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by ARLnow.com — February 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm 0

Courthouse Plaza at 2100 Clarendon Blvd

The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider a lease renewal for county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.

Under the proposed agreement with property owner Vornado, according to a staff report, rent on the 235,000 square foot facility would actually go down, at least initially, though it would then rise 2.5 percent per year through the end of the lease in October 2033.

Starting in 2033, the county would have the option of renewing in five-year increments through 2062. Arlington, however, is also considering building its own headquarters nearby, to open before the end of the 15-year lease term.

More from the staff report:

The rent under the proposed lease Amendment will be substantially below the rent under the existing terms of the Lease. The current total rent under the existing Lease is approximately $11.2 million per year ($47.71 per square foot). In October, 2018 (immediately before the Amendment’s rent schedule takes effect), staff estimates that the total rent under the Lease will be approximately $11,500,000 per year ($48.95 per square foot) (charges for common-area maintenance and taxes must be estimated because they vary). Significantly, once the new rent takes effect in November, 2018, the total rent under the Amendment will start, and be reduced to, $9,867,354 per year ($42 per square foot), a savings of over $1.6 million per year.

The 15-year term of the Amendment is sufficient to give the County time to plan for and build a new administrative building at Courthouse Plaza if the County decides to do so. Based on the length of the term extension, staff believes it is now necessary to refurbish the County’s leased premises. The refurbishment would be paid for, in part, by the tenant improvement allowance provided by Landlord, the free rent, and the commission rebate (total = approximately $35.9 million). The scope and cost of any refurbishment will be determined by the County after a space utilization study.

In addition to a multi-million dollar office refurbishment, paid for by landlord and leasing agent concessions, under the lease renewal Arlington would gain the right to add a daycare facility to the building and to place an emergency generator on top of 2300 Clarendon Blvd, to serve the county’s Emergency Communications Center there.

County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the lease renewal, given what the staff report describes as “fair and reasonable terms” offered by Vornado.

by ARLnow.com — February 7, 2017 at 6:15 pm 0

(Updated at 7:15 p.m.) About 24 hours ago, the unofficial Facebook page for the popular and heavily-used Shirlington dog park posted something that could barely be believed.

Arlington County, the page said, has a plan “to move the dog park and make it much smaller, or do away with it.” It’s unclear who exactly posted that on behalf of the page — there is no contact information on the page’s “About” section — but the reaction from its more than 2,500 fans was swift.

“Whaaaattt??? Noooo!!!!” and “This is bullshit. (Sorry for the language, but it’s that serious)” were typical responses.

“That’s insane,” said another person. “The dog park is one of the biggest draws of the area for people when considering places to live; plus, people come from all over to use it = lots of money into [Shirlington]!”

In all, there have been some 200 responses and comments on the post and another 175 shares, so far. It has been re-posted, separately, by concerned residents on a Fairlington neighborhood Facebook page and elsewhere around the social network.

The Shirlington Dog Park Page cites a source for its alarming assertion: a presentation of early land use proposals generated last month as part of the Four Mile Run Valley planning process. However, the presentation appears to show that the area of the dog park is being considered generally for “outdoor parks/rec/cultural” uses — which could well include a dog park.

Only one of seven alternative scenarios presented shows the dog park apparently replaced — by a “riparian zone” and a promenade.

Virginia Farris, a member of the Four Mile Run Valley working group who’s also active in the Shirlington Civic Association, offered one of the 75 comments on the Facebook post.

“There is no proposal from the County yet, nor will there be for awhile yet,” she wrote. “The Working Group meets twice a month and the planning process still has a long way to go. The Dog Park has solid supporters among Working Group members — it’s definitely not going to be closed!”

Her post received seven likes as more than a dozen additional comments from people upset about the possibility of the park closing followed. Dog park supporters, in the meantime, are being encouraged to write emails to all five County Board members, with some pledging to do so every day until they get a favorable response.

The page, and Farris, are also encouraging dog park supporters to attend a meeting of the working group Tuesday night. The meeting, scheduled from 7-10 p.m. on the second floor of 2700 S. Taylor Street, will include a discussion of the land use plans and a 15 minute public comment period at the end.

