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by Chris Teale December 14, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.

The Board is set to spend $1.23 million to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent lot, which is vacant. Someone rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.

Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.

“The acquisition of the property would create an opportunity to increase park land in the densely-populated Pentagon City area,” staff wrote in a report. “The approximately [quarter-acre] new park could be used to provide the kind of casual use space residents in the area have been asking for — a park that is open and available for a range of casual uses such as having a picnic, throwing a Frisbee, laying out on a blanket, reading or having small social gatherings.”

Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

The following letter was written by Aurora Hills resident Ashli Douglas about the county’s Complete Streets Program and traffic congestion in her neighborhood that she said was exacerbated by changes to S. Eads Steet.

To the Editor:

Arlington has embarked on a transportation vision of providing a safe environment for all travel modes, also known as the Complete Streets Program.  Today I’m sharing a story of how this transportation vision for complete streets has played out in one Arlington County neighborhood, Aurora Hills.

As I reread the Arlington transportation presentation for our project on S. Eads St. from 2014, it occurred to me how benign and utopian the project seemed. That should have been the first clue.  Arlington was going to move more people without more traffic and they were going to protect our single-family neighborhood.  All good, what’s not to like?

And then came the medians, protected bike lanes, bike rental rack and central to all of this, the complete removal of two lanes of a four-lane street – S. Eads Street.  What could possibly go wrong?

So now we have the same (but probably more) number of cars on the same road with less lanes.  This is where the fairytale turns to a nightmare…enter aggressive driving and cut-through traffic.

I live on what Arlington refers to as a Minor Neighborhood Street, in which the distinctive feature of these streets is the nearly exclusive orientation to providing access to residences.  It also happens to be a one lane yield street!

One block away is S. Eads Street, an Arterial Street, by definition, the street primarily provides through travel rather that solely for access to adjacent properties.  According to Arlington’s street elements policies that are part of the county wide master transportation plan, streets should “…improve the efficiency of vehicular operation on arterial streets to minimize diversion of traffic onto neighborhood streets.”

So you see where this is going.  Since our arterial street has reduced capacity, the cars all cut-through our neighborhood street.  And just to be clear, we are not talking about a few cars.  We are talking over 1,300 commuters a day.

How do we know?  Since the county refused to share data or provide any form of relief to our neighborhood, we hired a certified traffic data collection firm to conduct traffic counts on November 1 and 2, a Wednesday and Thursday.  The counts were 1,347 and 1,369 respectively.

Our one lane section of S. Fern St. simply cannot handle this traffic.  According to Arlington County historical traffic counts, last performed in 2011 on our street, they measured 500 cars on a daily average. What a difference a “Complete Street” makes.  We now have approximately 600 cars who rip down the same street in a three-hour period  our school bus is dropping off children.

It is no longer safe for our children to play even near the street due to the cut-through traffic. We have experienced over 160 percent increase in vehicles, the majority with DC and MD tags that simply cut through our neighborhood to avoid the congestion morass on S. Eads Street.

As frustrated parents, neighbors and Arlington county citizens, we, individually as neighbors in an eight-block area, and collectively through our civic association have been engaged with the county for over a year to no avail.  We have requested that the county protect our neighborhood, and specifically, mitigate the cut-through traffic that originates on S. Eads Street and cuts through our neighborhood on S. Fern Street between 26th Street S. and 23rd Street S.

Our eight-block area has become a virtual highway of dangerous cut through traffic with constant stop sign running, speeding and hit and run accidents, and fearful and angry parents at Arlington county elementary school bus stops.

The S. Eads Complete Street project has been a complete disaster for the residents in our neighborhood and despite our continual pleas for help for nearly a year to protect our single family neighborhood; we have had no relief.

We will not give up our neighborhood and we demand the county remedy the problem they created.  And for anyone else that may be facing a complete street project – consider yourself forewarned.

Ashli Douglas has lived in Aurora Hills for 16 years and is the mom to two elementary school-aged children.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes letters about issues of local interest. To submit your thoughts for consideration, please email [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com October 24, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

A dispute over a parking space led to a man and woman brandishing knives and making threats, according to police.

The incident happened Saturday night in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood. Police say the victim was waiting for a parking space to open up when the suspects “pulled around him and parked in the space.”

