Arlington leaders will soon convene more than a dozen town halls to discuss Amazon’s plans for the county in the run-up to a planned vote on the matter later this month.
County Board members plan to spend the next few weeks holding meetings with a variety of civic associations and advocacy groups to discuss the tech giant’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City, and have now released a schedule of the impending gatherings.
Up to two Board members will attend each one, planning them as open forums for community members to discuss all the implications of Amazon’s new headquarters for county residents.
The Board had originally expected to vote on an incentive package designed to lure the company to Arlington in February, but delayed those plans slightly to allow for more time for community engagement. Since the company announced its expansion plans for the county, concerns have bubbled up over the company’s potential impact on everything from housing affordability to traffic congestion.
New Board member Matt de Ferranti was especially insistent on pushing for the extra time, inviting civic groups of all stripes to request meetings with the Board.
The sessions will not, however, include representatives from Amazon itself. County officials and activists critical of the company have been insistent on seeing some engagement from Amazon executives with the broader community — for its part, the company argues that it’s conversations with local business leaders have adequately helped set the stage for its arrival in the county.
The Board already held some meetings last month, holding gatherings with 10 civic associations and the environmental group EcoAction Arlington. Board members now plan to meet with the following:
- League of Women Voters: Saturday (March 2)
- Etz Hayim: Sunday (March 3)
- Civic Federation: March 5
- Donaldson Run Civic Association: March 6
- Freedom Is Not Free: March 7
- Barcroft School & Civic League: March 7
- Lyon Village Civic Association: March 11
- Shirlington Civic Association: March 11
- Columbia Heights Civic Association: March 11
- Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights Civic Association: March 12
- Waycroft Woodlawn Civic Association: March 12
- Leeway Overlee Civic Association: March 13
- Aurora Highlands Civic Association: March 13
- Columbia Forest Civic Association: March 13
- Arlington Mill Civic Association: March 13
- Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: March 21
- Arlington Ridge Civic Association: March 21
Anyone interested in attending can check with each group individually for exact times and locations as they’re finalized.
The Board currently plans to vote on the incentive package at its March 16 meeting. Arlington is proposing to send $23 million in grant money to the company over the next 15 years, with the cash drawn from a projected increase in hotel tax revenues driven by Amazon’s arrival.
The Board’s decision is the final domino that has yet to fall in finalizing the company’s plans for the area. Gov. Ralph Northam and state lawmakers have already approved up to $750 million in tax rebates for the company.
More Rumbles of More Amazon — “John Boyd, principal of the Boyd Co. Inc., a private site selection firm in Princeton, N.J… said he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon decided to add more jobs to its operations in Crystal City.” [Washington Business Journal]
ACFD Rescues Stuck Puppy — Arlington firefighters helped to free a 9-week-old puppy whose head got stuck while being a bit too curious. “She thanked the crew with many kisses,” the department said. [Twitter]
Caps Player Joins Bash — New Arlington-based fitness business Bash Boxing has gained an investor and partner known for throwing a few punches: Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson. [Washington Business Journal]
Middle School Project May Be Delayed — “The surroundings may prove a bit cramped for a while, but county school officials say they are working up contingencies if the expansion of Dorothy Hamm Middle School isn’t ready in time for the start of classes in September.” [InsideNova]
Favola vs. Merlene Preview — “Has a longtime member of the Arlington Democratic establishment solidly represented Northern Virginia at the state legislature in Richmond, or is there need for new blood?” [Greater Greater Washington]
Civic Federation Diversity Efforts Hit Snag — “Duke Banks hopes one of his legacies will be a commitment to bringing in a younger and more diverse group of leaders… Efforts to bring in new faces at the venerable organization have seen successes, but took a recent step backward with the resignation of two members of the board’s leadership.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Affordable Homes Disappearing in Alexandria — The number of single-family homes in Alexandria valued at less than $500,000 dipped below the number priced higher last year. [Washington Business Journal]
Rare, Tropical Dragonfly Spotted in Arlington — “There was quite the discovery at this year’s Bioblitz in Glencarlyn Park. After a photo posted on the crowd-sourcing tracker, iNaturalist, started to spark a lot of interest… the consensus was that what had been photographed was a Great Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis vesiculosa).” [Arlington County]
County to Open Garages During Snowstorms — “If a big winter storm – or two, or three – hits the region in coming months, Arlington residents will be able to leave their cars safe and sound in county-owned garages for the duration. It’s all part of an effort to keep residential streets as free of vehicles as possible so snow-plow operators can do their job.” [InsideNova]
Crafthouse Going Big — Beer-centric local restaurant chain Crafthouse, which has a location in Ballston, has inked a $250 million deal to franchise nationally. [Reston Now]
Portion of W&OD Trail to Get Separate Lanes — “A major 1.2-mile stretch of the W&OD Trail bike path that traverses the City of Falls Church… will soon be enhanced with the benefit of $3.2 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and turned into a dual path — one for bikes and the other for pedestrians.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Amazon News Roundup — Virginia economic development officials say they have “accounted for a host of risks that might arise related to Amazon, from a shift in direction for the company to antitrust litigation.” The Arlington Civic Federation “will host a discussion of the proposed Amazon economic-incentive package at its monthly meeting, to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center.” Arlington County’s building and permitting staff “won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary to accommodate Amazon, such as fast-tracking, a common incentive offered to big economic development prizes.” And, in a new report on the oft-reported subject, “Amazon’s Northern Virginia headquarters could exacerbate existing economic disparities.”