“If you come… you can expect to hear a lot of questions and push-back from the Working Group members on many aspects (including the dog park) of the second set of conceptual drawings,” Farris said.

County officials have struggled to respond to the rumors as they spread like wildfire, with thousands of Facebook users likely seeing the original dog park post.

(Facebook has recently been making headlines as it combats so-called “fake news” on the network, with much of the focus coming in the wake of the recent presidential election.)

The Dept. of Parks and Recreation did respond to the post, just an hour after it was first published (see gallery above), but the response was buried since it was made to a comment on the post rather than the post itself.

At 5:35 p.m. Tuesday evening, six hours after our first enquiry about plans for the dog park, a county spokesperson responded to ARLnow.com but did not directly address what was being considered.

“There will be four ideas proposed at tonight’s 4MRV meeting,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “This is just a first step to get feedback. There will be another meeting solely on getting input on the dog park on March 18 from 9-11 a.m. at the Park Operations Building.”

A county webpage for the March meeting says it will “discuss opportunities for improvements to the Shirlington Dog Park as part of the overall 4MRV Parks Master Plan.”

“This is an opportunity to share your ideas for the dog park with DPR staff and learn more about the 4MRV park planning process,” the page said.

“To look at the bright side,” concluded Kalish, “there is obviously a lot of support for the dog park and we should be able to get lots of great input to make it better through the Parks Master Planning process.”

by ARLnow.com — January 31, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Four Mile Run Valley arts area concept sketch (via Arlington County)Arlington County is scheduled to hold a series of focus groups on the housing needs of artists next week.

The public discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and will be led by Minneapolis-based Artspace, a nonprofit that “uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work.”

“The conversation with arts, community, and business leaders will focus on the potential for artist housing in a variety of neighborhoods in Arlington,” according to a web page for the event. “The visit will assess the viability of arts-related programming for selected sites.”

There are four areas being considered for arts-related development: Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, the Four Mile Run Valley/Shirlington area, and the 23rd Street S. commercial district in Crystal City.

The $20,000 cost of the feasibility study is being paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, according to the county, but at this point no final decision has been made as to whether to move forward with artist housing facilities in Arlington.

“By convening a broad-based conversation among community leaders, Artspace hopes to stimulate serious, forward looking dialog on the needs of Arlington’s creative community, including affordable housing for art teachers, music instructors and working artists,” said the county. “This is simply a conversation to explore the range and feasibility of arts-related uses broadly in and within a handful of specific neighborhoods.”

“If the results of the initial feasibility study are positive, Artspace may be engaged to conduct a Phase II study which offers a deeper dive into the needs of the community,” the county explained. “AFAI has indicated that it will fund the Phase II study if the results of the original feasibility study warrant it.”

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, at the Arlington Economic Development offices at 1100 N. Glebe Road, 15th floor. Anybody is welcome to attend.

by ARLnow.com — January 25, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

It has been four years since Arlington County and WMATA opened the infamous $1 million bus stop at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. So where are the rest of the upgraded transit stations planned for the Pike?

They’re coming, starting next year, the county says.

“The County Board approved $13.3 million for the planned 23 stations in Arlington’s FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan,” says a county webpage for the project. “Construction of the transit stations is expected to begin in 2018 and proceed in phases through 2021.”

“That schedule still holds,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet confirmed to ARLnow.com on Monday. “Design of site-specific improvements for the first six stations is underway. Design and construction for the remaining stations will be coordinated with the County’s plans for Columbia Pike street improvements and utility undergrounding.”

The per-station cost is still pegged around $575,000, well under the cost of the original prototype station. Originally, the stations were planned to serve the Columbia Pike streetcar, but with that project’s cancellation the stations will now serve WMATA and ART buses.

County staff is expected to present proposed revisions to its Transit Development Plan for the Pike in the second quarter of this year, with possible improvements to bus service along the corridor.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 10, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Fiber optic lines installed throughout ArlingtonMonday marked a milestone for the county’s multimillion dollar ConnectArlington fiber optic network: It has completed phase one of migrating Arlington Public Schools to the system and off of Comcast’s internet access.

