Arlington, VA

Bird lovers of all feathers can head to Bluemont this weekend for a morning of avian education and exploration.

World Migratory Bird Day Festival” will feature bird walks, games, activities, and free coffee from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Lacey Woods Park, organizers say. Attendees to the free event are asked to meet at the park’s basketball court near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

The Wildlife Rescue League will also showcase some of its live feathered friends, including a blue jay named “Snafu.”

Arlington County naturalists Jennifer Soles and Ken Rosenthal are organizing the weekend event. Rosenthal told ARLnow on Monday that festival attendees have a chance to spot interesting birds because several species often flock to Lacey Woods Park, which he described as a “green oasis that will get the birds in.”

Last year, Rosenthal said attendees spotted a blackpoll warbler. These songbirds typically weigh less than an ounce but migrate over 1,800 miles across North America, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and 88% of blackpoll populations have died out in the last half century.

Many other birds that can be spotted in Arlington migrate between North to Central America — such as hummingbirds and osprey.

Soles and Rosenthal say all the printed materials for the event are in English and Spanish, but they are seeking one to two volunteers who can help translate some of the discussions on Saturday into Spanish.

Soles said these migratory birds “live half their lives in Spanish-speaking countries” and hopes that Arlingtonians with roots in Central American countries like El Salvador and Guatemala will attend the event and get a chance to recognize some familiar species.

“We sort of share these birds between us,” said Soles.

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Arlington County Police are looking for the suspect in a robbery in the Bluemont neighborhood over the weekend.

The crime happened Saturday afternoon on the 800 block of N. Lexington Street, near Wilson Blvd and the W&OD Trail.

Police say a woman was sitting on a bench when a man approached her from behind, asked for directions, then exposed himself. The man then grabbed the woman’s personal belongings and ran off, according to police.

More from ACPD:

ROBBERY, 2019-02160157, 800 block of N. Lexington Street. At approximately 1:15 p.m. on February 16, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny and exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was sitting on a bench when the unknown suspect approached her from behind and asked for directions. As she turned, she observed the suspect exposing himself before he grabbed her personal belongings and fled the scene on foot. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 18 – 20 years of age, 5’2″ – 5’4″, 130 – 150 lbs with black hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a black hoodie, green shirt and burgundy shorts at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this week’s Arlington County Police crime report is below.

BURGLARY, 2019-02140221, 2200 block of N. Nottingham Street. At approximately 5:35 p.m. on February 14, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 11:00 a.m. on February 11 and 12:45 p.m. on February 13, an unknown subject forced entry into a residence and moved items around but nothing was reported stolen. The subject also entered the victim’s vehicle but no items were reported stolen. There is no suspect description and the investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2019-02140282, 1200 block of N. Garfield Street. At approximately 10:29 p.m. on February 14, police were dispatched to the report of a late burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that a subject entered a residence and damaged property. The investigation is ongoing.

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2019-02130108, 4100 block of Campbell Ave. At approximately 12:00 p.m. on February 13, police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly female subject refusing to leave a business. While being detained pending the completion of a banning notice, the suspect struck one of the responding officers with a closed fist. Senait Taye, 38, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Assault and Batter on Law Enforcement and Failure to ID. She was held without bond.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Yellow Line Shutdown Starts Today — There will be no Yellow Line service today through Sunday, Dec. 9 as Metro works to repair the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac. Yellow Line riders can instead take the Blue Line and/or free shuttle service. [ARLnow, Twitter]

New ‘Clarendon Circle’ Traffic Restriction — Work on improvements to the busy “Clarendon Circle” intersection are underway and have resulted in at least one traffic pattern change. During construction, drivers will not be allowed to make the “tricky” left from eastbound Washington Blvd to Clarendon Blvd, and will instead have to follow a detour via N. Kirkwood Road. [Twitter, Arlington County]

