Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]

County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]

W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]

Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]

AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]

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The Macedonia Baptist Church in Green Valley is asking for a three-year extension on its plan to build a new community swimming pool.

The church at 3412 22nd Street S. owns a property across the street that currently includes a two-story preschool and an out-of-commission swimming pool and bath house. The aquatic facilities “were constructed in the 1960s, to serve a Y.M.C.A; however, the pool has been out of use since the late 2000s,” a county staff report notes.

In 2018 the church sought and received approval for a plan to build a new community pool at the site, to include a dome for all-season use. However, it’s still working to secure the funds for the project, and the window for starting construction is closing.

The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected consider a proposal to extend the window for three years, through October 31, 2023. County staff is recommending approval.

More from the staff report:

The applicant (Macedonia Baptist Church) requests a three (3) year extension of two (2) use permits: one (1) for a new community swimming pool, located at 3440 22nd St. S.; and one (1) to allow shared parking on its church parking lot, at 3412 22nd St. S. In October 2019, the County Board approved a one (1) year term extension for each subject use permit. However, neither use has commenced construction or operation since initial approval in October 2018, and the applicant requests additional time to acquire financing for the project. Pursuant to the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) §15.4.5, construction or operation of a use permit shall be commenced within one (1) year of the date of issuance or the use permit becomes void. However, the County Board may extend the period of validity for up to three (3) years upon its determination that additional time may be needed to commence construction or operation. Staff supports the applicant’s amendment request to extend the period of validity to 2023, given the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 emergency, the County’s recent efforts to revitalize community swimming pool zoning standards, and the applicant’s agreement to the previously approved, mitigating conditions.

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A stalled affordable housing project near the Ballston Metro station is poised to get a three-year extension.

The Ballston Station project, set to be built on the site of the Ballston Central United Methodist Church at 4201 Fairfax Drive, was previously approved by the County Board in 2017 and again in 2019. The latter approval upsized the project from 119 units, including 48 designated as affordable, to 144 units of 100% committed affordable housing.

The Board previously also allocated $3.1 million in affordable housing loan funds to the project.

The church and its development partner, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, are now going back before the Board this weekend, seeking to extend the now-closed window for beginning construction through October 2023.

The developers are also seeking a minor change to the affordability mix, switching six units from being affordable to those making up to 30% of the Area Median Income to 60% AMI, to make the project more fiscally sustainable.

The planned eight-story building will still include a daycare facility for up to 100 kids and a church space with up to 200 seats, as well as eight visitor parking space and 0.25 parking spaces per apartment.

County staff is recommending approval of the proposed site plan amendment, but there is some opposition from neighbors in the adjacent Summerwalk condo complex at 1020 N. Stafford Street.

The condo association is concerned about parking, noting that their own building has insufficient parking and condo residents — who are barred from participating in the county’s under-review Residential Permit Parking Program — find parking on the street difficult as it is. The association is also concerned about their future neighbors making the area “less desirable.”

More from the county staff report:

In addition to the previously submitted concerns from the Summerwalk Condo Association, a new comment has been submitted regarding the project having changed in 2019 to a commitment of 100% affordable units on site. The Association notes that the previous proposal of a mixed income housing development would better serve the needs of the entire community and instill a greater sense of equality within the neighborhood. The Association also notes concerns that the project being 100% affordable will make the surrounding area less desirable.

In response, county staff assert that the parking ratio is in line with existing parking policies, while the project “meets multiple affordable housing goals, including units in close proximity to transit.” It also “provides an opportunity for a mixed-income neighborhood as most nearby developments are predominately market-rate,” staff wrote.

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For at least the third time over the past two months, someone has vandalized a racial justice sign outside of an Arlington church.

The latest sign defacement happened outside of St. George’s Episcopal Church, at 915 N. Oakland Street in Virginia Square. Someone spray painted over a sign with a Bible verse and the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Arlington County Police say it happened around lunchtime Monay.

“At approximately 1:07 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of graffiti which had occurred approximately 20 minutes prior,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect spray painted over the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a sign,” Savage continued. “The suspect is described as an Asian male, between 50-65 years of age. He was wearing a red hat, glasses, plaid shirt, blue jean shorts and used a power wheelchair. The investigation is ongoing.”