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
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.
The Old Glebe Civic Association is eyeing an expansion, planning to scoop up a few additional streets from neighboring Country Club Hills.
The group is currently hoping to add about three blocks to its boundaries, targeting homes that aren’t currently part of any civic association. In particular, the OGCA is looking at adding homes along Dittmar Road as it meets 35th Street N., N. Abingdon Street as it meets 36th Street N. and two cul-de-sacs off N. Vermont Street (one on 35th Road N. and one on 36th Street N.).
OGCA President Rich Samp told ARLnow that those streets are “one of the few areas in the whole county not included in any civic association,” after residents there decided decades ago decided not to join one. But considering that the streets sit adjacent to Old Glebe’s current boundaries, with part of Dittmar Road already ensconced within the civic association, Samp felt it made sense to push for the minor expansion.
“It’s a good idea to have all the neighborhoods in Arlington engaged with the local community… and we’re always trying to do things to make the neighborhood more cohesive,” Samp said. “And having entire streets, such as all of Dittmar Road, in the civic association probably helps to create more of a cohesive neighborhood sense.”
Samp says civic association members started knocking doors in the proposed expansion area a few weeks back to gauge neighbors’ feelings on the mater, and the reaction was broadly “positive.”
“The worst we heard was that some people expressed indifference, but the majority view was, ‘We’d love to join,'” Samp said.
The Arlington County Civic Federation requires civic associations to collect signatures to kick off the expansion process, so Samp says his group did just that. Now, he’ll need to win a green light from from both the civic federation and, eventually, the County Board to make it official.
“I don’t have a great sense for how long it’ll take,” Samp said. “But knowing how slowly the wheels of our group, and the government generally, turn, it’ll probably be a couple of months.”
Samp admitted that adding these neighborhoods is “hardly an earth-shattering step” for his group, but he does hope it can be the first expansion of many to come for the civic association.
“To go to more homes, it would’ve taken just huge amount of canvassing,” Samp said. “So we thought this would be a nice way to start it.”
Photo via the Old Glebe Civic Association
Civic Federation Holds Candidate Forum — The unofficial kickoff to the local fall campaign season took place on Tuesday: the Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum. Contenders for County Board, School Board and Congress squared off in front of a standing-room-only audience at Virginia Hospital Center’s auditorium. [InsideNova, InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Drug Take-Back Boxes Deemed a Success — “In June, Arlington County installed three permanent drug take-back boxes to address a crucial public safety and public health crisis facing communities across the country – prescription drug abuse. In the first three months of the program, the public safely disposed of 407 pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications. Due to the success of the program, the police department is exploring expanding the program.” [Arlington County]
New Commuter Store Opens — A new Arlington Commuter Store opened at the Pentagon on Tuesday, near bus bays 7 and 8. [Commuter Page]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Pebley, a retired U.S. Navy commander, last year moved to a more leisurely locale in North Carolina, but not before receiving plenty of plaudits for his civic involvement from across the political spectrum.
We decided to check in with Jim, see how he’s doing and get his take on the current state of the county. We covered a variety of local topics, including the safety of Reagan National Airport, the cost of school construction, the potential of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington and why he decided to decamp for elsewhere.
