H.K. Park and his two children, Avery and Spencer, created “The Arlington Playground Guide!!,” a review book of 70 playgrounds in the county.
“It’s a Zagat’s guide for kids written by kids,” Park said.
The Parks visited each playground, excluding ones at schools, and ranked them on the different features, like how challenging the playground was, how much shade each has and if it had bathrooms, Park said.
Each playground was giving a ranking out of five stars, with five stars denoting an “epic” experience.
“For a small county, there are a lot of playgrounds,” Park noted.
Park’s kids liked playgrounds that had more challenging features, like rock climbing walls or climbing nets.
Six-year-old Spencer Park gave the playground at Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S.) four stars, saying it had a good jungle gym. His sister gave it five stars.
“Cool! This is really big but not shady. It was super hot but it was worth it,” Avery Park, 9, wrote in the book.
Avery and Spencer liked the bigger playgrounds, Park said. They also liked ones with swings and seesaws, as well as newly-installed equipment.
The playground at Quincy Park (1021 N. Quincy Street) received two stars from the Park kids, who wrote it was too small.
“This place is boring,” Spencer wrote. “Sometimes I think it’s a little cuckoo.”
Park also included “Dad views” for each playground, which looked at the amount of shade at a park or how many bathrooms it had.
Park gave a copy of the book, which contains pictures of each playground, to Arlington Public Library. Families can also request a copy from Park, he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft,” set to be released as an e-book in November, is based on a series of actual animal attacks in Barcroft during 1974.
“Something for weeks in 1974 was scaring the residents of Arlington,” Schweigart said.
At least 23 pets near the Four Mile Run Trail were killed by an animal nicknamed “The Beast of Barcroft,” according to 1974 newspaper reports. Residents could hear a fearsome screeching a night, made even more terrifying by the fact that for a time no one knew what kind of a creature was making it.
“What is it that screams so, down there in the dark hollow of Four Mile Run?” read one contemporary newspaper article. “What is it that howls and kills and goes crash in the Arlington night; that tears the eyes from cats; that strips the hides from rabbits; that raises the hackles on the backs of terrified dogs and cats?”
Eventually the National Zoo was called in to capture the “beast,” which turned out to be a civet.
When Schweigart came across the story, he said it was the “lightning bolt that struck.”
Schweigart’s story takes plenty of artistic liberty with the actual history, he said, but he does reference it in his story. For instance, he includes a character who is a zoologist at the National Zoo.
“My bad guy is considerably more dangerous than what was caught in 1974,” he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is the first in a series featuring characters living in Arlington, he said. The second is already finished and set to be released in February 2016.
“Arlington is where I live and where I make my stand, and that’s where my characters are making their stands,” Schweigart said.
The book is a supernatural thriller and for adults only, he said, adding that he won’t let his own daughter read it.
“It would make me a very bad parent letting her read that book,” he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is Schweigart’s second book. His first, “Slipping the Cable,” is a thriller about a Coast Guard junior officer.
Schweigart started writing while at the Coast Guard Academy, he said. He wrote a story as part of assignment that ended up placing in a writing competition.
“That’s when I caught the bug,” he said.
Schweigart eventually wants to start writing as a full time profession, but for now, he writes in the morning before going to work, he said.
“If all the lovely readers would buy 100 copies of the book that would certainly help me in a huge way,” he joked.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is currently available for pre-order and will be released in November. The book’s plot summary, after the jump.
“Go Set a Watchman,” author Harper Lee’s follow-up to the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is being released on Tuesday. Despite some mixed reviews, some 300 library patrons have already lined up — by placing holds at the circulation desk or online — to read about Scout’s return to Maycomb.
The library has 50 copies of the book, plus two copies in Spanish and eight audiobooks — which are all either at the library now or being delivered soon, according to spokesman Peter Golkin. It will also have eBook and eAudiobook copies via its Overdrive system, starting tomorrow.
Golkin said the library adjusted its orders in response to strong demand.
