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Morning Notes

Bicyclists on a group ride in Lyon Park

McAuliffe to Sign Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will sign two pieces of school-related legislation during a visit to Wakefield High School Thursday morning. McAuliffe will sign SB 336/HB 895, which updates and modernizes high school graduation requirements, and SB 573/HB 279, which makes it easier for those in Career and Technical Education fields to become adjunct teachers.

Clement Calls for More Paving — Perennial candidate Audrey Clement, who is running as an independent for County Board, is calling for Arlington County to accelerate its street paving. “There are way too many potholes and cracked and broken pavements for Arlington residents to drive or walk safely to work, school, or shopping centers — let alone to bike,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]

County Regroups After Crowdfunding Fail — Arlington County tried to raise $10,000 in donations to make the Glebe and Lang Street Community Garden accessible to those with disabilities. After raising only $465, the county is looking for matching funds in its budget to build a scaled-down version of its original plan. [Washington Post]

Basketball Star Selling Lyon Park Home — Trajan Langdon, who recently was named Assistant General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets, is selling his Lyon Park home for $2 million. Langdon was a first round draft pick who struggled in the NBA but went on to stardom in the Euroleague. The home includes a soda machine and a giant walk-in shoe closet. [Real House Life of Arlington]

Proposed CIP Doesn’t Include New High School — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan includes additions to Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools, which will add 800 seats, but does not include a plan for a new high school. Even with the additions, Arlington’s public high schools are expected to be overcapacity by the early 2020s. [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Hello, Spring (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Water Main Repairs to Close Road — Arlington Ridge Road is scheduled be closed in both directions at 23rd Street S. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. today for water main repairs. Detours will be in place, but drivers should consider alternate routes, Arlington County says.

Airport Strike is Back on Starting Tonight — A strike by contract service workers at Reagan National and other major U.S. airports is back on, starting tonight. The strike was initially planned for last week but was postponed due to the Brussels terror attacks. [Washington Post]

Arson Suspect Due in Arlington Court — A Reston man suspected of a home invasion and arson in Fairfax County is scheduled to be in an Arlington courtroom tomorrow. Antwan Green is also facing multiple charges stemming from crashing a stolen vehicle in Arlington on Dec. 10 and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. [Reston Now]

Fundraiser for Accessible Community Garden — Arlington County is trying to raise $10,000 from donors in order to build four “vertical gardens” that are accessible to those with disabilities or mobility issues. Currently, none of the county’s community gardens are accessible. The vertical gardens would be built at the Glebe & Lang Street Community Garden, along S. Glebe Road. The county is hoping to complete fundraising and construction by the end of June. [Fund Your Park]

Arlington Startup Acquired — Arlington-based startup Encore Alert has been acquired by Meltwater, a San Francisco-based brand analytics and consulting firm. As a result of the acquisition, the Encore Alert team has moved to the Bay Area. [DC Inno]

Co-Working Growing Quickly — Co-working providers are growing quickly and are expected by some analysts “to absolutely explode over the next five years.” Two of the top players are WeWork, which just opened a new office in Crystal City, and MakeOffices, which is opening a new flagship co-working space in Clarendon within the next few months. MakeOffices is based in Rosslyn, after being founded as UberOffices in 2012. [Bisnow]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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County Buying House to Expand Lang Street Community Garden

Arl Comm Garden For the second time in a year, Arlington County is planning to expand one of its seven community gardens.

The County Board yesterday unanimously approved the purchase of a house at 2822 S. Arlington Ridge Road, a .22 acre property adjacent to the Lang Street Community Garden, for $699,000.

The house is described as a “modest, colonial-style home built three-quarters of a century ago,” which was determined to not be historic.

The County plans to tear down the house and use the land to expand the garden, which is currently 1.2 acres and includes 70 garden plots. The expansion will enable the addition of 45 half-size plots.

Arlington has seven community gardens comprising about 300 individual plots. As of now, the wait list for one of these plots has close to 500 names on it.

