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by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Arlington FY 2017-2026 CIP graphicArlington voters may be asked to decide whether the county should spend tens of millions of dollars on Metro, maintenance, parks and recreation and other capital improvements this fall.

County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his proposed FY 2017-26 Capital Improvement Plan earlier this week. The County Board will now hold a series of work sessions and public hearings before final adoption of the plan and the November slate of bond referenda by the Board on July 19.

The CIP includes $177 million of proposed bond referenda for November, for the following projects:

Metro and Transportation – $59 million

  • Metro – fulfilling our ongoing commitment – $30 million, a 31 percent increase from the 2014 referenda ($23 million).
  • Paving – maintaining our roads – $24 million a 27 percent increase over the last CIP

Parks and Recreation – $19 million

  • Maintenance capital of $12 million;
  • Land acquisition of $3 million a 50 percent increase over the prior CIP

Government Facilities – $70 million

  • Design for Fire Station 8 (Completion of the Fire Station 8 Task Force work will inform a construction referenda request in 2018)
  • Facilities Maintenance capital — $11 million
  • Construction of Lubber Run Community Center – $46 million
  • Barcroft Gymnastics Expansion – $3 million

Community Conservation – $17 million

  • Continued support of Neighborhood Conservation – $12 million
  • Construction of the Nauck Town Square – $5 million

Joint County Schools – $12 million

  • Parking structure at Thomas Jefferson site

Schwartz’s plan is notable both for what it contains and what it doesn’t contain. For one, the plan asks for no additional funds for the proposed, scaled-down Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center.

The plan is being billed as a balance of new capital spending projects and maintenance that stays within the limits needed to preserve Arlington’s AAA bond rating, at a time when Arlington Public Schools is in the midst of major construction projects to keep up with rising enrollment. The CIP assumes annual county revenue growth of 2-3 percent, which officials say is a conservative projection.

This is the first Capital Improvement Plan since the cancelation of the Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar project. The plan “reallocates money from the cancelled project into a premium [bus] transit network for Columbia Pike that eventually will offer a one-ride trip from the west end of the Pike to Potomac Yard.”

“Our priorities are clear,” Schwartz said in a press release. “We will fund a premium transit network for Columbia Pike that will bring many of the benefits of a streetcar, at less cost, to that heavily traveled corridor. We include substantial funding for Schools capacity needs and the Superintendent’s proposed CIP priorities. We also will address our community’s growing need for recreational facilities and open space by replacing the aging Lubber Run Community Center and moving forward with the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center and surrounding 10 acres of parkland within existing funding. We also will fund the design of a new fire station to replace Lee Highway’s obsolete Fire Station No. 8.”

“The proposed CIP is a 4.4 percent increase over the FY 15-FY 24 Adopted CIP of $2.7 billion,” the press release notes.

“It includes more than $1.3 billion in funding for transportation over the next 10 years. Some of that money would be used to expand the County’s successful Arlington Transit (ART) bus system, adding 25 buses to the 65-bus fleet by FY 2022. Another $421 million is proposed for water-sewer infrastructure funding over the next 10 years. Also included is funding to acquire the Buck property, on N. Quincy Street, and $6 million to build an on-line payment portal and supporting systems.”

by ARLnow.com — May 18, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike

Post Investigates Chinese Rice Customs — In a follow-up to the saga of the diners who received insults on their bill at Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, the Washington Post has taken a closer look at the rice-serving customs of restaurants in China. Could it be, the Post asks, that the servers were driven to frustration due to erroneous “mansplaining” about rice? [Washington Post]

County Considering Fraud Hotline for the Public — Arlington County staff is considering a proposal to expand the county’s new waste, fraud and abuse hotline, making it open to the public. The hotline is currently set up for county employees. [InsideNova]

Market Common Clarendon Sells for $406 Million — The Market Common Clarendon shopping center and apartment complex has sold for $406 million. The buyers are Florida shopping center developer Regency Centers and Arlington-based real estate investment trust AvalonBay. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]

County Board Race Donations By ZIP Code — New maps show the percentage breakdown of campaign contributions to Democratic County Board contenders Libby Garvey and Erik Gutsthall, by ZIP code. According to the maps, Garvey is strongest in the north Arlington 22207 ZIP, while Gutshall’s strongest zone is the Crystal City and Pentagon City 22202 ZIP. [Data for Humans]

Review of New Synetic Theater Production — “The action-packed shows of Synetic Theater always have cinematic flair, but the second act of the company’s new ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ takes on surprising storytelling depth. The always-superb fights are accompanied by unexpectedly gripping scenes of high melodrama and even flickers of camp.” [Washington Post]

by ARLnow.com — May 17, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Water main break on Arlington Ridge Road

This week is National Public Works Week, and to mark the occasion Arlington County has released some crazy stats from its public works division, the Dept. of Environmental Services.

