Arlington County has hired a lobbying firm to help facilitate a planned land swap between the county, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Department of Defense.
As outlined in a memorandum of understanding last year, the county is planning to hand over the right-of-way for Southgate Road, near the Air Force Memorial, to the DoD, which plans to use the land — along with the former Navy Annex grounds and part of the state’s current Columbia Pike right-of-way — for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery’s burial grounds.
As revealed in a recent public disclosure, the county has hired Alexandria-based lobbying firm Congressional Strategies LLC to help move the transaction along. The land swap has already passed the House of Representatives and is now included in the under-consideration U.S. Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, according to Brian Stout, the county’s federal liaison.
The county’s contract with Congressional Strategies calls for a $5,000 monthly retainer for all services and runs through October, with an option to be extended through June 2015, according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius.
“The purpose of the lobbying contract is to facilitate and bring to closure the Navy Annex Land Exchange project,” Curtius said. “This involves advocacy in both the legislative and executive branches to supplement the efforts of County staff.”
The land swap will benefit the county in several ways.
Arlington will receive a sizable parcel of land south of Columbia Pike, on which the county hopes to build an Arlington County and Freedman’s Village history museum, additional parking and facilities for the Air Force Memorial, and other amenities that do not detract from “the dignity, honor, and solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery.”
Also, the exchange will facilitate a realignment of Columbia Pike and its intersection with S. Joyce Street. The realigned Pike will take a more direct path to S. Joyce Street, through the former Navy Annex parking lot, and will provide a better alignment for the future Columbia Pike streetcar.
In addition to an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, the DoD plans to use some of the land in the swap, near the Pike/Joyce intersection for a future visitor center for the Pentagon Memorial. The Senate is expected to vote on the NDAA later this year.
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, received a major donation this week.
D.C. philanthropist David Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, donated $12.35 million to the National Park Service “to restore and improve access to Arlington House.” The donation will fund a project that will restore Arlington House “as it was in 1860,” including more attention to the slave quarters. The money will also fund technology investments, with more mobile and web “assets,” an audio tour and a virtual tour, NPS said.
“I am honored to support the National Park Service’s renovation of historic Arlington House built in honor of George Washington and located on hallowed ground atop Arlington National Cemetery,” Rubenstein said in the release. “I hope that upon its restoration, Arlington House will appropriately remind visitors of America’s rich history and our country’s good fortune to have such a unique site to honor our veterans, especially those who gave the last full measure of devotion on behalf of this nation.”
Arlington House went through a round of renovations 2-3 years ago — including work done to repair damage from the 2011 mid-Atlantic earthquake.
The Washington Post reported that Rubenstein, a billionaire, decided to make the donatation after funding half of the Washington Monument’s post-earthquake repairs. NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis suggested the $12.35 million repair project for Arlington House — described as languishing in “embarrassing” condition — to which Rubenstein simply replied, “be glad to do that.”
Arlington House was built by George Washington Parke Custis — and, the NPS points out, his slaves — between 1802 and 1818 as a memorial to George Washington, before it was the home to Lee and his plantation. The plantation was used as a base for Union soldiers during the Civil War, as a community for freed slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation and, later, as a military cemetery.
The NPS says more than 650,000 people visit the house every year, making it the country’s most-visited house museum. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), the ranking member on the Interior and Environment Appropriations Committee, which oversees the National Parks, issued a statement after Rubenstein announced his gift yesterday.
“On behalf of 8th District voters and local history buffs I’d like to thank Mr. Rubenstein for his generous gift,” Moran said. “I’ve been a supporter of Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, throughout my 24 years representing the people of Northern Virginia. Mr. Rubenstein’s philanthropy allows the flexibility needed to restore this historic site, working beyond the constraints of public funding to build on the restoration work already completed by the National Park Service.”
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Terrill, 92, has been identified as the man found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Terrill, a Falls Church resident, was declared dead on the scene Friday morning in Section 64 of the cemetery, near the Columbarium Courts, according to a press release. He suffered what was reported by first responders to be a gunshot wound to his head.
“Although we have not completely ruled it out in order to conduct a complete and thorough investigation, we do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation,” said Chris Grey, the spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, which is the lead agency investigating the death. Officials said the incident is unprecedented for Arlington National Cemetery.
“The cemetery is not aware of an incident such as this previously happening in the cemetery,” said the press release.
Terrill reportedly served in World War II before being commissioned in 1946. According to an Air Force spokesman, he flew more than 8,000 hours as a command pilot before retiring from his last duty assignment at the Pentagon in 1968.
Initial reports suggest a man shot himself in the head with a shotgun around 10:20 a.m. Paramedics determined the man to be dead on the scene.
The shooting was reported to have happened near the Pentagon Monument in Section 64, within view of the Pentagon at the southeastern corner of the cemetery. The Pentagon Monument is where remains of the victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon were buried.
After the man was pronounced dead by medics, the scene was turned over law enforcement for an investigation.
Arlington National Cemetery issued the following press release about the incident Friday afternoon:
At approximately 10:00 a.m. today, first responders to include Military Police from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and Arlington County Police Department Officers, responded to reports of a single gunshot at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 64, near the Columbarium Courts. Upon arrival, a deceased male was discovered with a single gunshot wound.
