Linden Business Resources (750 23rd Street S.) is again hosting its family-friendly Miracle on 23rd Street holiday event. It’s scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2.
The tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 6:25, Santa is expected to arrive via fire truck at 6:30 and a 50/50 raffle will take place at 8 p.m. Unlike past years, this year’s event will be held completely outside.
There will also be food trucks and holiday music and entertainment. The event is free and open to the public.
Police say a man entered a dry cleaning business on the 700 block of 23rd Street S. just after 2 p.m. The suspect brandished a gun, demanded money and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The man then drove off in “newer model four-door sedan.”
The suspect is described as a 6’2″ black male, 250-270 lbs, in his 30s or 40s, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
From an ACPD crime report:
ROBBERY, 2016-11190173, 700 block of S. 23rd Street. At approximately 2:12 p.m. on November 19, an unknown male subject entered a business, brandished a firearm, and demanded money from the employee. The subject fled the scene in a nearby vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash. The investigation is ongoing.
The suspect also tried to steal the woman’s purse, according to police.
From this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY/ SEXUAL BATTERY, 161028033, 1200 block of S. Thomas Street. At approximately 8:11 p.m. on October 28, officers responded to the report of an attempted robbery. Upon investigation, it was determined a female victim was attempting to enter a building when an unknown male subject obstructed her entrance. The male subject grabbed her arm and pulled the victim down a flight of stairs where he touched her inappropriately. The subject then attempted to steal the victim’s purse, but fled the scene when the victim cried out for help. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his thirties, approximately 5’5″ tall and 150 lbs. He was wearing a black jacket, dark pants, and had a black winter hat on.
Two other crimes of a sexual nature were included in the crime report. Both occurred last Wednesday, in the Aurora Highlands and Courthouse areas respectively.
SEXUAL BATTERY, 161025028, 2700 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 3:15 p.m. on October 26, officers responded to the report of a sexual battery that had just occurred. Upon investigation, it was determined that an unknown male subject approached a female victim from behind and pushed his genitals against her buttocks region. Saul Diaz Hernandez, 50, of Arlington Va, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He is being held on an unsecured bond.
EXPOSURE, 161026041, 1900 block of N. 15th Street. At approximately 7:38 p.m. on October 26, officers responded to the report of an exposure. Upon investigation, it was determined that a male subject exposed his genitals to a female victim. The suspect is described as a white male in his late twenties, approximately 5’7″ tall and weighed 155 lbs. He was wearing a grey hoodie and a dark jacket
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve $555,000 in interior upgrades to the Aurora Hills Community Center and Library at its meeting this weekend.
The low-slung building, located at 735 18th Street S., near Pentagon City, houses both a library and a senior center. In explaining the need for upgrades, county staff said the center is “an aging facility.”
“The proposed renovation includes demolition of existing and construction of new office, storage rooms, kitchen, new ADA bathrooms, receptionist desk, circulation desk, new floor finishes, additional electrical and mechanical system upgrade,” county staff wrote. “The work will also include the restoration or repair of ceilings and walls in areas that are impacted by this interior renovation.”
Some programs at Aurora Hills will be moved to the Gunston Community Center during construction. The renovations were originally set to take place a bit later than currently scheduled, but were “accelerated” by the County Board, staff say.
The county staff report hints that the Aurora Hills center may eventually be torn down to make way for a new elementary school.
“The site was also identified during the Arlington Public Schools’ South Arlington Working Group process as a possible site for redevelopment in conjunction with Schools;” says the report. “The proposed improvements will provide operational and program value for a number of years until such time that the County and Schools choose to pursue a redevelopment.”