Here’s what the county says DES has done over the past year:

  • “Collected some 34,000 tons of trash and another 31,000 tons of recycling curbside”
  • “Carried more than 2.8 million passengers on Arlington Transit (ART) bus trips”
  • “Paved 92 of the County’s 974 lane miles”
  • “Filled 12,100 potholes in 2015, and 4,917 so far in 2016”
  • “Cleaned and lined 57,000 linear feet of storm sewer pipe”
  • “Fixed 217 water main breaks”
  • “Replaced approximately three miles of water mains”
  • “Cleaned and lined 2,300 linear feet of water mains”
  • “Collected more than 2,300 tons of debris and sediment through street sweeping”

In a press release, the county noted that many of the jobs performed by DES crews took place while the average Arlington resident was sleeping or enjoying their weekend.

“Drinking water, trash, public transit, the sewers, streets and sidewalks rarely take a holiday,” the press release said. “Even County buildings need someone to maintain them, and it’s hard to vacuum or paint during regular business hours.”

Said County Manager Mark Schwartz:

“Every time you leave collection bins at the curb, pause for the crosswalk light or run the tap to brush your teeth, you’re interacting with the County’s Department of Environmental Services.

Sometimes the best work is the work you don’t notice. In Arlington we’re fortunate to have such dedicated, skillful men and women supporting our vital infrastructure.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — May 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm 0

Nova Armory in Lyon ParkA group of Lyon Park and Ashton Heights residents is trying to challenge the legality of Nova Armory’s Certificate of Occupancy.

Nova Armory, a firearms retailer, opened in March in Lyon Park amid local controversy. The store’s owner, Dennis Pratte, is now suing dozens of residents and lawmakers, accusing them of trying to interfere with his business.

Five local residents launched their own legal offensive when they filed an appeal to Arlington’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), challenging the county’s decision to issue Nova Armory a Certificate of Occupancy, which is required for businesses with a physical location in Arlington.

Arlington County has previously said that there is nothing it can do legally to prevent a gun store from opening, as long as it follows zoning rules and files all the proper paperwork.

The appeal was submitted by residents Julia Young, Emily Hughes, Bernadette Brennan, Grace Chan and Nathan Guerrero on March 2, along with the $575.40 filing fee.

In a report to the BZA, Arlington’s Acting Zoning Administrator, Arlova Vonhm, recommends denying the appeal and upholding Nova Armory’s Certificate of Occupancy at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. Vonhm addressed each of the challenges made by the residents:

  • Appeal: In a media interview, Dennis Pratte said his 16-year-old daughter was the store’s owner, and thus he erroneously listed himself as the owner on the application.
    Staff position: “Mr. Pratte has clarified in subsequent media interviews that he is training his daughter to take over the business, but that he remains the principal on all leases, permits, and legal documents.”
  • Appeal: The description of the store as a “retail” location is false because Nova Armory’s website describes “wholesale pricing.”
    Staff position: “While the applicant’s website advertises wholesale pricing, this appears to be an advertisement of advantageous pricing to retail consumers, rather than a statement of intention to engage in wholesale trade.”
  • Appeal: The store is called NOVA Armory, but the business name was listed as Broadstone Security, LLC on the application.
    Staff position: “The Zoning Ordinance does not prohibit the use of fictitious trade names, which is a common practice for retail businesses.”
  • Appeal: The Zoning Administrator who issued the Certificate of Occupancy “did not research whether or not the applicant was a valid holder of a Federal Firearms License.”
    Staff position: “Given that the Zoning Administrator does not have the authority to enforce state or federal laws and regulations, the Zoning Office does not as a matter of general practice verify required compliance with state or federal licensure requirements for firearms store or any other type of business.”
  • Appeal: The Certificate of Occupancy “should be revoked due to an inaccurate record of ownership of the premises.”
    Staff position: “Property owner information was not material to the review of the proposed land use or the issuance of the permit to authorize said land use on the subject property, therefore it would not be a valid reason for the Zoning Administrator to revoke it.”

