At a time when everyone is glued to their smartphones, spontaneous, in-person interactions seem to be on the decline. But a new public art installation in Courthouse is hoping to buck the trend, encouraging people to talk to strangers and make new friends.
Created by the Spanish art collective, mmmm…, and presented by the county’s public art initiative, “Meeting Bowls” opened Monday (July 17), and will be in town until November 1, when the installation will be transported to its next exhibit, in Miami. The bowls are red, blue and yellow among other colors, and made from medium-density fiberboard.
The installation is part of Courthouse 2.0: Reimagining the Civic, a public art initiative that strives to explore the interaction between civic space and life in Arlington.
“They are on display in a public space and are free and open to the public to engage with as they pass by, take a moment to rest, have lunch, or converse with friends,” Jim Byers, the marketing director at Arlington Cultural Affairs, said in an email.
There are bowls located at 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road, each with seating for eight people. The bowls are five feet tall and eight feet in diameter, and look to spark conversation among their users through their circular seating arrangements. The bowls also mimic swings, since they rock back and forth when occupied.
Byers said the funding for transporting Meeting Bowls to Arlington and Miami came from a grant from the Madrid-based public arts agency Acción Cultural Española. Byers said Arlington Cultural Affairs also paid around $14,000 from its own budget.
Meeting Bowls first appeared in the United States back in 2011, in New York’s Times Square. Instead of shipping the bowls from Spain, new bowls were created in the U.S. with computer-aided manufacturing. Digital files of the more than 75 parts that make up a bowl are emailed to a regional manufacturer and made locally.
Spanish artists Eva Salmerón and Emilio Alarcón will host a discussion about the creations at the bowls on September 23 at 11 a.m.
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A D.C. man is facing charges for being in a group that rode dozens of dirt bikes and ATVs through Arlington in April.
The Arlington County Police Department announced the arrest Tuesday afternoon.
Stephon Williams, 24, has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.
Williams was allegedly part of a group of about 75 riders that on April 9 around 7 p.m. drove on Arlington Blvd, then to U.S. Route 1 south into Alexandria. It was one of two such incidents of the riders descending on the county that weekend; another incident was reported last month.
An Arlington County police officer monitored the group in Courthouse on his in-car camera, and detectives were able to put together a description of a suspect. Williams was arrested in D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.
More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a suspect for his involvement in an April 9, 2017 incident of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being operated in Arlington County. Stephon Williams, 24, of Washington D.C. has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving, and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.
On April 9, 2017 at approximately 7:14 p.m. an officer conducting a traffic stop in the 1200 block of N. Courthouse Road observed a large group of dirt bikes and ATVs traveling westbound on Arlington Boulevard. The officer activated his in-car camera system and monitored the group before they exited Arlington County.
After reviewing evidence from the scene, detectives from Arlington County Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit developed a suspect description. The suspect was arrested in Washington D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.
Dirt bikes and ATVs pose a danger to pedestrians and other motorists and are illegal to operate on area roadways. If you see or know the identity of someone riding a dirt bike or ATV recklessly in Arlington County, call police at 703-558-2222. In the case of an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The county could gain control of a section of Fairfax Drive under a plan before the Arlington County Board.
The Board will vote Saturday on whether to request that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Commonwealth Transportation Board transfer control of the road between its intersections with N. Glebe Road and N. Barton Street. Both bodies would then have to approve the transfer, but VDOT has already tentatively agreed to the deal.
If Arlington gains control of the section of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. between Ballston and Courthouse, also known as Route 237, it would limit VDOT’s involvement in construction projects.
Currently, roads under VDOT’s control require extensive review before any construction can be done. Making the portion of the roadway a part of Arlington’s local road system would streamline such reviews and give the county more flexibility to implement multimodal improvements.
“Since many of the County’s projects on Route 237 utilize urban standards that are not typical of VDOT plans, this often requires obtaining design exceptions in order to implement the project,” said a staff report. “This cumbersome design-exception process adds time and expense to each project.”
The report recommends the Board approve the proposal, arguing that added flexibility in managing several streets that run in parallel to Interstate 66, which is being widened under the “Transform 66” project, is worth the extra expense.
The move is expected to cost the county upwards of $60,000 a year, according to a fiscal impact statement.