On a local Facebook group, the church’s music minister said the vandalism was caught on video.

“We have video of this happening and the police have it,” he said. “Most importantly, we have extra signs. Please pray that love will rule our hearts. God bless you all.”

Another post, from this morning, says that the sign was vandalized again — someone put a sticker with the words “hate crimes are funny” over the word “Black.”

Since the George Floyd protests started, a Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.

Courtesy photo

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After a successful food and toiletry drive last month, Clarendon Presbyterian Church plans to hold monthly food drives to help the Arlington community.

Last month, the church collected 105 boxes and bags of donations at its food and toiletry drive, exceeding expectations. In total, they raised more than $5,200 worth of products.

“Based on the demand, and the incredible community response, we’ve deciding to plan drive-thru collections each month,” said John Gunn. “So far, we’ve scheduled collections through October. “

The church will hold the next drive-through collection on Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at 1305 N. Jackson Street.

The donations went to organizations that help the homeless in Arlington, according to the church. Food donations were directed to Bridges to Independence in Clarendon, which supports families with children. Toiletry donations were directed to the Residential Program Center at Columbia Pike, which supports single adults.

To ensure COVID-19 safety, masks are required and no social interaction is permitted at the donation site.

Those interested in donating can send questions to [email protected] or call 703-527-9613.

Photos courtesy of John Gunn

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Clarendon Presbyterian Church is holding its second drive-through food drive and toiletry collection Saturday to support Arlington homeless shelters.

The drive-through will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the church (1305 N. Jackson Street).

The church is asking for specific, top priority food items. These include rice, boxed cereal, applesauce, juice and packaged healthy kids’ snacks. They request that the kids’ snacks are unopened and not prepared.

The food drive supports residents of Bridges to Independence in Clarendon, according to a statement from the church.

The toiletry collection encourages donations such as toothpaste (regular and travel-sized), toothbrushes, men and women’s razors, deodorant (regular and travel-sized), new men’s underwear sizes XL through 3XL, new women’s underwear, new socks, combs/brushes and bar soaps.

The toiletry drive will support 35 individuals living at Residential Program Center on Columbia Pike, according to the statement.

The church is implementing COVID-19 safety protocols by requiring masks and discouraging physical interaction. They are offering a curbside drop-off location outside the church for donations.

Photo via Clarendon Presbyterian Church/Facebook

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(Updated at 8:35 a.m.) The line wrapped around the church, dozens of people deep. One woman waited 45 minutes and still hadn’t reached the front of the building while a volunteer lapped the church, passing out water to those waiting in the sticky heat.

On Wednesday morning in the Green Valley neighborhood, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (2700 19th Street S.) again teamed up with D.C.-based celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to serve meals to those in need. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the church has seen the number of families it helps grow.

In the past, families would gather inside Father Ray Hall for treats and coffee. There were around 200 families that would participate, and the gatherings created a close community feel. Since then the number of families has increased to an average of 630, and the indoor gatherings have moved outside in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

On Wednesday, World Central Kitchen served more than 3,580 meals to those in need at the church.

This is the second time the nonprofit and the church has worked together. The first time was on May 22 when 3,200 meals were served.

“I heard that it was very good. They really enjoyed having something… it’s like having a restaurant come to them,” said Sally Diaz-Wells, the church’s social justice and outreach minister.

The church normally holds weekly food drives on Wednesdays, gathering groceries and commonly needed food items such as bread, meat, and cheese, as well as shelf-stable items like pasta, beans and mac and cheese for the kids.

“We try to have low-sugar foods and high-protein foods in each of our bags,” said Diaz-Wells.

To provide a safe experience on Wednesday, the church placed 6-foot markers on the sidewalk in front of the building to guide people with social distancing. Organizers also ensured contactless pickup by placing the bags on chairs 6 feet away from both the entrance to the building and the rest of the line, and calling recipients forward when it was their turn. They also offered masks and required 100 percent mask-wearing.

Those interested in donating food to the church find a list of items on its website. Financial donations are also accepted.