The BZA is slated to consider the appeal, along with a long slate of others, either Wednesday night or at a possible carryover meeting Thursday. The board is not required to follow the staff recommendation when making its decision.

Apparently misunderstanding the nature of the appeal — any citizen who says they’re “aggrieved” by a zoning decision can file an appeal — Nova Armory posted several messages on Twitter Tuesday decrying elected officials and an “abuse of power” by county government.

by ARLnow.com — May 10, 2016 at 9:20 am 0

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]

by ARLnow.com — May 4, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Lightning over D.C., as seen from Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Car on Fire Spotted Driving Down Street — Yesterday evening, an Arlington County Fire Department unit radioed dispatch to report that they had just seen a car with flames visible from the engine compartment drive past them on Carlin Springs Road, its driver oblivious to the fire. The fire engine was able to turn around, catch up with the driver near the intersection of Wilson and Glebe, pull the car over and extinguish the flames. [Twitter, Twitter]

Wrong Man on Iwo Jima Memorial? — The Marine Corps is investigating claims that a Navy corpsman identified as one of the men who raised the flag in a moment depicted by Arlington’s Iwo Jima Memorial was not, in fact, in the original photo. [USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times]

USS Arlington Returns Home — The sailors and Marines aboard the USS Arlington have returned to Norfolk after a seven-month overseas deployment assisting in the fight against ISIS. [Marine Corps Times, WAVY]

Former Top Federal IT Official Dies — Greg Ambrose, who had served in senior information technology posts at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Veterans Affairs, died early Tuesday morning. Ambrose took his own life at a Rosslyn condominium after posting on Facebook about a woman who had left him for another man. [FCW, Twitter]

Arlington, Virginia Tech Join ‘Smart City’ Network — “Virginia Tech and Arlington County have been accepted into the MetroLab Network of 35 city/county-university partnerships that works to bring data, analytics and innovation to local government.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

by ARLnow.com — May 3, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Arlington County government's offices at 2100 Clarendon BlvdLast month, Arlington County announced that it had appointed a new ombudsman for residents.

Robert Sharpe, who previously served as assistant director in Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services, now works out of the County Manager’s office with the title “Resident Ombudsman and Director, Constituent Services.”

Sharpe’s role is not to be confused with that of the county’s business ombudsman, who was appointed in 2014 and advocates on behalf of local businesses within the county government.

We asked Sharpe about the job and what he hopes to accomplish for Arlington residents.

ARLnow: What do you want to accomplish in your new position?

Sharpe: “I hope to advocate on behalf of the Arlington residents, in terms of how the county board interacts with the rest of the county. I want to try to increase efficiency, make everything move a little smoother.”

There are already options for residents to report potholes and maintenance issues, to express opinions to the County Board, etc. Why add this position if there’s already a mechanism for most kinds of complaints?

“The Resident Ombudsman is not a new position. It’s a twist on an existing constituent services position in the County Manager’s office. The position was largely internal previously and was not promoted as a resident resource.”

“The intent is to create another option. If I can free up the County Board’s time, they can focus on other things, I’m helping to increase efficiency. Sometimes the information is already out there, I want to make it easy to find.”

Could you speak out and publicly advocate for certain things to get done, as a newspaper ombudsman might, or is this mostly about getting things done internally?

“It’s more internal, I can’t see myself being critical in a public manner. If I get a resident complaint that I can solve, I don’t see a need to publicly make a statement.”

What local problems might you handle that aren’t otherwise being taken care of effectively now?

“We get a lot of complaints about things like utility providers. We try to work these issues out with, say, Washington Gas. Recently we had a complaint about a home being built in an untimely manner, we worked with the builder to solve this.”

“I’m also well-positioned to identify trends. I’m a big believer in continuous improvement. The most rewarding part of the job is seeing an individual resident complaint turn into a process improvement that benefits all residents.”

Are there cases where contacting you isn’t the most efficient way to take care of a problem?

“Residents with straightforward service requests or questions will get best results through resources like the A-Z Directory of Services or the Make a Service Request / Report a Problem [form], which is also available as a mobile app for iOS and Android.”

