Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

‘BLM’ on Fairlington Bridge Restored — Residents of the Fairlington area used ties to restore a Black Lives Matters message on the bridge over I-395 over the weekend. The letters “BLM” had previously been placed on the bridge’s fence but later removed by an unknown party. Also this weekend, below the BLM letters someone scrawled “Trump 2020,” but that was later covered and “Black Lives Matter” written over it in chalk. [Twitter]

ACPD Details De-Escalation Training — “In response to community questions, ACPD has created this fact sheet highlighting how we train officers to de-escalate incidents and safely resolve situations.” [Twitter]

Update to Jim Pebley Obit — Per an email from former county treasurer Frank O’Leary: “You will be pleased to hear that, due to the actions of former commanders of our County’s namesake ship, it appears that Commander Pebley’s ashes will be spread at sea by the USS ARLINGTON. This is a singular honor and reflects the high respect the Navy feels for Jim. Nothing less than he deserves. There is an old adage, ‘The Navy takes care of its own.’ Perhaps, the same can be said of Arlington.”

Candidates on the Arts — “Arlington County voters will go to the polls on July 7 to determine who will fill the County Board seat of the late Erik Gutshall. In order to help voters understand each candidate’s stand on the importance of arts and culture in the County, Embracing Arlington Arts sent out a questionnaire for the three candidates to complete covering several issues pertaining to the arts in Arlington.” [Press Release, Embracing Arlington Arts]

TTT Now Serving Unlimited Weekend Brunch — “There’s a new all-you-can eat brunch in town. TTT in Clarendon, which stands for Tacos, Tortas and Tequila, has joined its Street Guys Hospitality brethren, including beloved Ambar, in offering unlimited eats on weekend mornings.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Reminder: Metro Stations Back Open — “Metro plans to reopen the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations in Arlington, starting Sunday.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Fairfax Teachers Revolt — “A day after one of the nation’s largest school systems announced its proposal for fall learning, teachers within Fairfax County Public Schools rose in revolt and refused to teach in-person, as the plan demands, until officials revise their strategy.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Vigil Planned Saturday in Green ValleyUpdated at noon — “Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Black Parents of Arlington and Yolande Kwinana will be hosting a vigil at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School Field, to honor those who have died at the hands of police. Speakers will enlighten the community on what they can do to help enact change in our Arlington.” [Facebook]

Ballston Macy’s Redevelopment Proposal Delayed — “The owner of air rights above the [potentially for sale] Macy’s building in Ballston will have additional time to move forward with a planned redevelopment of the space, if County Board members act on its request June 13. Board members are being asked to extend until July 2023 the ability of the owner to come to the county government with a development plan. The current site plan, which sets out development parameters for the parcel, was set to expire in several weeks.” [InsideNova]

Local CrossFit Gym Speaks Out — “Replacing one CEO for another is not real change. We welcome the retirement of CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman as a step in the right direction, but we find it woefully inadequate. The appointment of Dave Castro as new CEO is unmistakably a tone deaf move that is shying away from making any difficult and meaningful change.” [@crossfitsoutharlington/Instagram]

Op-Ed: Parking Proposal Not Fair to Green Valley — “While millions marched for equity and racial justice last week, the Arlington County government posted a board agenda item that turns these actions into mere slogans. A license agreement would have the county government turn a newly acquired $1 million property in the Green Valley community into a parking lot for WETA. This action is but one in a series of events that draw attention to the inequity systemic within the county.” [InsideNova]

Caps Resuming Practices in Ballston — “The Washington Capitals have announced their date for small group activities to resume: Thursday, June 11. The announcement comes a day after MedStar Capitals Iceplex, the team’s practice facility, posted it would begin the state’s Phase 2 reopening plan this weekend. According to the Capitals, MedStar Capitals Iceplex will remain closed to the public.” [Russian Machine Never Breaks, Washington Capitals]

Nearby: Fairfax Co. Expects Office Vacancy Spike — “Fairfax County’s office vacancy rate is likely to suffer as remote meetings continue to be the norm, the county’s economic development chief warned in early June. Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, delivered that warning to the county board of supervisors during a June 2 meeting.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Free Coronavirus Testing Event Today — “Arlington County will host a free COVID-19 testing event on Tuesday, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Barcroft (4200 S Four Mile Run Drive). Tests available both by drive-up and walk-up. No doctor’s note or ID required… the public can anticipate heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area.” [Arlington County, Twitter, Twitter]

Flasher Arrested After Incident Near Ballston — “At approximately 12:12 p.m., an officer on patrol was flagged down by an individual in need of assistance. It was determined that the victim was in the area when she was allegedly approached by the male suspect who exposed himself before running away. The officer located an individual matching the suspect description and, during the course of the investigation, he was positively identified.” [Arlington County]