Photo via arlingtonva.us

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Four Mile Run Community Garden to Expand

The community garden on S. Four Mile Run Drive will grow by almost 10,000 square feet, giving space for 40 new gardeners to grow herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the garden’s expansion, entering into agreements with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority — which owns the land — and Dominion Power, which runs power lines above where the garden expansion will be.

“What a great example of thinking outside the box to find solutions,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “This is a win-win for everyone. Not only will the County be able to provide more garden plots, the space is currently overrun with invasive plants, which will be removed when the garden is built by Parks and Recreation staff.”

The expansion will tack on 9,900 square feet to the garden, which is directly adjacent to the W&OD Trail, and across the street from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The garden will be on the NVRPA’s land, and as part of the agreement, if the park authority deems it needs the space, or the garden is encroaching too much on trail users, it can terminate the agreement with 60 days’ notice. The county is responsible for maintaining the garden, and the gardens are each run by a community association and an appointed “chief gardener.”

The expansion will add space to help whittle down the ever-expanding waiting list of gardeners hoping to use county space to grow their plants, a recommendation of the Urban Agriculture Task Force. According to the county, there are about 350 people on waiting lists for plots and half-plots of space at one of Arlington’s seven community gardens.

One plot costs $60 a year with water and $50 without water. The expansion will bring the total number of plots in county gardens to 265. Full 20-foot-by-20-foot plots are given on a first-come, first-served basis, and those interested in joining the waiting list can apply online.

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Community Garden Plots: A Tragedy of the Commons?

There are eight community gardens around Arlington, and each has a wait list. At the South Four Mile Run garden, however, one gardener is wondering why the county is allowing the high-demand plots to fall into a state of disrepair.

“I am a co-gardener of a garden plot in the Fort Barnard Community Gardens, [and] if my garden plot looked the way that many of the plots on South Four Mile Run do, my plot would be considered abandoned and the privileges to the plot would be revoked,” the man wrote in an email to a county official. He asked that his name not be used in this article.

“Nearly all of the plots are in violation of one or more of the County Community Garden Rules,” the gardener wrote. “I waited for 2 years to get a garden plot. To see residents [who] have garden plots neglect them and not use them to their full potential is frustrating.”

The man called the Four Mile Run garden an “eyesore” and said sent photos along to prove it. He said the photos show:

  • “Many of the plots were never cut back and cleared for the winter. Vines and weeds have overtaken many of the plots and fences. In some cases the vines have grown beyond the boundaries of garden plots.”
  • “Many of the gardeners have erected 6-8 ft wooden structures that are crudely constructed to grow vines on. Many of the structures have collapsed, are broken, or leaning.”
  • “Trash such as empty buckets, jugs, milk crates, tarps, propped up carpets that are used for weed barriers, wheelbarrows, shoes, lumbar, broken chairs, bed frames, and PVC pipes are some of the items that litter the garden plots.”
  • “The fences that create the boundaries for the community garden are in disrepair. Many of the rails are broken and laying on the ground. In one garden plot the fence has been pulled down because of the weight of the weedy vines growing on it.”

The county’s 200+ community garden plots are in high demand among apartment and condo dwellers who have a green thumb but no land to call their own. But Jamie Bartalon, the landscape and forestry supervisor for the county’s parks department, says that regulations only require the gardens to be cleaned up in time for the summer growing season.

“The rules for the community gardens do require that plot-holders have their plots cleaned up and ready for gardening by May 15,” he said.

According to Bartalon, the plots are supervised by a “chief gardener” who’s elected by a vote of the plot-holders. Should trash or debris become a major problem prior to May 15, the plot-holder can be asked by the chief gardener to tidy it up.

“If it’s being used for storage of non-gardening debris, they can be asked to clean it up… If there’s obvious trash, they can be asked to remove it,” Bartalong said. “If nothing happens, a plot can be reassigned… Obviously we don’t want them to look like an eyesore to the community.”

Bartalon said the parks department “occasionally” gets complaints, although he was unable to provide the number of complaints received or other related statistics.

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