Those are just some of the issues with mail delivery and the post office in Douglas Park, residents say.
The neighborhood email listserv has been abuzz for months with reports of postal problems, and it’s not the first time the south Arlington community has experienced such issues.
Last year WJLA reported on mysterious mail problems in Douglas Park, including cases of mail that was inexplicably delivered several months too late, without so much as an explanation or apology.
On Wednesday night, four U.S. Postal Service officials addressed a meeting of the Douglas Park Civic Association to hear residents’ concerns. After some two years of off-and-on postal problems and two previous meetings with USPS officials, residents are frustrated to the point where they’re no longer reporting issues through official channels — only griping on the listserv.
“We’re just trying to desperately understand what we can do to get reliable mail service in this neighborhood,” said civic association president Adam Henderson. “The chatter I see on the listserv, quite honestly, a lot of people are so frustrated with the situation that they don’t want to call because they don’t think anything is going to be done.”
Postal officials apologized for the problems and promised action. They said the matter had made its way all the way to the top — to the U.S. Postmaster General.
“Douglas Park is definitely on the radar screen,” said Sharon Owens, Postal Service District Manager for Northern Virginia and the D.C. area. “Please let your community know that we are committed to improving it.”
A number of factors could be contributing to the erosion of mail reliability in the neighborhood.
Officials said the Postal Service is being hit by a wave of retirements — often leaving less experienced mail carriers who are still getting up to speed on their routes. Owens said USPS is trying out a pilot program to better train new mail carriers.
Another, more localized factor, has to do with topography. Douglas Park is hilly, with few businesses or large apartment buildings. That means that a mail carrier needs to walk for much of their route, which can be exhausting and makes the route less desirable. Because mail carriers with seniority are allowed to pick their routes, that has left a succession of less experienced mail carriers in Douglas Park, residents were told.
Walter Daniels, the local Postmaster, said he was surprised to hear of the problems, since the Postal Service had not been getting complaints about mail delivery in Douglas Park and thus assumed that the previous issues had been resolved.
“We’re in the business of customer service. I really am shocked,” he said. “It sounds like we’re having some mis-deliveries again. We will have to got back to the drawing board” in terms of employee training and “will start monitoring things more closely again.”
The officials also promised to improve customer service at the Arlington South post office, at 1210 S. Glebe Road, which has been the subject of a constant barrage of listserv and online complaints.
APS Mulls Contract for School at TJ — The Arlington School Board tonight will consider a $4.7 million contract for architectural and engineering work on a proposed elementary school on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. That’s despite well-organized neighborhood opposition to the school encroaching on Thomas Jefferson Park. [InsideNova]
Unreliable Mail Delivery in Douglas Park — Residents of Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood say their mail delivery has become considerably less reliable in the past year. Talk of missing mail, misdirected mail and delayed mail has reached a crescendo. The Postal Service says it’s investigating. [WJLA]
HOT Lanes Lawsuit Had ‘Unintended Consequences’ — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze acknowledged at Tuesday’s debate that Arlington County might have erred in pursuing an aggressive lawsuit against proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395. Howze said the suit “had unintended consequences with our relations with Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A house fire just before 2:00 a.m. Tuesday did $150,000 of damage and sent two firefighters to the hospital, but the home’s occupants were unharmed.
At 1:51 a.m., Arlington County Fire Department received a call for a house fire on the 1700 block of S. Oakland Street, just two blocks away from Fire Station 9 on S. Walter Reed Drive, according to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The occupants, two adults and an infant, had gotten out of their Douglas Park house safely after being woken up by a fire alarm.
The fire was “inside the walls” on the second story of the house, Marchegiani said, making it difficult for firefighters to douse the flames. The fire spread across the second floor and into the attic before firefighters were able to contain and extinguish it.
“It took almost an hour to knock down the fire because they had to basically open the walls to find the fire,” Marchegiani said, adding that the firefighters “were experiencing heavy heat.”
Two firefighters were transported to the hospital via ambulance, one suffering from smoke inhalation and another from “minor trauma.” Marchegiani said both are in good condition as of late this morning.
Marchegiani emphasized that the fire could have turned tragic if it weren’t for the house’s alarms. The Fire Marshal is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire.
“We credit the fact that there were no injuries to the occupants to the working smoke alarms,” Marchegiani said. “That’s really the message we’re trying to push.”
A man was beaten and robbed after inviting a woman he had met online to his apartment.
According to this week’s Arlington County crime report, the tattooed woman and an accomplice assaulted the 31-year-old victim at his apartment in the Douglas Park neighborhood near Randolph Elementary School.