“There’s always strong demand for the latest titles by acclaimed authors like Donna Tartt and James Patterson and pretty much any name you see toward the top of the best-seller list,” he said. “But Harper Lee is a very special case, this being only her second book published and also because it involves the characters from her first. ‘Mockingbird’ is one of the most revered titles in American literature and also a classic film adaptation so the anticipation is certainly understandable.”
Images of America “Arlington County Police Department” was released by Arcadia Publishing as part of its ongoing pictorial history series. The author is Janet Rowe, a former ACPD patrol officer who compiled photos from the 75-year history of the ACPD, many of which have never previously been published, according to a press release from Arcadia.
“This photographic history covers law enforcement from the early days of rumrunners to the present day, showing the changes in uniforms, equipment, methods of policing, and the department’s response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon,” the release states. “Officers are shown training for the line of duty, investigating crimes, serving in specialized units, and promoting public safety.”
The profits from the book will be donated to the ACPD Friends and Family Fund, which supports the family of officers in times of crisis. The book is available now online and in bookstores for $21.99.
Rowe served in the ACPD for 31 years, from 1981 to 2012, in evening patrol and as a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team. According to her bio, she is a recipient of two meritorious service awards, a life-saving award, the medal of valor and was named officer of the year by the ACPD.
“She hopes that this book will help highlight the police department through the decades and will bring another piece of history to the local community and reviving memories of those that have been part of the community through the years,” her bio reads.
County Board to Consider Concrete Contract — The Arlington County Board is set to consider an on-call concrete maintenance contract this weekend. The contract is intended to reduce the cost of repeatedly bidding out small contracts for road, sidewalk and curb work. The low bidder, Arthur Construction Company, is expected to bill about $3.8 million annually under the contract, according to county staff estimates. [Arlington County]
Bistro 360 Profiled — Bistro 360, the Rosslyn eatery opened last year by the owner of Cassatt’s Kiwi Café, is winning plaudits for its unique food offerings, which feature Asian, Central European and French influences. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is no fan of living in Arlington, apparently.
In her new book, “Off The Sidelines,” which is due out today, Gillibrand recounts her move from New York to the D.C. area — to Arlington, specifically — when she was first elected to the House of Representatives. It was a move Gillibrand would come to regret.
From the book:
Our move to Washington was hard — on me and my marriage. I had a new job; [my husband] Jonathan didn’t; and we were trying to find our legs with a toddler in a new city. We started having the same argument over and over. I’d say, “What’s wrong?”
Jonathan would say, “I have no job and I hate D.C.”
I appreciated Jonathan’s viewpoint. We lived in a soulless suburb. It wasn’t the right place for us, and we needed a change. I could see that, but it took me at least a year to figure out that racing 100 miles an hour to do my job well was leaving no time for us… Eventually we moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Capitol Hill, and Jonathan found a job he liked.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — In a tweet, Gillibrand says she’s sorry.
Sorry, Arlington, didn't mean to hurt your feelings. #OffTheSidelines
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 9, 2014
A place to convene with neighbors, donate those dusty spy novels and show children the merits of community service comes in a package the size of an old cranberry crate.
These Little Free Libraries, neighborhood-sponsored curbside libraries with a free, “take a book, return a book,” policy, have sprouted up in Arlington since Robert Walter installed one in his neighborhood off Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive in 2012.
“It’s better than donating to Goodwill, who will sell [the books], and it’s a way to give back to the neighborhood,” said Walter, who heard about The Little Free Library organization on Facebook.
Little Free Libraries encourage communities to contribute any books — from children’s books to novels to cookbooks — as well as to enjoy the contributions made by other neighbors.
There are now seven Little Free Libraries in Arlington, located at 3900 7th Street S., 1060 N. Liberty Street, 4706 32nd Street N., 5117 N. 27th Street, 1700 S. Edgewood Street, 6328 22nd Street N. along a section of the Four Mile Run trail, and on the grounds of Washington-Lee High School.
Last week, each library was stocked with books, including comedian David Cross’ memoir and an installment of the “Berenstain Bears” children’s series.