New Facade, Name Change for Crystal City Building — “JBG Smith Properties is looking to revamp, rebrand and add more leasable space to its Crystal Drive office campus, including one building partly leased and occupied by Amazon.com Inc. as part of HQ2. The new name for the entire office and residential complex, long known as Crystal Park: The Parks at National Landing.” [Washington Business Journal]

Bakeshop Closes Due to COVID Case — Bakeshop in Clarendon is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The store is now being cleaned and other employees testing. The bakery’s Falls Church location remains open. [Twitter]

How Hotel Manager Chose ‘KIND’ Message — “He kept coming back to one night, in particular, when a Southwest Airlines pilot approached the front desk. He brought a woman with two children from the airport who had been stranded for the night, their connecting flight canceled. The pilot offered to pay for their room and then pulled out his wallet, handing the woman cash for a meal. ‘The woman started to cry and asked the pilot, ‘Can I give you a hug?”” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Restaurant Fire Causes Significant Damage — “On Thursday, May 21 at approximately 11:23 a.m., units from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Arlington County Fire Department and the City of Alexandria Fire Department were dispatched for a reported building fire in the 5200 block of Leesburg Pike in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County… Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $350,000.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Photo courtesy Dennis Chiappetta

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Arlington and Alexandria firefighters assisted their Fairfax County counterparts in battling a restaurant fire along Route 7 this morning.

Firefighters from several jurisdictions were dispatched shortly before 11:30 a.m. to Edy’s Chicken & Steak Restaurant, at 5240 Leesburg Pike, in a shopping plaza just across the Arlington border in Fairfax.

Fire was reported in the ductwork of the Peruvian rotisserie chicken eatery, complicating the firefighting efforts.

Employees were evacuated from the business. As of 12:30 p.m., the fire was out and no injuries were reported. Fire marshals are investigating the cause of the blaze.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Waiving Affordable Housing Loan Payments — “The Board approved allowing borrowers of County Multifamily Revolving Loan Funds the option of waiving their 2020 loan payments if they commit to using the money to address rent and vacancy losses and emergency needs that are associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Arlington County]

County Delaying Purchase of Property Near Shirlington — “In order to keep their options open, the Arlington County Board will make another $175,000 payment to hold open the possibility of acquiring two parcels adjacent to the Arlington Cultural Affairs facility in the Four Mile Run corridor.” [InsideNova]

Masks Required at County Courthouse — “Beginning May 22, 2020, cloth facial coverings will be available for all people who do not have one as they enter the Arlington County Courthouse, Sheriff Beth Arthur announced. This comes after the Honorable Judge Newman, Arlington County Chief Judge, ordered that all patrons who enter the Courthouse will be required to wear a cloth face covering or face mask.” [Arlington County]

Chamber Supports Extra Outdoor Dining Space — “Allowing restaurants to use parking lots and street parking spaces for additional outdoor capacity, similar to how they have been allowed to reserve parking space for carryout patrons, will provide additional flexibility for socially distanced service. We also encourage the County to consider block closures where restaurants may set up tables on a pedestrianized right of way to expand overall capacity.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Pair in Stolen SUV Crash into Parked Cars — “The victim’s Ford F-150 was parked when he observed the unknown suspect enter it and and drive away. An officer en route to the call for service observed the F-150 and a Toyota Land Cruiser in the area travelling at high rates of speed. The officer attempted to effect a traffic stop on the F-150, however, it the driver refused to stop and fled onto I-395 NB. The Land Cruiser, which had previously been reported stolen out of Arlington, was later located, unoccupied, after it crashed into multiple parked vehicles.” [Arlington County]

Fund Established for Gutshall’s Kids — “A memorial fund to support the education of the late County Board member Erik Gutshall’s children has been established… The fund was established by a ‘generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.'” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Fairfax Parks Reopening — “The Park Authority has begun reopening of parking lots and parks in the park system to be open for the Memorial Day weekend. Park Authority staff will begin the process of clearing barricades and opening parking lots at all 427 parks for our community on Wednesday, May 20 through Friday, May 22. These parks will reopen for limited use in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.” [Fairfax County]

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A pair of agreements on Saturday’s County Board docket could strengthen the ties between the water systems operated by Arlington and Fairfax counties.

One agreement would formalize an existing arrangement, in which each water system serves a few hundred of the other county’s customers. Arlington currently serves 369 Fairfax customers along Powhatan Street in the McLean/Falls Church area, while Fairfax serves 313 Arlington customers in the Boulevard Manor and Dominion Hills neighborhoods.