Unlike many other counties in Virginia, Arlington County staff performs the full range of road maintenance functions on the 1,051 lane miles of road and would accept conveyance and responsibility for the maintenance of the additional 6.61 lane miles constituting this portion of Route 237. Per Section 33.2-366 of the Virginia Code, Arlington County receives a per lane-mile payment each fiscal year for the maintenance of its secondary road system. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 rate, approved by the CTB on June 20, 2017, is $18,515.71 per lane-mile; the rate typically escalates each year. Maintenance responsibilities include landscaping, sidewalk repair, street sweeping, paving, plowing, signage, and pavement markings, which cost the County roughly $28,000 per lane-mile of roadway, based on the County’s most recently reported average maintenance cost per lane-mile.
… This equates to $60,000 – $70,000 in additional net tax support to the County. The precise level of service for this portion of Route 237 and associated costs would be determined during the FY 2019 budget deliberations.
The CTB would likely vote on the transfer in September if it is approved by the County Board.
The threat was made just before 9 a.m. on July 5. It prompted a sweep of the building, which houses the Arlington County Police Department’s headquarters and the local courts. No explosives were found.
A similar threat was made last September on police headquarters. No explosives were found that time either.
From an ACPD crime report:
BOMB THREAT, 2017-07050054, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 8:57 a.m. on July 5, an anonymous subject called in and stated there was a bomb in the building. Multiple units responded to the scene and conducted a search for a device with negative results.
Since 2013, Arlington’s chronic homelessness rate has dropped 64 percent, and it was the second community in the nation able to claim to have ended veteran homelessness.
This is no accident, officials say: it’s because of the county’s “housing first” model.
“A long time ago… the thought was you need to get someone ready to move into housing — and that has been completely debunked,” said Kathy Sibert, the president/CEO of nonprofit A-SPAN, which works to end homelessness in the county. “What you want to do is get people into housing and stabilized.”
This approach is part of Arlington’s “10 Year Plan to End Homelessness,” which was launched in 2008. The plan aims to ensure that no person or family lacks an adequate and affordable home.
“We try to get to the root causes of homelessness so that we can build the person up to a stable place where they can not only just get housing but maintain it for a longer time,” said Kurt Larrick, assistant director at the county’s Department of Human Services.
Arlington did see a slight increase in homelessness for 2017. In 2016, there were 174 homeless people, and in 2017 that number jumped to 232. However, Sibert said homelessness “ebbs and flows,” which she said helps t0 explain the uptick.
Once somebody is housed, Sibert said, it is much easier to work on their challenges. If they have substance-abuse problems or mental illness, authorities know where they live and can easily set up appointments for them.
Getting a job is much easier once a person is housed, too. Rather than spending each day waking up on the street, schlepping across the county to get breakfast, wandering somewhere else to take a shower, then trekking elsewhere to find clean clothes, when a person is housed they can do all those things in an hour, making it much more feasible for them to become employed.
“To get everything done that you [typically do] in one hour to go to work takes all day [for them],” Sibert said.
The Homeless Services Center in Courthouse, which opened in 2015 in an aging office building, was designed to help homeless individuals do all those things in one location, making it the first place of its kind in the D.C. metropolitan area.
The center has 50 year-round shelter beds, five medical respite beds, 25 extra beds in the winter, employment and life skills training programs, art classes, a full-time nurse practitioner, mental illness and substance-abuse counselors, showers, laundry and mail facilities, free meals three times a day and more.
The officers responded just before noon for reports of a dog crying inside the vehicle parked at the county’s surface parking lot, on the 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. They removed the dog from the car and handed him over to animal control.
A police spokeswoman said it’s up to animal control officers whether to charge the dog’s owner with a crime. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington did not respond to requests for comment.
More from ACPD’s Ashley Savage:
At approximately 11:46 a.m. on June 28, the emergency communication center received a report that there was a dog crying inside a parked vehicle in the 1400 block of Courthouse Road (this is the surface parking lot located across the street from the police department). The caller advised that the windows were slightly cracked but the dog appeared in distress. Responding officers were able to rescue the dog and transfer him to the care of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
Animal control officers from Animal Welfare League of Arlington are charged with the enforcement of all Virginia state and Arlington county laws pertaining to the welfare, care, and control of all domestic and wild animals. They will investigate to determine if any charges are appropriate.
Even on relatively mild days during the hot summer months, children or animals should not be left unattended in a car, regardless of whether the windows are cracked, officials say.