Road Closed Due to Downed Tree — Williamsburg Blvd is closed at N. Westmoreland Street due to a tree that fell overnight and took down several utility lines with it. Arlington’s emergency management office says the closure “may last through evening rush hour.” [Twitter]
Reminder: DUI Checkpoint Tonight — The Arlington County Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint in an undisclosed location tonight. “Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers. Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation.” [Arlington County]
Metro Could Become Larger Financial Burden — “Metro expects to turn to state and local governments across the region to cover the costs of pay raises for workers an arbitration panel ordered last week, but the Metro Board chairman is warning of a more significant fiscal ‘ticking time bomb’ just over the horizon.” [WTOP]
Annual CivFed Candidate Forum Scheduled — “The unofficial kickoff to Arlington’s fall election season begins on Tuesday, Sept. 4, when the Arlington County Civic Federation holds its annual candidate forum. Candidates for 8th District U.S. House of Representatives, County Board and School Board have been invited to participate.” [InsideNova]
Basketball Player Punched at Gym — A man who plays professional basketball for LaVar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association says he was sucker punched while playing a pickup game at a Crystal City gym. [Fox 5]
One Hurt in Lee Highway Apartment Fire — A resident of a Lee Highway apartment building suffered burn injuries after a fire broke out in an apartment kitchen Wednesday morning. The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
Ice Training for ACFD Water Rescue Team — While you were enjoying your weekend, snug in your warm home amid 10 degree weather, the Arlington County Fire Department’s water rescue team was using a chainsaw to cut holes in the ice on the Potomac and then jumping in. [Washington Post]
Freezing Rain Still Expected Tonight — A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect tonight, as forecasters expect freezing rain to fall this afternoon and potentially make for a very messy evening commute. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Civic Federation Seeking County Event Help — The Arlington County Civic Federation is asking county government to help make it more affordable for civic associations to hold events on county property. Currently, there are insurance requirements that eat into civic associations’ meager budgets. [InsideNova]
Metro Proposes Refunds for Delays — “Under the proposal, riders would receive an automatic credit on their SmarTrip card if their trip is delayed by 15 minutes or more. Staff will ask Metro’s board to approve the change this week… The refunds would only be given during the weekday rush period.” [NBC Washington]
Crystal City Startup Scores $3 Million — Stardog Union, a “Enterprise Knowledge Graph startup” based in Crystal City, has added $3 million to its Series A venture funding round. The funding will be used for “marketing, sales and speeding up product development.” [Technically DC]
Notable Local Runner Publishes Novel — “Arlington marathon champion Jay Jacob Wind has published his first novel, a techno-thriller entitled The Man Who Stole the Sun, available now on Amazon Kindle and hand-printed by mail-order. ‘It is the first marathon terror fiction novel, based on the Marine Corps Marathon though Washington, DC, since the very real Boston Marathon bombing nearly five years ago, in April, 2013,’ Wind said.” [PRNewswire]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
ACPD Sending Supplies to Houston — The Arlington County Police Department is sending relief supplies to Houston Police, “who have been tirelessly serving those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” the department announced yesterday in a tweet. [Twitter]
More on County Board Debate — At Tuesday night’s Arlington Civic Federation debate, the two independent candidates blasted the County Board for supposedly being too pro cozy with business interests. Charles McCullough “several times ripped the county government for extending millions of dollars in ‘payola and corporate welfare’ in an effort to win economic-development successes,” while Audrey Clement “portrayed Arlington leaders as sharing a matrimonial bed with the development community, rubber-stamping new projects to reap the tax revenue they generate.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Encouraging Vanpools — Arlington County, via its Arlington Transportation Partners program, is encouraging commuters to join a vanpool, touting savings of up to $10,000 a year compared to solo commuting. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Arlington Free Clinic Women’s Health Program — Grants from the Susan G. Komen foundation are funding a women’s health program at the Arlington Free Clinic and in turn saving the lives of breast cancer patients who otherwise could not afford their healthcare costs. Among those who beat breast cancer with the clinic’s help is one of its employees, a mother of three who found a lump while attending a breast health event in 2003. [WJLA]
Nearby: Rabid Raccoon Found — A raccoon found in an Alexandria park has tested positive for rabies. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
Developer Lands Loan for Ballston Project — Saul Centers has secured a $157 million construction loan for its Rosenthal Mazda/750 N. Glebe project that will replace the former car dealership with nearly 500 apartments and a small-format Target store. [Washington Business Journal]
