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by ARLnow.com February 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rosslyn skyline and birds (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Restaurants Closed for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ — A number of restaurants in Arlington will be closed for the pro-immigration “Day Without Immigrants” strike. Among the expected closures: Jaleo, Busboys and Poets, Pupatella, Capitol City Brewing, Circa and Sweetgreen. [Washingtonian, Twitter, Facebook]

New Photos of Bank Robbery Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department has released additional photos of the suspect in last Friday’s Navy Federal Credit Union bank robbery in Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington Rapist Charged in D.C. Case — Ronald Berton, who was convicted of raping a woman in Lyon Village in 2010, “has been charged with kidnapping and raping a woman in Northwest Washington in 2007, according to police and court documents.” Berton is only serving 10 years in prison for his Arlington rape conviction, after the initial conviction was overturned and he was retried for the crime. [Washington Post]

Resolution Commending Wardian — A joint resolution in the Virginia General Assembly commends superhuman Arlington marathoner Michael Wardian for his World Marathon Challenge record, which he set last month. [Virginia Legislative Information System]

Facilities Committee Goes on a Ride — Last Saturday morning, Arlington officials and the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Committee boarded an ART bus and went on a tour of sites that “could help the County Government and Arlington Public Schools resolve pressing capital facilities needs.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: More Potomac Paddling — “The National Park Service said it plans to expand public access for kayaking and rowing on the Potomac River in the District of Columbia’s Georgetown neighborhood,” according to the Associated Press. “The agency said in a statement this week it has approved a plan for the phased development of 42,000 square feet of facilities near the confluence of Rock Creek, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

by Tim Regan February 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

Arlington County’s new public high school could end up at one of nine proposed sites.

Arlington Public Schools is scheduled to hold a joint meeting with its Advisory Committee on Instruction (ACI) and Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital (FAC) programs tonight (Wednesday) to share options in consideration for the new school. The meeting, to be held at the Syphax Center at 7 p.m., is part of a four-month process to determine the instructional focus of the school.

To be discussed at tonight’s meeting: where to build a new high school in a county where land and open space is at a premium and many schools are overcrowded. As part of its Capital Improvement Plan, APS is planning to build 1,300 new high school seats in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

A new report from the FAC council identifies nine potential APS-owned sites for the new high school seats, divided between “tier 1” and less feasible, more complex “tier 2” options.

“This analysis was completed between January and February of 2017 and because of this short timeframe, focuses on APS-owned properties,” the report says. “In developing the list of properties to consider the group received input formally and informally from community members and referenced established documents from the South Arlington Working Group, the Community Facilities Study, etc.”

The tier one site options are:

  1. APS Education Center at Washington-Lee High School: Either expand the existing high school or build a new one on the Ed Center site, which is used by APS administration.
    • Pros: Existing high school-sized facilities on the site.
    • Cons: Adding 1,300 students would make W-L the largest APS school at 3,500 students and increase the use of W-L fields and facilities by around 50 percent.
  2. Gunston Middle School: Add a 1,300 seat high school to the Gunston campus or move the middle school to another site and expand the current building to house 1,300 high school students.
    • Pros: The new school could create a neighborhood high school for the southeast quadrant of the county and wouldn’t necessarily displace the middle school.
    • Cons: Adding seats at Gunston may limit the availability of the neighborhood’s community programs and may result in the relocation of the community center.
  3. Kenmore Middle School: Construct a new separate high school building on the site or move Kenmore to another location and expand the existing middle school to create a new option or comprehensive high school.
    • Pros: The property is in south Arlington and therefore could be zoned as a comprehensive high school with its own district or a option high school. The area is also student-dense and walkable.
    • Cons: The site may not have room for a comprehensive high school and its amenities, like as a football field, track, or baseball field.
  4. Wakefield High School: Either add on to the existing high school, or build a new high school on the 32.8 acre campus.
    • Pros: The site could accommodate 1,300 new students and minimize impact on existing students.
    • Cons: This would create a “majority minority” concentration of students in the southern portion of Arlington County that “could be politically sensitive without significant redistricting,” planners said.

