Arlington, VA

Arlington County is planning to buy a vacant home in East Falls Church that was damaged in the July 2019 flash flooding.

The county intends to demolish the home at 6415 24th Street N. and use the property to make improvements “that would help alleviate or reduce the severity of localized flooding,” Stormwater Communications Manager Aileen Winquist tells ARLnow.

The county acknowledged it doesn’t have to buy the property to make the upgrades, but these kinds of purchases could give it flexibility with solutions.

After the July deluge, county staff evaluated flood-prone areas to find properties that the county could buy and use for stormwater infrastructure improvements, according to a staff report. This property, valued at $683,800, is one of the four high-priority locations that the county identified.

“The agreement is the first negotiated acquisition to be considered by the County Board as part of this program,” the report said.

The County Board is slated to approve the purchase from the home’s owners during its meeting this Saturday.

Winquist said the locations of the three other properties, whose owners were currently not interested in selling, are available via a public records request.

The Department of Environmental Services has not yet settled on the mitigation approach it will take on the 24th Street N. property, which has not been repaired since the flooding, Winquist said.

“The County is still analyzing projects to reduce flood risk in this watershed, which may include upgrading that section of pipe or storm drain,” she said. “The County is exploring the use of this property for infrastructure, detention, or overland relief as part of a larger-scale solution.”

During the 2019 storm, some nearby homes in the neighborhood experienced flooding, “but not to the extent of this property,” Winquist said.

The county will demolish the structure starting at least six months after the sale, expecting to spend some $200,000 to $250,000 to do so. The sellers plan to allow the nonprofit Second Chance to salvage materials from the home ahead of demolition.

Property owners can contact the county to have their property considered for the program, but the county will have to consider such acquisitions carefully given the complexity of the flood mitigation solutions, Winquist said.

Although voters approved a $50.8 million bond in November for various stormwater projects, the county said the money for the property purchase wouldn’t come from that.

Photo (3) via Google Maps

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) After months of public review, a proposal for two mixed-use towers in Crystal City from JBG Smith is slated for County Board approval this Saturday.

The 2.4-acre site is located at the intersection of Richmond Highway and 20th Street S., just north of the Crystal Plaza Apartments. As part of the project, initially filed in 2019, the Bethesda-based developer proposes demolishing an existing office building and surface parking lot, and shifting S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street.

It its place will be two towers with more than 750 residential units.

JBG Smith has made some changes in response to criticism from members of the Crystal City Civic Association, as well as a few transportation and pedestrian commission members.

In January, some criticized the width between the two buildings, separated by the new S. Clark-Bell Street, for being narrower than the width called for in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Residents also said a proposed — mostly cement — pedestrian plaza should include more “trees, gardens and benches,” and worried that a proposed underground garage would have interfered with a network of tunnels known as the “Underground.”

Some plans have changed since then.

The pedestrian plaza “took a great step in the right direction to become something much more green, much more biophilic,” said principal planner Adam Watson during a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.

As for the “Underground,” JBG Smith is now proposing a “fully enclosed, fully undergrounded, climate-controlled connection” from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S., Watson said. A previous iteration had the tunnel open up when it connected with the garage.

The final proposals for the above-ground plaza and underground tunnel “evolved over the course of the public community engagement process,” Watson said.

The space between the two buildings, separated by the new S. Clark-Bell Street, still falls a few feet short of the Crystal City Sector Plan but the county is giving this deviation a pass.

“Staff finds the proposed street segment will provide sufficient functionality to support all modes of transportation,” according to the county.

JBG Smith is proposing a space of 76.5 feet between the two buildings, compared to the sector plan’s recommendation of 80 feet. Although 3.5 feet narrower, the street will accommodate two travel lanes southbound, one travel lane northbound, and a buffered bicycle lane in each direction.

S. Clark Street would shift east and — south of the buildings — tie into the existing S. Clark Street, according to the county report.

“The northern end will align with S. Bell Street, north of 20th Street S. and create a new four-way signal-controlled intersection and remove the existing intersection with 20th Street S.,” the report said.

The density of the towers has also decreased slightly. While they are the same height, both have less ground-floor retail space and fewer residential units.

The West tower (2000 S. Bell Street) now has the following specifications:

  • 367,040 sq. ft.
  • 338 units
  • 12,244 square feet of commercial or retail space
  • 250 feet tall

The East tower (2001 S. Bell Street) now has the following specifications:

  • 334,061 sq. ft.
  • 420 units
  • 10,006 square feet of commercial or retail space
  • 200 feet tall

There will be 247 parking spaces for residents and 10 visitor spaces, along with 45 spaces for retail users. Additional parking will be available in existing garages.