New Traffic Pattern on Route 1 — There’s a new traffic pattern for the lefthand turn from southbound Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to 23rd Street S. in Crystal City. The change was necessitated by operations of the new Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. [Facebook]
Aurora Hills Library Eyed As School Site — The current Aurora Hills library and senior center is being looked at by Arlington Public Schools as a possible site for a new elementary school. Meanwhile, even though nearby Oakridge Elementary is over capacity, Superintendent Patrick Murphy says there’s actually a more pressing need for additional elementary capacity in north Arlington due to population growth around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors. [InsideNova]
Australian Company Says G’Day to Ballston — The Australian investment firm QIC has taken a 49 percent stake in Ballston Quarter, the soon-to-be-renovated shopping center currently known as Ballston Common Mall. The majority of the mall is still owned by Cleveland-based Forest City. [Washington Business Journal, Crain’s Cleveland Business]
Local Named New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess — The 2016 New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess is a 24-year-old Hoboken native who now lives in the D.C. area and works at Rosslyn-based CEB. [Hudson Reporter]
CEB Acquires Portland Firm — Rosslyn-based CEB is getting bigger. The company is acquiring Portland, Oregon-based Evanta Ventures for $275 million. CEB will be moving into a new namesake CEB Tower in Rosslyn after construction wraps up in 2018. [StreetInsider]
Arlington’s Top Bond Rating Affirmed — Arlington County has once again earned the highest bond rating from the three major rating agencies. “The County works hard to maintain these AAA ratings to finance critical County infrastructure projects with bonds that carry the lowest interest rates available,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]
Photo via @WLHSIBProgram
The County Board allocated $1.4 million for the community improvement projects, which were selected by the citizen-led Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. The committee makes such funding recommendations to the Board twice a year.
Three of the projects were largely uncontroversial — a neighborhood sign for Shirlington, a beautification project for the historic Calloway United Methodist Church cemetery, and street improvements for the 4800 block of 9th Street S. The biggest recommendation, a $800,000 improvement project for Nelly Custis Park (701 24th Street S.), picked up some outspoken critics in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.
The project would add new plantings, an ADA accessible walkway, improved storm water management and a small play area for school-aged children next to an existing playground. While supporters said most of the community was in favor of the project, a few critics launched a campaign against it, objecting mostly to the playground. Other concerns included the addition of extra pavement from the ADA pathway and “tricycle loop.”
“We heard a number of concerns from the community,” acknowledged Lisa Grandle, of Arlington’s parks and recreation department.
What’s usually an easy vote on the County Board’s “consent agenda” instead became a nearly hour-long discussion that centered around the Neighborhood Conservation process in general and the park project in particular. Board member John Vihstadt led the questioning, and attempted a motion to separate out the Nelly Custis project from the other three, for a vote in March. The motion failed.
The necessity of the conversation seemed to frustrate some Board members. “I‘m disappointed that we’re here tonight, but we’re here,” said Christian Dorsey.
In the end, the Board voted to approve the project as proposed. From a county press release:
The Arlington County Board today approved nearly $1.4 million in funding for four new Neighborhood Conservation projects. The approved projects include street improvements, neighborhood beautification, park improvements, and a neighborhood sign.
The projects, submitted by residents and endorsed by civic associations, are qualified by staff, then evaluated by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC) before coming to the County Board for approval. The NCAC considered 31 projects at its Dec. 10, 2015 meeting and decided to recommend four of them to the County Board for funding.
The Board voted unanimously to approve funding for the four projects. To read the Staff Reporton this Item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #10 on the Agenda for the Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 Regular County Board Agenda.
“We rely on residents to help us identify the best projects to make their neighborhoods safer, stronger and more attractive,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “For more than 50 years, Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation program has helped build community by funding projects identified by the people who live in the neighborhoods.”
The projects approved by the County Board today are funded by the voter-approved 2014 Neighborhood Conservation Bond. It is the third set of projects to be approved from the $12 million bond. The four approved projects are:
- $12,500 for Shirlington neighborhood sign – Location and design by the community with staff assistance. Sign fabrication, sign installation and landscaping.
- $798,222 for Aurora Highlands Park project – Improvements to Nelly Custis Park including storm water management to correct existing drainage problems; removal of invasive species; improving circulation for accessibility and park use; additional school-age play equipment; new site furnishings; and additional plantings for shade and beautification.
- $129,625 for Highview Park beautification project – Calloway United Methodist Church Cemetery improvements that include a perimeter fence, interpretive sign, a bench and trash receptacle. A public access easement over the local historic district will allow the public to visit the cemetery and interpret its history.
