Arlington, VA

Update at 2:45 p.m. — The outage no longer appears on Dominion’s map.

Earlier: More than 1,000 Dominion Energy customers are without power in the Ballston and Bluemont neighborhoods due to emergency utility work.

As of 1:15 p.m. Dominion’s outage map reported 1,258 outages and an estimated restoration time of 4-7 p.m. Generators could be heard running in Ballston and power was flickering off and on — or out altogether — at local stores, restaurants and offices, including the headquarters of ARLnow.

A number of Dominion trucks could be seen parked at the corner of N. Stuart Street and 9th Street N., near the Ballston Metro station. Local offices have been told that crews are working on a transformer and more power interruptions are possible this afternoon.

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Arlington County is looking for more feedback on altering a section of Four Mile Run Trail and replacing the tennis courts at Bluemont Park, among other proposed changes.

“The goal of this Parks Maintenance Capital project is to replace the tennis court complex, lighting, restroom/storage, shelter, parking lot, site circulation, section of Four Mile Run Trail, site furnishing, drainage and landscaping in the Upper Bluemont area,” noted the county on its webpage for the project.

People are invited to attend a public meeting to share their thoughts and hear about the county’s goals on Tuesday, October 29 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Ashlawn Elementary School (601 N. Manchester Street.)

In addition to overhauling the tennis courts, shelter area, and the trail, Arlington is also aiming to make the new designs compliant with newer disability accessibility standards.

County staff began soliciting feedback online for the project back in June. The results from survey indicate that almost 40% of respondents frequently visit the park and that the tennis courts (which 45% of survey respondents reported using) and the trails (used by 75% of respondents) are among the most popular amenities.

The survey drew around 350 responses when it asked for suggestions on what should be changed in the park. The majority of responses asked the county to:

  • Preserve and plant more trees
  • Resurface the tennis courts to fix cracks and improve drainage
  • Improve lighting, and add more light poles near the baseball diamond
  • Install more benches at the tennis courts and elsewhere
  • Better maintain the restrooms and water fountains by the picnic shelter.

“Drainage has been a major problem this past year, with all the rain,” one resident wrote in a survey response. “The open space has had times when it was an impassable marsh.”

Several respondents asked the county to address stormwater runoff concerns with trees, more pervious surfaces, and underground drainage features.

Part of the park and the area around it lie within the floodplain around Four Mile Run. It was one of the areas hit by this summer’s flash flood, prompting the county to close the park’s picnic shelter at the time.

Other suggestions from residents included adding a pickleball court and a Capital Bikeshare station, plus replacing grassy areas with native pollinator plants and adding bee hives to the park — à la the county’s growing urban agriculture moment.

Other respondents opposed the proposed changes, however, with one resident asking the county to make no changes.

“The area in question is perfectly serviceable and Arlington can spend the money better in other areas,” the person said.

The renovation discussion comes two years after the county finished a contested retrofit of the park’s baseball field with new sod, equipment, and fencing, with several residents saying they had concerns about the fencing part of the project and the lack of public input as a whole in the process.

Funding for the new renovations is slated to be included in an upcoming Capital Improvement Plan budget.

Draft designs are expected to be presented at two additional public meetings scheduled this fall before renovations move forward next year, per the county’s website.

Images 1, 4 via Arlington County 

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A man fell and was injured in a house that was reported to be undergoing renovations in the Bluemont neighborhood.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, on the 5700 block of 5th Street N. Initial reports suggested a man fell through a hole in the floor and landed in the basement below, suffering both upper- and lower-body injuries in the process.

A large technical rescue response was dispatched to the home, though the situation did not ultimately require an extensive rescue operation. Medics transported the man via ambulance to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, the Arlington County Fire Department said in a subsequent tweet.

“Male victim fell approximately 10 ft to a hard surface suffering non-life threatening injuries,” ACFD said. “Fire/EMS carried him to a waiting ambulance and transported to the trauma center.”

File photo

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A string of vehicle break-ins in north Arlington is continuing, but this time a suspect might have been caught on camera.

Someone stole a cell phone from an unlocked car in a garage on the 4700 block of N. Carlin Springs Road late Thursday night or early Friday morning, according to Arlington County Police.

“Between 11:00 p.m. on September 12 and 3:10 a.m. on September 13, an unknown suspect entered an unlocked vehicle inside a garage and stole a cell phone,” ACPD said of the theft. “The investigation is ongoing and detectives will work to determine if this case is linked to any others reported in Arlington County.”

An anonymous resident in the same area as the break-in, a few blocks from Ballston, contacted ARLnow with video footage (above) of a man looking into a vehicle behind a house, taken that same night. Nothing appears to have been taken in the video, however, and police declined to confirm whether the person seen is a suspect in the theft.

ACPD was notified about the video, the resident said.

The video was taken with an Ring video camera. Arlington County Police are considering a public safety partnership with the Amazon-owned company, the Washington Business Journal reported last week, despite concerns nationally about the privacy implications of such partnerships.

On Ring’s Neighbors app, at least a half dozen car break-ins have been reported in and around Arlington over the past week — mostly involving unlocked vehicles. ACPD has been reminding residents to lock their cars and homes at night as part of a public safety initiative dubbed the “9 P.M. Routine.”

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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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