Civ Fed Prepares Tree Canopy Resolution — “The Arlington County Civic Federation in December will weigh in on the development plan of Upton Hill Regional Park and, more broadly, on Arlington government policies on retaining or removing trees during redevelopment on public land. A resolution demanding a temporary halt to current development plans at Upton Hill was introduced at the Civic Federation’s Nov. 13 meeting and will be debated and voted on Dec. 4.” [InsideNova]

Minor Bluemont House Fire — Firefighters extinguished an out-of-control fire in the fireplace of a Bluemont house Saturday night. No injuries were reported but the home, on the 900 block of N. Frederick Street, suffered some smoke damage. [Twitter, Twitter]

Another Traffic Nightmare at DCA — As if the gridlock caused by the Veterans Day shutdown of the National Airport Metro station wasn’t bad enough, the traffic nightmare repeated itself Sunday evening, during one of the busiest travel days of the year. Some drivers reported spending hours trying to get to and from the airport. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

CBS Looks at Clarendon’s Vpoint Apartments — On Saturday morning, CBS News took a close look at the vPoint affordable housing project in Clarendon. The project, which converted a stand-alone church to a combination worship space and apartment building, is potentially a model for other communities struggling with affordable housing. At the time, however, the redevelopment faced lawsuits and other community opposition. [YouTube]

Amazon News Roundup — Arlington saw only modest successes in its quest to pitch itself as a tech hub over the past few years, but Amazon’s arrival changes that narrative in a big way. That said, half of the jobs Amazon brings to Arlington will be non-technical. Meanwhile, Amazon may benefit lower-income residents in New York City more than in Arlington, as subcontractors in New York will be subject to the state’s $15 per hour minimum wage; Virginia’s minimum wage is currently the federal $7.25 per hour minimum. And Nashville, some say, will be the biggest winner in terms of Amazon’s new presence boosting the local commercial real estate market.

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An Arlington man is now facing a series of charges after he allegedly got into a scuffle with police following a heated argument during a traffic stop.

County police say officers pulled over 20-year-old Charles Contreras along the 900 block of N. Burlington Street in Bluemont around 2 p.m. Friday (Oct. 12).

They say they noticed him driving with a cracked windshield, then he committed a “traffic offense” of some kind.

Once police pulled him over, Contreras and other occupant of the car, 19-year-old Lamar Contreras, “quickly exited the vehicle and allegedly advanced toward the officer, while yelling expletives,” police said. The officer ordered both men to return to the car, and they eventually agreed.

When more police arrived at the scene of the incident, officers noticed a child in the back seat of the car “in an improperly secured car seat,” and both men “continued to yell and exhibit disorderly behavior inside the vehicle” as police evaluated what happened.

Officers eventually asked Charles Contreras to leave the car, and he “became physically combative and pushed an officer.” Police were eventually able to arrest him after the brief scuffle.

He’s now facing charges of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, traffic lane violation, defective equipment, and child restraint violation. Contreras is set for a Wednesday (Oct. 17) hearing on those charges in Arlington General District.

Full details from a county crime report:

ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON POLICE, 2018-10120161, 900 block of N. Burlington Street. At approximately 1:55 p.m. on October 12, an officer on routine patrol observed a vehicle with a cracked windshield commit a traffic offense. The officer initiated a traffic stop, and upon the vehicle stopping, two occupants quickly exited the vehicle and allegedly advanced toward the officer, while yelling expletives. The officer issued lawful commands for the occupants to return to the vehicle, which they obeyed. The officer then observed a child in the backseat of the vehicle in an improperly secured car seat. The suspects continued to yell and exhibit disorderly behavior inside the vehicle. After additional officers arrived on scene, the driver was asked to exit the vehicle, however, upon exiting, became physically combative and pushed an officer. With the assistance of additional officers on scene, the driver was taken into custody. The child was not harmed during the incident. Charles Contreras, 20, of Arlington Va., was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery on Law Enforcement, Traffic Lane Violation, Defective Equipment, and Child Restraint Violation. The passenger, Lamar Contreras, 19, of Arlington, Va., was issued a summons for Obstruction of Justice.

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Arlington firefighters extinguished a house fire in Bluemont this afternoon.