The tier two options are:

  1. Arlington Traditional School: Convert and expand the site’s buildings to accommodate 1,300 new high school students, potentially potentially moving or closing the elementary school.
    • Pros: The site is somewhat centrally located and houses one of the smaller programs in the county, meaning fewer students impacted.
    • Cons: This plan requires a major conversion from an elementary school to high school, which would mean expanding and updating the existing facility, up to a “complete tear-down.”
  2. Career Center/Patrick Henry Elementary School: This option would develop a master plan for the site, which would expand Arlington Tech and add a 1,300 seat high school, potentially by replacing the Patrick Henry building. Another scenario is to build a new elementary school to house the Montessori program and replace lost facility at Patrick Henry.
    • Pros: Co-location of multiple high school programs could allow for ebb and flow of enrollment at the various programs.
    • Cons: The plan could mean 2,500 students use the site every day, “clearly intensifying the use of what would be the smallest high school.”
  3. Drew Model School: The plan would add a new high school on the 8.4 acre campus.
    • Pros: The site would serve an underserved part of Arlington and “could create a new group of potential walkers for a zoned school.”
    • Cons: The existing facility is half on park land, complicating the plan. The school also “has deep history with the neighborhood,” planners said.
  4. Hoffman-Boston Elementary School: Update and expand the school building and relocate the elementary school seats.
    • Pros: Hoffman-Boston was originally built as a high school, so demolition wouldn’t be necessary. Columbia Pike also has “strong transit options.”
    • Cons: The conversion would require renovation of existing facilities and an addition.
  5. Reed School site: A new high school would be built at the side of the Reed School or a new elementary school would be built to house the Arlington Traditional School in conjunction with the ATS high school option.
    • Pros: The new school would be located in a walkable community near shops that would benefit from increased foot traffic. The school would also be located in an area where a significant high school-age population is projected.
    • Cons: The Reed campus is too small for a 1,300-student school in similar scope to other nearby high schools and there are potential historic preservation issues due to the 1938 building.

Should the new high school displace an existing elementary or middle school or other APS program, the FAC council identified a number of sites for the displaced programs to go, including:

  • Reed School
  • APS Education Center
  • Virginia Hospital Center urgent care site on Carlin Springs Road, which is in consideration for a land swap between VHC and the county
  • Wakefield High School campus
  • Aurora Hills Community Center / Virginia Highlands Park
  • Gunston Middle School

The various options are all likely to garner opposition from parents and members of the community, but an Arlington resident involved in the creation of the report emphasized that it is early in the process, that any option is going to be “imperfect” and some shared sacrifice may be needed.

“The report is just a starting point for discussion with the instruction advisors and staff for APS,” the resident said. “It is important that we all have a common understanding of what could be done or what would be needed to move forward with certain proposals… Anything you can do to promote discussion as the community hopefully finds consensus or at least an understanding to accept and support APS going forward, would be an invaluable service.”

by ARLnow.com October 25, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Arlington County joint facilities presentation

(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) Arlington County is in desperate need of more land for schools and for county government operations. But a plan to acquire an office park across the street from Washington-Lee High School and use it for school bus parking is meeting with community opposition.

The county is planning to spend $30 million acquiring the Quincy Street Technology Center, also known as the Buck property, a 6.1 acre office park zoned primarily for commercial and light industrial uses. Located adjacent to N. Quincy Street and I-66 in the Virginia Square area, the property also partially borders a residential neighborhood.

In a joint County Board-School Board work session earlier this month, Arlington County staff laid out the case for the moving the Arlington Public Schools school bus operations from the Trades Center near Shirlington to the Buck site.

The Buck property is in a central location, near the school administrative building and has the space to accommodate current APS bus parking needs, unlike the increasingly crowded Trades Center, where growth has exceeded capacity. (Thanks to rising enrollment, APS has added 40 new school buses in the past 5 years.)