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Ragtime in Courthouse may be getting a huge break on rent thanks to the Arlington County Board.

On Saturday (May 15), the Board is expected to vote to amend the county’s lease with the long-time local restaurant that would reduce Ragtime’s rent during the on-going pandemic “to a level that it can afford to pay.”

Ragtime is located at 1345 N. Courthouse Road, on the ground floor of an office building purchased by the county in 2012. It leases the 5,000 square-foot space, now owned by the county but previously owned by a private landlord.

Ragtime first opened in 2001 and is owned by Vintage Restaurants, which also runs Rhodeside Grill on Wilson Blvd and William Jeffrey’s Tavern on Columbia Pike.

Ragtime’s business has declined “precipitously” during the pandemic, the county staff report details. In April 2020, sales were less than 10% of normal. Although business has increased in recent months, it remains 50% below normal, the report says.

Due to the drop in sales, Ragtime is unable to pay rent at the rate called for in the current lease, which was signed in 2013 and expires in 2026, according to the county.

“When sales decline substantially below normal, inflexible overhead like employee salaries and utility charges does not decline to the same degree, and accordingly absorbs a greater percentage of sales,” says the report. “This leaves a smaller percentage of sales that can be applied to rent.”

As a result, an agreement was struck that would reduce Ragtime’s rent to the equivalent of 9.5% of its gross sales (as long it doesn’t exceed its base rent rate, which is approximately $19,000 a month).

“As a rule of thumb, restaurants can afford to devote roughly 10% of sales to the payment of rent,” the report notes.

That rate would remain in effect until the restaurant has two consecutive months in which 9.5% of gross sales exceeds its base rent, or for one year after the lease amendment is signed, whichever happens first.

The reduced rate is being backdated to April 2020, and Ragtime is being allowed to hold off on paying back rent.

“Ragtime will begin paying the discounted back rent (based on 9.5% of gross sales) when their sales return to normal,” the staff report says. “This discounted back rent will be payable monthly over a one-year period. The actual revenue impact to the County in FY 2021 and FY 2022 is dependent upon Ragtime’s gross sales as well as the timing of when their sales return to normal.”

“The total estimated revenue shortfall compared to budgeted amounts in FY 2021 and FY 2022 is approximately $100,000,” the report adds.

ARLnow has reached out to Vintage Restaurants for comment, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

There’s also another tenant in the 2020 14th Street N. building that the county owns: Courthouse Deli.

When asked if the county is working on a similar arrangement with that business, a county spokesperson declined to comment specifically due to confidentiality.

“We have worked with all County tenants that have requested relief due to pandemic-related hardship,” wrote a county spokesperson.

Photo via Ragtime/Facebook

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Looking to be closer to the government and defense fields, Boston-based Northeastern University is eyeing some space in Rosslyn.

The university is looking to convert the 14th floor of Arlington Tower (1300 17th Street N.) into a teaching space for graduate-level classes and a research space that will house The Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security.

Matthew Weinstein, a land use attorney with McGuireWoods who represents Northeastern University, said in a letter that the university “seeks to establish an operation at the property as a central location for mission-driven programs including defense-based programs, benefitting from close proximity to government customers.”

Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development has determined the research use still classifies as office use, according to a letter included in a staff report. To use the other half of the 14th floor, totaling 8,500 square feet, for teaching, NU needs the approval from the County Board.

The County Board is scheduled to review the school’s request during its regular meeting this Saturday.

Currently, the 18-story, 411,679-square-foot Arlington Tower is zoned for commercial uses, not including higher education, according to the staff report. But converting the space will only involve minor interior renovations, according to the county.

“No objections from the community nor staff have been expressed,” the report said. “As the proposed conversion is not located on the ground floor, it does not remove any retail spaces nor have any impact on the exterior appearance of the building.

The report added that the offshoot of Northeastern will bring “new visitors to the Rosslyn area during off-peak hours, potentially creating new customers for Rosslyn-based business.”

Most of the classes will be held Monday through Friday evenings and Saturday mornings and early afternoon, according to the county.

The 14th floor of Arlington Tower was most recently home to former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign office, which was temporarily shut down last summer due to a coronavirus outbreak. Trump previously bragged that the lease on the office space “was a steal.”

