Cell Service Now Available in All Metro Tunnels — “The nation’s major wireless carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — and Metro today officially announced the final milestone, more than a decade in the making, to provide wireless service for those who use the Metrorail system… The latest activation brings the final three segments online between Dupont Circle in Downtown DC and White Flint in Maryland, the Yellow Line from L’Enfant Plaza to the Pentagon, and Silver Line in Tysons Corner.” [WMATA]
More on Amazon’s Affordable Housing Commitment — “‘The biggest housing challenge Arlington faces is preserving and building affordable housing, and Amazon is helping by creating a lot of affordable housing,’ said Matt de Ferranti, Arlington County Board chair via email. ‘Our budget is hurting as we feel the pandemic economically, but our housing prices for homes and condos and any place to live in the area is still increasing as people think we are a good long term place to live in part due to Amazon. We need the housing right now to avoid displacement.'” [GGWash]
Arlington Scores Well for Fiscal Health — “A new report on the financial condition of the 75 most populous cities ranked Arlington no. 16 in the nation for fiscal health. The report is based on the cities’ 2019 comprehensive annual financial reports, which are not analyzed on this scale by any other organization.” [Patch]
New Book Set in Arlington — There’s a new book, set in Arlington during the COVID era, that “tells the story of a sportswriter and baseball pitcher who decide to enjoy a one-night stand, only to discover that their relationship is something more.” [Mindy Klasky]
Inside Virginia’s Vaccine Struggles — “The state is now apportioning vaccines to local health districts based on their share of the state’s population. Previously, allocations were based on district requests, which often depended on demand and how many doses local health departments thought they’d be able to administer.” [Virginia Mercury]
Nearby: Transportation Changes for Seven Corners — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold two ‘virtual’ meetings next month to seek public input on planned transportation improvements at the Seven Corners interchange and nearby roads.” [InsideNova]
Free T-Ball This Spring — “Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) is now offering free T-Ball to boys and girls ages 4-6. ABR recognizes that young players will try multiple sports in order to see what sticks, so we’ve eliminated registration fees for the youngest players. The free ABR Blastball and T-Ball programs are excellent ways to introduce boys and girls to baseball, using simple drills, a soft ball and lightweight bats, and a fun-oriented approach that teaches the rules while building enjoyment for the game.” [Arlington Babe Ruth]
Most-Read Arlington Library Books — “These are the books Arlington readers turned to the most in 2020. Unsurprisingly, many top fiction titles were part of a series, and many top nonfiction titles reflect a yearning for social justice and a desire for human connection.” [Arlington Public Library]
Virtual Meetings Lead to More Participation — “The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform. There is a plus side to that. ‘Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,’ county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]
GW Parkway Lane Change — “Years of side-swiping, rear-ending and near misses have prompted traffic pattern changes to crash-prone sections of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Interstate 395. Northbound traffic on the George Washington Parkway is permanently narrowed into a single lane at the crosswalk near Memorial Bridge.” [WTOP]
New Year Video from Arlington Children’s Chorus — “Watch this video of a song we wrote and performed that we did to bring some good cheer to the local community this holiday season… After all our festive activities were cancelled, writing a song trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of the season was a way to let our children’s voices be heard. It’s been amazing how much joy has blossomed from such a difficult situation!” [YouTube]
Distinction for Arlington Biotech Firm — “[Arlington-based] Kerecis is the fastest growing company in the regenerative-tissue market in the United States according to SmartTRAK Business Intelligence, which compared industry-sales and market-share data for 3Q 2020 to 3Q 2019.” [Kerecis]
Coronavirus Outbreak at Marymount — A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at Marymount University in Arlington. “Initially, cases were identified over Columbus Day weekend and we’ve seen a decline in the total number of cases since October 21,” university spokesman Nicholas Munson told Patch. “To date over the more than two-week period, 31 students have tested positive.” [Patch]