First responders received a call about the blaze in a home along the 5600 block of 7th Street N. around 3:40 p.m. today (Wednesday). The fire was concentrated in the kitchen, per scanner traffic.

No one was inside the home when the fire started, and there were no injuries as a result of the blaze, a fire department spokesman said. However, the department did dispatch an extra medic unit to the scene, due to the heat, the spokesman said.

Photo via Google Maps

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Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be big news that some kids and their parents plan to sell some lemonade around Arlington on a late-July day — but the lemonade stands popping up around the county this weekend come with a bit more of a message than most.

Activists with the group “Lawyer Moms of America” are setting up several stands in Arlington and other locations around Northern Virginia tomorrow (Saturday), as part of a national demonstration dubbed “Kids Take a Stand.” Parents and kids alike plan to use the event to raise money to hasten the reunification of families separated at the Mexican border.

While the Trump administration has managed to reunite roughly 1,400 children, from ages 5 to 17, with their families ahead of a court-imposed deadline, hundreds of other kids remain in government custody without any connection to their parents.

Though public outrage over the Trump administration’s since-reversed family separation policy has died down, Lawyer Moms of America is hoping to use Saturday’s demonstration to re-focus attention on the issue by putting their own kids in the spotlight.

“The women who founded Lawyer Moms of America heard first-hand accounts from lawyers who knew what was happening with these families at the border,” Natalie Roisman, an Arlington resident and member of the group’s national organizing team, wrote in a statement. “The immediate response was, ‘We have to do something.’ The next step was to think about how we – as lawyer moms – could uniquely contribute and do something effective. We have focused on education, advocacy and fundraising, and now we wanted to do something that would allow our kids to be directly involved.”

Roisman says the group will set up one stand at the intersection of N. Harrison Street and 8th Road N. in the Bluemont neighborhood, with another planned for Arlington Forest. She adds that stands will also be set up in the Waynewood area of Alexandria, at the Falls Church Farmers Market and in Reston, and more could pop up by the time Saturday arrives.

All proceeds of the lemonade sales will go to Project Corazon, an effort organized by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation to provide immigrants at the border with legal services.

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After a man was struck by a car in the middle of a Bluemont intersection, some of his neighbors see new urgency for their years-long effort to force the county to improve conditions for pedestrians in the area.

County police say Eric Larsen was crossing N. Carlin Springs Road near its intersection with N. Edison Street early in the morning last Monday (July 16), when a car slammed into him. Larsen was taken to George Washington University hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and neighbors say he’s still recovering from some broken bones caused by the crash.

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage says “charges are pending” against the driver, but people living in the area see the intersection’s design deficiencies as the real cause of the crash.

Lora Strine, who lives in the Arlington Forest neighborhood nearby, says her citizens’ association has pressed the county for changes in the area going back to at least 2016. She points out that Carlin Springs is a popular option for walkers looking to reach the Ballston Metro, as Larsen was at the time of the accident, or even the Safeway near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

Yet Strine says the area lacks clearly marked crosswalks or traffic calming measures to slow drivers, particularly on such a wide road, and she can’t understand why it’s taken the county so long to address the issue.

“This accident is not really an accident,” Strine told ARLnow. “It’s really been years in the making.”

Arlington officials point out that they’re hardly ignoring the area, however.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says workers plan to install a flashing sign that can be activated by pedestrians crossing Carlin Springs near the road’s intersection with N. Harrison Street, just a few blocks from the Larsen crash. That signal should be in place as soon as next month.

Balliet added that the county is also planning some curb extensions and crosswalk improvements all along Carlin Springs, leading up to Edison Street, with work set to start in the spring of 2019 and wrap up the following year.

But Strine feels that’s far too long for the neighborhood to wait, and managed to secure a meeting with county staff and County Board member John Vihstadt to make that argument.

Vihstadt says “the jury is still out” in terms of how, exactly, the Board might be able to speed up the construction, though he certainly agrees with Strine’s assessment of the intersection. He’s spent the last year or so working with Arlington Forest residents on the issue, and he sees a need for the county to act quickly, as development in Ballston continues to ramp up and bring people to the area.