“Following a verbal dispute, the two suspects left the area and returned, each brandishing a knife,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The suspects made threats but no one was injured.”

The full crime report item is below.

ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-10210274, 2700 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 10:08 p.m. on October 21, police were dispatched to the report of an Attempted Malicious Wounding. Upon arrival it was determined that the male victim was waiting for a parking space to become available when the suspects pulled around him and parked in the space. Following a verbal dispute, the two suspects left the area and returned, each brandishing a knife. The suspects made threats but no one was injured. The suspects then fled the scene on foot. Suspect 1 is described as a black female in her 20’s with curly hair. Suspect 2 is described as a black male in his 20’s wearing black sweatpants and a short-sleeved [t-shirt]. The investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com October 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

A woman woke up early Tuesday morning to the sound of a man breaking things inside of her home.

The incident happened around 2:15 a.m. yesterday, on the 600 block of 23rd Street S. in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, just west of Crystal City.

Police were called and the man, an Alexandria resident, was arrested by officers.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-10030017, 600 block of 23rd Street S. At approximately 2:16 a.m. on October 3, police were dispatched to the report of a breaking and entering in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a female victim had awoken to noise coming from inside her residence. The victim confronted a male suspect in the hallway and called police. Items were reported damaged inside the residence, but nothing was reported missing. The victim was uninjured. Nelson Flores, 37, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

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by Chris Teale September 27, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

A former Afghan restaurant in Crystal City is set to become a pawn shop.

A “Royal Pawn” store is coming to the former restaurant at 507 23rd Street S., according to signs and a permit application.

An existing store with the same name and logo is open at 6116-A Franconia Road in Alexandria, south of the Beltway in Fairfax County. It sells jewelry, electronics and instruments, tools and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum.

As of Tuesday, much of the restaurant’s furniture and decorations were still inside and a temporary Royal Pawn sign was covering the former “Grill Kabob” sign. Grill Kabob first opened in September 2015.

Previously, a restaurant and dance club called “Sin and Saint” was expected to replace Grill Kabob. The establishment was to have a dance floor and DJ on the second floor for Friday and Saturday nights, though those plans appear to have fallen through.

Royal Pawn will be at least the third pawn shop in Arlington. Two First Cash Pawn stores are already in the county, on Lee Highway and on N. Glebe Road in Buckingham.

by ARLnow.com August 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

A man was slashed in the face by a knife-wielding suspect in Ballston this past Saturday night, police say.

The incident happened just before 6 p.m. on the 4000 block of 5th Road N. — a block that includes restaurants, a yoga studio, a towing lot and the rear of a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

Police say the victim suffered a non-life-threatening cut to the face and the suspect was taken into custody. The motive for the alleged crime is unclear.

“The suspect was consuming alcohol prior to the incident,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “What preceded the incident remains under investigation.”

More from this week’s ACPD crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-08260207, 4000 block of 5th Road N. At approximately 5:58 p.m. on August 26, officers responded to a report of a stabbing. Upon arrival it was determined that a known suspect struck the victim in the face, causing a laceration. The victim was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with non-life threatening injuries. Jeffery Warren, 55, of Stafford, VA was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding and held with no bond.

Also in the crime report, a man has been charged with aggravated sexual battery after allegedly “playing with children in an inappropriate way” in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL BATTERY, 2017-08230184, 2700 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 3:20 p.m. on August 23, police responded to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, police met with a female victim who observed the male suspect playing with children in an inappropriate way. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect touched two minor females in a sexual manner. Marlon Cardona-Orellana, 38, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com July 25, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A 60-year-old man was arrested after he was found in the attic of a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Pentagon City.

Police say the resident of a home heard footsteps coming from above early Friday morning and called police. A suspect was located and charged with unlawful entry.

More from an Arlington County Police crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-07210024, 800 block of 22nd Street S. At approximately 1:24 a.m. on July 21, police responded to the report of a possible unlawful entry. Upon arrival, it was determined that police were contacted after a tenant reported hearing footsteps in the attic. Police searched the residence and located the suspect. Anthony Jones, 60, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry. He was held without bail.

Photo via Google Maps

by Chris Teale June 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) Neighbors of Virginia Highlands Park are accusing Arlington County of ignoring a proposal they put together for the park’s future.