New Charges Against Arlington Resident — “Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled 15 felony charges against a pair of right-wing operatives over a recent robocall aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting their ballots by mail, similar to an indictment filed earlier this month by authorities in Michigan… The Ohio robocall claimed to be the work of the 1599 Project, an outfit that Burkman and Wohl run out of Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia.” [StateScoop]
Missing Middle Housing Event Tonight — “The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. All members of the community are invited to virtually attend the study’s kick off” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. [Arlington County]
Home Sale Prices Still Going Up — “The housing market in Arlington County, Virginia, is not cooling off, with sales and prices showing among the biggest gains in the nation in September. The median price of what sold in Arlington County last month was $710,000. That’s the highest county-level median price in Northern Virginia, and up 21% from last September.” [WTOP]
Library Pumpkin Decorating Winners — “We are thrilled to have received 42 pumpkin submissions for our first virtual Pumpkin Decorating Contest! It was hard to choose the winners, as we adored so many. Thank you for submitting, attending the virtual decorating programs and carving out fun with the folks at the library!” [Arlington Public Library]
Local Lawyer Pens New Novel — “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist.” [Washington Independent Review of Books]
Rosslyn Outdoor Coworking Space Update — “Arlingtonians have about a month left to enjoy outdoor office space provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID). The space, dubbed O2, was created after the pandemic pushed employees out of their cubicles and into their home offices… Reservations are free of charge and can be made on the O2 website. Masks are required for entry and tables are six feet apart.” [WDVM]
Amanda Quain, social media manager for Arlington bookstore One More Page books, said the store has “the best problem” right now and one many other struggling retail locations would love to have: they are overwhelmed with orders.
The independent book store at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street in East Falls Church has been closed to public browsing since the pandemic started, but inside Quain said the shop is buzzing with staff putting together boxes and taking phone calls from customers.
While book stores nationwide are struggling, Quain said the pandemic has pushed the shop into an online shopping focus that’s changed how the business operates.
“We’re not planning on opening anytime soon,” Quain said. “We’re too small to do both online orders and letting people browse. We’ve had to get rid of a lot of fixtures and shelves that make shop feel cozy. Don’t want people to linger in the post-pandemic world. Sitting and staying a while have to go away. We hope increased online business goes to in-store after, but we also hope to maintain online sales.”
The store recently celebrated 10,000 orders.
ORDER TEN THOUSAND HAS BEEN PASSED pic.twitter.com/g7k4avMcI7
— One More Page Books (@justonemorepage) June 15, 2020
Those online sales have created a new community around the bookstore that tries to replicate the experience of browsing and getting a recommendation, though Quain said the staff are busier than ever because that takes longer when not done in-person.
“A lot of it’s easier to do in-store, like recommending books, but that takes longer when that’s email or phone call,” Quain said. “We’re having the best problem. We’re very overwhelmed with orders and don’t have the staff to support it.”
Quain said One More Page also did a website redesign a year ago, which put the store in a good position when the pandemic started and customers started seeking out local businesses to support while social distancing.
The big sales come in waves, Quain said, and are often driven by trends.
“With a lot of the talk about antiracism and books by black authors there been a lot of those [sold],” Quain said. “Those are books like How to Be an Anti-Racist. We’ve been steadily increasing, but that was the biggest jump.”
The pandemic has also driven the One More Page community to other products, like puzzles.
“Whenever we have puzzles on the website, those go pretty fast,” Quain said. “About a month ago we had one each of our puzzles and we auctioned them off. It was a steady price, whoever claimed it first got it. We were lucky, there no fighting, everyone was chill.”
Early on in the pandemic, Quain said the big push was for children’s books and workbooks. That intensified even more as summer vacation started. Quain said a lot of sales were driven by the Washington Post Summer Book Club for children.
“In the before-times, we would try to predict trends,” Quain said. “We don’t have as much time to do that now. It’s been more reactive than we like but it gives us a cool idea of what books people want. Some of them are books we’ve never heard of, or books we start stocking now.”