Diaz-Wells emphasized the importance of the staff’s health to keep the food drives running each week.

“We’ve been blessed. We’ve been healthy and safe since the beginning,” she said.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Someone defaced a sign promoting racial justice, placed by a church near Clarendon.

The vandalism happened overnight in front of the Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street).

A photo sent to ARLnow (above) shows the words “It’s OK to be white” scrawled in block letters on the second of a pair of banners. The banners are signed by parishioners and declare: “Clarendon United Methodist Church is committed to fighting against systemic racial injustice. I will be part of the solution.”

The church tells ARLnow that it was able to successfully remove the graffiti this morning.

“We lament that anyone would choose to deface our sign but we are glad that they have given us further opportunity to affirm our stand against systemic racial injustice and our commitment to be a part of the solution,” a church employee said via email. “We restored the sign to its original intended message this morning.”

The church’s pastor, Rev. Tracy McNeil Wines, also released the following statement.

The murders of George Floyd and countless other Black men, women, and children have further brought to light a long history that bears the unmistakable stains of exclusion, oppression, and violence. We are called by conscience and by God to rise up and stand with those whose pain is etched onto the heart of our nation. We recognize the significant disparities in opportunity for all people of color in education, housing, health, and employment, and in restricted access to security and justice. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, it is essential that we act to dismantle racism.

At Clarendon United Methodist Church, we are committed to the fight against systemic racial injustice. We acknowledge that racism is a sin that works in direct opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we join in the call to resist its powerful influence. Together we yearn for a world that reflects God’s will for just treatment and full inclusion of all persons. We resolve to resist evil, injustice and oppression, and so we cannot rest until the work of dismantling racism is done. Courage and conviction are required in the fight, and we pray that God’s Spirit may empower us with grace equal to the task.

We must take both communal and individual responsibility for justice. Change ultimately begins with transformed hearts. Therefore, we commit to opening our hearts to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Deep repentance is required. We will seek to educate ourselves and others — to discern the breadth of racism’s impact, to see and acknowledge its effects, and to uncover its influence in our own lives and in our shared life together. We will follow equal employment practices, and intentionally increase opportunities for the voices of Black people and all people of color to be heard in the life and leadership of our church. We will work to tear down the entrenched racial and economic divide that is present in Arlington County and beyond, dedicating resources to aim at both the effects and the root causes of injustice. We affirm that this effort must be an ongoing commitment.

None of us can move forward if one of us is left behind.

This is the second such vandalism of a racial justice sign on church property in as many weeks in Arlington. The “Black” in “Black Lives Matter” was cut out of a sign in front of Rock Spring Congregational church last week. In D.C., meanwhile, a mural “lifting up the names and legacies of Dorothy Day and MLK Jr.” in front of a church was found ripped down this morning.

Photo (top) courtesy anonymous, (bottom) courtesy Clarendon United Methodist Church

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Morning Notes

March Planned Tonight in Crystal City — “This Tuesday (6/30) we will be gathering in Crystal City Courtyard Green to march to Pentagon City in defense of Black womxn.” [Twitter]

Petition for APS to Require Masks — “To maximize the chances of success for Arlington Public Schools (Virginia) hybrid return to school model we urge the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán to make face coverings compulsory for both students and teachers during the days they are at school for in-person learning. Those who object to wearing masks can always choose the distance-learning option.” [Change.org]

Local Church to Feed Thousands — “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQP) in south Arlington is working with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed families in need of food assistance. World Central Kitchen is providing 3,500 meals to OLQP for distribution to the community. Meals will be offered to take home in conjunction with pre-packed food the OLQP food pantry distributes every Wednesday morning. This is the second time WCK will be providing meals to OLQP during the pandemic.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Catholic Churches Enter ‘Phase 3’ — “All 70 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will move into phase three of Virginia’s reopening plan on Wednesday. Officials announced Monday that each parish is ‘able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted’ beginning on July 1.” [Fox 5]