Even on less humid days the temperature in your vehicle quickly rises. Officers rescued this puppy from a parked vehicle in Courthouse. pic.twitter.com/ZkoHLSqrtA
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) June 28, 2017
More from today’s daily ACPD crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-06230261, 2000 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 5:00 p.m. on June 23, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown male subject exposed himself to a female victim. The male subject then fled the scene on foot. The subject is described as a black male, approximately 5’7″ – 6’0″ tall with a thin build. He was wearing a gray, pull-over hoodie and blue shorts. The investigation is ongoing.
An SUV flipped on its side as a result of a two-vehicle crash on Wilson Blvd this morning.
The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of Wilson and N. Rhodes Street, roughly between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The intersection is home to the Rhodeside Grill restaurant.
The road was blocked immediately following the crash, causing some traffic tie-ups.
No word yet on whether there were any injuries.
Photo No. 1 courtesy Guillermo Castillo, photo No. 2 courtesy @rickolivieri
The most hotly-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in recent memory is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Though the lack of a spectacular new revelation in Comey’s prepared remarks may be tamping down the enthusiasm a bit, many are still eager to hear what Comey has to say about President Trump — and, on Twitter, vice versa.
Here in Arlington, Liberty Tavern will be opening early, at 10 a.m., and putting the hearing on its five large TVs.
“We will serve free covfefe! And White Russians and Stoli and grapefruits during the hearing will be $5,”a rep for the Clarendon restaurant once visited by President Obama told ARLnow.com. “Lastly, we’ll offer all of our 12-inch wood-oven specialty pizzas for $10, including our popular brunch pizza that features our homemade breakfast sausage, house cured bacon, fried eggs, tomatoes, cheddar and sage.”
Also hosting hearing watchers is Ballston watering hole A-Town Bar and Grill, which will open at 10 a.m. and put the proceedings on its many TVs.
In Courthouse, Ireland’s Four Courts will be open for lunch and have hearing coverage on its TVs with the volume on. The pub will also offer lunch specials during the hearing.
Free Donuts Today — Today, June 2, is National Donut Day. To celebrate, Dunkin’ Donuts and Duck Donuts are offering a free donut with the purchase of any beverage. Sugar Shack is offering a free donut for those who wear a Sugar Shack hat, t-shirt or other article of clothing with the company logo. [Dunkin’ Donuts, Duck Donuts, Facebook]
Stabbing on Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Rolfe Street early this morning. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. [Fox 5, WJLA, ACPD]
Owner Wants Out of Ray’s Hell Burger Lease — Michael Landrum, owner of Ray’s the Steaks and Ray’s Hell Burger, wants out of the Hell Burger lease at 1650 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The restaurant closed and went on “hiatus” last month. Landrum’s company owes the landlord just over $300,000, according to a bankruptcy filing. [Washington Business Journal]
Why Arlington and Alexandria Couldn’t Collaborate on a Pool — Sharing the costs of an indoor aquatics center seemed like a good idea in theory, but ultimately those in Alexandria did not like the idea of using their taxpayer dollars to build a pool in Arlington. Now Arlington’s planned Long Bridge aquatics center is moving forward while Alexandria’s plans to build an indoor pool are on hold. [Washington Post]
New Tenants to the Rescue in Courthouse — “Adding Reston-based VideoBlocks to its tenant roster was a good get for the owners of Courthouse Tower, but as it turns out, the lease was part of a larger plan to avoid letting about three quarters of the building’s office space go dark.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro ‘Prepares for Life After SafeTrack’ — We’re a day and a half into June and there have been no major Metro service disruptions so far, something the transit agency hopes is the norm. From a press release: “As the yearlong SafeTrack program winds down, Metro is preparing for a new era of less disruptive preventive maintenance and planned capital work to ensure that the rail system remains in a reliable state for years to come.” [WMATA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Fourth High School Option Floated — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has added a fourth option for adding additional high school seats to the three finalists announced last month. Murphy said the existing Arlington Education Center near Washington-Lee could be used to house 600 students while adding another 700 seats in an expansion of the Arlington Career Center. [InsideNova]
World of Beer Sues Local Owner — Just a week after it was first reported that the owner of the World of Beer franchises in Ballston, Reston and Fairfax was rebranding the restaurants as “Crafthouse,” comes word that the World of Beer corporate office is suing him for allegedly violating their franchise agreement. [Reston Now]
VideoBlocks Moving to Courthouse — After announcing last year that the company would be moving to Arlington, subscription stock video service VideoBlocks has settled on a location: a full floor of Courthouse Tower at 1515 N. Courthouse Road. [Washington Business Journal]
County Board To Discuss Taxi Changes – After a vote on Saturday, the Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss proposed changes to the county’s taxicab ordinance. The changes, recommended by the county’s Transportation Commission, would allow the removal of lights from the vehicle’s roof, modifications to cabs’ color and lettering, and use of GPS metering instead of traditional taxi meters. [Arlington County]
How Rosslyn Landed Nestlé — It was a team effort to land Nestlé as the anchor tenant of the 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, says the head of the Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts. In the end, Rosslyn’s urban amenities, the area’s talented millennial workforce and a handful of state and local incentives helped to “sweeten the deal.” [LinkedIn]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
The incident happened just after 11:30 p.m. Police say a 27-year-old Arlington resident exposed his genitals to a woman on the 1400 block of N. Taft Street in Courthouse.