Quain said the big part of the book store’s survival has been flexibility, both for the store and trying to instill that in customers. There were frustrations early on, Quain said, when shipments that used to arrive overnight were taking a week or more to deliver.
That flexibility has also created some innovative new products at the store. One of the more popular, Quain said, is the One More Page surprise box. Customers pay $100 and answer extensive questions about their reading preferences, and staff put together a customized box based on recommendations.
Photo via One More Page Books/Facebook
Gay’s collection of essays, “Bad Feminist,” was a New York Times best seller, and was named as one of the best books of the year by NPR. She has also written several other works, including the novel “Untamed State,” the collection of short stories “Difficult Women,” and her memoir “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.”
Gay currently co-hosts a podcast named “Hear to Slay” with Tressie McMillan Cottom, “a podcast with an intersectional perspective on celebrity, culture, politics, art, life, love, and more,” the library website said. She is also a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times.
The talk will take place on March 10 from 7-9 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
Other authors set to talk at Central Library as part of the series — dubbed “Who Are We the People?” — include Laila Lalami, Rebecca Traister, Valeria Luiselli and Brooke Gladstone.
From the library’s website:
The spring series authors transcend genre, medium and subject to wrestle with our political and social moment and tackle complex questions of identity and belonging With humor, fervor and compassion, they explore what our duties and obligations are to each other, our nation and our world.
As these writers probe the nature of justice and equality today, they show us that, even with all our imperfections, we can move together to form a more perfect Union for a more equitable tomorrow. Arlington Reads asks us, “Who are We the People?” What will our answer be?
Local bookstore One More Page (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) will be able to pay the bills after all, thanks to its auction last month.
“We received donations of wine, window washing service, and many other items,” said owner Eileen McGervey, of the items the store auctioned off. “It was really quite overwhelming.”
In total, the online auction raised $20,374.32, passing its goal of $20,000.
The highest bid item was an original cartoon by the late Richard Thompson, which was donated by his wife Amy Thompson — it sold for $1,111.50. The item the fetched the second highest bit was naming rights to a character in the the Wine Country mystery series by Ellen Crosby, which sold for $725.
McGervey described the auction as a “wonderful success” to ARLnow and said the money raised was enough to cover the vendors she wasn’t able to pay after the building owner raised her rent by 30 percent in July. The spike in rent was caused largely by changes to the county’s real estate valuation method for the type of condominium building that houses One More Page.
The building’s property tax liability more than doubled this year, even after an appeal that knocked $700,000 off the valuation.
Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey tells ARLnow he has been working with the parties involved to try to make sure One More Page could meet its obligations and stay in business.
“Shortly after this issue raised itself in the public eye, I spoke with the owner and we tried to see what we could do and what would be available,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey encouraged any small businesses affected by the real estate valuation change to contact Arlington Economic Development’s BizLaunch division.
Dorsey said he was “deeply sympathetic” to the bookstore’s plight, noting that the establishment is one of his family’s favorites. But he added that the valuation changes was necessary because “for years we were not taxing at the appropriate levels, which create larger issues of equity.”
In the meantime, McGervey said that the bookstore is looking into holding more events to help it stay afloat. She’s also started a Patreon membership program after would-be auction buyers said they were interested in supporting the bookstore that way.
“The whole experience has invigorated us and our customers to make sure we stay here,” McGervey said.
From zoning to storefronts to its very name, Green Valley (formerly known, officially, as Nauck) is changing — so one Arlingtonian put together a book to remember the neighborhood as it exists today.
As We Are is a new book by Robin Stombler, vice-chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative Working Group and a frequent voice of the neighborhood, collecting of photographs from 2015-2019 taken around Green Valley.
The book highlights a neighborhood on the eve of revitalization, Stombler says.
“After thumbing through a couple thousand photographs that I’d taken of Green Valley, I saw a theme emerge that I wanted to share,” Stombler said in an email.
Green Valley was a community founded by freed slaves, who settled there during and just after the Civil War. The area was initially known as Green Valley but at one point in the 1970s county officials began referring to the areas as Nauck, honoring a former Confederate soldier who purchased land there in the 1870s.