Last year the Aurora Highlands Civic Association submitted a plan for the permit-only softball fields on the west side of the park at 1600 S. Hayes Street to be converted into open space, without any set programming.

“The fields are significantly underused relative to other facilities and especially to open space,” the proposal says, noting that use of the fields is seasonal. “Each field is used for approximately 600 hours per year out of a potential of 4,380 hours (12 hours a day), a total of less than 14% of the time.”

The county is at the beginning of what it says is a “community-wide conversation” about the park’s future and developing a comprehensive plan.

But some residents are critical of staff at the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, saying that staff has not adequately considered their proposal nor communicated with them, despite an “extraordinary effort” on the part of community leaders “to ensure that there was little to no miscommunication in this process.”

“Attempting to develop a long-term plan for the park that fails to openly and honestly consider the needs of all park goers over existing facilities and their usage, as well intentioned as it may be, will just reshuffle that poor planning with some prettying around the edges,” the group Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks said in its latest newsletter.

ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot wrote in a recent opinion piece that a member of DPR staff said the softball fields “are needed” and would not be removed.

A county spokeswoman, however, said that while there is no set timeline for planning for the park’s revamp, the civic association’s proposal is still on the table.

“The Aurora Highland Civic Association did provide a plan for the neighborhood’s vision for the park,” the spokeswoman said. “When the county begins the framework plan for the park, the civic association’s plan as well as other community-wide inputs will be considered. County staff is now working with the County Board to determine next steps.”

The softball fields at Virginia Highlands Park are used by a variety of leagues across age groups, from youth to adult.

The D.C. Fray adult league — formerly known as United Social Sports — begins a new eight-week season on July 7 at the fields. Founder and CEO Robert Kinsler said the league “strongly supports maintaining and expanding the fields available for organized sports in Arlington and specifically at Virginia Highlands.”

“We permit and use the parks as much as availability and DPR allows and often have to turn away players due to lack of field space in the area,” Kinsler said. “Any loss of the softball fields would be a huge lost for the activity community that lives in the area.”

by Chris Teale May 12, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

After a four-month project to refresh its inside, the Aurora Hills Community and Senior Center is set to reopen Monday.

The center at 735 18th Street S. near Pentagon City will be open once again on May 15 for senior activities and community events, including meetings of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association.

At an open house Thursday, community members could take a look around the revamped space. The main meeting room has had a new floor and ceiling installed and new audio-visual equipment added as well as some extra storage.

A breakout room to host fitness classes and other smaller activities has had similar treatment, while the center’s kitchen has new appliances and the front desk has been moved.

During the temporary closure, senior programs relocated to the Gunston Community Center.

The project is part of a $555,000 rehab of the community center and adjoining library, approved last year by the County Board.

The library’s renovations have already been completed. A report by county staff, presented to the County Board as it was considering the upgrades, hinted that the entire building eventually may be torn down to make way for a new elementary school.

by Chris Teale April 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

An Afghan restaurant in Crystal City is applying for a major revamp, including a name-change and the ability to host live entertainment.

Planning documents filed with the county indicate that Grill Kabob at 507 23rd Street S. hopes to be renamed Sin & Saint. It also would like to add a dance floor on the second level for use on Friday and Saturday nights, in addition to live entertainment from a DJ.

In the application, the owners said the DJ will use speakers and subwoofers, most likely the Electro-Voice brand. The live entertainment would be provided from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant is located among other bars and eateries along the 23rd Street corridor.

The applicant and county staff discussed the project last night at the Aurora Highlands Civic Association’s monthly meeting.

by ARLnow.com March 6, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

House fire in Aurora Highlands (photo via ACFD)

One person is dead and another is in critical condition after a fire in an Arlington home that had “hoarding conditions” inside, according to firefighters.

The fire was reported at a home on the 2600 block of S. Grant Street, in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Crystal City, around 9 p.m. Sunday.

“Units are dealing with hoarding conditions,” an Arlington County Fire Department spokesperson said as firefighting operations were still underway.

One person was brought out of the home, treated by medics and transported to Virginia Hospital Center. A second person was located in the home and later pronounced dead.

Update at 2:30 p.m. — Arlington County has released the following press release about the investigation into the house fire.