- $432,561 for Barcroft street improvement project – 4800 block of 9th Street S to W&OD Trail. Includes completion of missing concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk along the south side of 9th Street S, in the westerly half of the 4800 block, between S Buchanan St and the W&OD Trail. Street milling and paving as needed, including the trail connector between the street dead end and the W&OD Trail. Storm water drainage improvements and the addition of LED Carlyle-style streetlights are a part of the proposed project
The Board also approved the use of $228,000 in additional funds required for street improvements on South Fern Street (project previously approved by the NCAC at the fall 2011 funding session). This additional funding was reviewed and voted on by NCAC at its Jan. 14, 2016 meeting.
The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider a $1.6 million slate of minor neighborhood improvement projects.
Most of the time, such “Neighborhood Conservation” projects are uncontroversial. The latest includes a neighborhood sign for Shirlington, a beautification project for the historic Calloway United Methodist Church cemetery, and street improvements for the 4800 block of 9th Street S., which leads to the W&OD Trail in the Barcroft neighborhood.
One project, however, has resulted in a flurry of back-and-forth emails to reporters and county officials, accusations of lies and bad faith, and exhaustive five-page missives. No, this isn’t over a bocce court. It’s over a play area for 5-12 year olds in a 0.8 acre park in Aurora Highlands.
At $798,222, the Neighborhood Conservation project for Nelly Custis Park (701 24th Street S.) is the priciest item in the latest batch. The project includes new plantings, improved storm water management, removal of invasive species, a new ADA accessible walkway and — most controversially — a small play area for school-aged children next to an existing playground.
On one side are members of the “Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks” group, which formed last year to oppose a new playgrounds and athletic courts, saying that the neighborhood had enough of them already.
A member of the group, who in her latest emails asked not to be identified by name, had this to say about the Nelly Custis project: “It has been contentious and controversial from within the neighborhood from the beginning and continues to move forward with some very significant questions about tax-payer waste, process and community input.”
On the other side are residents and Aurora Highlands Civic Association members who say they’re in favor of the changes, which are coming after an extensive planning process involving the community.
“The neighborhood is in overwhelming support of the project and it has undergone an extensive (more than required) development process,” said Mary Humphreys, who’s lived in Aurora Highlands, near Crystal City, for more than 10 years. “Unfortunately, there is a very vocal resident… who is opposed to the improvements and despite many kind and collaborative efforts, he continues to spread incorrect information.”
Humphreys said the spat essentially boils down to the fact that opponents of the play area want local parks to serve “age-diverse needs” — more green space, dog park and water features, not just playgrounds.
For opponents, until the project is approved, the fight continues. On Monday, the “Friends” member who asked not to be identified wrote a letter to the County Board with a slew of questions. Among them:
“How can the public have confidence in the environmental integrity of NC park projects when the formal process fails to include a review by all relevant county commissions, including the Arlington Park & Recreation Commission and the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission?” she wrote. “No commission or committee formally reviewed this project despite requests for them to do so.”
“This is not the Arlington Way,” the letter-writer concluded.
Baby Jesus was stolen from outside Calvary United Methodist Church (2315 S. Grant Street), in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, sometime between 8 p.m. Saturday and the next morning, when parishioners showed up for Sunday worship services.
Police were called and took a report Monday, though hopes of cops catching the perpetrator are low. Rev. Matthew G. Smith said he’s hoping the thief has a change of heart and repents — by returning the Son of God to his rightful place in the manger, at least until the nativity scene is brought inside next weekend. Alternatively, the little Lord could also be left on the front steps of the church or brought, in person, to the front office.
“We have no desire to prosecute,” Smith said. “We would be very happy just to get Him back.”
“Baby Jesus missing,” said a sign posted in front of the nativity scene today. “Please return. No questions asked.”
(No other nativity thefts were reported this year in Arlington, according to an ACPD spokeswoman.)
This was the third time Jesus had been swiped from the church’s nativity scene, and if all works out it wouldn’t be the first time He has been returned, Smith said. The first time, years ago, Jesus mysteriously reappeared in the nativity scene on Christmas morning.
The last time, a few years back, baby Jesus vanished for good. A parishioner ended up ordering a new, hand-painted figure of the young Prince of Peace from Italy and donated it to the church as a replacement.
Before the nativity scene was put on display a few weeks ago, in mid-December, Smith and some church members discussed ways to prevent theft. The nativity scene itself is bolted down, but the Italian baby Jesus is too fragile to be secured in a permanent fashion. While many ideas were proposed, the one that was implemented involved tying fishing line around the porcelain figure. That did not save the Savior; the fishing line was cut by the thief.