An older agreement was formerly in place between Arlington and the City of Falls Church, before the latter system was acquired by Fairfax Water in 2014. The new agreement would codify the existing arrangement. A county staff report says that about $4,000 changes hands annually to adjust for differences in water usage between the cross-jurisdictional customers.

The second agreement would have a more tangible outcome.

It calls for construction of a nearly $3 million water main between the two water systems, under Powhatan Street in Fairfax County. Arlington would pay just over $2 million of the cost, but the new, 16-inch transmission pipe would be maintained by Fairfax County.

The new infrastructure would serve as an emergency link between the Arlington and Fairfax County water systems, which get drinking water from different treatment plants. Fairfax County has two of its own plants, which source water from the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River. Arlington gets its water from the Washington Aqueduct, on the D.C./Maryland border, which sources its water from the Potomac.

While Arlington has several redundant transmission mains running under the Potomac and Chain Bridge from D.C., the aqueduct is its sole water source.

“The Powhatan Street Main project is budgeted in the Utilities portion of the Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan,” notes the county staff report on the agreement. “Sufficient funds are available in the Utility Construction Fund to provide for the construction of this project.”

With Fairfax County funding the pipe’s maintenance, “the only future costs would be the wholesale cost of water purchased during times of emergency, which would be funded from the Utilities Fund operating budget.”

More from the staff report:

In or about 2005, a project was completed by Arlington County and the City of Falls Church that placed into service within the former City of Falls Church water distribution system approximately 2,050 feet of 16-inch water main on North Powhatan Street from North Rockingham Street to just south of Franklin Cluster Court (the “Phase I Main”). Fairfax Water and Arlington desire that Fairfax Water design and construct an extension to the existing Phase I Main (“Powhatan Street Project”). The Powhatan Street Project would consist of the construction of a 16-inch water main that would tie into the Phase I Main and extend it approximately 3,000 feet along Powhatan Street to connect to Fairfax Water’s existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road (“Powhatan Street Main” and, together with the Phase I Main, the “Powhatan Transmission Main”). Upon completion of the Powhatan Street Project, the Powhatan Transmission Main would connect the Fairfax Water System and the Arlington Water System in this location for use in emergency situations and as described in the attached agreement.

Fairfax Water will procure engineering and construction services for the design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main along Powhatan Street from the existing 24-inch water main at Kirby Road to the existing 16-inch water main south of Franklin Cluster Court. The design and construction of the Powhatan Street Main will include all necessary meters, valves and other required appurtenances. Arlington will pay a percentage of the costs associated with the design and construction.

Fairfax Water will own, operate, maintain and repair the Powhatan Transmission Main at its sole expense. The Powhatan Transmission Main will be a part of the Fairfax Water System.

This project provides redundancy for Arlington County’s water supply in case of emergency. Currently, its sole water supply is from the Washington Aqueduct.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Governor Extends Business Closures — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will extend Executive Order Fifty-Three for two weeks, through Friday, May 8, 2020. Executive Order Fifty-Three originally signed on March 24, bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Wi-Fi Available in Two Library Parking Lots — “Arlington residents who lack reliable internet service at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can now benefit from two new free County Wi-Fi hotspots. Access to the ArlingtonWireless network is now available at the Central Library and Columbia Pike Library parking lots.” [Arlington County]

Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Extended lane closures will occur this weekend beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 17, on I-66 East between the Dulles Connector Road and Sycamore Street for bridge work and other construction for the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.” [Press Release]

Buses to Toot Horns in Unison — “[Today] at 3 p.m., ART buses will join transit agencies around the country in honking their horns to honor transportation and other essential workers. Thank you to the ART bus drivers and staff, and all essential workers, for your work!” [Twitter]

Police Warn of Coronavirus Scams — “FRAUD ALERT: Be aware of COVID-related scams and know how to protect yourself. ACPD reminds you that the IRS will not call, text, email you or contact you via social media to request money or personal information related to economic impact payments.” [Twitter]

Disastrous Debut for Fairfax Distance Learning — While Arlington Public Schools catches flak for deciding not to teach new material until the fall, Fairfax County public schools have cancelled online classes for the rest of the week after the school system’s distance learning technology suffered a series of major failures. [Fairfax County Public Schools, Washington Post]

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There are now 128 known coronavirus cases in Arlington, the second-highest total among Virginia localities.

