Arlington, VA

After months of debate on its fate, Arlington County has made the decision to permanently shutter Fire Station 7 in Fairlington.

County Manager Mark Schwartz made the call to close the station following recommendations from both the Arlington County Fire Department and the Arlington Department of Environmental Services, per a press release.

“This was not an easy decision, because we know the community has had a special relationship with Fire Station 7 — affectionately known as “The Little House” — and its personnel for more than half a century,” Schwartz said a statement.

According to the release, there would only be room for one emergency vehicle if the county were to renovate the station — which goes against the county’s latest fire station design standards for housing multiple vehicles.

Additionally, the renovated station would not have enough space to meet proper health and safety standards.

“Asking taxpayers to pay for rebuilding a station that doesn’t move us forward in meeting our community’s growing needs would not be fiscally responsible,” Schwartz said.

The station, located 3116 S. Abingdon Street in the middle of the mostly residential Fairlington neighborhood, shut down last October after fire personnel heard “creaking noises” in the station’s ceiling and it was deemed structurally unsafe. Its status was  “temporarily closed” until yesterday (Thursday).

During an audit meeting in August regarding the use of overtime in the fire department, County Board Vice Chair Libby Garvey noted that 60 percent of the station’s runs were to Alexandria and Fairfax, given its location in the county’s southwestern tip.

The county is still in the early stages of scouting for a site for a new fire station to serve Columbia Pike. Schwartz recently suggested that the eastern end of Columbia Pike would be a desirable location.

In lieu of Fire Station 7, county officials say the following stations will help serve the Fairlington area:

  • Fire Station 9: 1900 S. Walter Reed Drive, Arlington
  • Fire Station 203: 2801 Cameron Mills Road, Alexandria
  • Fire Station 206: 4609 Seminary Road, Alexandria
  • Fire Station 410: 3601 Firehouse Lane, Bailey’s Crossroads (Fairfax)

Arlington County is “developing a process to determine future use” of the Fire Station 7 site, the press release says. It will not be used for fire department purposes, an ACFD spokesman told ARLnow.

The full press release is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Heavy Seas Alehouse to Close — “Heavy Seas Alehouse, the restaurant affiliated with the Baltimore-area brewery, will close its doors in Rosslyn by the end of October, one of its principals said Thursday. The restaurant plans to close Oct. 27, said Mike Morris, a partner in Monogram Hospitality, which operates Heavy Seas Alehouse.” [Washington Business Journal]

Real Estate Costs Going Down? — “In every major jurisdiction of the local area, the median per-square-foot price for housing for the January-through-September period declined, in many cases by double digits, according to new figures reported Oct. 11… Arlington led all local jurisdictions for the nine-month period, but its median per-square-foot cost of $436 was down 6.8 percent from $468.” [InsideNova]

Kaine to Talk Vaping at Arlington School — “On Friday, October 18, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will hold a roundtable discussion on efforts to address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. The discussion at Montessori Public School of Arlington will include students, teachers, counselors, parents, health experts, and Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.” [Press Release]

Road Closures for Festival in Shirlington — “The Shirlington Shucktoberfest, sponsored by the Copperwood Tavern, will take place on Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  Set up will begin at approximately 6:00 a.m. and cleanup should be completed by 7:00 p.m. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures…” [Arlington County]

Arlington Woman’s Alleged Killer Charged — “The killer of Pamela Butler, a Washington, D.C., federal worker who disappeared before Valentine’s Day in 2009, has been charged in the 1989 death of his wife. Marta Haydee Rodriguez-Cruz disappeared from Arlington, Virginia, in 1989. Her remains were found along Interstate 95 in Stafford County in 1991 but weren’t positively identified until 2018. Her husband, Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz, also dated Butler for a time.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Man Convicted in Child Sex Sting — “An Arlington man is among more than 300 people arrested worldwide in connection with a website that authorities describe as the largest child sexual exploitation operation of its kind ever discovered in terms of the volume of content. Ammar Atef H. Alahdali, 22, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to serve five years in prison and ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.” [Patch]