“Although we have not completely ruled it out in order to conduct a complete and thorough investigation, we do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation,” said Chris Grey, the spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the lead agency investigating the death.
All indications are this is a tragic and isolated incident and there is no threat to the public or those visiting Arlington National Cemetery. The cemetery remains open to visitors and families and graveside services are continuing as planned.
No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigative process and until the deceased is positively identified and next of kin is officially notified.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
The event, starting at 8:00 p.m. on June 13, is free and open to the public. It will be the first-ever evening event held at the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater, according to organizers.
“‘Arlington at 150’ is an hour-long live military show featuring musical performances by ‘The President’s Own,’ U.S. Marine Band and a Joint Chorus made up with singers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force; a wreath ceremony and historical vignettes that showcase how military conflicts have shaped our nation and the cemetery,” according to a press release.
“Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the amphitheater,” the release continued. “Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to ensure access and should plan to be seated no later than 8:00 p.m.”
The Arlington Cemetery Metro station will remain open until 11:00 p.m. to accommodate the event.
Arlington at 150 is one of a number of special events taking place over a 5 week commemoration of the cemetery’s sesquicentennial.
Residents and out-of-town visitors alike took part in Memorial Day observances around Arlington this past weekend.
Warm and sunny weather helped drive large crowds for stalwart annual events like the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally and the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Thousands of bikers participated in Rolling Thunder, which first rumbled into Arlington Friday afternoon and culminated here with a large rally in the Pentagon parking lot Sunday morning. The motorcyclists, who ride in remembrance of American service members killed, missing or taken prisoner during war, later rode across the Memorial Bridge into the District for a speakers program and concert.
On Monday President Barack Obama — who had just returned from visiting troops in Afghanistan — traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The wreath-laying was followed by the annual Memorial Day service at the cemetery’s amphitheater, during which the president thanked troops and veterans for their service to the country.
In Clarendon Monday afternoon, Arlington’s VFW Post 3150 and American Legion Post 139 together dedicated a new plaque at the Clarendon War Memorial. The plaque commemorates the Arlington County residents who have given their lives during the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Chief Petty Officer Joel E. Baldwin, USN, Iraq (December 21, 2004)
- Captain Michael P. Cassidy, USA, Iraq (June 17, 2010)
- Lance-Corporal Niall W. Coti-Sears, USMC, Afghanistan (June 23, 2012)
- Specialist Adam M. Kuiligowski, USA, Afghanistan (April 6, 2004)
- Second Lieutenant Sean P. O’Connor, USA, Iraq (October 19, 2008)
- Lieutenant Colonel James J. Walton, USA, Afghanistan (June 21, 2008)
Do you have other photos of Memorial Day observances around Arlington? Add them to our Flickr page or upload them in the comments.
McAuliffe: I-66 Widening Outside the Beltway — Speaking to the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he will press for more lanes on I-66, but only outside the Beltway. The governor “noted ruefully” that the Arlington County Board strongly opposes the widening of I-66 through the county. [InsideNova]
Flags In at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Soldiers from the Old Guard helped to place more than 220,000 American flags in front of gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day. The annual event has taken place every year for four decades. On Monday the cemetery will host the annual Memorial Day observance and wreath-laying ceremony. [WJLA]
Confusing Metro Maps — New strip maps that incorporate the Silver Line are too complicated, says a writer for the blog Greater Greater Washington. “They confuse many riders with labels that line up in a misleading way, and try to cram too much information on the maps,” the writer opines. [Greater Greater Washington]
Rosslyn, the Brooklyn of Washington — A 1889 real estate ad in the Washington Post describes Rosslyn as “the Brooklyn of Washington.” Editor’s note: This item previously appeared in a previous Morning Notes post. Its inclusion today was inadvertent. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The incident happened just past 8:00 p.m. According to Metro, the man was “apparently trespassing” on the tracks when he was struck by an inbound train approaching Arlington Cemetery.
“Security camera footage shows [the] subject intentionally walk onto the trackbed,” Metro Transit Police said via Twitter.
The man is dead and his body is between the tracks and a fence, according to scanner traffic. The striking train is still on scene with 80-100 people on board, firefighters reported.
The Blue Line is single-tracking and trains are running every 20 minutes as a result of the incident, Metro says. The agency is advising riders to use the Yellow Line as an alternate between D.C. and Virginia.
False Alarm at Arlington National Cemetery — The Arlington County Fire Department responded to Arlington National Cemetery yesterday afternoon for a fire alarm. Once on scene, firefighters determined that the alarm was set off by the tomb guards steam pressing their uniforms. [Twitter]
Arlington Real Estate Market Profiled — CNBC’s “Power Lunch” program profiled the real estate market in Arlington last week. The program took a look at three properties in the county, from a $364,900 condo in Ballston to a $1,275,000 luxury townhouse in Rosslyn. [CNBC]
Arlington Dems Have Plenty of Beads — Arlington Democrats are trying to figure out what to do with more than 200 pounds of Mardi Gras beads. The party purchased the beads for the annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade, which was rescheduled and then canceled due to snow this year. [InsideNoVa]
Doorways Fundraiser Planned — Rocklands Barbeque (3471 Washington Blvd) will open its patio for the season on Thursday, April 17, with its annual “Shed Your Coat” fundraiser. The event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will benefit Doorways for Women and Families. [Doorways]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Officials at Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall announced last week that yesterday, Monday, the trail, which runs from the Old Post Chapel to McNair Road’s intersection with Marshall Drive, would be closed.