“The Resident Ombudsman role comes into play when residents don’t get good customer service or have trouble navigating County government. If someone hits  a roadblock, that’s where I come in.”

Any last thoughts?

“The one thing I would like to stress is that as a resident for 13 years, is that I have seen progress in the county government. The County Board has been very responsive.”

Sharpe be reached via email or at 703-228-1762.

by ARLnow.com — May 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Jessica TuckerArlington County’s new independent auditor, Jessica Tucker, is seeking suggestions from residents.

In a press release, below, the county says it has set up a form for resident suggestions of programs or services that should be reviewed — or ideas for improving county government efficiency, transparency and accountability.

The form asks how the suggestion would benefit the county, with the following options:

  • Cost savings
  • Improved service delivery
  • Revenue enhancement
  • Increased efficiency
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Risk mitigation

From the press release:

County Auditor Jessica A. Tucker is calling on residents with specific concerns to use the newly created online Audit Suggestion Form for potential reviews of County programs and services — or just to suggest improvements in County efficiency, transparency and accountability.

The County Board created the Auditor post last year to bolster existing County internal audit functions. Tucker operates independently of departments and reports directly to the Board.

“The suggestion form is a new initiative and we would like the input of as many people as possible,” Tucker says. “We are looking for ideas that will help improve service delivery, identify cost savings and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the County’s programs and services.”

Tucker adds that providing contact information on the form is strictly optional.

To help develop the Auditor’s annual work plan, the Board also established an Audit Committeemade up of two Board members, three citizen members, the County Manager and the Director of the Department of Management and Finance. That panel held its first meeting in March.

The Audit Suggestion Form can be found on the County website along with Audit Committee meeting materials and details on Tucker’s background.

by ARLnow.com — April 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

Front end loaders clearing snow during the January 2016 blizzard (Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77)Arlington County says it spent $6.5 million on snow removal operations, equipment and supplies this winter.

That’s nearly $4 million more than was spent the previous winter, when the county almost ran out of salt due to a succession of snow storms.

The total roadway snow removal expenditure — the figures quoted here do not include removing snow from bus shelters or sidewalks — for Fiscal Year 2015 was only $2.7 million, according to Arlington County. As of April 25, the FY 2016 bill was $6.5 million, about $5 million of which was associated with the cleanup from January’s Snowzilla blizzard, as the county revealed last month.

Why was this year’s bill so much higher? It’s mostly attributable to equipment rental costs, we’re told.

“The majority of this cost increase was associated with heavy contract equipment used during the January 22-29, 2016 blizzard,” explained Mike Moon, Chief Operating Officer of Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.

“The amount of contract equipment deployed for this event far exceeded the requirements for the previous year and cost more than $4.0 million,” Moon continued. “With more than two feet of snow, heavy contract equipment was needed for the effort, which included hauling snow in our commercial corridors (Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City).”

Last month Arlington said that it can potentially recoup $2 million from federal disaster assistance funds, though the reimbursement process is a lengthy one.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in March that the county is considering changes to its snow removal efforts in the wake of January’s blizzard. Among the changes being considered is the purchase of additional heavy equipment and a new snow melter.

Flickr pool photo (top) by Starbuck77

by ARLnow.com — April 25, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Pink carpet around tree (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Community Garden Fundraiser Fizzles — Arlington County’s attempt to crowdfund a community garden accessible to those with disabilities has not gone so well. As of Sunday the county has only raised $465 out of the $10,000 it sought, with only five days to go in the fundraiser. The failure raises questions about local government use of crowdfunding, the Post suggests. [Washington Post]

Meeting on Career Center Changes — Some major changes could be coming to the Arlington Career Center. Arlington Public Schools will be discussing that and other South Arlington school projects at a meeting Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Career Center, at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. [Taylor PTA]

More on Notable Tree Planted at Fire House — A Southern Magnolia tree planted outside Fire Station No. 4 in Clarendon was recognized as a “Notable Tree” last week. The tree was planted in 1965 in memory of ACFD Capt. Archie Hughes, who died while responding to a house fire at the age of 33. [NBC Washington]

New Movie’s Arlington Connection — A new indie flick, “Green Room,” follows the travails of a fictional Arlington-based punk band. The film was written and directed by Alexandria-born filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. [DCist]

