Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Arlington Man Dies in Texas Crash — “Early Sunday morning, police responded to a three-vehicle crash which resulted in a man’s death and an arrest of a 42-year-old woman… The driver involved in the head-on collision with Sanchez, identified as 33-year-old Eyob Demoze of Arlington, Virginia, died at the hospital.” [Fox 29]

TSA Catches Loaded Gun at DCA — “Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught an Arlington County, Virginia, man with a 9mm handgun loaded with seven bullets including one in the chamber at a Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport security checkpoint early this morning, Monday, Feb. 8.” [Press Release]

Historic Marker to Mark Fmr. Trolly Stop — “The Arlington Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board has approved placement of a marker to denote the one-time ‘Livingstone Station’ on the Washington & Old Dominion Railway. The marker will be placed at Old Dominion Drive and 24th Street North, which was believed to be the location of the station. 24th Street originally was known as Livingston Ave.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Students Top Nat’l Contest — “Two Marymount University students achieved national recognition for video stories they created to illustrate how the resurgent civil rights activism of 2020 and the ongoing movement for racial equality has personally impacted them.” [Marymount University]

Syphax Descendant Holds History Talks — “His pandemic-era Zoom talks have included exploration of family patriarch William Syphax (circa 1773-1850), who bought his freedom in 1817 and set up a business next to the historic Carlyle House in Alexandria. This Syphax worked with a neighbor, Quaker pharmacist and abolitionist Edward Stabler, to save money to free the rest of his family.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Commuting Hazard This Morning? — From the Capital Weather Gang last night: “We can’t rule out some very light, spotty mixed precip before/around sunrise Tues. Slight chance of slick roads mainly N & W of Beltway.” [Twitter]

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The Mount Salvation Baptist Church cemetery — which served as the final resting place Black Arlingtonians denied access to white graveyards — could be granted a historic district designation by the Arlington County Board.

As part of the consent agenda at its Jan. 23 meeting, the County Board approved advertisement of public hearings to review the designation of the cemetery at 1961 N. Culpeper Street at the Monday, Feb. 8 Planning Commission meeting and at the Saturday, Feb. 20 County Board meeting.

“There are many community members in this church and I’ve been there to listen and pay respects,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “This is historic preservation done well to help us remember our African-American community and history. The final resting places in this burial ground, it’s important for us to recognize this for historic preservation.”

The Mount Salvation Baptist Church congregation has gathered in the Halls Hill/High View Park neighborhood since the first church was constructed on the property in 1892. That church was later demolished with a replacement church build in 1975. The earliest marked burial at the cemetery was a woman named Helen Thompson in 1916, but a staff report on the cemetery said there are likely older, unmarked graves on the plot dating back to the church’s founding. There are a total of 89 confirmed burials at the site.

“There are two other historic African American cemeteries in Arlington County that are designated as local historic districts: most of Lomax African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Cemetery in Green Valley and Calloway United Methodist Cemetery in Hall’s Hill,” a staff report said.

The report noted that Mount Salvation Baptist Church was as much of a social gathering place for Black Arlingtonians in the late 19th century and early 20th century as it was a religious institution.

Both the trustees of the church and Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board support the designation.

Part of the designation could also open the way to a barrier around the cemetery to limit pedestrian through-traffic.

“Church trustees have expressed a desire to discourage casual pedestrian traffic through the cemetery,” the report said. “The installation of a permanent fence around the cemetery would deter such activity; recommendations for appropriate fencing types are included in the accompanying proposed Mount Salvation Baptist Cemetery Local Historic District Design Guidelines.”

Image via Arlington County

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A giant photograph of four Black children who made history in Arlington was just installed in the new wing of Dorothy Hamm Middle School (4100 Vacation Lane), which is close to being completed.

The mural honors Ronald Deskins, Michael Jones, Lance Newman and Gloria Thompson, who set foot in Stratford Junior High School on Feb. 2, 1959, officially ending the practice of segregation in Arlington Public Schools.

“What a beautiful tribute and celebration of four amazing APS students!” School Board member Barbara Kanninen said on social media.

“It’s such an awesome, hopeful story,” said Ellen Smith, principal of the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

Smith is excited for her students to see history come to life at their school, which opened in September 2019 while construction on a new addition continued. Once the last touches on the wing are finalized, the school will be 100% complete.

The middle school weaves in history through its name — after Dorothy Hamm, a key figure in the charge to integrate Arlington Public Schools — plus installations recounting the history of racial integration, Smith said. Gone is the old identity as a segregated school named after Stratford Hall, the plantation where Confederate general Robert E. Lee spent his childhood.

From the beginning, the architectural team and Arlington Public Schools wanted to incorporate into students’ experience the idea that kids and the community advocated for integration, she said.