The Buck property would at first be used for temporary bus parking, then would be considered for a permanent APS bus parking, operations and dispatch center, with a new vehicle wash and fueling station, according to the staff presentation. Other potential uses of the property include temporary overflow parking for Washington-Lee, police and fire reserve vehicle storage, APS office use and a permanent Office of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Center facility.

In response, some nearby residents have created a petition against the bus proposal. The petition, entitled “The Buck Stops Here,” has more than 100 signatures.

Here’s what the petition says:

Again, Arlington County is barreling ahead with a project impacting a neighborhood without consulting nearby residents. This is a disturbing trend that demands a strong voice from Arlington citizens.

The county is proceeding with a plan to purchase the Buck tract on N. Quincy Street for $30 million (more than $6 million over the 2016 tax assessment) and redevelop the property for, no doubt, tens of millions more – all for a bus parking lot and repair facility.

We do not object to the redevelopment of this ideally-located tract but the placement of an industrial site directly adjoining an existing residential neighborhood is unprecedented in Arlington and bodes ominously for other neighborhoods.

They have proceeded without consulting the adjacent neighborhood and have kept Arlington citizens at-large in the dark about their planning. We have repeatedly asked for a seat in their discussions but have been denied at every turn.

It’s time for Arlington citizens to demand a return to the “Arlington Way” and stop the Buck tract before your neighborhood is next.

The petition, we’re told, is also “‘trending’ across nine Arlington neighborhoods” via Nextdoor, an online social network.

“This is sadly reminiscent of the recent instances of Arlington citizens rising up against the planning without consultation with the [H-B Woodlawn] relocation, the TJ parking lot, the Lee Hwy firehouse, and plopping a temporary firehouse on the green grass of Rhodeside Green Park, along with a growing number of other attempts at action without consulting neighborhoods,” Dennis Whitehead, a resident who lives near the Buck site, told ARLnow.com.

Arlington County joint facilities presentationDespite the insistence that the county is “barreling ahead” with the project, the county’s acquisition of the Buck property may not close for another year, and the county says it’s committed to a community process prior to determining its permanent uses for the property.

The proposal may be discussed tonight (Tuesday) at a meeting in Courthouse. The public meeting, intended to review community input regarding a new joint county-schools facilities advisory committee that’s being planned, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).

That committee, which will follow up on the Community Facilities Study that wrapped up around this time last year (but is still the subject of meetings), will also be considering uses for other county-owned or potentially county-owned properties, including:

  • A 11.5 acre Virginia Hospital Center property along S. Carlin Springs Road, which could potentially be used for police and fire vehicle logistics, a new police impound lot, material staging and for the Office of Emergency Management/Emergency Operations Center.
  • County-owned land at the intersection of 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive, across from Marymount University, which currently includes a park, a mulch pile and a salt dome. The park will be preserved but the county wants to replace the aging salt dome and use some of the land for snow clearing operations and material storage.
  • Madison Community Center, though no specific additional uses were presented.
  • Clarendon House, a vacant former rehabilitation center at the intersection of N. Irving Street and 10th Street N.

Another joint County Board-School Board meeting, on recommendations from the Community Facilities Study, is planned for Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.

by ARLnow.com October 1, 2015 at 10:00 am 1,240 0

Future Target store in Rosslyn

Another Jury Duty Scam — Scammers are once against targeting Arlington residents with phony phone calls about jury duty. At least 15 cases were reported in September of residents receiving calls from someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding a “good faith” payment over the phone for failing to appear for jury duty. The calls are fraudulent and police are investigating. [Arlington County]

Deaf Inmate’s Lawsuit Against Arlington — A deaf Ethiopian immigrant says the six weeks he spent in the Arlington County jail was torturous. Abreham Zemedagegehu has a limited ability to read or write English, and as a result missed meals and went without needed pain medication during his stay. A lawsuit against the county, filed pro bono by the law firm Akin Gump, says the jail should have had a sign language interpreter. [Washington Post]