Nearby: Birding Store Near Fairlington Closing — “After 33 years, birding and nature store One Good Tern (1710 Fern Street) near Fairlington is closing as longtime owner Charles Studholme faces a grim kidney failure diagnosis.” [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Update on Park Shirlington Plans — Owners of the Park Shirlington apartments are “advancing plans to build 612 new apartments and townhomes on the property and renovate 105 existing homes. That adds up to a total of 717 units on the 16-acre site, located just south of the Village at Shirlington and adjacent to Interstate 395. The developers plan to build 189 new apartments in a first phase of the project, then subsequently build about 267 more apartments and 156 townhomes, according initial plans presented to Arlington County officials.” [Washington Business Journal, UrbanTurf]

First Responders Train Caps for ‘Violent Incidents’ — “We take great pride in providing high quality training programs to citizens so that they can help us save lives. Last week, @ArlingtonVA police and firefighters trained members of the @Capitals administration staff in how to respond to violent incidents.” [Twitter]

ACPD Stepping Up Patrols for ‘Joker’ — “Arlington County police said they are conducting extra checks around movie theaters in the county, but they also said that there are no known threats.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington Urban Ag Month — “October is ‘Urban Agriculture Month’ in Arlington! This year, Arlington County, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA), Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), and Marymount University are combining efforts to offer events throughout October.” [Mailchimp]

Arlington GOP Outreach Effort — “With control of the General Assembly at stake on Nov. 5, the Arlington County Republican Committee is taking a page from the outreach efforts of its counterparts on the Democratic side. The Arlington GOP is asking volunteers to write personal messages on postcards that are being mailed to Republican-leaning voters in key legislative districts across the commonwealth.” [InsideNova]

DESIGNArlington Nominations Open — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is accepting submissions for great design in architectural, historic preservation, landscape and public art projects through Tuesday, Nov. 19.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: New Development Opening Near Fairlington — “A new apartment complex is scheduled to open in the West End later this year, with a Harris Teeter and a Silver Diner location coming down the road. Array at West Alex is a mixed-use development at 3445 Berkeley Street — the very northwest tip of the city at the intersection of N. Beauregard Street and King Street, near the Fairlington neighborhood.” [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Amazon Tweaking HQ2 Heating Plan — “Amazon.com Inc. confirmed it will tweak some elements of its HQ2 plan in Arlington County to eliminate a carbon dioxide-emitting system. The news comes a little more than a week after CEO Jeff Bezos announced in D.C. plans to end the company’s reliance on fossil fuels in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Tax Deadline Coming Up — “Taxes are due soon! If you have moved or sold your car, you may still owe taxes for the months when your car was in Arlington. If you are waiting for account adjustments, still pay your bill in full by Oct. 5. Overpayments will be refunded.” [Twitter]

Video: Ovi at ATS — Arlington Public Schools has released a video from Caps star Alexander Ovechkin’s recent visit to Arlington Traditional School. “Hi kids, I think it’s breakfast time for you, no?” Ovechkin asked as he pushed a grocery cart full of Ovi O’s cereal into a classroom. [Vimeo]

Dorsey to Talk Racial Equity at Church — “Christian Dorsey, Chair of the Arlington County Board, will be speaking about racial equity at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Road, at 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 7.” [Press Release]

New Daycare Center Near Fairlington — “As Alexandria struggles with affordable daycare, a new facility is in the works near the Fairlington neighborhood. A special use permit has been filed for Our First Step Daycare Center, a new daycare center planned for 2500 N. Van Dorn Street.” [ALXnow]

Ever Have a Dream Like This?Updated at 8:35 a.m. — “Scanner: Police responding to S. Four Mile Run Drive for a report of a naked woman who walked on to an ART bus then walked right back off.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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As one fire station faces permanent closure, Arlington County is considering plans to open another one.

Fire Station 7 in Fairlington (3116 S. Abingdon Street) temporarily closed in October due to structural safety concerns. The crews relocated to other stations, with Fire Station 9 and nearby Alexandria and Fairfax stations assigned to cover Fairlington and nearby parts of South Arlington.

The station hasn’t reopened since, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant.

That closure could become permanent. Since at least 2014, the station has been on the chopping block. A report from 2012 noted that the station is beloved by the community, but lacks the efficiency of other stations throughout the county.