Spotluck Launches in Crystal City — Restaurant discovery and discount app Spotluck has launched in Crystal City. Participating restaurants include Crystal City Sports Pub, Kora and Kabob Palace. [Spotluck]

Arlington’s Diversity Highlighted — The world is learning about Arlington’s diversity. The Voice of America notes that Arlington is home to more than 130 ethnic groups, particularly around Columbia Pike. [VOA]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Leaves in Glencarlyn Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

County Announces ‘Energy Lending Library’ — Today, on Earth Day, Arlington County is formally announcing what it says is the nation’s first “energy lending library.” Via Arlington Public Library, residents will be able to borrow thermal imaging cameras, energy meters and books that will help residents identify areas of energy waste in their homes. [Arlington County]

Woman Arrested After Foot Chase in Pentagon City — A shoplifting suspect was taken into custody in Pentagon City after leading police on a foot chase yesterday, just before 6 p.m. Police were still searching for the woman’s shoplifting accomplice. [Twitter]

New Lubber Run Community Center Planned — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a new, $45 million Lubber Run Community Center. The four-story structure would also include a parking garage, so that the existing surface lot can be converted to parkland. [InsideNova]

Arlington Hires Full-Time Ombudsman — Arlington County has a new ombudsman. Former Dept. of Human Services assistant director Robert Sharpe has been named to the county’s newly-created position of Director of Constituent Services. Sharpe’s job will be “troubleshooting issues on behalf of his fellow Arlington residents while working directly with departments, County leadership and the County Board.” [Arlington County]

Free ‘Pop Up Yoga’ Session on the Pike — On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to noon, a free “pop up” yoga class will be held at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike). “Lisa Marie, local artist and certified yoga instructor, will lead the participants through postures, intentions and breath” that are specifically inspired by the pair of sculptures in the park. [With Love DC]

Medics on Motorcycles? — The citizen task force coming up with recommendations for Arlington’s Fire Station 8 has struck upon a novel idea: using motorcycle-based paramedics to get to patients faster in traffic than would a big, lumbering ambulance. Not every member of the task force, however, thought that was a good idea, citing potential issues with staffing. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Street scene in Clarendon on 4/20/16. Woman sitting at bus stop with Clarendon Metro in background.

Valor Awards Recount Harrowing Moments — Saving a suicidal woman who was about to jump from the seventh floor of a parking garage. Saving the life of a man who had just been run over by an SUV twice. Smashing a car window in order to resuscitate the victim of a major crash on I-395. Those are a few of the acts of valor recognized at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Valor Awards this week. [InsideNova, Arlington Chamber]

WaPo Questions Crystal City-Brooklyn Comparison — The Washington Post isn’t letting the New York Times get away with a quote that compared Crystal City to Brooklyn. The area’s hometown paper instead quoted a number of Twitter critics, one of whom called Crystal City a “Ballardian hellscape.” The Times story suggests that Crystal City — with its new restaurants, emerging tech scene, transportation improvements and community events — is experiencing something of a mini renaissance. [Washington Post]

Vida Fitness Coming to Ballston — High-end local fitness chain Vida Fitness is planning a new full-service gym in Ballston. The new location could open as soon by 2019. [Washington Business Journal]

Nauck Town Square Designs — Arlington County is seeking feedback on the draft design of the forthcoming Nauck Town Square park. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.” [Arlington County]

County Gets Adorable Letters — Arlington County gets adorable letters from children, who ask about things like raising backyard chickens and saving worms that might have gotten swept up as yard waste. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — April 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

Jay Fisette at County Board budget work session (file photo)A unanimous vote belies some bickering over a planned “blue ribbon panel” that will help the County Board consider its priorities for Arlington County.

The Board voted Tuesday afternoon to create the six-member panel, with each Board member and the County Manager appointing one member apiece. The panel will mull “recommendations for how the Board should develop strategic priorities” to supplement the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The panel was advanced by County Board Chair Libby Garvey, with the support of Board members John Vihstadt, Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. Jay Fisette, the longest-serving member of the Board, questioned the need for such a panel and the manner in which it was proposed.

“What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” Fisette asked, calling the proposal “a lot of foam and not a lot of beer.”

Fisette, the last of the former old guard Democratic establishment on the Board, worried that the panel could be used to reduce environmental or human services priorities in favor of “core services.”