“Green Valley has a smart vision for the revitalization of this community that’s worth a listen,” Stombler said. “As one example, the creation of an arts and industry quarter along Four Mile Run Drive would refresh the area, make it an arts destination in Arlington, yet retain the needed light industry, employment opportunities, and cool vibe.”
Stombler said the neighborhood has always been a close-knit community. As it is revitalized, Stombler says she hopes the family bonds remain intact.
“The community has a vision for how the area may be revitalized,” Stombler said. “In the period these photographs were taken, Green Valley has spoken loudly with one voice about this vision. Slowly, very slowly, we are seeing some of our vision take shape. The photographs hint at this change.”
Barriers, like razor-edge wiring near a park, are prevalent throughout Stombler’s collection. Stombler cited the physical and social barriers as a recurring visual throughout the area and one of the main reasons she compiled the photographs into a book.
Despite some somber themes, Stombler said that the story of Green Valley’s residents is the story of joy, intellect, and perseverance in the face of these obstacles.
The book is scheduled to launch on Sunday, August 25, with a gallery of the photography at a house in Green Valley (2206 S. Monroe Street) from 4-6 p.m. Another exhibit is scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 29) from 7-9 p.m.
The book is available online for $47.
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington Public Library is experimenting with a new, faster check-out system for popular books in a bid to reduce wait times.
Starting this week, patrons will be able to snag some of the system’s most sought-after books from a “Grab and Go” display near their library’s main circulation desk. These displays will host extra copies of popular books at each library, which patrons can check out with no holds.
“Arlington Public Library routinely sees several titles receive over 500 holds in a given year and in any given month we see 30 titles with over a hundred holds. The Library considers 100 holds as the minimum indicator for a high in demand book,” said APL’s chief materials manager Peter Petruski.
“The new Grab & Go collection increases access to bestselling books and alleviates wait times, but it’s still just scratching the surface of meeting the demand for books in Arlington,” he said.
Digital and print books checked out through the new program cannot be renewed — and thus are not subject to APL’s new automatic renewal policy. Each item can be checked out for a maximum two weeks, and patrons can only check out two of the e-books at a time.
The most popular book right now is “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, with 495 print holds, 585 e-books holds, and 257 e-audiobook holds. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama also has 97 print holds, 481 ebook holds, and 508 e-audiobook holds.
Library Director Diane Kresh told ARLnow that the Grab and Go project was an “ongoing initiative” that started with multiple copies of 18 print books and 132 digital titles. Staff plans to grow the collection by targeting the items with the most holds and longest wait times.
“Our book collections team adds ‘hot’ new titles as they become available and demand increases,” she said. “We already see a great success with 66% of print and 100% of the eCollection being checked out.”
APL pitched the project earlier this year when requesting a $300,000 collection budget bump after the county previously slashed library funding, causing the library system to cut its digital checkout system Hoopla.
As of today (Tuesday) all of the Grab and Go e-books and e-audiobooks were checked out, according to APL’s online system Overdrive. Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist said when digital title are available, they will be advertised on the top of the web page or app.
Data via Arlington Public Library
A local bookstore is holding an auction to raise money after the owner says rent increased by 30 percent this year due to property tax changes.
One More Page Books, located in the East Falls Church neighborhood at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street, is hosting a silent auction fundraiser from Friday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. until Sunday, August 18 at 5 p.m. The bookstore is currently finalizing the item list, which currently ranges from artwork and chocolates, to bike tours and book manuscript consults.
Owner Eileen McGervey said she was excited for the auction, which kicks off with the store’s regularly-scheduled wine and cheese party Friday night. She told ARLnow that customers came up with the idea of the auction, which has since gathered items like handmade shawls and a dinner with media members who cover the Capitals.
The auction was arranged after McGervey said the landlord informed her last month that the real estate taxes for the building went up significantly. The end result? A 30 percent rent increase, applicable to the current year.