According to the report:

Station 7 is located in a residential community that has narrow streets and limited access. It does not provide as wide coverage area as do other fire stations in the County. Well maintained and in excellent condition, Station 7 is considered a ‘neighborhood treasure’ to residents of the community. The Routley study also recommended the elimination of Station 7, or its relocation to South George Mason Drive near Wakefield High School. This study found that Stations 7 and 9 could be merged to a location near the intersection of South Walter Reed Drive and South Four Mile Run Drive.

At an audit meeting last week regarding the overuse of overtime in the Fire Department, County Board Vice Chair Libby Garvey said part of the reasoning behind Fire Station 7’s closure is that 60 percent of the station’s runs are to Alexandria and Fairfax.

The County Manager is close to making a decision on the future of Fire Station 7, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith, and more information should be forthcoming “soon.”

Meanwhile, the County is in the early days of scouting sites for a new fire station on Columbia Pike. No timeline or site has been identified, but County Manager Mark Schwartz noted that the eastern end of Columbia Pike is a desirable location based on previous studies.

In the audit meeting, County officials also noted that new development planned for the eastern end of Columbia Pike and in the Crystal City/Pentagon City area — notably, Amazon’s HQ2 — will also likely increase demand for fire services in that area over the next few years.

“The current high demand at Fire Station 5 in Aurora Hills, combined with anticipated development and population growth in Crystal City/Pentagon City, may affect priorities in the next Capital Improvement Plan, which will be proposed in May 2020,” Smith said.

Photo via Google Maps

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The former Long and Foster offices in Fairlington may become a preschool.

The real estate company vacated the building at 4800 31st Street S. last year. Now, the Fairlington Villages condo association says the building’s owner has interest from a preschool operator to move in.

The association is holding a special Board of Directors meeting on Monday (June 17) at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposal.

The demand for childcare in Fairlington is high. An existing preschool a block away, the STEM Preschool at 3120 S. Abingdon Street, is planning a significant expansion.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Wins State Safety Award — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Department of Environmental Services (DES) were awarded the 2019 Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety at the 2019 Virginia Highway Safety Summit.” [Arlington County]

Ducks Close Fairlington Pool — “Due to a family of ducks ‘living’ in pool 2 (safely re-located) earlier today, the pool will be closed until Premier Aquatics balances the chemicals to meet Arlington County Health department code.” [Twitter]

Translation Added to County Website — “The County website — arlingtonva.us — now includes a built-in language translation tool that web visitors can use to more easily translate online content into more than 100 different languages.” [Arlington County]

More Candidate Endorsements — Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Senate candidate Nicole Merlene. The Sun Gazette, meanwhile, has endorsed incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. [Greater Greater Washington, Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Sugar Shack Hurt By Metro Shutdown — Metro’s “summer shutdown” is hurting the Alexandria location of Sugar Shack donuts and other small businesses in the city. [Washington Post]

Nearby: Electric Scooter Bursts into Flames — “A Skip e-scooter burst into flames near Franklin Square in downtown Washington on Thursday morning… The cause of the fire is not clear, though it appears to have started around the battery pack while the scooter was parked.” [Washington Post]

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With summer around the corner, Arlington County has shared an update regarding four newly renovated parks.

The parks have either recently completed renovations or are planned to open soon.

The Fairlington Park playground opened in March. The project included a complete redesign and reconstruction of the playground, exercise equipment, park trail and more. The renovated play area offers options for different age groups and exercise equipment for all ages.

For a more subdued park experience, Glencarlyn Park has also recently opened a new picnic structure surrounded by forest. The shelter includes accessible picnic tables and power outlets with USB ports. The project page noted that renovations also brought the park into compliance with Americans With Disability Act standards.

While there has been no ribbon-cutting yet at McCoy Park, it is fully accessible to the public. Enhancements at the park, which is wedged between Lee Highway and I-66, include a realigned sidewalk and a seating deck with tables and chairs.

Dawson Terrace Park hasn’t reopened yet, but the Arlington County website says it will be “later this spring.” Plans are for the two small courts at the site to be replaced with a single, lighted court that can be used for basketball, volleyball or other court games. A separate playground area will cater to kids and the park will have have upgraded picnic areas and trail connections.