But as APS prepares to enter phase two of the migration, it also has an open request for proposals (RFP) to build another fiber network, a potentially pricey project that it says is a “contingency plan.”

With phase one complete, 14 APS sites are now on the ConnectArlington network. Another 23 are expected be online by December.

Early last month, however, APS issued an RFP for a contractor to build a new fiber network for the school system. Proposals originally were due Monday, but the deadline has been extended to January 17. APS is supposed to choose a contractor for the project “as soon after that date as possible,” according to an addendum to the RFP. The RFP states that the new network must be constructed and functioning by April 2018.

APS says the additional fiber network is a contingency plan and ConnectArlington still will be its primary network. Therefore, APS will continue moving forward as planned with getting the next bunch of sites online with ConnectArlington by year’s end.

“APS is contracting for a backup system to remain in place until we know that ConnectArlington is complete and fully functional. With all of our instructional, testing, business functions and state reporting requirements, APS cannot risk not having a viable network infrastructure in place if ConnectArlington is delayed and not completed for any unforeseen reason,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

“Like the insurance policies we purchase to protect the investment in our buildings, buses and other critical components of APS operations, we hope we will never need the insurance, but those policies are in place — just in case,” said Linda Erdos, assistant superintendent for school and community relations

Arlington County communications director Bryna Helfer said that the remaining 21 county and 23 school sites included in the ConnectArlington project’s phase two — which begins in March — will continue to receive Comcast service until they’re fully migrated in December.

The county says that it cannot speak for APS’ desire for another fiber network but asserted that the ConnectArlington network has been performing for nearly two years without issue.

Crews installing fiber optic cables on Wilson Blvd“We are completely confident that we will install fiber into every planned county and school facility by the end of calendar year 2017, based on our previous years’ experience with the construction and operation of this project,” said James Schwartz, deputy county manager for public safety and technology.

In addition to the 14 APS buildings and 33 county buildings on the network thus far, Schwartz said, more than 130 traffic signals have been connected. Plus, the public safety radio system — previously supported by microwave antenna — has been migrated to ConnectArlington and “is operating without a problem,” according to Schwartz.

“This system allows fire, EMS and police to communicate during emergencies and requires the highest reliability standard — that standard is being met by ConnectArlington,” he said.

APS spokespeople say the backup fiber network is eligible for federal E-Rate funds, which assist schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications and internet access. The Federal Communications Commission explains that the discount a school district receives depends on two factors: “(1) the poverty level of the population the applicant serves and (2) whether the applicant is located in a rural or urban area.”

“The RFP ensures that APS can receive a potential 50 percent reimbursement of [the backup fiber network] costs through the federal government’s E-Rate funds,” Bellavia said.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

Snow on the pavement along Columbia Pike (Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards)

Clarendon Restaurant Opening Basement Lounge — New Clarendon restaurant Ambar is planning to open a cafe, restaurant and cocktail lounge called Baba later this month. The basement space will have a separate kitchen and will serve craft cocktails and La Colombe coffee. [Washington Post, Facebook]

Four Mile DMV Still Closed — Though it was originally supposed to reopen on Monday, the Four Mile Run Virginia DMV office renovations are taking a bit longer than expected. “The reopen date for the Four Mile Run office is now tentatively January 12,” a DMV spokeswoman told ARLnow.com. “Our contractor is working hard to put the finishing touches on everything.”

County Publishes Paperless ‘Citizen’ — Arlington County has published an online-only “bonus” version of its Citizen newsletter, which is usually mailed to every household in the county. “You’re probably recycling lots of tree-based products this month so we’re saving a bit of room in your curbside bin,” the top of the online publication says. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by Tim Regan — January 4, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

Newly Elected County Board Chair Jay Fisette at the 2017 Organizational Meeting(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Two members of the local Democratic party will lead the Arlington County Board this year, breaking a longtime tradition.

Jay Fisette was unanimously elected County Board Chair during the Board’s annual organizational meeting last night. This is Fisette’s fifth time serving as chair since he was first elected to the Board nearly 20 years ago.

It is a long-standing tradition that Board chairmanship rotate among members by seniority, with the vice chair assuming the chairmanship the next year. Often it corresponds with election cycles, with the member who is up for reelection the following year being elected vice chair. But the Board broke with tradition by electing one of its newest members, Democrat Katie Cristol, over independent John Vihstadt.

The snub was, however, in keeping with another long-standing practice: as the Sun Gazette’s Scott McCaffrey pointed out, the party in power on the Board has “always installed its own people in the leadership… going as far back as I can tell.”

In his remarks, Vihstadt suggested that “partisan politics alone” led to the contested race for vice chair.

“People with the word Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Socialist stamped on their foreheads, are sorted and stereotyped forever as a result,” Vihstadt said. “I’ve been there myself. It’s why I ran as an independent and have governed that way every day.”

County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol from the 2017 Organizational MeetingCristol responded: “In Arlington, being a Democrat is not just partisan, it’s shorthand for values and what we prioritize: meaningful investments and affordable housing, for deep commitments to schools.”

Fisette, who acknowledged the contested vote was an “unusual situation,” backed Cristol, while Libby Garvey, the outgoing Chair, backed Vihstadt.

Ultimately, the board followed the new Chair’s lead, with Garvey and Vihstadt on one side of the vote, and Fisette, Cristol and Christian Dorsey on the other.

After the polite political quarrel, Fisette outlined his priorities for the year. As chair, Fisette said he will focus on:

  • The need for facilities, including schools, within the constraints of limited land; strengthening the County’s economic competitiveness;
  • Housing affordability;
  • Environmental sustainability; and
  • Helping the region find a “sustainable path forward” for Metro and “staying true to our vision and values.”

Additionally, Vice Chair Cristol said she hopes to “work to ensure that Arlington will still be a home for all economic classes,” adding that she looks forward “launching a series of coffees focused on ‘big picture’ issues targeting young Arlingtonians in particular, as well as exploring other models to tap the brainpower of Arlingtonians across different walks of life.”

Arlington County can “no longer can we rely on the federal government to guide and support us with allegiance to shared purposes and our common humanity,” added Fisette, alluding to the recent affirmation of the Republican majority in Congress and the election of Donald Trump.

“This year is likely to bring dramatic, unsettling changes in our national government and on the international scene,” Fisette said. “Arlington will feel some effects. But we’ll respond as we have before in times of turbulence and periods of more gradual change: with sensible actions inspired by a shared community vision and shaped through thoughtful dialogue and open debate.”

by ARLnow.com — December 29, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Hanukkah celebration in Clarendon 12/28/16

Struggling Skyline Sold — Vornado has taken its properties in Skyline off of its balance sheet after the 2.6 million-square-foot, half-vacant complex sold at a foreclosure auction last week. The cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project would have run to Skyline, with Fairfax County set to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. [Washington Business Journal]

More on ‘Pop-Up’ Hotel — The inauguration will be the big test for WhyHotel, the “pop-up” hotel in the new Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Developer Vornado sees this as an experiment that could yield temporary revenue while a building is leased up. Arlington County planning commissioner Erik Gutshall says the county could benefit from additional tax revenue and a more lively streetscape. [Washington Post]

Arlington = NYE Destination? — Travelers coming to the D.C. area for New Year’s Eve should consider staying in Arlington due to its proximity to the District and lower hotel rates, says an article on “last minute deals for New Year’s Eve hotels.” [Travel + Leisure]

Transracial Adoption in Arlington — Arlington is “a fantastic community in which to raise a transracially blended family,” says the father of (now grown) adopted children from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India. [Arlington Magazine]

Clarendon Post Office Murals — A local man has written a 44-page book on the artist who painted seven New Deal-era murals in the Clarendon post office. [Washington Post]

Reporting Issues to the County — Arlington County is reminding residents that they can report out-of-sync traffic signals, crosswalks with broken buttons and other non-emergency service requests via an online form. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Christmas treeJust like the federal government, Arlington County government will be closed the next two Mondays.