Image via Google Maps

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With COVID-19 cases trending down, vaccines being distributed and restrictions loosening, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti says his focus is starting to shift toward Arlington’s economic and social recovery.

“There is more work to do on the pandemic but recovery has already begun,” he said.

And Arlington County, by his assessment, is in a fairly strong place financially — in some ways, he said it is in a better place than when numerous federal agencies and military offices decamped from Pentagon City and Crystal City starting around 2005.

Arlington will receive $23 million this year and next year through the federal American Rescue Plan, some of which will be used to return funding for affordable housing and hunger prevention programs that had been on the chopping block from the 2022 budget. The new budget, as passed, boosts spending by 3.5% despite the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic.

In addition, Amazon’s presence is contributing to Arlington’s stability. De Ferranti said the e-commerce giant’s arrival is and will continue attracting talent and businesses of all sizes, strengthening the county’s commercial office base. And, for now, the county has been spared from making incentive payments to Amazon.

The county’s incentive package for Amazon stipulated that Arlington would share a cut of the revenue generated from an increase in hotel stays if Amazon met its hiring goals. Since the economic impact of the coronavirus also included dramatically fewer hotel stays, Arlington has not been on the hook for these payments.

If any of these things weren’t true, de Ferranti said he “would be more worried about the fiscal outlook in 2023, 2024 and 2025.”

This moment — when the county’s financial outlook is strong but there’s still significant need in parts of the community — is exactly when the government needs to step in, he said. Keeping people who are at risk of eviction in their homes, fighting hunger and providing grants and loans to small businesses will have big economic returns later on, the chair said.

The county has learned a number of financial lessons from the coronavirus, de Ferranti noted. Arlington will need to invest more in public health staffing and is considering a rainy-day fund for future public health emergencies. When the American Rescue Plan funding dries up, the county may need to increase its support, through grants and loans, for small businesses as well as its investments in hunger and eviction prevention.

While the county has been focused on the pandemic response, it has held back on certain equity-focused work. Some community engagement in land-use changes to address Missing Middle housing was pushed back due to the pandemic, as have investments in multimodal transit and workforce development.

“Arlington is committed to equity, but it has been hard,” de Ferranti said.

And while Amazon is economically propping up the county in some ways, Arlington Public Schools’ budget will not be feeling the returns as directly. The county will need to do more work with the School Board and administration to address APS’s systemic budget deficits, he said.

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Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz aims to have a new police chief in place within the next month or two.

And this police chief, he said during a meeting last week, must appreciate Arlington’s diversity and understand how different communities react to police presence.

“Our police officers meet with residents, visitors and those who work here during the most stressful moments of their lives,” he said. “I’m looking for a chief who understands our community gains strength from its diversity.”

The police department has been without a permanent leader since September, when the former police chief M. Jay Farr retired, citing souring relations with the County Board as one of his reasons for leaving. Acting chief Andy Penn is leading in his place.

Meantime, Schwartz has been conducting a nationwide search while a consultant, Leroy Thompson, gathered input from police officers and community members.

The consultant found that police officers want a chief who will boost morale, support officers, regain their trust and help improve race relations, Thompson said. They are wary of the county overreacting to a national narrative that “wasn’t severe in Arlington,” he said.

The community, meanwhile, wants a chief who will build relationships in the community and with other county departments to address peoples’ needs, Thompson said. They envision an approach to law enforcement that focuses on connecting people with needed services, instead of the current strategy centered on punishment, which they say is a holdover from the war on drugs, he said.

One area of agreement? Thompson said the community and police officers stressed the new hire should not seem like a political appointment.

Amid a national dialogue on race and policing, Arlington has taken several steps to respond to calls for police reform, including recently budgeting for full time police auditor/monitor position and a civilian mental health crisis response team.

Schwartz said a consultant is also reviewing ACPD’s policies guiding use of force, body-worn cameras, and the collection of data, as well as how successful the department is at recruiting and retaining officers. The report was set to come last fall but has yet to arrive, he said.

This past winter, the county implemented a body-worn camera program, and in January, Penn signed onto the Northern Virginia Regional Critical Incident Response Team, which allows for an independent investigation into serious uses of police force.

In February, a “Police Practices Group” convened last summer presented myriad ways to change how the police respond to behavioral health crises and enforce traffic violations. Schwartz said he expects the new chief to carry out these recommendations.