“The retelling and knowledge of this story is part of our mission as a school,” Smith said. “I expect it to be a part of students’ lived experiences every year.”

A new commemorative walk outside will have illustrated panels retelling the story of integration. Inside, historical artifacts from the Hamm family will also be on display.

Smith plans to recognize the first day of school for Deskins, Jones, Newman and Thompson every Feb. 2. Additionally, the school curriculum will include the topics of integration, civil rights and social justice, she said.

Although the building has changed uses since the four entered it 61 years ago — most recently housing the H-B Woodlawn program since the 1970s — the interior configuration has largely stayed the same, Smith said. The biggest upgrades include the new name and a new wing to the west of the school, which is a few finishing touches away from being completely done.

After the H-B Woodlawn program moved to Rosslyn, work began to convert the building into a neighborhood middle school. Construction started in early 2018 and continued after Smith opened the school last September. Just seven months later, students were learning remotely due to the pandemic, and the pace of construction has accelerated without students present, the principal said.

The new wing features a new library, a small gym and 15 classrooms, including a family consumer sciences (previously known as home economics) classroom and a makerspace.

“The architectural team did a fantastic job: It’s very bright, geometric and light-filled,” Smith said.

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John Robinson, Jr. spent his time and energy advocating for Arlington’s minority residents, and on Tuesday (Nov. 17) the County Board will consider renaming the future town square in Green Valley in his honor.

The Green Valley Civic Association wants to rename what is currently known as Nauck Town Square, at 2400 S. Shirlington Road, to John Robinson, Jr. Town Square. The association asked the County to change the name last year, and the Planning Commission approved the recommendation.

“John Robinson, Jr., was a community activist who fought to break down segregationist barriers in housing, food counters and movie theaters in northern Virginia,” the Green Valley Civic Association said in their resolution. “Mr. Robinson coordinated with local authorities to take drugs off the streets and organized food, clothing and furniture drives for local families… Over the years, he opened his doors to hundreds of people who were homeless.”

The town square is currently under construction, with a projected completion date in the third quarter of 2021. The nearly $5 million project was approved in 2019 and will feature an outdoor stage, a plaza, and tables. Around the time the project was approved, the neighborhood changed its name from Nauck to Green Valley.

Robinson, who passed away in 2012, was the publisher of the Green Valley News, a free newspaper serving the historically Black neighborhood. He was affectionately regarded as the “Mayor of Green Valley” by neighbors.

The County Manager is recommending the Board approve the renaming.

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In 1900, Black people comprised more than a third of Arlington’s population and lived in 12 neighborhoods in the county.

Over the last 100 years, however, the population and the variety of places Black people can afford to live has dwindled, according to a new video from the Alliance for Housing Solutions, a local advocacy organization.

People who identify as Black currently account for 8% of the population, according to Arlington County, and the Alliance video said those who make the median income for Black residents can afford rent in only three census tracts.

The video chronicles the decisions at the local and federal level —  combined with gentrification, rising housing prices and a lack of options — that have forced out much of Arlington’s Black residents.

It ends with a message supportive of Arlington’s Missing Middle Housing Study, which is exploring options for allowing more types of small-scale multifamily housing, in more parts of the county, via zoning changes.

“It’s time to ask ourselves if we are ready to dismantle the walls of indifference once and for all and build an Arlington where people of all walks of life are welcome and can afford to live,” the video says.

The video comes a few weeks before the virtual kick-off event for the “Missing Middle” study on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The housing patterns seen in Arlington today were set in the first half of the 20th century, the video says. Construction rates for suburban single-family homes and garden apartments boomed, but many deeds in Arlington restricted ownership to white people. In 1938, Arlington banned row houses — the primary type of housing for Black residents, and a common feature in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. — which were deemed distasteful.

Some barriers were legal, while others were physical.

In the 1930s, residents of whites-only communities around the Black neighborhood of Hall’s Hill built a 7-foot cinder block wall to separate their communities. In the 1940s, the federal government evicted Black neighborhoods to build the Pentagon and nearby roadways.

Although the Civil Rights Era ushered in school desegregation as well as open and fair housing laws, both federal and local, the video says many parts of Arlington look no different than when they were building during Jim Crow and legal segregation. Historically Black neighborhoods are characterized by aging homes that do not comply with zoning regulations that were put in place after the homes were built.

“In many ways zoning rules that govern Arlington’s low-density residential areas have become more restrictive over time, while only a small part of the county’s land was made available to meet the growing housing needs of the area,” according to the video.

Today, single-family detached homes account for nearly 75% of zoned property in Arlington, according to the Missing Middle Housing Study. The study partially links the shortage of townhomes, duplex, triplex and quadruplex options — called middle in reference to their size, not their price point — to policies with racist origins.