That’s just a block away from Arlington County Police headquarters and the county detention facility. The man was soon arrested and charged with indecent exposure.
More from an ACPD crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-05190357, 1400 block of N. Taft Street. At approximately 11:36 p.m. on May 19, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined a male subject allegedly exposed his genitals to a female victim. Airimis Arutiunian, 27, of Arlington VA, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. He was held on a secured bond.
Image via Google Maps
A small two-story building that’s now in the shadow of a much larger development in Courthouse has been placed on the market.
The owner of SuperStar Tickets and its building at 2305 Wilson Blvd says he is searching for a buyer, with the help of a real estate firm, but will only sell for the right price.
Omar Sider said he’s seeking an above-market price for the building, which he thinks could be attractive to investors given its proximity to the Courthouse Metro station and the new development at 2311 Wilson Blvd, which will house the headquarters of local tech firm Opower.
Sider’s building was grouped into the site plan for its larger neighbor and designated as a “stand alone retail pavilion.” Sider says he’s grandfathered in to keeping the building as-is, housing SuperStar Tickets’ offices, but he could also opt to build a new 6,400 square foot building with additional underground space and a connection to the parking garage of 2311 Wilson.
The latter is what any potential purchaser would likely intend to do. Because of the small size of the lot, a tall building is not possible.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” Sider said of his property. “I don’t really want to sell it.”
Sider purchased the building in 2010 for $1.2 million and refused to sell it to the developer of 2311 Wilson, who he said made an offer only slightly above its market value. At least one anonymous tipster who reached out to ARLnow.com didn’t think holding on to the building was a good idea.
“They could have sold out at any time and made big bucks, but they refused,” said the tipster.
Sider, an Arlington native, said he thinks Courthouse will continue to be an attractive neighborhood, with more development and changes in the works. He said he is content to keep the building in his family “forever” if need be.
Should the building sell, he hopes to move SuperStar Tickets to another office in Arlington. Even if it doesn’t sell, the business is growing and may eventually require a bigger space, according to Sider.
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington’s Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremony this morning added a new name to its memorial for police officers killed in the line of duty: the county’s seventh and its first since 1977.
Corporal Harvey Snook, an Army veteran, died in January 2016 from cancer he contracted from responding to the Pentagon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Snook spent a week at the Pentagon after a plane crashed into its western side at 9:37 a.m. that day, collecting evidence and the remains of some of the 189 people killed.
Snook’s plaque was unveiled at the memorial outside Arlington police headquarters in Courthouse, with more than 200 people present, including law enforcement officials from around the county and the region, U.S. Park Police and representatives from the Metropolitan Police in London.
His plaque was the first to be added to the memorial since it was dedicated in 2005.
Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr paid tribute to Snook’s lively personality, which persisted even after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and said his response at the Pentagon on 9/11 “encompassed who he was.”
“Harvey was the kind of guy who brought joy to this job,” Farr said. “He brought joy to it every day.”
The ceremony included bagpipers playing “Amazing Grace,” readings from police and county officials, and a flyover by the Fairfax County Police helicopter. During the ceremony, a dispatcher from the county’s Emergency Communications Center read a tribute to Snook over a police radio channel and announced that Snook — identified by his ACPD unit number, 884 — had ended his tour of duty.
“In valor, there is hope,” the dispatcher said.