County Adjusts Committee Meeting Rules — “After facing a rebellion from members and chairs of advisory commissions, the Arlington County Board has revised rules for holding meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the two biggest changes from the original plans: Commission chairs (apparently) will no longer have to seek county-staff permission to hold meetings. Advisory-group meetings will be allowed in-person or in a hybrid format, in addition to the previously announced “virtual”-only arrangement.” [InsideNova]

New Construction Contract for VHC Inked — “Skanska USA has inked more work with Virginia Hospital Center as the Arlington hospital soldiers on with its $250 million expansion project. The construction company said Monday it signed a contract worth $96 million for site work for the new outpatient pavilion and parking garage at the hospital. That’s on top of a $37 million contract with VHC it grabbed late last year.” [Washington Business Journal]

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For the second time, someone has vandalized a Black Lives Matter sign at Rock Spring Congregational church in North Arlington.

Sometime between last night and noon today, someone cut out the word “Black” in the sign at the corner of Rock Spring Road and Little Falls Road.

Someone did the same thing to a Black Lives Matter sign on the church lawn in 2015.

“I no idea who’s doing it,” Rev. Dr. Kathryn Dwyer told ARLnow Tuesday afternoon. Dwyer, the church’s senior pastor, said there are no video cameras that might have captured the incident. She has filed a police report, after initially learning about the vandalized sign from a neighbor.

Dwyer said the church is ordering two new signs as a replacement, and plans to place them higher, on the church building itself.  A community member, meanwhile, has offered to try to fix the existing sign.

“I think that the vandalism demonstrates that we clearly have an issue, even here in Arlington, Virginia,” Dwyer said. Cutting out the word Black is “sort of like saying ‘all lives matter,'” she said.

“When I explain this to my congregation, I’ve explained how if your child asks if they love them, responding ‘honey I love all children’ is not satisfying,” Dwyer said. “We’re at a point in time in our country where people of color are being so oppressed it’s the job of all of us to assure them that they’re loved and they matter.”

Tomorrow the church will be holding the first of a six-week virtual course over Zoom entitled “Challenging White Supremacy: Becoming Anti-Racist.” All 100 spots sold out within 4-5 days, Dwyer noted.

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Following a week filled with marches and protests in Arlington, at least two more events are planned today.

One of the events is being organized by a pair of groups that largely serve the immigrant community. Another is being organized by four churches and a local civic association. Both events are being held to demand justice and to defend black lives.

The first is being from 5-6 p.m. along Wilson Blvd in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods. From a press release:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9th, four congregations will come together in Arlington in a witness for justice on behalf of black lives.   The action will be centered along Wilson Boulevard on Tuesday, June 9th, from 5-6pm.

We will park and gather at the Arlington Community Church (6040 Wilson Boulevard) before moving to Wilson Boulevard at 5 pm.

We wish to observe safe social distancing so we will be standing six feet apart along Wilson Boulevard in silent witness, simply holding up signs of support from 5 pm to 6 pm. We ask that everyone wear facemasks and that every effort be made to maintain social distancing.

Hosted by the members of Boulevard Manor Civic Association, Arlington Church of the Brethren, Bethel United Church of Christ, Arlington Community Church, and Rock Spring United Church of Christ.

“We recognize the pervasive sin of white supremacy as something that people with privilege benefit from or participate in daily,” the organizers quoted from a recent Arlington Interfaith Network statement. “Communities of spirituality and faith with privilege need to use their place to have sacred conversations on race, and work for real change.”

At 7 p.m. tonight, La ColectiVA and Tenants and Workers United will hold a rally — dubbed Cacerolazo for Black Lives — in Arlington’s Tyrol Hill Park (5101 7th Road S.), in memory of George Floyd and others.

From an event description:

Join us for a Cacerolazo (pots and pans rally) for Black Lives – Tuesday, June 9 at 7pm. This rally will be in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and demands for accountability for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others who have lost their lives to white supremacy and police violence, including here in Virginia.

We’ll gather at Tyrol Hill Park, Tuesday at 7PM.

Please:
-Wear a face covering
-Maintain physical distancing
-Bring your pots and pans
-Bring signs that say #BlackLivesMatter #DefundPolice #DefendBlackLives #InvestInCommunities

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