Smith said he expects there to be more discussion of nativity security ahead of 2016’s Christmas season. Should the Christ child not be returned, the church will also have to consider raising funds to buy a new one. The pastor said he wasn’t sure of the cost of a new porcelain baby Jesus, but said of the Italian-made model that was stolen, “I’m certain it’s not inexpensive.”
“We will look for ways next year,” to secure baby Jesus, he said, “but we don’t want to chain him in.”
Either way, said Smith, “it’s not going to sour our love of the community or our mission.”
Photo via Facebook
Prosecutor: Black Asked for Help Killing Wife — At a bond hearing Monday, prosecutors said that David Black asked a friend to help kill his wife in a classic case of domestic violence. Black was denied bond and will remain in jail, charged with killing his estranged wife Bonnie Black in their home near Pentagon City. The trial is set for Feb. 29. [WUSA 9]
One of the Worst Traffic Bottlenecks — Arlington has one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, according to the American Highway Users Alliance. I-395 between Washington Blvd and the GW Parkway ranked No. 26 on the list, wasting 1.1 million hours and 322,600 gallons of fuel annually. [WTOP]
TSA HQ Move May Be Delayed — The Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters may be staying in Pentagon City past 2017 after all. A judge has halted the TSA’s move to Alexandria in response to a protest of the lease bidding process by a losing bidder. [Government Executive]
Arlington GOP May Ditch Office — In order to save money, the Arlington County Republican Committee is considering giving up the $1,100 per month office it rents in the Dominion Arms apartment building. [InsideNova]
See Something, Type Something — Arlington County’s website has a “Homeland Security Tip Form,” for reporting “suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism” in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington County Police have arrested a suspect in the April 17 stabbing death of Aurora Highlands resident Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police arrested 46-year-old David Black, the victim’s ex-husband, earlier today following a grand jury indictment. He’s charged with first degree murder and burglary.
Last month police searched Black’s house — which was several blocks from his estranged wife’s home, where she was found dead — and removed bikes and other items as evidence. Speaking to television reporters at the time, neighbors said they were nervous to have Black still living in the community.
Bonnie Black was a psychologist who did contract work for the FBI. She was found stabbed to death after her young children were found wandering outside her home by a neighbor.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit and Tactical Unit have taken David Black, 46, of Arlington, VA, into custody pursuant to an indictment issued by a special investigative grand jury. These charges stem from the murder of his estranged wife, Bonnie Black which occurred on April 17, 2015 in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood of Arlington County. The indictment and subsequent bench warrant charges him with one count of first degree murder and one count of burglary while armed with the intent to commit a felony.
A neighbor discovered the victim’s two young children wandering outside of the home in the early morning hours of April 17, 2015. At 7:50 a.m., Arlington County Police responded to the 1100 block of 18th Street South where officers discovered the 42 year-old female victim deceased inside her residence.
A special investigative grand jury was convened by the Arlington County Circuit Court and heard evidence and testimony surrounding the murder of Bonnie Black. Today that grand jury returned an indictment against David Black and he was arrested without incident.
The event is being held tomorrow (Sept. 17) at the new Bob & Edith’s Diner at 539 23rd Street S., from 4-7 p.m.
“Coffee with a Cop has no agenda or speeches,” says a flyer for the event. “The event is a chance to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your District.”
One possible topic of concern for neighbors: the as-yet unsolved murder of Bonnie Delgado Black in nearby Aurora Highlands. Black’s ex-husband’s house, also in Aurora Highlands, was searched by investigators two weeks ago but so far no arrests have been made in the case.
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police are executing a search warrant on the house of David Black, the ex-husband of murder victim Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police arrived at the house near Pentagon City early this morning, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Black was at the house at the time but has since left, and is so far not in custody and not charged with a crime, Sternbeck said.
“We have an active police presence at this time at David Black’s residence,” said Sternbeck. Police are searching for “potential items at the residence that could contain forensic evidence that can assist us in the investigation.”
Bonnie Black was found stabbed to death in her Aurora Highlands home the morning of April 17, after a neighbor saw her children wandering around outside the house. Black, who was 42, worked as a psychologist and did contract work for the FBI.