“That’s an awful long time to wait for these measures,” Vihstadt said. said. “I don’t find that  acceptable at all.”

At the very least, Vihstadt hopes to see the county beef up the webpage displaying details about the road improvements to keep neighbors better informed.

But even if Vihstadt can successfully convince officials to speed up construction, Strine worries that the work won’t actually slow cars speeding along Carlin Springs. She’d much rather see an additional stop light in the area, or even a stop sign, to bring speeds down.

“They’re wasting time and money by making changes that we know aren’t going to work,” Strine said. “These are just incremental changes: another Band-Aid, as one of my neighbors said.”

While county officials are confident that their planned changes will indeed slow passing cars, Vihstadt agreed that he wants to see the county do more to take into account “context-specific considerations” raised by neighbors about local road projects.

Overall, he lamented that this latest community clash is indicative of a pattern he’s seen all around Arlington in recent years, and provides a clear example of how the county still struggles to balance traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

“While we like to say that our public policies like ‘the car-free diet‘ are having a positive impact on Arlington traffic, and I think they are, a lot of neighborhoods don’t yet feel that way,” Vihstadt said.

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After years of debate over the future of the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont, a solution that the community likes and does not require lots of taxpayer dollars may have been found.

County officials have worked up a plan to team up with Habitat for Humanity to transform the farmhouse into a group home for adults with developmental disabilities.

The Northern Virginia branch of the nonprofit is currently exploring the prospect of renovating the 118-year-old home, then turning it over to another group to manage it, Habitat director of real estate development Noemi Riveira told ARLnow.

The farmhouse sits on the 2.4-acre Reevesland dairy farm property (400 N. Manchester Street), which the county purchased in 2001. The County Board has long hoped to find some other use for the home, with community groups urging the county to transform it into a museum or learning center, but the high cost of renovating the house convinced the Board to move toward selling it instead.

Riveira cautions that her group is still in the “very, very preliminary” phases of studying the property, and she isn’t sure yet whether this plan would involve Habitat buying the farmhouse from the county. Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey suggested that the nonprofit could end up purchasing it, then transferring ownership to whichever entity runs the group home, or simply lease the house from the county instead.

Regardless of the details, however, both Riveira and Dorsey are cautiously optimistic that this arrangement could prove to be the best possible outcome for the historic home.

“Any opportunity we have to serve anyone that needs a shelter, we’re happy to assist,” Riveira said. “It’s a bit outside of our normal program scope… but this is a demographic that needs homes, so we’re there to help.”

Riveira noted that the “community came to us” with this proposal. Specifically, Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association, says he first floated the idea of reaching out to Habitat in a conversation with Dorsey roughly a year ago.

“A lot of nonprofits valiantly tried to save it over the years, but all of that just sort of petered out,” Tighe said. “So at one point I just said, ‘How come no one’s thought of [Habitat] before?'”

Tighe reached out to the nonprofit, and brokered a meeting with the group and Dorsey to work up an initial proposal.

Broadly, Habitat would agree to renovate the exterior of the house and select portions of the interior, as well as constructing an addition. The county estimates that renovating the home via contractors would cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $3 million, though at this stage Riveira is unsure how expensive the work would be with volunteer help.

“That was a lot of money for us… but they’re a nonprofit that can leverage volunteers, so it provides a great opportunity for a traditional renovation not paid for in traditional market ways,” Dorsey said.

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Arlington County firefighters are on scene of a kitchen fire on a residential block near Ballston.

The fire was reported shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday on the 4800 block of Fairfax Drive, in Bluemont. The blaze has since been extinguished but firefighters are still checking for hotspots and working to ventilate the structure.

The home’s occupants were reportedly able to get out safely.

Photo via Google Maps

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A pizza restaurant in Bluemont is warning potential customers against ordering their food online, as it said such offers are fraudulent.

Pupatella at 5104 Wilson Blvd posted on its Facebook account on Friday (January 27) that people should not order from them using online apps or websites, as “we do not have an online ordering system and all those apps and websites that say we do are fraud.”

