers were dispatched to the 5100 block of 7th Road S. for a death investigation. Arriving officers located 55-year-old Michael Wiggins of Arlington, VA deceased inside the residence. Three subjects were located on scene and transported to police headquarters where they were interviewed by detectives. Heber Amaya-Gallo, 28, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond. The other two subjects were determined to be witnesses and have not been charged.
The investigation revealed that a verbal altercation between roommates became physical, resulting in the death of the victim. Official cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. Roeseler of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4182 or [email protected]. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Update at 11:40 a.m. — Police say the man’s death was a homicide. A suspect has been arrested and charged with first degree murder.
Earlier: Arlington County Police are investigating what they’re calling a “suspicious death” in an apartment building in the Arlington Mill neighborhood.
The body of a 55-year-old man was found in an apartment in one of the garden apartment buildings on 7th Road S. Two people have been detained by police for questioning, according to ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
Police are not yet confirming whether this is Arlington County’s first homicide of 2017. That determination will be made by a medical examiner, Savage said.
The apartments are located across from Tyrol Hill Park. School children were playing in the park while police were conducting their investigation Monday afternoon.
According to scanner traffic, a caller told police that her child saw a clown emerge from some woods in the Arlington Mill neighborhood around 11 a.m. today (Thursday).
“Police were dispatched to the 800 block of S. Frederick Street at approximately 11:36 for a possible clown sighting,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow.com.
“There was a half an hour delay in reporting to police,” Savage continued. “Police arrived on scene and canvassed the area with negative results. An officer will remain in the area conducting extra checks. If citizens see anything suspicious, we encourage them to report information to dispatch immediately at 703.558.2222.”
On Monday ACPD stepped up its presence at schools in response to threatening messages on social media. Despite being exposed as youthful hoaxes in many parts of the country, numerous social media accounts — including the one pictured above — still purport to belong to local “clown gangs.”
Police take these reports seriously. Reporting party was young juvenile. Numerous citizens in area did not witness anything suspicious. https://t.co/hnHh1DtRx9
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 6, 2016
The planned events are held as part of National Night Out, a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie,” according to a flyer distributed by the police department.
National Night Out celebrations are a chance for police and members of the community to come together, usually over free food and activities.
National Night Out events will be held at the following locations:
- Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
- Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
- Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- Farlington Villages Pool 2 (3045 S. Buchanan Street) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
- Park Glen Condo Associations: (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
- Whitefield Commons: (106 N. Thomas Street) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Image via ACPD National Night Out Flyer
The incident happened around 1 p.m. in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, near Columbia Pike.
The victim, who was either a friend or family member of the suspect, suffered a cut to her hand and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for treatment.
From the Arlington County Police crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 160510024, 800 block of S. Greenbrier Street. At approximately 1:00 p.m. on May 10, following a verbal altercation between known subjects, a male subject grabbed the female victim by her hair and held a knife to her neck. The victim suffered a minor laceration to her hand and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with non-life threatening injuries. Darbin Barrera Corado, 21, of Arlington VA, was charged with malicious wounding and is being held without bond.