One person is dead and another critically injured after a house fire last night at 2623 S. Grant St.

Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) crews arrived on the scene shortly before 9 p.m. to find dark smoke coming from all levels of the single-family home and flames on the first floor.

After neighbors reported that the two residents of the home were unaccounted for, crews had difficulty entering through the front door because of hazardous hoarding conditions inside.

Widespread clutter in the home not only delayed search, rescue and suppression efforts but was also found later to be a factor in spreading the flames.

Both victims were ultimately located on the first floor and removed from the home. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes.

An adult male was pronounced dead at the scene and an adult female was transported to the Virginia Hospital Center in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

Some 60 firefighters responded to the blaze, including personnel from Alexandria Fire Department, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Fire Emergency Services and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue.

ACFD fire marshals are investigating the origin and cause of the blaze and have been unable to confirm the presence of any working smoke alarms in the home.

Smoke alarms provide vital early warnings, increasing time for escape and the chances of surviving a fire.

ACFD urges you to:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom of a home
  • Test alarms every month by pushing the test button
  • Change the batteries in alarms twice a year, at the beginning and end of daylight savings time
  • Replace all alarms every 10 years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Contact ACFD for assistance testing your smoke alarms or to request a free smoke alarm installation
  • Ensure every person in your home knows and practices a home escape plan: pay special attention to those needing help evacuating; have two ways out of every room; get low; close doors behind you; go to a family meeting place; and once outside, stay outside
  • Get help for hoarding situations: Arlington County has a Hoarding Task Force to assist in eliminating the hazards that stem from hoarding and to protect the community at large

The time to take steps to make a home safer is right now.

Photo via ACFD

by ARLnow.com February 9, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

David Black (photo courtesy ACPD)David Black, who was convicted in November of murdering his estranged wife in her home near Pentagon City, will serve two consecutive life sentences in prison.

The sentence, which was recommended by the jury, was confirmed by an Arlington Circuit Court judge Wednesday afternoon.

Black lived just blocks away from his wife, Bonnie Delgado Black, in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood. Prosecutors say he broke into her home on April 17, 2015 and stabbed her to death.

The murder scene was discovered after neighbors found Black’s two young children wandering around outside the home that morning.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

David Black, 45, of Arlington, VA was sentenced on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in the Arlington County Circuit Court to two consecutive life terms in prison for the 2015 murder of Bonnie Black.

Theophani K. Stamos, Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County’s Chief of Police made the announcement following the court appearance.

On April 17, 2015, officers were dispatched to the 1100 block of 18th Street S. after two concerned citizens located the Black children alone outside their residence and called police for assistance. Arriving officers located Bonnie Black deceased from an apparent stabbing inside the residence. Detectives began an intensive investigation revealing that Bonnie Black was the victim of domestic violence.

David Black, the estranged husband of Bonnie Black, was taken into custody in October 2015 pursuant to an indictment issued by a special investigative grand jury. The indictment and subsequent bench warrant charged him with one count of first degree murder and one count of burglary while armed with the intent to commit a felony. On November 8, 2016, a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding David Black guilty on both counts.

Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theophani K. Stamos said, “The imposition of two life sentences for the murder of Bonnie Black speaks volumes about our community’s views when it comes to domestic violence.  We’re grateful to Judge Newman and the jury for their hard work, deep consideration and attention throughout a very difficult trial.”

Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “This horrific murder personalized the investigation for the entire Criminal Investigations Section, many of whom had children themselves. They worked relentlessly for the cause of justice. The complex investigation, prosecution and ultimate conviction were possible because of a strong partnership between the Homicide/Robbery Unit and the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Unfortunately nothing can bring Bonnie Black back to her loving family colleagues and friends but it is our fervent hope that we have been able to provide them with some closure.”

by ARLnow.com December 1, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Miracle on 23rd Street flyerSanta is coming to town — specifically, to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, near Crystal City, on Friday.

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.

by ARLnow.com November 21, 2016 at 11:50 am 0

Police car lightsAn armed robbery was reported Saturday afternoon in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Crystal City.

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.

by ARLnow.com November 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm 0

Police car (file photo)A woman was trying to enter a building near Columbia Pike Friday night when police say a man pulled her down a flight of stairs and then groped her.

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.

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