The eatery has been listed as available for online orders on Menuocity, and was on Mealage, but that has since been removed.

The pizzeria has gained plaudits over the years for its Neapolitan pizza, including recognition as the best pizza in Virginia from FlipKey.com, a TripAdvisor company. It announced it would expand in 2016.

Owners at Pupatella did not respond to requests for further comment.

Dear customers, Please do not order our food online from any apps or websites, we do not have an online ordering system and all those apps and websites that say we do are fraud.

Posted by PUPATELLA on Saturday, January 27, 2018

Flickr pool photo by Chris

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A plan to detour some traffic through the Bluemont neighborhood during a weekend bridge demolition has prompted a letter to the County Board.

In the letter, the Bluemont Civic Association’s president singles out one of the four detours — which would send southbound traffic down 6th Street N. — for criticism.

Residents say they have been trying for more than a decade to get an all-way stop at the intersection of 6th Street and N. Edison Street. The intersection is dangerous and has been the scene of crashes, according to residents, and sending additional traffic through it is “concerning.”

During the work — set to start Friday night and end early Monday morning — the civic association is asking for 12-hour-a-day traffic enforcement at the intersection. That’s in addition to requests for new traffic studies and permanent intersection changes.

The letter is below.

Dear Chair Fisette, Honorable Members of the Arlington County Board, and County Manager,

First, thank you for your service and for your attention to Bluemont Civic Association matters. I am following up on the below request for safety improvements for 6th St N and N Edison St. I learned this afternoon, through ARLnow, that Carlin Springs Road Bridge traffic will be routed through 6th St N and N Edison St. This is concerning for three reasons:

  1. No notification was provided to the residents or the Bluemont Civic Association that thousands of vehicles will flood our already problematic streets this weekend when our kids are most likely to be outside playing
  2. No plan for targeted enforcement and safety considerations have been made, and if they were, they have not been communicated
  3. Previous requests for regular targeted enforcement, stop signs, and other traffic control/calming measures have received little or no measureable action even with the resulting density from the Ballston Quarter and local construction projects

On behalf of the Bluemont Civic Association and residents that live on N Emerson St, 6th St N, and N Edison St, I request the following:

  1. Permanent safety improvements as outlined in the previous Bluemont Civic Association letter (attached) and as detailed in the original thread to this email
  2. Targeted enforcement from 7AM – 7PM at the intersections of 6th St N and N Edison St, the intersection of Bluemont Dr and N Emerson St, and 6th St N and N George Mason from 8-11 DEC
  3. Ongoing traffic studies effective immediately at the intersection of 6th St N and N Edison St to measure the impact to our neighborhood
  4. A detailed plan of action & milestones for all safety improvements and targeted enforcement for this named area of interest

Last, I invite you to the intersection 6th St N and N Edison St to meet with parents at the bus stop during drop-off time Friday and Monday. The bus drop off typically occurs between 4:00-4:07 PM. Please let me know in advance if you can make it and I’ll email the neighborhood letting them know.

I have copied the neighborhood distro for 6th St N, N Emerson St, and N Edison St. These are past and current residents who may want to weigh in on this conversation directly. I have also copied ARLnow and thank them for providing real-time local news and alerting us to the traffic diversion.

I look forward to a continued open and solution oriented dialogue. I hope that the aforementioned request can be brought to fruition.

Thanks,

Nick Pastore
President, Bluemont Civic Association
http://www.bluemontcivic.org/

The permanent changes to the intersection requested by the civic association are:

  • “Add stop signs to stop Eastbound and Westbound traffic on 6th St N at the intersection of 6th St N and N Edison St to make a 4-way stop”
  • “Paint crosswalks across all four street crossings at 6th St N and N Edison St”
  • “Add pedestrian crossing signage to the intersection of 6th St N and N Edison St”
  • “Bump out each corner curb at 6th St N and N Edison St to enhance the visibility of pedestrian traffic and encourage complete stops with resulting slow turns”

Photos via Google Maps

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