Bonnie Black’s ex-husband’s house is also in Aurora Highlands, several blocks away from the murder scene. Police this morning could be seen searching the ex-husband’s garage and removing two bikes, including one with a child carrier attached. The bikes were later taken away as evidence by police.
So far no one has been charged in the murder, a fact that has caused concern in the community. David Black remains a “person of interest” in the case, Sternbeck said.
“I’m very happy to see some action taking place,” neighbor Lynn Primo told reporters. “We’re all very concerned… this man continues to live here and the whole neighborhood believes he has something to do with [the murder].”
Primo said she has seen Black coming and going from the house, but has not observed any unusual activity.
The couple’s children are in the custody of Bonnie Black’s family, but David Black still has visitation rights, according to Sternbeck.
Update at 10:05 a.m. — The leak has been stopped, according to scanner traffic. Residents who had been evacuated are being allowed back into their homes.
The Arlington County Fire Department is on the scene of a large gas leak in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, near Pentagon City.
The leak was reported around 8:45 a.m. on S. Grant Street, between 18th and 19th Streets, a block from Arlington Fire Station No. 5.
Initial reports suggest a six-inch gas line below the street is actively leaking gas.
Washington Gas crews are on the scene and trying to figure out how to shut off the gas. Roads in the immediate vicinity are being shut down.
The Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks is a group of neighbors who say they’re trying to make parks in the neighborhood enjoyable for all ages. This means that the parks need to have a balance of open fields, athletic courts and playgrounds, said Kari Klaus, the president of the group.
“The perfect park is a balance,” Klaus said.
The two parks in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood are having trouble keeping the balance, Klaus said. Nelly Custis Park (701 S. Grant Street) is may be getting another playground and Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) is under construction to build more courts.
The group was formed after the Aurora Highlands Civic Association (AHCA) began discussing the additional playground for the Nelly Custis Park and and differences arose between some residents and the association’s majority. The new playground would make three in a little over a block, Klaus said.
The park already has a playground and creating another one at the expense of open space went against the wishes of many neighbors, Klaus said. Despite the opposition, the civic association went forward with the plans to ask for the playground as a Neighborhood Conservation project.
“The civic association has not budged on the playground from our parks perspective,” Klaus said.
The Aurora Highlands neighborhood is age diverse, meaning there are families with young children, families with grown children, millennials and senior citizens. Adding a new playground would take away from the open space used by many of the neighbors, Klaus said.
“We still have a very adult-related neighborhood,” she said.
The civic association also had trouble communicating with the neighborhood, according to Klaus. There were notices about the plans in the beginning, but the advertisements stopped and neighbors felt left out of the process, she said.
“There was some effort in the beginning but somehow the notices were dropped,” she said.
Joel Nelson, president of AHCA, said he has yet to hear of the Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks and noted that the Nelly Custis Park playground is still being discussed.
“I’m not familiar with the group, but I know that our community greatly values the park as an important local resource,” Nelson said.
“There were two public meetings (March and April) with county staff to collect feedback from the community for improvements to the Nelly Custis Park via the Arlington County Neighborhood Conservation program,” Nelson said via email. “At our June AHCA meeting, we heard a few complaints (about county process and about as-yet-TBD details in the design phase of the project), so the project was put on hold pending additional community input (scheduled for two additional meetings with county staff in September).”
“Even though some neighbors use the recreational facilities it appears that they are primarily used by organized leagues and residents in other parts of Arlington County and even D.C.,” she said.
The group has reached out to the department and are working with the Arlington Parks Coalition to make sure parks stay age-diverse, Klaus said.
The group aims to have more trees added to the park and would like AHCA to help to build a dog park, which is part of the civic association’s master plan for parks, she said.
“Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks will work with the county on acknowledging these valuable park resources and benefits in the hopes of preserving the current limited green and tree covered parkland while working to reverse some of these programmed spaces to fulfill actual neighborhood needs and deficits,” according to the group’s website.
Klaus said the group has heard that Virginia Highlands Park is being considered as a site for a new elementary school, which is concerning because use of the park is only likely to increase with new development planned or under construction on the nearby Riverhouse and Metropolitan Park sites in Pentagon City.
“This area needs more green space to compensate for the density increases and the age-diverse population and we need to make sure that no more facilities or buildings go over our very limited park and green space that we have,” said Klaus.