Only neighboring Fairfax County, with 328 cases, has more. That’s according to the latest Virginia Dept. of Health data, which today (Thursday) reported 1,706 cases statewide, along with 246 hospitalizations and 41 deaths.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said yesterday that the Commonwealth’s projections anticipate “a surge in the number of people who test positive between late April and late May.” With the worse yet to come — and coronavirus-related medical dispatches seemingly on the rise in Arlington — there is an increasing urgency to have plans in place in Arlington and across the state to deal with the potential for overflowing hospitals.

Officials, however, are staying mum on many of the details.

It was reported yesterday that the former ExxonMobil campus in Fairfax County, now owned by Inova Health System, “is one of three sites the state has identified for alternative care facilities if hospitals become overcrowded due to the coronavirus pandemic.” George Mason University’s main campus in Fairfax could also be used in a later stage of the response.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported over the weekend that other aspects of the planning are “mostly under wraps as some projections anticipate a shortage of intensive care beds, tens of thousands of sickened Virginians needing hospitalization and a climbing death toll in the coming months.”

“The state has also shirked repeated questions about how it will approach offering guidance to hospitals on criteria for rationing health care should the need outstrip the supply, as it did in Italy and as it threatens to in New York,” the paper said.

In Arlington, we asked the county’s Dept. of Human Services about the potential use of hotels — or even the former Virginia Hospital Center auxiliary campus on Carlin Springs Road, now owned by Arlington County and slated for demolition — as possible COVID-19 patient overflow or quarantine sites.

A spokesman did not provide specifics, only saying last week that the county was “exploring options.”

“Public safety and public health is our top priority. Our dedicated staff continues to work with local, regional and state partners to explore options for quarantine, isolation, and other measures to support an unprecedented response to COVID-19,” said Kurt Larrick. “We are following plans and protocols we have previously developed, as well as the actions and progress of communities across the country, including those in New York, Louisiana, California and elsewhere, and prudently planning to protect the health and safety of all our community.”

Billy Bayne, owner of the Highlander Motel in Clarendon, told ARLnow that the county has asked about possible use of the hotel, which has separate outdoor entrances and HVAC units for each room.

Arlington is “preparing for the worst” and looked at the Highlander as an “alternate site,” said Bayne, who also owns a pair of restaurants in Crystal City. He noted that there’s plenty of availability — he only had five paying guests to start the week.

In addition to details about the county’s plans, it has also been difficult to gather more information about COVID-19 cases in Arlington beyond the daily numbers provided by the state health department.

Virginia Hospital Center, which has implemented strict visitation policies as part of its COVID-19 response, declined to answer questions from ARLnow about how many confirmed and suspected cases it’s currently treating.

“Virginia Hospital Center is committed to protecting the privacy of our patients and complies with all applicable laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. As always, the Hospital does not share patient-specific information without prior authorization,” said Maryanne Boster, the hospital’s Director of Corporate Communications. “We are collaborating with public health authorities, including the CDC and local public health authorities, as appropriate. These authorities are best-positioned to provide public health information.”

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Morning Notes

Bloomberg Event Prompts Protests — Dozens of gun rights protesters demonstrated in front of the Bloomberg presidential campaign office last night during an event featuring D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser. [Twitter, Twitter]

Dorsey Talks to Local TV Station — “Arlington County board member Christian Dorsey is speaking out about the ethics violation that led to his resignation from the Metro board… ‘I’m embarrassed certainly, and disappointed,’ Dorsey said.” [WJLA]

ACFD Responds to Four Alarm Blaze — “Fourteen townhomes and five buildings were destroyed in a massive blaze that tore through a five-story building in… Fairfax County Saturday morning and filled the air with black smoke that could be seen for miles.” [NBC 4, Washington PostTwitter]

Smoke from Fairfax Fire, Seen Locally — Saturday’s massive fire in Fairfax County, south of Alexandria, could be seen from Arlington and other nearby locales. [Twitter, Twitter]

Superintendent Finalists Won’t Be Revealed — “Arlington School Board members will cloak their search for a new superintendent in as much secrecy as their predecessors have done. ‘We will not have a community-selection committee and will not share our finalists,’ School Board Chairman Tannia Talento said on Feb. 6.” [InsideNova]

Imperfect Arlington, Revisited — In the spirit of the late, lamented Imperfect Arlington: What’s up with the (supposedly) smaller scones at Northside Social? “Was told by @NorthsideSocial staff that they have ‘accidentally’ been making them too big, apparently for several years.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Skyline Offices to Become Housing? — “Fresh off acquiring the aging Skyline office park in Baileys Crossroads, a team of developers is sketching out plans to convert three buildings there into… a total of 764 residential units. Somera, out of New York, bought the 6.4-acre property on Leesburg Pike for $215 million back in November, pledging to bring residential and retail uses to the 1970s-era office buildings there.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Cristol Reacts to Lawmaker’s Arlington Suggestion — After another Republican state Senator suggested, jokingly, that Arlington and Alexandria go back to being part of D.C., Arlington’s state lawmakers and County Board member Katie Cristol were not amused. Cristol tweeted: “Hmmm, is it possible their grievance is that my diverse, progressive constituents are EXACTLY what it means to be a ‘Real Virginian’ in 2020?” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