Arlington Wages on the Rise — Wages for those who work in Arlington rose 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, higher than the national average of 2.1 percent. Arlington has the 10th highest wages among the largest 342 counties in the U.S. [InsideNova]

New Process Proposed for New Schools — The county’s Community Facilities Study Committee has made recommendations for a new “siting process” for new and expanded schools and county facilities. “The siting process is intended to improve upon current practices and function as a project management tool to make siting decisions efficiently, effectively and with ample community input,” according to a press release. [Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools]

Lots of Debates for County Board Candidates — The four Arlington County Board candidates are scheduled to participate in 14 debates in various parts of the county by the time election day rolls around in November. [Washington Post]

Va. State Police Cruisers Hacked — Computer security experts were able to hack into Virginia State Police vehicles, preventing the cars from starting or moving. The hacks were done as a security measure, as part of a state initiative to prevent future hacks of Virginia’s fleet of police cruisers and official vehicles. [Dark Reading]

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month — Today is Oct. 1, the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “The Arlington County Police Department has partnered with Doorways for Women and Families, our community advocate, to bring attention to this worthy cause,” according to a press release. During October, many ACPD vehicles will display a purple ribbon donated by Doorways. Last year, Arlington police were called to 2,086 incidents of domestic violence, resulting in 196 arrests. [Arlington County]

by Heather Mongilio June 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm 0

Aerial view of Courthouse and neighborhoodsWhere should new schools, parks and fire stations be built in Arlington? Which existing county facilities should stay the same and which might be due for a renovation or change in use?

Those are the questions being tackled by Arlington’s Community Facilities Study Committee, and today residents will get to get a glimpse of the committee’s work up close at an open house in Courthouse.

The drop-in open house is being held from noon to 3 p.m. and from 4-9 p.m. at the county government headquarters building (2100 Clarendon Blvd). Attendees will be able to talk to members of the study’s committee and ask about the study’s process and findings.

The Community Facilities Study is an analysis of Arlington that looks at the population and current needs of residents to project Arlington’s facilities needs in the near and long-term future. The study will predict what the demographics of the county will be and how this will that affect what new public buildings will be needed. The study began in January 2015 and is slated to end November 2015.

This information will be shared with the County Board and the school board so that elected officials can decide if more public buildings, such as schools, fire stations and recreational centers, are needed.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein March 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm 6,561 0

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The proportion of Arlington households making at least $200,000 annually has tripled in the past decade.

As part of the county’s ongoing Community Facilities Study, staff from the county government and Arlington Public Schools presented data to a working group this week that will come as little surprise to anyone who follows the county’s demographic trends.

In 2000, less than 6 percent of Arlington households made $200,000 or more. The largest income group in the county was those making between $75,000 and $99,999 (about $100,000-$135,000 in 2013 dollars, according to the county).

In 2013, more than 18 percent of the county was earning $200,00 or more — which is more than any other income group. The second-biggest segment is the $75,000-$99,999 group, at less than 13 percent of the county’s population.

More relevant to the overflowing schools problem that continues to plague the county: the size of the average family has increased. Non-family households made up 53.9 percent of the county population in 2013, down slightly from 54.5 percent in 2000.

Four-person households saw the single-biggest growth over the same time period. In 2000, there were 6,715 four-person families in Arlington. In 2013, there were 8,263 — marking a 23.1 percent increase. These are the households that generate the most significant portion of APS students, according to the county.

To compound the growth in the sheer number of larger families in the county, more families than ever before are sending their kids to Arlington schools. In 2000, 82 percent of school-age children in Arlington attended public school in the county. That number climbed to 91 percent in 2010.

According to U.S. Census data, there were 145 more total school-age children in Arlington in 2000 than in 2010, but the APS population added 1,837 children anyway.

What the Community Facilities Study and the Arlington County Board do with this information is still to be seen. The group has been meeting for about two months, and will continue to meet this summer. The group is charged with determining the best way to use the county and school system’s buildings, property and open space to serve everyone.

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