Much like ordinary libraries, Little Free Libraries are meant to be a community hub. However, they don’t charge late fees or require library cards, just an interest in reading and paying-it-forward.
“It’s good for poor people and the [undocumented] population who might have been intimidated by the registration process at a library, or who want to avoid potential late fees,” Walter said of his Little Free Library. “It’s also more social.”
After his proposal for a Little Free Library was approved by the homeowners’ association of his eight-residence community, Walter requested a box from Little Free Library.
Walter said his homeowners’ association paid approximately $350 for their recycled cranberry crate, its post and installation, but many communities make their own libraries rather than buying them from the organization.
“I’ve seen some really elaborate, cool designs that people have done,” Walter said. The Little Free Library website includes pictures of library “stewards” like Walter, who built their libraries to look like covered bridges or old-fashioned school houses.
More than 2,000 Little Free Libraries exist across the world. Since the organization’s beginning in Wisconsin in 2009, Little Free Library owners in Vietnam, Germany and Australia have registered their libraries on the official map.
For residents interested in installing their own, all that’s needed is the approval of the neighborhood association, access to building materials or the means to purchase a library box, and registration with Little Free Library’s map. A steward to sponsor and maintain the library is also essential.
“When I was a resident, I would just keep a box of books in the house and it was like a constant reserve,” Walter said.
Although Walter has relocated to Fairfax, and will soon transfer stewardship of his library to someone in his old neighborhood, he knows his library still gets frequent business.
“I went back there to pick up some mail, and there were books there, different ones from the last time I saw it,” Walter said.
Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage — Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]
VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]
New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Update at 12:25 p.m.) Over the years Arlington has been home to numerous eccentric characters and groups. And those local eccentricities have been faithfully chronicled by Charlie Clark, the man who writes the weekly “Our Man in Arlington” column for the Falls Church News-Press.
Clark peppers his columns with unusual people and Arlington history, and he saved the best 100 columns for his book, he said. Clark will discuss “Arlington County Chronicles,” which was published in April, at Arlington Central Library on Monday, July 7, at 7:00 p.m.
“It’s a little bit of history, public policy, baby boomer nostalgia and neighborhood flavor,” Clark told ARLnow.com. Clark will read from his book at the talk, cherry-picking ones that are “humorous enough in style to bear reading aloud.”
Included in the talk may be some nuggets of local history that attendees were previously unaware of. Readers may be surprised to learn from “Arlington County Chronicles” that:
- At the Arlington Metaphysical Chapel off Wilson Blvd, church-goers hold seances, give tarot readings and read from all manner of religious texts.
- There is a preserved dueling ground at N. Randolph Street and Glebe Road, one which bore witness to the famed 19th century duel between Henry Clay and John Randolph, as well as a few of Clark’s own scraps. “Neither was very violent,” Clark said of his childhood fights. “In both cases, my opponent and I agreed, like duelers, to end it after we’d both stood up to the enemy and saved face.”
- The Doors’ Jim Morrison lived at 2320 N. Evergreen Street in his teen years, and at two other Arlington addresses that Clark gives in the book. “I associate many Arlington sites with the memory of the Doors’ carnivalesque organ,” Clark said in his Morrison essay.
- When Katie Couric interviewed Warren Beatty, a Washington-Lee High School graduate, on The Today Show, she mentioned that she went to Yorktown and he answered: “What’s Yorktown?” Beatty is one of 14 thespians Clark mentions in his essay “Arlingtonians in Hollywood.”
- The two oldest retail businesses currently in Arlington, according to Clark, are both shoe stores. The Public Shoe Store on Wilson Blvd and the Sam Torrey Shoe Service on Lee Highway were established in 1938 and 1945, respectively.
- During the Cold War, Arlington Hall was the hub of a code-breaking operation, where linguists worked to decipher Soviet and Japanese messages for government officials. The operation shut down in 1949 after being infiltrated by Soviet double agents.