A reversal of some of Arlington’s restrictive zoning policies is a deliberate choice “the County could make to correct the mistakes of the past and pave a new path for Arlington’s future,” the study’s authors wrote. If Arlington chooses to do nothing, “the structural barriers and institutional racism embedded in the County’s land use policy would remain.”

Screen shots via Alliance for Housing Solutions/YouTube

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Morning Notes

Groups to Review Arlington’s Form of Gov’t — “Two citizen engagement groups have launched exploratory projects that delve back in Arlington’s racial history. The Arlington Civic Federation last month assembled a task force to review that and other questions about modernization — such as whether the county manager should be elected. And a new group called the Arlington Alliance for Representative Government is planning to boost political participation through ‘education, policy development, advocacy and innovation.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Latest on Intel Official’s Death — “The wife of a high-ranking CIA operative who shot and killed himself two weeks after their wedding has claimed that he was intending to murder her and ‘take me to the afterlife.’ Sara Corcoran, 46, said that Anthony Ming Schinella, the most senior military affairs analyst in U.S. intelligence, was suffering from PTSD after being involved in four wars, and after almost 30 years in the CIA. Schinella, 52, died on June 14 in Arlington, Vi”rginia.” [Daily Mail]

Dove Rescued from Car Grille — “This very lucky dove is safe thanks to Officer Byrnes! The dove was hit by a car and got stuck in the grille. Officer Byrnes was able to safely remove her and transported the dove to a local wildlife rehabber, who will release her back into the wild when she’s feeling better.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

More on Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Petition — “Dehghani-Tafti’s motion is supported by an amicus brief from 62 prosecutors around the country, including the district attorneys in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. It’s also supported by Jeff Haislip, the Fluvanna County, Va., prosecutor who is chair of the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, and the prosecutors in Alexandria city, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.” [Washington Post]

APS Modernizing Black History Teachings — “Glad to see @APSVirginia will join 15 other school divisions in teaching a new African American History course this fall. Through 1970s VA was using textbooks with images like this, teaching a false narrative about the reality of Black Virginians. Time to tell the true story.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter]

APS Going Back to School Next Week — “Arlington Public Schools will start the 2020-2021 academic year with all-virtual learning for all students. The school will continue with online-only education until at least early October, midway through the first quarter of the school year, at which time officials will assess the possibility of reopening based on public health data.” [Washington Post]

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This year’s Feel the Heritage Festival will celebrate African-American history on Saturday, Feb. 29.

The county-organized event, held annually for the past 27 years in Arlington, will take place at the Charles Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.) from 1-6 p.m.

Entrance to the festival — which includes live music and dance, food vendors, and activities for children — is free. The event will also feature vendors selling a variety of goods, from jewelry to homemade hot sauce.

For the cooks in attendance, there will be a chance to show off their skills at the festival’s third annual soul food cook-off competition. The festival will also include a Hall of History, where photos and artifacts from Arlington’s historically African-American neighborhoods and organizations will be on display.

On-site parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The community center is accessible via Metrobus 10B and ART bus 77, according to the Arlington Parks and Recreation website.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Update on Key Bridge Marriott Development — The Los Angeles-based developers that bought the 5.5-acre Key Bridge Marriott property in Rosslyn plan to extensively renovate the hotel, which is the second Marriott ever and the oldest currently in operation. Also planned: additional development on the site according to its zoning, which would allow more hotel rooms plus up to 660,000 square feet of office space and 630 residential units. [Washington Business Journal]

Holiday Closures Monday — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed on Monday, February 18, 2019, for George Washington Day. Trash and recycling pickups will operate on a normal schedule for Monday customers.” [Arlington County]

Roads Treated But Snow Depleted — Arlington County has been pre-treating major roads and hills with brine in anticipation of snow this weekend, but chances of accumulating snow have rapidly dwindled. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Black History Figures of Arlington — “Columbia Pike and South Arlington have been called home by several African American trailblazers, activists, and organizations that work toward the noble goals of equality and freedom for all,” including James “Uncle Jim” Parks, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, Evelyn Reid Syphax and Dr. Talmadge T. Williams. [CPRO]

Local Crossing Guard Honored — “Jamestown Elementary School crossing guard Kathy Patterson has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program as one of Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards for 2018-19.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Quote of the Day — From New York Times senior economic correspondent Neil Irwin: “The Amazon HQ2 stunt started with notions that the company might single-handedly turn a city like Pittsburgh or Raleigh, or even Detroit, into a major tech hub, and ended with filling in a bunch of vacant office buildings next to National Airport.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]

Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]

More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]

Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]

Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]

Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]

Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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Morning Notes

ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]

ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]

Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]

Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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