“It’s my firm expectation — I have made it clear to anyone who has interviewed for the position — that they will follow all the recommendations I support from the PPG and he/she is free to challenge me on those I didn’t recommend,” Schwartz said. “I expect whoever the next police chief is will be walking around with a tired, tattered copy of this document in his or her front pocket.”

A press release from Farr’s retirement timed the hiring to come after the PPG wrapped up its work. One of its recommendations is the creation of a civilian review board.

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Last week, the Arlington County Board approved a new budget that holds the current real estate tax rate steady.

In some ways, that’s a win given the fears of a pandemic-caused budget crunch. Tax revenue ended up coming in above estimates and federal funding freed up million in local funds. Instead of making significant budget cuts, as originally feared, the Board was able to add in numerous initiatives, paid for with one-time funding.

The budget maintains the current base real estate tax rate at $1.013 per $100 in assessed property value, a de facto tax hike for most homeowners given that residential property assessments up are 5.6%. Assessments on commercial property, including office buildings, slumped 1.4% this year.

Some called for the Board to lower the property tax rate, as Loudoun County is doing and Fairfax County is considering, “to provide relief to homeowners hit by rising assessments.” In the end, the Board decided to do more rather than less, keeping the tax rate where it is and adding funding for things like housing, hunger, fiscal reserves, and raises for county employees.

Perhaps there is a calculation here, that an expected strong economy will further buoy tax revenue and property assessments over the next year, and that the next (FY 2023) budget is the time to trim the tax rate a bit, rather than now when many are still suffering as a result of the pandemic.

What do you think of the Board’s decision?

Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) A long-delayed redevelopment at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Barton Street finally appears poised to become a reality.

A new mixed-use building at 2400 Columbia Pike, featuring 120 residential units and ground-floor retail space, will be replacing the current, low-slung 1950s buildings, one of which holds independent cafe Rappahannock Coffee. The County Board approved a modification to the development plan, including adding 15 residential units to the originally-proposed 105, at its meeting last weekend.

Part of the approved proposal included maintaining the current building facades on the ground floor to maintain part of the character of Columbia Pike.

“The façade preservation treatment for the two historic buildings will retain Columbia Pike’s unique setting and scale,” a county staff report said, “while allowing for a more cohesive development to occur, providing for a defined street wall and better efficiencies around underground parking, floor plates, and common areas.”

According to a County press release, the current businesses — Rappahannock Coffee and Cabinets ERA — will be able to stay in place in the new building.

“The proposed development will not only preserve the existing building facades but will also retain space for current retailers and offer transportation improvements contributing to a cohesive and user-friendly network,” the County said.

We tried to reach both businesses to ask about their plans. A person who answered the phone at Rappahannock Coffee hung up on an ARLnow reporter, and a Cabinets ERA employee said the manager did not want to discuss it.

The new development will also come with some improvements to the streetscape and the sidewalk. Six feet of the sidewalk will be designated for pedestrian space, while another six feet could be used for benches, trees, and other amenities.

Provisions are also included for a future transit station on the eastern part of the project. Despite hopes for transit ridership on the Pike, the proposal includes 140 parking spaces in a below-grade garage and 36 spaces in a newly-approved surface parking lot behind the building.

The County Board unanimously approved the project at its meeting on Saturday.

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The old Wendy’s lot in Courthouse, demolished in 2016 for an office building that never came, could be the site of a new development.

For almost five years, the triangle lot at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Courthouse Road has sat vacant. Construction crews working on 2000 Clarendon, a condo project across the street, have used it as a staging area for the last two years.

But now a project is taking shape. Last week, Greystar Real Estate Partners filed a site plan application with Arlington County proposing a high-rise apartment building with ground-floor retail at 2026 Wilson Blvd.

The proposed building, which is 16 stories tall and has 231 units, 74 residential parking spaces and some bicycle parking, is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification. The developer is also proposing a public plaza where Wilson and Clarendon Blvd meet.

“Recognizing the property’s location, topography and prominence in Courthouse, the applicant proposes … to redevelop the property with a high-rise residential building with ground-floor retail and iconic architectural features,” said Nan Walsh and Andrew Painter, attorneys for the land use law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, in a letter to the county.

The filing comes four months after the company purchased the lot for $19 million from Carr Properties, according to real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle. Back in 2015, Carr was approved to move forward with plans for a 12-story office building.

Greystar made its intentions known in October 2020, when it filed conceptual plans for 2026 Wilson Blvd.

“The building, which will serve as an iconic architectural feature for the Courthouse neighborhood, will retain many of the same architectural design elements of the previously approved office building, including its glass curtain wall design,” the attorneys’ letter said.

The plaza would surround a possible retail entrance at the tip of the Wendy’s site, facing N. Courthouse Road. The Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study recommends an “activity-based, pedestrian-oriented urban plaza” at that same location.

According to the Walsh Colucci team, the proposed public pedestrian plaza will be approximately 3,279 square feet with movable tables and chairs and space for temporary vendors.

The urban design study also recommends buildings do not exceed 10 stories — unless they accommodate affordable housing or community benefits. This proposal clocks in at 16 stories and 166 feet tall.

Greystar “is open to the provision of on-site affordable housing to further justify the increase in height,” Walsh and Painter said.

The applications offered no further specifics but Greystar’s legal representation said the company “will work with staff throughout the site plan process to develop an affordable housing plan.”

Greystar proposes, generally, to maintain the existing street, sidewalk and bicycle configuration that the County Board approved with Carr Properties’ office building.

There will be no retail parking as a part of the project but Greystar’s development across the street will provide “ample retail parking to support both projects,” the attorney said, referring to the Landmark Block development, which the County Board approved last month.

Images via Arlington County. Hat tip to @CarFreeHQ2.

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The majority of Arlington homeowners will face higher property taxes, after the County Board approved a budget that holds the property tax rate steady.

The Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes $1.4 billion in spending, a 3.5% increase from last year’s budget. Of that, $530 million will go to Arlington Public Schools, which will pass its final budget next month.

Earlier this year County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a budget that would have only boosted spending by 1.4%, calling it a “transition budget” appropriate for the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The new county budget includes millions in additional expenditures, thanks to higher-than-expected business tax revenue and an expected $46 million in federal funding for Arlington’s local COVID-19 response from the American Rescue Plan, to be split between this year’s and next year’s budgets.

Among the additions, according to a County Board report posted the same day as Tuesday’s meeting:

Increasing the bonus for employees to approximately $900/net ($2,653,965); Fully replenishing the Stabilization Reserve that was utilized to balance the FY 2021 and FY 2022 budgets ($7,841,608); Funding technical support for financial/human resources system ($240,000); Increasing funding for Libraries to support materials collection ($100,000); Supporting tree pruning by shifting cycle from 17 to 9.5 years ($200,000); Providing funding for a vehicle for the Urban Forester position ($55,000); Restoring outreach program recruitment funding for Police Department ($187,350); Funding the purchase and installation of 13 charging stations for electric vehicles to prepare for increase in electric vehicle purchases in the upcoming year ($250,000) and providing supplemental funding of $33,000 to increase the number of electric vehicles purchased in FY 2022 (6 additional vehicles); Funding the County Manager’s Contingent ($2,500,000); Increasing funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, bringing the total in the FY 2022 budget to $16.9 million ($7.9 million one-time and $9.0 million in ongoing); Restoring $2.6 million of PAYG funding, adding $2.0 million for facility renovations, and funding the installation of gender-neutral restroom signage in County facilities ($145,000); Funding Arts Resiliency grants ($50,000); Provide additional support for the Restorative Arlington initiative ($50,000); Maintaining alternative COVID eligibility criteria for existing recipients of housing grants ($1,036,512); Providing additional funding for the airport noise study ($50,000); Arlington Public Schools (APS): one-time funding requests for Summer School Incentive Payments ($605,000) and costs of opening Cardinal Elementary School ($882,940) and the Education Center ($750,000); Funding an analysis of the budget based on Equity Metrics ($50,000); Expanding access to early voting on two Sundays in advance of the November election ($50,000); Providing a one percent salary increase for all employees and shifting pay ranges by one percent for public safety and five percent for general employees ($2,420,332); Funding 1.0 permanent and 3.0 temporary FTEs for the Fire Department’s implementation of the Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) program with costs covered by program revenue ($270,000); Increasing funding to the Lee Highway Alliance by $25,000 to match total FY 2021 funding of $85,500; Purchasing additional databases for small businesses to assist with pandemic recovery ($40,000); Funding redaction software for the body worn camera program for the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office ($33,500); Funding to support prevailing wage administration ($168,600); Funding an additional Urban Forester position for the Department of Parks and Recreation ($105,000); Restoring funding for the Virginia Cooperative Extension ($63,682) and Northern Virginia Conservation Trust ($90,159); Funding additional Police Practices Group recommendations ($90,000); Adding a fifth Court Clerk (1.0 FTE) and an additional Land Records position (1.0 FTE) to the Circuit Court ($87,416); Restoring previous one-time funding with ongoing support to Arlington Independent Media ($70,000); Restoring funding for an Administrative Assistant position in the County Board Office ($90,000); Reducing client’s income contribution towards rent from 40% to 30% for the Housing Grants Program ($487,713)

The budget also includes $2.8 million for some one-time Arlington Public School projects.

“After a lengthy public review process that included work sessions, public hearings, input from residents, employees, boards and commissions, and updated revenue forecasts based on the third quarter update, the County Board, after deliberations, has approved a balanced budget for FY 2022,” says the Board report. “The budget continues funding for core County services and Arlington Public Schools; it provides additional funding for a variety of critical County programs and one-time APS costs related to opening Cardinal Elementary and the Ed Center, summer school incentive payments, and virtual school in the fall.”

The budget maintains the current base real estate tax rate at $1.013 per $100 in assessed property value, a de facto tax hike with residential property assessments up 5.6%. Assessments on commercial property, including office buildings, slumped 1.4% this year.

There was little additional discussion as the Board voted on the numerous individual budget items.

At a recent tax rate hearing, a few people called for the Board to lower the property tax rate, as Loudoun County is doing and Fairfax County is considering, “to provide relief to homeowners hit by rising assessments.” The real estate tax is expected to generate just over $800 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2022, which starts July 1.

The Board also voted last night to raise the stormwater tax by $0.004 per $100 of assessed value to support stormwater improvements, and to slightly decrease the annual Household Solid Waste Rate from $319.03 to $318.61.

Other highlights of the new budget including affordable housing funding and housing grants; grants for small businesses affected by the pandemic; implementing recommended policing changes, including funding a civilian mental health crisis response team; electric vehicle charging stations and county fleet purchases; raises and bonuses for county employees; and the opening of the new Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center and Lubber Run Community Center.

The full county press release about the budget is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

County Board Approves Several Projects — “The Arlington County Board took action at its April meeting on a number of projects designed to invest in community development and improve infrastructure throughout the County. ‘The Board’s actions today invest in Arlington’s future through a flexible space for the arts, additional flexibility to allow for additional affordable housing, four neighborhood conservation projects, and infrastructure that improves our core utilities and provides essential services for our residents,’ County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.” [Arlington County]

Local Group’s Statement on Chauvin Verdict — Black Parents of Arlington issued a statement last night about the verdict in George Floyd’s murder: “This ‘justice’ system, while today handed down a verdict that provides accountability, cannot, and will not, ever restore justice. Justice is when a Black photographer can visit a client without being harassed by both neighbors and law enforcement. Justice is when a pregnant Black woman can deliver her baby with dignity, and not in the captivity of an Arlington County jail.” [Press Release]

More Students Taken Off In-Person Waitlists — “In response to the CDC’s 3-foot distancing update, schools have continued to accommodate more students in person, and nearly half of all APS schools have cleared their waitlists. So far in April, nearly 1,000 students have been added for in-person instruction, and we are working through the remaining students as capacity allows. Additionally, more classes at the elementary level have now transitioned into one classroom, versus the previous split classes.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Candidates Want More APS Transparency — “The two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for School Board say there’s one tangible thing the county school system can do immediately in an effort to address seemingly intractable achievement disparities. Let the sunshine in. The way to address achievement gaps ‘is to know that they’re there – bring them out into the light.'” [Sun Gazette]

Fundraising Advantage for Incumbents — “Two Arlington legislators facing intra-party challenges from their left are maintaining healthy cash-on-hand totals headed toward June 8 primary showdowns. Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) ended the first quarter with $120,853 in his campaign account, while challenger Matt Rogers had $13,180, according to filings with the Virginia Department of Elections… In the 49th District, Del. Alfonso Lopez ended the quarter with $131,117 on hand compared to $30,990 for educator Karishma Mehta.” [Sun Gazette]

County Board Recognizes ‘Notable’ Trees — “Arlington has more than 750,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $1 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff, and are valued at $1.41 billion total. On Tuesday, April 20, 32 of these trees will be designated as Notable Trees by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Local Park Volunteers Honored — “The Arlington County Board will recognize two winners of the Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award at its Board meeting on Tuesday, April 20. Elaine Mills and Glenn Tobin will be recognized for their dedication and support of Arlington County natural resources and public open spaces. Mills is the winner for 2019 and Tobin is the winner for 2020.” [Arlington County]

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