- A stand-off between civil rights activist Dion Diamond and American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell occurred in 1960 during a lunch counter sit-in at what was then the Cherrydale Drug Fair store. A few days after the protest, Arlington restaurants desegregated, Clark said in his essay. “All you had to do was crossover the Maryland and Northern Virginia line to find de facto segregation,” Diamond, then a Howard University student, told Clark.
- One of Arlington’s wealthiest landowners in the late 1800s may have been the product of a sex scandal, according to Clark’s essay “A Lee Family Scandal.” Nicholas Febrey owned 600 acres of George Washington Forest, in the area of what is now Swanson Middle School. Clark writes that Febrey’s mother, an unwed daughter of a preacher, delivered him as a baby to the wealthy George Washington Parke Custis, who raised him.
Many of the included columns pay homage to the culture of Clark’s parents’ generation, especially his essay about attending “cotillion” dance lessons as an Arlington youth.
“They did a great job of trying to pass their culture on to us, and I feel a little bad that we were so tough to handle,” Clark said. “This is a thank you.”
An additional book talk will be Sunday, July 13 at Cassatt’s.
Free People to Open Next Week — The “bohemian” women’s clothing store Free People will open next Friday (May 16) at the Pentagon City mall. The 3,200 square foot boutique is the company’s 94th retail store and the fourth in the D.C. area. [PRWeb]
Bike and Walk to School Day — Today is Bike and Walk to School Day for Arlington Public Schools. Children and parents were encouraged to seek people-powered transportation to school to teach students “about the health and environmental benefits of biking and walking.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Make-A-Wish Star’s Video Released — Addy, the 5-year-old who shot part of a music video in Rosslyn after her wish to become a pop star was granted by Make-A-Wish, has had her video released on YouTube. The video is a cover of the Katy Perry song “Roar.” Addy is suffering from a Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer. [YouTube]
Entrepreneurial Author to Speak at Library — U.S. News & World Report senior money editor Kimberly Palmer will discuss her book “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life” tonight at 7:00 at Arlington Central Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
More Homes Awaiting the Wrecking Ball — Another 11 homes are set to be torn down in Arlington, after applying for demolition permits in February. The group Preservation Arlington says three are located in historic districts. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” the group writes. “Many had the potential for renovation and additions, or, at a bare minimum, reclamation/reuse of building materials.” The group is currently seeking nominations for its annual “Most Endangered Historic Places” list. [Preservation Arlington]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — Arlington resident Virginia Blake turned 100 last month. Blake, whose paternal grandmother lived to 111 years old, only moved out of her Military Road home and into a senior living facility last fall. [Sun Gazette]
Potomac Yard, Prior to Development — A photo from the 1990s shows the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard before apartment and office developments were built. [Twitter]
Teen Book Fest Comes to Arlington — Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The NoVaTeen Book Festival will take place at Washington-Lee High School on Saturday. NoVaTeen bills itself as “the first-ever festival celebrating Young Adult literature in the Northern Virginia/DC metro area.” [NoVaTeen Book Festival]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Richmond Named Acting AED Director — Cynthia Richmond has been named the acting director of Arlington Economic Development following the untimely death of Terry Holzheimer. Holzheimer died of a sudden heart attack over the weekend. Richmond was serving as the deputy director of AED. Arlington County plans to begin a recruitment process to find a permanent director for AED soon. [Arlington County]
FBI Cracking Down on Corruption in N. Va. — The FBI has created a task force to investigate public corruption in Northern Virginia. Public corruption is the FBI’s “number one criminal investigative priority” at the moment and the agency has “cases in all categories in Northern Virginia.” [Loudoun Times]
Man Sentenced in $30 Million Fraud Scheme — A Florida man has been sentenced in a $30 million scheme that defrauded NASA into awarding contracts on false pretenses. Michael Dunkel, 60, was awarded contracts by NASA intended for minority-owned businesses by claiming he was an employee of an Arlington company supposedly run by a woman of Portuguese descent. Dunkel in turn paid kickbacks to the company. [Associated Press, U.S. Justice Department]