Cristol and Dorsey, the newest Board members, disagreed with that assessment, with the latter saying he wouldn’t support the creation of the panel if he thought that was the goal.

Fisette also pointed out that while the idea of the panel had been discussed internally by the Board for several months, it had not been made public and was not part of the day’s County Board agenda online. That, he said, ran counter to the stated desire of other Board members that County Board agenda items be posted online at least 48 hours in advance.

“Nobody in the community has seen this quote blue ribbon panel charge to actually weigh in or give us feedback on whether this is a good idea,” he said.

Garvey said the panel would not be setting policy — it would be advising the Board. She also suggested that applying the “Arlington Way” to too many county functions may be a hinderance to good governance.

“This is not the traditional Arlington Way where we get input from as many people as possible and we have a huge process,” Garvey said. “This is really getting us a small group of smart, experienced people who are going to bring different things to the table that we value, and they will advise us. I’m looking for ways to be more adaptable and quick on our feet on things.”

Garvey said an overabundance of priorities in the Comprehensive Plan results in pressure to fund the many groups that come to the Board around budget time saying, in her words, “well this is a priority, you have to fund it.”

“They’re right, it is a priority, it’s one of many priorities,” she said. “I have been feeling for some time that we need to look through our priorities and set them in some sort of priority order.”

“Our own Facilities Study working group recommended that we do a better job of planning and setting priorities,” Garvey added.

Members of the panel will be announced “in the coming weeks,” according to a press release (below, after the jump).

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Homeless man on a bench outside Arlington Central LibraryArlington’s homeless population is down 27 percent over the past year and 64 percent since 2013.

That’s according to figures released today by Arlington County, which conducted a count of homeless individuals on the streets and in shelters in January. The county credited two of its initiatives — 100 Homes and Zero: 2016 — with playing “key roles” in reducing homelessness by helping the homeless to secure stable housing.

“This is great news and further confirmation that our strategies are working,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “By not only sheltering people from the elements, but helping them get back on their feet, we are saving lives and strengthening our community. It is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”

(The opening of Arlington’s new Homeless Services Center last year likely also helped.)

By Arlington’s count, there are 174 homeless people in Arlington — including 124 singles and 50 people in families.

“No families counted were without shelter,” the county noted.

Earlier this year the county announced that it had achieved its goal of “functional zero” veteran homelessness in 2015.

Arlington is launching two new initiatives intended to curb homelessness. One is the establishment of a Youth Task Force “to examine the nature and scope of youth homelessness.” The other is a “Risk Reduction Fund” that will allow landlords to loosen their rental eligibility requirements and thus take in formerly homeless tenants. The fund will reimburse landlords for “vacancy and damage costs” associated with such tenants.

The full county press release, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Cardinal in the spring in Bon Air Park (Flickr pool photo by Airamangel)

GMU to Tweak Name of Scalia Law School — A week ago, after receiving $30 million in donations, George Mason University announced that it was naming its Arlington-based law school the “Antonin Scalia School of Law,” in honor of the late Supreme Court justice. The internet promptly went wild for the school’s would-be acronym: ASS Law or ASSoL. GMU noticed, and is now adjusting the name to the “Antonin Scalia Law School.” [Above the Law]

Porch Fire in High View Park — A small fire broke out yesterday on the porch of a house in the High View Park neighborhood, on the 2300 block of N. Dinwiddie Street, about two blocks from Fire Station No. 8. The fire marshal is investigating the incident. [Twitter]

County Live Streams First Commission Meeting — Arlington County live streamed a Planning Commission meeting for the first time Tuesday night. To re-live those 102 minutes of excitement, you can now view the meeting online, on-demand. [Arlington County]

Clarendon Farmers Market Returns Today — The Clarendon Farmers Market is back for the season today. The farmers market typically takes place next to the Metro station from 3-7 p.m. [Clarendon Alliance]

APS Open to Selling Naming Rights — There’s no indication that anyone has inquired about it, but the naming rights to Arlington’s high school football stadiums, gyms and theaters could be for sale for the right price. Arlington Public Schools says it would consider naming facilities after large donors. [InsideNova]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Big Investment — Rosslyn-based LiveSafe has received a $5.25 million investment from FedEx founder Fred Smith. LiveSafe describes itself as an “enterprise-class mobile safety communications platform.” [Commercial Appeal, PE Hub]

Flickr pool photo by Airamangel

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