Carpool to Reopen… In Fair Lakes — The owners of the now-shuttered Carpool bar and restaurant in Ballston, which closed to make way for a new high-rise residential building, are working to open its successor in the Fair Lakes section of Fairfax County. The new bar is expected to open its doors in October. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Civ Fed Wants Younger Crowd — A key goal of the Arlington Civic Federation’s new president is to attract participation from younger residents and to “leave [it] with a more youthful leadership team at the end of my presidency.” [InsideNova]
Dad Doodles on Daughter’s Lunch Bags — Every school day, Arlington dad Mike Jenkins makes lunch for his 16-year-old daughter and places it in a brown paper lunch bag which he fills with cartoon doodles. But Jenkins is not just any dad and his cartoons are not the work of an amateur: Jenkins is a political cartoonist turned freelance caricaturist and the doodles are whimsical works of art. [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton
Washington Business Journal Downsizes HQ — The Washington Business Journal has moved out of its headquarters at 1555 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, where it had been for 20 years. The publication moved just down the street to 1100 Wilson Blvd. The downsize puts WBJ in a location that is about 3,000 square feet smaller than its previous space. [WTOP]
Civic Leaders Honored — The Arlington County Civic Federation honored two residents for their years of community leadership and activism. The organization recognized Jim Pebley and Stefanie Pryor at its anniversary dinner on Friday. [InsideNova]
Northern Virginia Businessman Dies at 100 — Well-known sportsman and businessman Randolph “Randy” Rouse died on Friday. A long-time Arlington resident, Rouse is a Washington-Lee High School graduate and began his foray into real estate in 1947. He was said to entertain visitors at his 10-acre Arlington estate — the Febrey-Lothrop house on Wilson Blvd and N. McKinley Street — with tunes from his saxophone. Rouse was 100. [Fauquier Times]
John Glenn to Be Buried Today — Astronaut, U.S. senator and one-time Arlington resident John Glenn will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this morning. Glenn died in December at the age of 95. Arlington County Police Department motor units are assisting with rolling road closures for the funeral procession. [Rare]
CivFed Rejects Tax Hike — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted “overwhelmingly” to call on the County Board to reject a proposed property tax rate hike and instead tap into reserve funds to provide needed funding boosts for Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Tears for Casual Adventure — Long-time customers, employees and owners of Casual Adventure in Virginia Square are all shedding tears as the 61-year-old store prepares to close. The outdoor retailer is holding a store closing sale to liquidate its inventory. [NBC Washington]
Lawsuit: Sexual Harassment in Arlington Apartment — A lawsuit alleges that a 72-year-old official with a small graduate school in D.C. coerced students “into sexually explicit physical examinations at his Arlington, Va., apartment, ostensibly to keep their jobs and advance their careers.” [Washington Post]
Buckingham Profiled by WaPo — Buckingham is a diverse, relatively affordable community near Ballston and the Orange Line. But its civic association president does not like the direction the neighborhood is headed — and he didn’t mind expressing that in the Washington Post’s “Where We Live” community real estate profile. “For Bernie Berne… the biggest issue is the ‘destruction of the neighborhood by affordable housing,'” the paper wrote. “Berne… said he believes the ‘increase in the density’ of the area ‘takes away open space and trees.'” [Washington Post]
The scam attempts “have been ongoing for several months,” a tipster tell ARLnow.com. It involves official-looking emails asking the organization’s treasurer to wire money.
On Friday, the Virginia PTA sent the following warning about the fraud to local organizations:
Please note there are fraudulent emails going to PTA units asking treasurers to transfer (wire) money to unknown accounts. Because they look to be sent from your PTA’s officers email addresses, please do not respond or wire money to unknown accounts without first doing due diligence on the request. This is happening quite often — even I receive them. They get names and email addresses from websites.
The tipster, who did not want to be identified, said that civic associations are also now receiving the scam emails.
“Recently the scammers have branched out to neighborhood associations,” said the tipster. “The citizens association that I am involved with has also gotten these emails.”
Beyer Opposes ‘Holman Rule’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has joined other local legislators in opposing the proposed reinstatement of the “Holman Rule,” which would allow a legislator to offer an amendment that would “reduce the salary of any federal employee, or eliminate a federal employee’s position without hearings, testimony, or due process.” [Federal News Radio, House of Representatives]
Ray’s Hell Burger Still Among the Best — Rosslyn-based Ray’s Hell Burger is on Food & Wine’s list of the best burgers in the United States. [Food & Wine]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick