County Creates Veterans Committee — Arlington County is creating a Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, to “identify, prioritize and implement programs and initiatives to recognize and support our active duty military population, our veterans, and their families.” The committee will also serve as the county’s liaison to the Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration. [Arlington County]
Pot Legalization Advocates Meeting in Arlington — The 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference is being held in Crystal City today through Saturday. The group holding the conference is planning to lobby Congress for laws that would make it easier for states to legalize marijuana and decrease penalties for non-violent drug offenders. [Associated Press, Drugpolicy.org]
Arlington Startup Gets $2 Million Investment — Arlington-based cybersecurity startup TruStar Technology has raised $2 million in seed round funding, led by Silicon Valley-based investors. [Washington Business Journal]
Weather Gang, Topper Predict Less Snow — Contrary to NBC4’s Doug Kammerer, who predicted a snowier-than-average winter, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang and WUSA9’s Topper Shutt both are predicting less snow than usual and warmer than usual temperatures. [Washington Post]
Following the terror attacks in Paris, there has been a backlash against plans to bring refugees from Syria’s bloody civil war to the U.S. More than half of the nation’s governors — mostly Republicans — have expressed opposition to hosting Syrian refugees in their states.
In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he will not ban refugees from the Commonwealth. Arlington, meanwhile, says it’s ready to help refugees who are sent to the county.
“While there is no official role for the Arlington County government in resettlement decisions or in receiving refugees, we have expressed our interest in serving as a receiving community for refugees,” said Brian Stout, Arlington County’s federal liaison.
Once in Arlington, the county’s Dept. of Human Service would offer a number of free services to refugees through its Community Outreach Program, including:
- Citizenship classes and workshops
- English language classes
- Computer classes
- Job readiness training
- Food and nutrition classes
- Health screenings and presentations
Those services are available in Arabic and other languages, according to information on refugee resettlement in Arlington provided to ARLnow.com. The document also states that county staff is able to “signal our interest in assisting” with refugee resettlement by communicating “the benefits of Arlington as a placement site to the State Department and the placement agencies.”
In order to come to Arlington, a refugee would either need to have family in the area, or it would need to be determined by federal authorities that Arlington was best suited to the refugee’s needs. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement would refer the refugee to the Virginia Dept. of Social Services, which would in turn refer him or her to the local, contracted refugee service provider — which for Arlington is Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
So far, the county is unaware of any Syrian refugees that have been resettled in Arlington, Stout said. ARLnow.com was unable to reach Catholic Charities for comment.
Per security concerns about ISIS-affiliated terrorists posing as refugees, Gov. McAuliffe’s office said in a statement that each refugee “undergoes intensive security screening” from federal authorities. Even so, McAuliffe has also specifically asked his homeland security secretary to “ensure that every proper precaution is taken to keep Virginians safe.”
Republicans in the House of Delegates say they will introduce legislation early next year to ban Syrian refugees from Virginia.
Arlington County, along with other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, is currently conducting a blanket and coat drive for Syrian refugees.
Arlington County courts, libraries, public schools and other government offices will be closed for the holiday, and metered parking will not be enforced, the county said. Arlington Transit will operate on a holiday schedule.
Trash and recycling services, meanwhile, will operate on a normal schedule.
Arlington has set up a text line and a new website to gather suggestions for digital tools that could “make it easier to communicate and do business with the County.” The website says the suggestion-gathering effort will wrap up by Nov. 15.
From a press release:
The County is always looking for new opportunities to engage its residents and gain their input on the issues that matter. Today, we’re launching a month long outreach effort to ask Arlingtonians what future mobile or online services they think would make it easier to communicate and do business with the County.
Participants should visit http://insights.arlingtonva.us or or send a text to 703-270-0070 to share their ideas for a new mobile or online service. Once we conclude the input period, we will gather the ideas, develop insights and then use the information as part of our overall decision making process. We’ll be sharing our findings with participants and others along the way.
Church Squatter Arrested — A man who has managed to squat in the attic of an Arlington church for three years has been arrested and charged with trespassing. An air conditioning repairman discovered the man and his makeshift living space in the attic of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, near Ballston. [NBC Washington]
New Rosslyn Sushi Restaurant Close to Opening — Rolls By U, a new sushi restaurant at 1731 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is getting set to open next week, after originally hoping to open last month. The restaurant will offer burrito-sized sushi rolls in addition to regular-sized rolls. [Washington City Paper]
Fundraiser for Former Yorktown Football Player — Friends have organized an online fundraising campaign for a former Yorktown High School football player who was injured in an incident that was caught on video. Josh Bunche was attempting a flip while tailgating at a Clemson football game, but he slipped and suffered serious facial injuries. [Patch, GoFundMe]
McMenamin Responds to Sewage Plant Fence — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Mike McMenamin has issued a statement calling the $350,000 public art installation along a fence at the county’s sewage plant “wasteful.” Said McMenamin: “Extravagant projects like this help drive up taxes in Arlington County, making it more costly to own a home or to start a business.”
County Touts Fully Funded Pension — Arlington County’s employee pension fund is now 99 percent funded, thanks to prudent management. While some other communities struggle with underfunded pensions, Arlington has now been able to decrease the percentage of employee compensation going to the pension fund, from 24 percent — about $58 million — last year to 22 percent this year. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Clement is decrying the not-uncommon practice of county staff waiting to post documents related to County Board items and commission agenda items until either right before the meeting or after. While the vast majority of board reports and other documents are posted a week or more in advance, some go down to the wire, raising questions about government transparency.
In a press release, Clement proposes a rule requiring documents to be posted 72 hours in advance of any such meeting, and asks other candidates to support the rule as well. It wouldn’t come at a monetary cost, it would just require tighter deadlines, Clement said.
The full press release:
I’m Audrey Clement, Independent Candidate for Arlington County Board. I’ve spoken to hundreds of voters, taxpayers, and residents while campaigning for County Board this year.
Many have related to me their frustration with the fact that Arlington County staff frequently withhold critical documents, data, and information, or delay posting critical information till the day before the next Board or Commission meeting.
How can residents, the Civic Federation, civic associations, homeowners associations, and other stakeholders study and understand information or hold meaningful discussions with their elected officials about important decisions when staff either withholds, or waits until the last minute to reveal pertinent information and detail? They can’t!
There is a better way: A 72-hour transparency rule. In the corporate world, boards of directors typically require at least 5 days’ advance receipt of meeting materials. If you want meeting attendees to be prepared (which includes having read relevant reports and detailed information in advance), you need to give them the materials far enough in advance to make it possible. It is common practice in the business world to require 3-to 5-day advanced delivery of all board-meeting materials.
Providing meeting materials 3 days in advance of County Board and advisory commission meetings isn’t a lot to ask. It’s just common courtesy. And a 72-hour rule isn’t any more expensive or time consuming; it simply means setting earlier internal deadlines. In fact most Arlington County meeting documents are ready several days prior to meetings, yet staff often holds them for a Friday-night document dump to the County’s website.
Please join me and others in asking all Arlington County Board candidates to pledge their support to a 72-hour (or longer) rule for the advance publication of County Board and advisory commission agenda items and reports.
County Gov’t Open on Columbus Day — Arlington County government offices will be open on Monday, Oct. 12. Courts, the Sheriff’s Office, the DMV and Arlington Public Schools, however, will be closed in observance of the Columbus Day holiday. [Arlington County]
Arlington Same-Sex Marriage Stats — Over the past year, same-sex marriages have accounted for 7.2 percent of all marriage licenses in Arlington County. [InsideNova]
Teachers Endorse Cristol, Dorsey — The Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee, which represents Arlington Public Schools teachers, has endorsed Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey in the upcoming County Board general election. [Christian Dorsey]
Suburban Pols Rail Against I-66 Tolls — Lawmakers from the outer Northern Virginia suburbs are calling VDOT’s proposal to add tolls to I-66 “highway robbery.” Said a Republican state lawmaker from Manassas: “Asking commuters from Prince William, Manassas, Fairfax and Loudoun to pay such an outrageous amount for the privilege of sitting in the same unmoving lanes of traffic so Arlington can have nice new bike paths is unconscionable.” [InsideNova]
British School Choir Coming to Arlington — The IPS singers, a school choir from London, will perform “sacred choral works by famed composers” at the Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street) next Friday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m.
Arlington Bros Create ‘B.R.O. Ball’ — Two federal contractors from Arlington, along with a third partner, are trying to raise $75,000 on Kickstarter to make a football with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker inside. They have dubbed the ball the “B.R.O. Ball.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Joe Green
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) Last year it looked like Arlington County would soon be starting year-round yard waste collection. That is, until Arlington’s waste hauling contractors lost out on the yard waste contract and sued the county.
The year-round yard waste collection proposal has since been in limbo. With the lawsuits withdrawn, it is now on track again to becoming a reality — as soon as Spring 2016 — but only if it garners enough public support.
Arlington is conducting an online survey through Friday (Sept. 25) to gauge resident interest in the service.
“Results from the survey will be presented to the County Board this fall, who will then make the decision about whether to add year-round yard waste to the other waste collection services,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Adding the year-round collection would mean an optional third cart for residents to bring to the curb every week and a not-optional extra $33 per year added to their current $271 per year residential waste collection bill. The county says that even at $304 per year, Arlington’s rate would remain the lowest in the area.
Currently, Arlington conducts a seasonal yard waste collection: 10 weeks of leaf collection in the fall and 6 weeks of yard debris collection in the spring. The collected items are then composted. At all other times during the year, organic material is treated as trash and incinerated.
In addition to environmental benefits, “the logistics for handling year-round yard waste would be less demanding than turning the system on and off at points during the year,” according to a county press release.
Arlington has since dumped KMG Hauling and Bates Trucking, the contractors that filed suit, and is touting the benefits of its new contract with American Disposal Services. Among them:
- “Reduced pollution from compressed natural gas collection vehicles.”
- “$5.5 million savings on core services through the length of the 10-year contract.”
- “More responsive customer service through advanced collection vehicle and cart monitoring.”
Arlington, VHC Agree to Land Swap Terms — Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center have preliminarily agreed to terms on a future land deal that would give the hospital extra room to expand. The deal would swap the county’s Edison Complex, next to the hospital, for hospital-owned property elsewhere and/or cash and other considerations. The County Board will vote on a proposed Letter of Intent on Sept. 24. [Arlington County]
Arlington Teen Mauled by Pit Bull — A 17-year-old was mauled by a pit bull in his home on 8th Street S., police said. The house was reportedly being used as a babysitting service for pit bulls and the boy suffered serious injuries after trying to break up a fight between two of the dogs. [NBC Washington]
Artisphere Still in County Hands — Arlington County and Monday Properties have not yet finalized a lease termination for the former Artisphere space in Rosslyn. While there has been some talk of a tech-related use for the massive, airy space — which costs $1 million per year just for heating, cooling and utilities — it’s as yet unclear what, if anything, will actually replace Artisphere. [DCist]
Arlington Loses Large Potential Tenant — Despite a push from Arlington County and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, The Advisory Board Co. will be staying in D.C. Local and state officials had hoped to woo the publicly traded company to the vacant 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, but in the end a $60 million incentive package offered by D.C. convinced the company to move to a New York Ave NW address near the convention center. [Washington Business Journal]
Tonight: E.T. Showing at the Planetarium — The Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium will kick off their fall fundraising festival this weekend with a movie screening tonight. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial will be showing at the planetarium starting at 7 p.m. tonight. Other events are planned for Saturday and Sunday. [Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium]
Fall Festival at Bluemont Park — On Saturday, Bluemont Park will host its free Fall Festival, featuring activities for all ages, including cornhole, bocce, a moon bounce, relay races and face painting. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Addressing “longer-term budget and service delivery issues” is a top priority of Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, who says Arlington must think and act strategically as the county continues to grow and develop.
“Too often, we are so wrapped up in our day-to-day responsibilities that we lose sight of the importance of planning for the longer range,” Schwartz said in a press release that was sent out Friday. “These conversations will focus on what the future is for service delivery, staffing and management and how we make sure we are on the cutting edge of planning for that future.”
According to Arlington County, policymakers will discuss:
- How Arlington’s growing population and changing demographics impact service delivery
- How service delivery choices and investments can help meet the county’s economic development goals
- The impact of technology on how county government delivers services
- Opportunities to achieve efficiencies while improving service delivery
“While no formal action is expected by the County Board at these sessions, the discussions will help inform future budget and Capital Improvement Plan discussions,” the county said.
The first County Board work session will be held at 3 p.m. today, in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, and will discuss Arlington’s public libraries. Other work sessions are scheduled for Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.
Most Arlington County government offices will be closed this coming Monday, Sept. 7, for the Labor Day holiday.
Libraries, courts, nature centers and administrative offices will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.
Parks will be open, and county pools will operate on a modified schedule. The Washington-Lee pool will be open from noon to 4 p.m., the Wakefield High School pool is open from noon to 6 p.m., and the Yorktown pool will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
ART will run on a holiday schedule, meaning the 41, 51 and 87 buses will operate on Sunday times. All other routes will not run on Labor Day. Metro will run on a Sunday schedule and will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Trash and recycling will be collected as normal.
Arlington County’s public art program is seeking a new “Public Art Project Manager.”
Project managers are responsible for developing and managing public art projects for the county, as well as advising on county requests for art and design enhancements. They also help educate residents and county staff about the importance of art in Arlington.
“The work entails communication and project-related activities to publicize, advocate for, support and elevate the profile of public art and design enhancements in the County,” according to the job listing.
“The work also includes collection maintenance oversight for Arlington’s collection of permanent public art and portable works, the associated database and website, and supports the work of the Public Art Committee of the Arlington Commission of the Arts.
Project managers work under Angela Adams, the public art administrator.
The position became available after one of the former project managers moved to a different department to take a part-time job, said Jim Byers, marketing director for Arlington Cultural Affairs. Byers could not say who moved from the department because it’s a personnel matter, he said.
The public art department website currently lists Deirdre Ehlen and Aliza Schiff as project managers.
Those wishing to apply need to have a bachelor’s degree in an art or design-related field, such as fine arts, art history or urban planning. Candidates also need two years experience in arts administration, public arts or a design-related field.
The application is available online.
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) Arlington County and VDOT are considering building a bus maintenance facility on the east end of Columbia Pike, according to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
The powerful Arizona Senator sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Wednesday urging him to oppose a planned realignment of Columbia Pike that’s being sought by the county. McCain said the alignment would allow construction of the bus facility but would reduce the number of potential interment spaces available to Arlington National Cemetery as it expands to include the former Navy Annex site.
“We should instead pursue an alignment that maximizes the number of interment sites and places restrictions on the remaining property that ensure whatever is built reflects the solemnity of this national cemetery,” McCain wrote. “It would be shameful to have to tell the family of a fallen American hero that there is no space available at Arlington National Cemetery, because rather than expand its grounds, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation decided to build a bus maintenance facility.”
Brian Stout, the county’s federal government liaison, said late Friday afternoon that a bus facility is just one use that’s being considered for the land along a realigned Columbia Pike. There are no concrete plans for such a facility, and a formal planning process will not begin until the land swap takes place, he said.
An Arlington County heritage center and parking for the Air Force Memorial are among the other potential uses for the land, said Stout.
Stout said Arlington County, VDOT and the U.S. Army reached a “verbal agreement” on July 16, outlining a swap that would give the Army 38 acres of interment space for Arlington National Cemetery north of a realigned Columbia Pike.
According to Stout, that that represents a 250 percent increase in burial space provided to the cemetery compared to space that would be available without a land swap. The swap would reduce the footprint of the road network from 23 to 9 acres, and would provide Arlington County with 7.5 acres of land south of the Pike for county use, Stout said.
Stout said it’s incorrect to say that the county is “planning” to build a bus facility on the land, though it is a potential use. He denied that discussion of a bus facility has “stalled” talks with the Army, as McCain claims.
Earlier this year the Arlington County Board approved a $14.2 million project to expand and enhance its Arlington Transit bus facility along S. Eads Street and Route 1. Construction on the project is expected to begin this month and last 18 months.
Despite the large investment, the county notes on the project page that an additional ART facility is needed, especially in order to enhance bus service on Columbia Pike in the wake of the cancellation of the Pike streetcar project.
“The new bus facility will not be large enough to fully house the existing ART fleet, or current plans for fleet expansion, nor will it accommodate additional buses that may be necessary to enhance bus service along Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City,” the county says. “Where to add bus maintenance and parking space is one of many County needs being examined by the Community Facilities Study, a broad-based, year-long planning effort launched in January 2015 by the Arlington County Board and the Arlington School Board.”
The full letter from Sen. McCain, after the jump.
Flickr pool photo (bottom) by Jeff Reardon
Schwartz was appointed by another Schwartz — Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz. The appointment is effective Sept. 8.
As Deputy County Manager, Schwartz will oversee the county’s public safety and emergency management agencies. ACFD Assistant Chief Joseph Reshetar will take over as the department’s acting chief after Schwartz departs.
The full Arlington County press release, after the jump.
Deal With Hospital Expected — Arlington County is expected to hold a public meeting next month to discuss a land deal with Virginia Hospital Center. The county is reportedly ready to sign a memorandum of understanding with the hospital for a five-acre, county-owned parcel of land adjacent to it, which would then allow the hospital to expand. Details of the deal were not yet available. [Washington Business Journal]
County History Survey — To help county leaders understand which aspects of local history are especially important to residents, Arlington is conducting an online survey, asking for “ideas on collecting, preserving, sharing our history.” An Arlington Historical Task Force will take the survey into account when presenting recommendations for historic preservation priorities later this year. [Arlington County, Preservation Arlington]
When the KKK Marched Through Arlington — In 1922 about 400 members of the Ku Klux Klan, including some prominent local citizens, marched through Arlington neighborhoods like Clarendon, Ballston, Cherrydale and Rosslyn. At the time, the Klan was a powerful organization that claimed 60,000 members in Northern Virginia, sponsored youth baseball teams and owned a field for cross burnings on what is now Ballston Common Mall. The Klan’s message was that of racism and intolerance, but it also advocated for law and order and against corruption in government and vices like drinking. [Falls Church News-Press, Our Redneck Past]
Theodore Roosevelt Island Profiled — USA Today has published a profile of Theodore Roosevelt Island, near Rosslyn. Included in the profile are notable facts about the island, including the fact that what now appears to be a natural forest was “clear-cut, trampled and even bombed by 1931.” [USA Today]