Images 1, 2, 3 via Arlington County

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The STEM Preschool at 3120 S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington is planning a sizable capacity increase.

According to an application filed on this Saturday’s Arlington County Board agenda, the facility is proposing an expansion from 66 children to 106 and employee increase from 15 to 22.

The new capacity is nearly double the 55 children originally approved by the County Board in 2014. In October 2015, the board approved a use permit amendment, allowing the facility to expand to its current capacity of 66 children.

In a report on the project, staff said the facility can accommodate the number of children proposed with the expansion.

Staff noted that the facility also has adequate parking under current zoning and has more than it would need under a new zoning ordinance taking effect on July 1, which would shift the parking measurement from one space per staff person to one space per eight children.

In the report, staff recommended approval of the application.

“The operation of the existing child care center has not and is not expected with the increase in capacity to adversely affect the health or safety of persons residing or working in the neighborhood and is not in conflict with the purposes of the master plans of the County,” staff wrote. “Overall, staff believes that the amended use will continue to be a quality addition to the community and have minimal impacts on neighboring areas.”

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Morning Notes

DEA Staying in Pentagon City — “The Arlington County Board today approved an incentive grant that will keep the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in Pentagon City following a lengthy federal competitive bid process. The agency occupies more than 511,000 square feet of space, and employs about 3,000 people at its Pentagon City location.” [Arlington County]

‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s new baby boy made his public debut at Thursday’s meeting for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. [Twitter]

Activists Still Pressing for Tree Removal Explanation — “Remember back last year, when top Arlington officials said they would provide the public – in writing – with the reasons the government would not take further steps to protect removal of a tree that had become symbolic to environmental activists across the county? You may have forgotten, but those activists have not.” [InsideNova]

‘Notable’ Trees Recognized — “Arlington has more than 750,000 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will designate 24 of these trees as Notable Trees at its April 25 Recessed Meeting. [Arlington County]

Water Main Break in Fairlington — Some 100 Arlington households were without water service for part of Thursday due to emergency water main repairs in the Fairlington neighborhood. [Twitter]

Gerber Incentives Pass — Gerber’s move to Arlington is one step closer thanks to an incentive package unanimously approved by the County Board on Tuesday. The package is divided between money from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund (COF) — $862,500 — and money earmarked for nearby infrastructure upgrades — another $862,500.

Nearby: Alexandria Peeved By Metro Surprise — “A month after Metro learned additional closures would be needed at the end of this summer’s Blue and Yellow line shutdown, Alexandria’s City Council lit into the agency’s top leaders Tuesday night about why the Virginia city and the public only learned of the extended work through a news release last week.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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An annual 5K race through Fairlington is scheduled for Saturday (April 27) to support Ellie McGinn — a local fifth-grader with a rare degenerative brain and spinal cord disease.

The race raises money for A Cure for Ellie, a foundation supporting research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore that aims to cure McGinn’s disease: leukodystrophy. The race is now in its sixth year and researchers are now in the process of testing new therapies.

There are fewer than 100 known cases of the disease, but over the last year a girl in another local family was diagnosed with the same disease, said race organizer Beth McGinn.

The run also raises money for Abingdon Elementary’s physical education and literacy programs, which helps sponsor P.E. events and book clubs at the school.

The non-competitive and family-friendly event is hosted by Abington Elementary — where McGinn attends — and the Fairlington Citizens Association. As of yesterday, McGinn said 550 people had registered.

Registration in the 5K is $35 for adults or $20 for children, which includes a t-shirt for participating in the race. A one-mile fun-run is $15 for adults or $12 for children. The race website says that dogs and strollers are welcome. Race packets can be picked up tomorrow (Friday) from 3-6 p.m. at 3035 S. Abingdon Street.

Several streets in Fairlington will be closed from 7-9:30 a.m. on the day of the race, according to Arlington County Police:

  • Abingdon Street between 29th and 36th streets
  • 36th Street between 34th Street S. up to and including Stafford Street
  • Wakefield loop off 34th Street S.
  • Utah Street between 32nd and 34th street

Photo via A Cure for Ellie. Route map via Arlington County Police Department.

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