McGervey said that’s a challenge for the independent bookstore not only because it operates on small profit margins, but also, “unlike other businesses we don’t have the option of raising the prices because books come with prices on them.”
The tax hike was the result of the county changing the way it calculates the value of some commercial buildings, like the mixed-use commercial condo building One More Page inhabits. The change more than doubled the assessed value of One More Page’s space — and thus also its assessed taxes — even after it was lowered on appeal.
(That’s on top of the County Board approving a real estate tax hike which increased the amount owners pay by two cents for every $100 in assessed property.)
“Unfortunately, in the case of the condominium that houses One More Page, this meant an increase in the assessed value of the property from CY 2018 of $2,351,100.00 to a CY 2019 valuation of $5,591,100.00,” Board Chair Christian Dorsey wrote in a letter to McGervey, who had asked if the Board could offer any assistance to the bookstore.
This is indeed a large jump in the assessed value of the building. The County is bound by the Constitution of Virginia and State Code to assess all real estate at fair market value, and this methodology provides a more accurate assessment of commercial condominium values than did the previous. This methodology took into consideration the actual income and expense data submitted by the owner of the property along with similar condominiums in Arlington.
While the owner chose not to appeal the assessment with the County’s Board of Equalization this year, the owner did file an administrative appeal, resulting in a $700,000 reduction in the CY 2019 assessment, to $4,907,500. With the assessment reduction, the total tax bill for the building in Calendar Year 2019 is $56,485.00, up from $26,228.67 in CY 2018.
One More Page has been able to cover the rent raise in the past month, but at the expense of paying some of its vendors. Asking for help covering these bills is awkward, McGervey said, but better than the alternative.
“You don’t want to just be gone one day and have people not know that you could have been there,” McGervey said.
She noted that she’s now exploring the idea of a membership program to cover future rent needs.
Drivers may soon see an old school bus tooling down Wilson Blvd and delivering books, thanks to funding from an Arlington-based nonprofit.
Read Early and Daily (R.E.A.D.) recently received a $50,000 ‘A Community Thrives’ national grant from the Gannett Foundation. R.E.A.D. secured the grant by pitching a traveling book bus that would bring books to people in Arlington who have trouble accessing them.
R.E.A.D. founder Jennifer Sauter-Price said she was “over the moon” about the grant in a social media message to ARLnow.
“Our hope is the Book Bus will be a bookstore for all families,” she said. “Another component while we sell books is to educate customers about book deserts and the inequities of book ownership and how it affects school readiness.”
Sauter-Price got the idea of a book bus from a popular mobile toy shop she helped run as part of a lending library in Austin, Texas. She now wants to travel around Arlington with books that feature diverse characters and stories about acceptance. In total, she has distributed 1,100 free books to about 250 children in Arlington since starting the nonprofit last year.
“We are proud of the work R.E.A.D. has done to enhance the Arlington, Virginia community,” said Andy Yost, Gannett’s chief marketing officer.
“At Gannett, our mission is to connect and empower our readers to make a difference in the communities they are a part of,” Yost said. “Through A Community Thrives, we are further fueling our mission and purpose.”
A Community Thrives has raised more than $6.5 million since 2017 for projects benefiting communities nationwide.
R.E.A.D. currently distributes free children’s books to gathering places around Arlington, like Mr. Moore’s Barbershop on Lee Highway, where young readers are encouraged to talk about the book they’re reading while they get a haircut.
People also buy books directly from the nonprofit’s website, or sign up for monthly subscription book boxes, which Sauter-Price says help fund the books she gives away for free — a business model she hopes to continue with the bus, too.
Now Sauter-Price is hoping to buy a decommissioned school bus and transform it into a bookmobile.
“The most important thing is to make sure it’s waterproof and temperature controlled for the books,” she said. “Then to create a fun children’s bookstore vibe inside that will be engaging for kids. Then the not-fun stuff: insurance, gas, Wi-Fi, licenses. My hope after all this is we will have funds leftover for more books.”
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Sauter-Price