County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed on Sunday, Dec. 25 and Monday, Dec. 26 for Christmas, and on Sunday, Jan. 1 and Monday, Jan. 2 for New Year’s.

Parking meters will not be enforced during that time, though trash and recycling collection will proceed as normal.

Libraries will also be closed on Saturday, Dec. 24, while courts are closed today and Saturday. Arlington Public Schools are on break from Dec. 22-Jan. 2.

The county jail will remain open for inmate visits, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1-2.

by ARLnow.com — December 20, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington County has released its year-in-review video for 2016.

The annual video includes highlights of county-related goings on for the past year.

Actual important events and issues aside, here are some of the little things we learned from the video:

  • There’s no hazing ritual for new County Board members.
  • John Vihstadt is not offended by fellow Board members saying he is “lawyerly.”
  • Rosslyn-based ABC 7 appears to have been the county’s TV station of choice during the 2016 blizzard.
  • The blizzard happened on County Manager Mark Schwartz’s second week on the job and it was “a baptism by snow.”
  • Libby Garvey admits that the new live streams of commission meetings can double as a sleep aid.
  • The county has some sweet aerial footage of Arlington.
  • Being a county ombudsman involves lots of hand shaking.
  • “Planning is our bread and butter” — Jay Fisette.
  • The new Ballston Quarter mall is going to be pretty cool and is going to “transform” Ballston.
  • You can rent thermal cameras at the library.

Also from the video, we were told that the Fire Station 8 decision was “the essence of public engagement;” that 600 units committed affordable housing were approved, preserved or extended in 2016; that Arlington “functionally ended veteran homelessness” in the county and that a major theme of 2017 will be the county’s commitment to being “welcoming and inclusive.”

by Katie Pyzyk — December 13, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

View of Key Bridge, the Potomac River and D.C. from the Waterview building in Rosslyn

There’s a renewed push for action on the decades-old plan to build a boathouse in the Rosslyn area.

County and federal officials want the public to know that although the project has stopped and restarted several times, it definitely hasn’t been scrapped.

The idea of a boathouse has been supported by the county, by residents (particularly families of high school crew team members) and by developers.

Arlington County has been working on various forms of the boathouse project since the 1990s. It has collaborated with the National Park Service because the county’s shoreline along the Potomac River technically is NPS property.

Map of land acquired for proposed boathouseIn October, the county requested that the Commonwealth of Virginia quitclaim any interest it has in the street that fronts the property at 1101 Lee Highway. The county had purchased the Lee Highway land parcel in 2014 for $2.4 million with the listed intent of using the land for possible boathouse-related purposes.

The county requested the quitclaim because it’s unclear exactly who owns and maintains this small portion of the land along the former Lee Highway right of way. VDOT now has to approve the quitclaim — which has no fiscal impact to either party — and the county believes that should happen by or shortly after the new year.

The county points out that this section of land also is the only service vehicle access point if a boathouse is built. Public parking and drop-offs would be located in a safer area further away from the busy intersection with N. Lynn Street and the I-66 off-ramp.

Any progress on the boathouse plan is theoretical until NPS completes an environmental study — as required by law — showing how such a project would impact the area’s natural and cultural resources.

NPS launched an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 2012, with funding secured by former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The study involved getting community feedback on locations for a potential boathouse.

But the EIS was put on hold and NPS is investigating whether it can instead do an environmental assessment, which is a similar but less intensive study that takes less time to produce. The EA would incorporate the information already gathered during the now-stalled EIS.

NPS launched a transportation study last year to determine what impact a boathouse would have on the area’s existing transportation network. The agency has been collaborating with Arlington County and VDOT for that study and in compiling a final report on the transportation impacts.

Proposed locations for Arlington boathouse Although 1101 Lee Highway was intended to be a location for a boathouse facility, that’s actually not set in stone. That parcel of land is called an “upper site” and cannot effectively host a boathouse on its own without a nearby “lower site” near Theodore Roosevelt Island where boats could be stored and launched. If NPS deems another site better suited for a boathouse, Arlington County could use the Lee Highway land for something else.