The trail is closing to accommodate the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery with its “Millennium Project.” Besides the closure of the trail, more than 700 trees are set to be removed for the cemetery expansion, a plan that rankled local activists when the expansion was discussed in March.
The $82 million expansion is expected to add in-ground and above ground burial locations, columbarium space, committal shelters and infrastructure to support it. It will take over a parcel of undeveloped land next to Ft. Myer. The expansion is needed, according to cemetery officials, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
A new jogging path to replace the closed one is expected to be constructed after the project’s completion in spring 2016.
Photo via Google Maps
Fisette Staying Out of Confederate Name Issue — Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said he has too much other business to worry about in the coming months to get involved with the request to remove the name “Jefferson Davis” from Arlington roads. Fisette says he’s sensitive to the reasons behind the request to remove the Confederate leader’s name, but the process for removal is laborious and has to go through the state. [Sun Gazette]
Burst Pipe at Reagan National Airport — Trader Joe’s in Clarendon certainly wasn’t the only business affected by a burst water pipe during Tuesday’s cold weather. Some pipes burst at Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon and flooded the area near the baggage claim terminals for American Airlines and United Airlines. [DCist]
Tomb Sentinels Brave Freezing Temps — Most people did what they could to bundle up and stay indoors yesterday, but members of The Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are getting attention for braving the bitter cold. The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment posted a photo of one of the sentinels on its Facebook page and news organizations immediately spread the word. [WTOP, WUSA]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Wreaths to Be Placed at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Wreaths will be placed on nearly 130,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. Most of the wreaths are being made possible by a $250,000 donation from Google. [Washington Post]
Church Works to Package 100,000 Meals — More than 500 volunteers worked to package 100,000 non-perishable meals for hungry children around the world last week at Jefferson Middle School. The effort was organized by Grace Community Church. [Sun Gazette]
ACPD Hiring Recruit Officers — The Arlington County Police Department is looking to hire a number of entry-level police officers this winter. The application process involves a written exam, physical ability test, interview, polygraph test, psychological evaluation and medical evaluation. [PoliceOne.com, Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Members of the public are invited, starting at 1:00 p.m., to ring the Freedom Bell to honor a loved one who served in the military. The bell will be stationed at the west entrance of the Welcome Center.
Preceding the bell-ringing event, President Barack Obama will participate in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11:00 a.m.
Arlington County’s government offices, meanwhile, will be closed for the federal holiday, as will courts, schools and libraries.
STAR will be closed and standing rides will be cancelled, and ART buses will not run, other than routes 41, 42, 51, 77 and 87, which will run on a Saturday schedule. All community centers will also be closed, with the exception of Arlington Mill Community Center (901 S. Dinwiddie Street), which will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Trash pickup will proceed as normal. County pools will be open on a holiday schedule.
Photo via Philliefan99
Tighter Security at Marathon — This Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon will include tighter security than years past. Camelback-style hydration backpacks have been banned, as have Halloween masks. Runners will only be able to check items in clear plastic bags. [WJLA]
Google Maps Arlington National Cemetery — Google has used its Street View technology to map Arlington National Cemetery from the ground. Using a backpack-mounted array of 15 cameras and a hired walker, the company has gathered 360 degree images from around the hallowed grounds. [Washington Post]
Virginia ABC Wine Tasting Crackdown — Virginia ABC is cracking down on wine tasting events organized by wine distributors. Virginia law only allows winemakers or winery representatives to hold tasting events in restaurants. Among the retailers impacted by the recent enforcement effort is Cheesetique, which has locations in Shirlington and the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Lawsuit Filed Over NSF Lease — The broker that helped arrange the National Science Foundation’s pending move from Arlington to Alexandria is suing Hoffman Family LLC, the owner of the land where the new NSF headquarters will be built. Hoffman is only offering to pay $1 million of the $6.7 million that Jones Lang LaSalle says it’s owed. The deal is also being criticized for incentives that exempted payments to Alexandria’s affordable housing fund. [Washington Post]
Plantations in Arlington — Writer Alison Rice takes a look back at some of Arlington’s former plantations. Among them are Abingdon Plantation, located on what’s now Reagan National Airport; Analostan Island, on what’s now Theodore Roosevelt Island; and Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The coordinated flyover of more than 30 World War II-era planes has been pushed back until this weekend due to rain.
The National Air Trainer Association, which organized the “North American Texan” 75th anniversary flight, delayed it until approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, weather permitting.
If the visibility is not good enough tomorrow, NATA’s Tom Malone said, they will fly on Sunday.
The decision will be made at about 7:00 a.m.
There is a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday, and a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday, according to Weather.com.