APAH to Purchase Apartment Building — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is purchasing the Arna Valley View apartments near Glebe Road and I-395. The purchase will allow 101 apartments to remain as committed affordable housing for at least the next 60 years. [Sun Gazette]
Fundraising for Pike Documentary Book — Photographer Lloyd Wolf is raising money to print a book based on photos taken by the Columbia Pike Documentary Project. [GoFundMe]
Photo courtesy Kimberly Suiters/All News 99.1 WNEW
County Board Approves Glencarlyn Park Playground — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a $485,000 construction contract for a new playground at Glencarlyn Park. The playground is intended for 5-12 year olds and includes a swing set and a “treehouse” log play structure. [Arlington County]
Demand Rises at AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center “has seen a 20 percent surge in families visiting the food pantry in need of groceries over the past six months.” The director of AFAC says cuts in food stamp (SNAP) benefits has increased need in the community. Those cuts are expected to deepen if Congress passes a new compromise farm bill that includes $800 million in annual food stamp reductions. [Patch]
Grant Accepted for Innovation Initiative — Arlington County has accepted a $350,000 from the state to help fund “an innovative public-private initiative that will connect fast growth technology product companies with national security agencies headquartered in Arlington and the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Arlington will contribute a $175,000 matching grant to the project. [Arlington County]
Dem Caucus Is ‘Basically About the Streetcar’ — On its Twitter account, the blog Greater Greater Washington opines that this week’s Democratic Arlington County Board caucus is “basically about the streetcar.” Alan Howze and Peter Fallon, who GGW recommends voting for, generally support the Columbia Pike streetcar project while Cord Thomas has spoken out against it. [Twitter, Greater Greater Washington]
New African American Book Club — Arlington Public Library has launched a new African American Book Club. The club will “discuss the novels of both new and well-known authors, thought provoking non-fiction about the African American experience.” [Arlington Public Library]
Pageview Problem on ARLnow.com — We are currently trying to resolve a problem that is causing the pageview counter on each article to significantly undercount the actual number of views. The problem is impacting articles published within the past 24-48 hours.
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
That’s what Arlington personal injury lawyer Bruce Deming thinks, and he’s written a book to try to educate the cycling public. Surviving the Crash: Your Legal Rights in a Bicycle Accident is Deming’s attempt to clear up much of the confusion that occurs in most cyclists’ minds after they are involved in an accident.
“There are so many urban myths out there about what your rights are, what do you do in the minutes/hours/days after an accident, who pays your bills, do you need a lawyer?” Deming said. “There are a lot of basic questions that people need answers to, so that’s why I wrote the book.”
Deming, a Lyon Park resident who runs a personal injury law practice in Courthouse, said cyclists in particular should be aware of the “contributory negligence” statute in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland, three of just five states and cities in the country that have the rule.
“If a cyclist is injured as the result of a motorist’s negligence, and the motorist was 99 percent at fault, but the cyclist was 1 percent negligent, and that negligence contributed to the accident, that cyclist is barred from recovering anything for his or her injuries, no matter how catastrophic,” Deming said. “You really have to be squeaky clean.”
Deming said that throughout the book, he tried to emphasize a theme that if cyclists disobey any traffic laws or ride irresponsibly, they will reinforce negative stereotypes that motorist, insurance adjusters and police officers can have toward them.
“Cyclists are second-class citizens,” said Deming, who has been a competitive cyclist for 30 years and teaches spinning at Gold’s Gym. “They are presumed to be at fault sometimes when they might not be, and that comes in bias and prejudices in the minds of drivers out there. Every time a cyclist behaves recklessly on the road, those biases and prejudices are reinforced.”
Deming’s book is being printed and is expected to hit shelves in the next few weeks, he said. When it does, it will be available in print on Amazon for $11.95 and in e-book form for $7.95. Deming is hosting a book release party on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Lyon Hall (3100 Washington Blvd) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Those interested in attending, where they will receive free copies of the book, must register to do so.