More on Planned Pentagon City Study — “County staff have been overwhelmed by a flood of new development applications in the area since Amazon announced its intentions to set up its second headquarters. And the sizes of some of those projects have been so large that staff have begun urging developers to be patient and wait for a revision of the area’s planning documents before pursuing them.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Struck, Killed by Driver — “A 29-year-old man from Arlington, Virginia, died early Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV on Industrial Road near Backlick Road in Springfield. David Velasquez was walking in the right lane of Industrial Road at about 1 a.m. when he was hit by the driver, who did not stop, Fairfax County police.” [WTOP]

‘We Will Buy Your Tech Business’ Signs — “There are mysterious signs all over Ballston saying ‘We will buy your tech business…’ [A person who returned our call] said they’re just interested in talking to people looking to sell their business and are not interested in being the subject of a news story.” [Twitter]

W-L, Yorktown Face Off on Hard Court — “There was a double feature of nail-biting thrillers the evening of Jan. 30 in a packed and loud Washington-Liberty High School gymnasium. That’s where the Yorktown Patriots and Washington-Liberty Generals met in all-Arlington girls and boys varsity basketball games with close finishes. The Yorktown girls won in overtime, 53-50. Then, in the nightcap, the W-L boys won, 65-63, on a last second-shot in the Liberty District high-school contests.” [InsideNova]

Minor Apartment Fire — Arlington County firefighters responded to a small cooking fire in an apartment near Courthouse on Saturday. No one was hurt and only minor damage was reported, although the apartment did fill with smoke. [Twitter]

Gymboree at Pentagon City Mall — “A popular children’s clothing retailer that closed all of its stores a year ago is taking steps to re-enter the marketplace. Officials with Gymboree this week announced plans to relaunch the brand at more than 200 Children’s Place locations nationwide,” including at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. [Patch]

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As much as it seemed to make economic sense, the announcement last year that Arlington County would no longer recycle glass collected curbside struck many residents as wasteful.

But there is an emerging silver lining.

Fairfax County said this month that the glass coming from dedicated collection bins in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia has been of sufficiently high quality that, in addition to being crushed and used as construction materials, some is now going to a processing facility and is being recycled into new glass products, like bottles and fiberglass.

More from a Fairfax County press release:

North America’s largest glass recycler, Strategic Materials, has begun transporting glass from our processing plant in Lorton to one of its recycling facilities. There, the glass will be processed and sold to manufacturers of a wide range of glass products. One such customer is Owens-Illinois, Inc. also known as O-I, which produces 3.6 million bottles a day at its bottle manufacturing plants in Danville and Toano, Va.

Glass collected in Virginia and recycled into glass bottles in Virginia closes the loop on the circular economy, a goal of sustainable communities. According to O-I, glass-to-glass recycling uses less energy than making bottles from original material, reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and supports hundreds of jobs.

“This new market for our glass wouldn’t be possible without our residents,” said John Kellas, solid waste management program director. “They have adjusted their glass recycling habits and are filling up our purple cans almost faster than we can empty them. I appreciate their willingness to participate in the program and their patience as we identify additional drop-off locations and work through the logistics of the new collection routes.”

The quality and volume of clean glass resulted in the partnership with Strategic Materials, which is taking the glass before it’s crushed by the county’s “Big Blue” machine.

“Fairfax County probably has the highest quality of material we’ve seen in a drop-off program,” said Laura Henneman, vice president of marketing and communications for Strategic Materials. “The trial glass load was about 98 to 99 percent usable glass, which is incredible.”

The biggest problem with curbside glass recycling collection is that the glass is commingled with other materials — from recyclable paper, metal and plastic, to un-recyclable and contaminated materials that guilty residents “wish” could be recycled. The level of sorting needed to separate out the usable glass helps make it uneconomical, along with the fact that glass is a more resource-intensive material to recycle.

With a cleaner stream of glass, recycling is more feasible.

Arlingtonians can pat themselves on the back for their dedication to bringing glass to the county’s five drop-off sites. Residents dropped off more than 1 million pounds of glass at the bins in 2019, according to the county.

More on the “smashing success” of the glass recycling program, from Fairfax County:

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