“In addition, or as an alternative use, the county may put other passive or recreational uses on the parcel,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “We need to wait until a final determination is made by the National Park Service on the parcel, so other uses aren’t actively being pursued.”

A study for another hot project — the Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola — in relatively the same area was released last month, but Baxter says it’s far too early to consider that an option for the land parcel. In fact, she said it’s premature to even comment on the feasibility of a possible gondola project because the study hasn’t even been reviewed or vetted by county staff.

As far as the next steps for moving forward with the boathouse, NPS hopes to announce a decision about the environmental study and its possible transition to an environmental assessment by early 2017.

If the agency announces it is able to go forward with an EA instead of an EIS, it could potentially reveal a preferred boathouse site at that time as well, although the location decision is not required until the final environmental study results are released.

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

Bryna HelferBryna Helfer is trying to improve and modernize the way Arlington County communicates with its residents and businesses.

Helfer joined county government as Assistant County Manager for Communications and Public Engagement in September and has been seeking input on the county’s public outreach since.

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we asked Helfer about her position at the county, about technology and its role in updating the “Arlington Way” system of public outreach, and about why residents occasionally feelblindsided” by the county’s decision-making process.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

by ARLnow.com — November 30, 2016 at 10:40 am 0

Shirlington site for land swapArlington County is considering a land swap that would provide more land for ART bus parking and would allow a developer to build a self-storage facility across from Washington-Lee High School.

Arcland Property Company, which owns a swath of industrial land near Shirlington, wants to swap those 3.5 acres for 2.3 acres of the 6.1 acre “Buck property” site across from W-L, which the county has an option to purchase for $30 million.

Arlington, which is already leasing a portion of the Shirlington property for parking, would get an even larger piece of property for its expanding ART bus fleet — it’s expected to grow from 65 to 90 vehicles by 2020 — and would save $4 million in lease payments.

Arcland would get the piece of the Buck property closest to N. Quincy Street, in the Virginia Square area, and would use it for a six-story, 150,000 square foot self-storage facility. (The company also developed the CubeSmart storage facility, which is located adjacent to I-395, next to the land it proposes to swap.)

Neighbors might object to the facility — they objected to a county proposal to use the Buck property for school bus parking — but the property is zoned for light industrial use and the facility could be built by right. The county says it will require tasteful building design as part of a deal.

“The land exchange agreement, if reached, would require high quality architecture from Arcland compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” the county said in a press release. “The proposed facility must also comply with M-1 (light industrial) zoning regulations including set back and height restrictions, as would any use the County makes of the Shirlington site.”

N. Quincy Street site for land swap

Arcland only expects to use 1.2 acres of the Quincy Street property for the storage facility. The remaining 1.1 acres would be leased back to the county “at below market rate.”

“This is a rare opportunity for the County to secure land in Shirlington, zoned for light industrial use, that could accommodate our growing bus fleet,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We have a critical need for support facilities, and must make smart, tough decisions about land to meet those needs. If the Board is interested in pursuing this proposal, I will work to shape an agreement with Arcland. I am confident that we can put facilities on these sites that will both serve our community’s needs and allow us to be a good neighbor.”

The deal will be discussed at next month’s Arlington County Board meeting. From the press release:

The proposed exchange, if approved, would take place after November 20, 2017, the date on which the County must exercise its option to purchase the N. Quincy Street site. The land exchange would involve no additional cost beyond the $30 million that the County has already agreed to pay for the N. Quincy Street site.

The Manager plans to seek the Board’s approval to pursue negotiations with Arcland at the Board’s December meeting. If the Board approves negotiations, any agreement that might be reached would come before the Board for consideration in 2017.

Update at 11 a.m. — Jim Todd, president of the Cherrydale Citizens Association, sent the following email to residents last night regarding the potential deal.