ROBBERY, 140315006, 4300 block of S. 12th Street. On March 14 at 11:30 pm, a 31 year-old male victim invited a female subject to his apartment that he had met online. She arrived to the residence and made a phone call to another male subject, who arrived and physically assaulted the victim. The victim had his wallet and cell phone stolen. Suspect one is described as a white female, approximately 5’4”, 120 pounds with blonde hair and tattoos all over her arms. She was wearing a pink shirt and black tights at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black male, approximately 6’2”, 200 pounds with short hair and was wearing a black shirt at the time of the incident.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Power Issues at Rosslyn Metro — All elevators and escalators were out of service at the Rosslyn Metro station from around 5:30 to 7:00 this morning. The outage was due to a “power problem.” Metro temporarily provided bus service from the station for those who needed it. [Twitter]
County Board to Buy Douglas Park House — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to approve the purchase of a house on S. Quincy Street. The house abuts Douglas Park and would be torn down to expand the park. The expansion plan is predicated on the Board also purchasing neighboring houses when they come on the market. [Sun Gazette]
Crowded Congressional Primary — Election officials are expecting a turnout of about 64,000 votes for the upcoming Virginia Eighth District congressional primary. With 11 candidates in the race, it could take as few as 12,000 votes to win. “What we are talking about here is a Democratic nominee, who is almost certainly assured of election given this district, could be elected with about the size of a decent size high-school basketball game fan base,” a political science professor told reporter Michael Lee Pope. [Connection Newspapers]
Arlington Couple’s Wedding Profiled — Washingtonian profiles the wedding of Arlington residents Lynn Chheang and Ryan Hill, whose first date took place in the former Ray’s Hell-Burger. [Washingtonian]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The incident happened just past 11:00 a.m., near the intersection of 16th Street S. and Glebe Road. A man struck his nephew in the head with a baseball bat following a verbal argument, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The victim was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including a “significant laceration” on his head. He was alert and conscious when police arrived.
The victim’s uncle surrendered to police without incident, Sternbeck said. He’s expected to be charged with malicious wounding.
Police are looking for a man who was allegedly masturbating while following a woman with his car.
The incident happened last Friday night in the Douglas Park neighborhood. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 03/15/13, 1300 block of S. Monroe Street. At 7:30 pm on March 15, a victim observed an unknown subject masturbating while seated inside a vehicle with the door open. As the victim walked away, she noticed the subject following her in his car. The subject then parked and proceeded to exit the car and follow the victim by foot. The victim then ran into a Post Office to escape the subject, and the subject fled the scene. The subject is described as a 40-year-old black male, approximately 5’8” tall and 200 lbs. He had dark skin, short black hair, no facial hair and a muscular build. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a beige long sleeved shirt and dark pants.
Last Thursday, police say a man was arrested for exposing himself to a woman at Arlington Central Library.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 03/14/13, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At 5:30 pm on March 14, a subject exposed himself to a female victim inside the Central Library. The suspect was located a couple hours later in the area. Patrick Robert Rooney, 67, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. He was held with no bond.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
The $132,000 project — which also calls for the addition of curb extensions, textured pavement crosswalks and painted parking edge lines — is being recommended by the county’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee, as a way to slow down traffic on 16th Street.
The street has “documented speeding problems,” county officials said in a staff report. According to county data, the average speed on 16th Street between S. Monroe Street and S. Quincy Street is 24 miles per hour, with 48 percent of traffic traveling faster than the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit and 15 percent of traffic traveling at 31 miles per hour or higher.
Speed humps were not considered for the traffic calming project, because the “85th percentile” speed required by law for speed hump projects is 32 miles per hour.
This summer, residents of homes along 16th Street were polled on the plan — to add “mini-traffic circles” to the intersections with S. Nelson, Oakland and Pollard Streets. Of those surveyed, 66 percent supported the plan, just above the 60 percent threshold for the project to proceed.
County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman was likely among those who were polled. Zimmerman’s house is one block away from one of the proposed traffic circles.
(Residents will be asked to maintain the landscaping of the traffic circles.)
One 16th Street resident who opposes the project says she’s worried about the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the traffic circles.
“My concern is that it’s an emergency response route,” the resident told ARLnow.com, adding that the county should “stop punishing 95 percent of the population for 5 percent — the speeders.”
The stretch of 16th Street in question is located south of Columbia Pike and just west of Glebe Road. The board is expected to vote on the traffic calming plan at its Saturday meeting.
Also on the board’s Saturday agenda is a traffic calming plan for 26th Street between N. Sycamore Street and N. Quantico Street in the East Falls Church neighborhood. The $92,000 project — for a stretch of road that has 71 percent of vehicles traveling above the speed limit — will include curb extensions (numbs) and one “speed cushion.”
Update at 2:35 a.m. — Command has been transferred from the Arlington to Alexandria Police Department for the night (the two departments have a mutual assistance agreement). Police say the man has stopped communicating with them.
Update at 8:55 a.m. — The standoff has entered its 14th hour.
Update at 11:50 a.m. — The standoff has ended peacefully. Police fired tear gas cannisters into the house around 10:00. The suspect turned himself in at 11:20. He will be charged with assault and brandishing a firearm, police said. Other charges may follow.
Update at 6:30 p.m. — Police have identified the suspect as 58-year-old Thomas Amshey (read more).
Arlington police have surrounded the Douglas Park house of a man believed to be intoxicated and heavily armed. The man barricaded himself inside his house at South Nelson and 14th Streets after threatening a neighbor with a rifle during a dispute, police said.
Dozens of Arlington police officers including the department SWAT team are on the scene, along with a mobile command center and an armored vehicle.
Police are in contact with the man and trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the standoff. Several streets in the area have been blocked off due to the police response.