This is a complex issue and there are a lot of potential trade offs. On the plus side, the land swap would end the potential for the County to move the bus depot from Shirlington to the Buck property. But on the down side, it would also limit the County’s ability to use all of the Buck property for other, larger purposes (as the Buck property is also adjacent to Hayes Park, across the street from Washington-Lee High School, etc.).

This seems like its happening fast, but there is still plenty of time for us to better understand what’s going on, and to learn what other trade-offs and potential upsides and downsides there may be. I understand that the next step is for the County Board to talk about whether to further entertain this idea at its December 13 meeting. But I have been told that the Board will not be making a final decision at that meeting.

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Arlington Independent Media in Clarendon

Arlington Independent Media, the local public access cable channel and media education center, is asking its members to support a new cable franchise agreement the county has reportedly reached with Comcast.

The franchise agreement is what allows Comcast to serve customers in Arlington, to the exclusion of other traditional cable providers. (Verizon’s FiOS service has its own franchise agreement in Arlington.)

Arlington County has been negotiating a franchise agreement renewal with Comcast since 2013, when its last long-term agreement expired. The County Board has continuously, temporarily extended the agreement until negotiations could conclude.

The specifics of the new agreement, which reportedly runs through Dec. 2021 and is expected to be considered by the County Board next month, were not immediately available. However, in an email to its members, AIM said the agreement would continue to fund the organization, with some notable changes.

Arlington Independent Media students interview a subject on Wilson Boulevard in ClarendonUnder the agreement, AIM would be upgraded to an HD channel on Comcast’s cable service. Meanwhile, the organization would “continue to receive approximately 1% of Comcast’s gross revenue as operating support,” according to the email, with the county contributing another 1% from its 5% communications tax in addition to an annual capital grant.

AIM’s current facilities in the Comcast building in Clarendon, however, would cease to be rent-free starting Jan. 1, 2018. That “presents AIM with a significant challenge and we will have to quickly figure out a way to remain viable under these conditions,” wrote AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley.

Overall, LeValley wrote, the agreement is “very positive for AIM and we are grateful to the County for negotiating its terms on our behalf.” The only change the organization is seeking is a provision requiring that Comcast list its programming on its on-screen guide.

It is “imperative that our full program schedule be included in Comcast’s digital program guide,” wrote LaValley. “Unfortunately, the draft agreement fails to make this requirement. We believe that inclusion of our program schedule would significantly improve our ability to attract and keep audiences for the many fine programs that you all work so hard to create for our community.”

The full email has been published on the AIM website.

by ARLnow.com — November 16, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Grand opening for the new Virginia DMV office in Virginia Square

APS Receives Top Ranking — Arlington Public Schools is the top school division in Virginia and in the D.C. area, according to new rankings from Niche.com. All three comprehensive high schools in Arlington ranked in the top 10 in Virginia, according to the website. [Arlington Public Schools]

Alleged Racial Confrontation at Metro Station — A local man says a trio of older white men confronted him last week in the Courthouse Metro station, a few days after the election, and told him “good thing you’ll all be gone soon” — an apparent racially-motivated comment — and “it’ll be great again soon.” [Patch]

Remy Releases Post-Election Song — Arlington’s best-known libertarian comedian/musician, Remy, has released a new original song on the topic of Donald Trump’s election. [Twitter]

‘Isolated’ Schools in Arlington — Two schools in Arlington County, and 136 schools statewide, are considered “racially and economically isolated,” according to a new report from a liberal Richmond-based think tank. [Washington Post]

No Name Change Push for JD Hwy — Seeking a name change for Jefferson Davis Highway, the formal name of Route 1 in Arlington County, is not part of the county’s recently-approved legislative agenda. The chance of the Republican-dominated state legislature allowing the name change in its upcoming 2017 session was “all but nil.” [InsideNova]

Joint Meeting of N. Va. Jurisdictions — County Board and city council members from Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church held a joint meeting last night, in which they discussed ways to cooperate and save money. Together, the three inside-the-Beltway jurisdictions have about 500,000 residents, as compared to Fairfax County’s population of 1.1 million. [Washington Post]

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