Arlington, VA

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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Police are trying to locate a group of alleged car thieves they say flipped a stolen car before attempting to steal others in the Fairlington neighborhood.

Around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night police arrived at the scene of a flipped car on the 4800 block of 28th Street S, according to a crime report posted today. Officers discovered that the vehicle was a sedan stolen from D.C. and determined that its passengers broke into several other cars in the area while trying to flee the crash scene.

The suspects allegedly stole one car, a Silver 2016 Kia Optima, from the neighborhood after flipping their own and attempted to break into several other vehicles, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.

Residents posted pictures of the scene on Facebook. One picture shows a log sitting in the passenger seat of one of the cars, wood chips and glass from the broken window strewn across the center console.

“Approximately four vehicles were tampered with,” confirmed Savage. “The driver’s side windows of two vehicles were smashed and a log was located at the scene.”

More from the crime report:

MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT/TAMPERING WITH AUTO, 2019-03300280, 2019-03300275, 2019-03310014, 4800 block of 28th Street S. At approximately 11:34 p.m. on March 30, police were dispatched to the report of suspects tampering with vehicles. Upon investigation, it was determined the suspects were operating a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Washington D.C. when they struck a parked vehicle, causing theirs to overturn. The suspects then exited the vehicle, tampered with approximately four vehicles, before stealing a vehicle with the keys left inside and fleeing the scene. The occupants of the crashed vehicle are described as two black males and two black females. The investigation is ongoing.

The Fairlington Villages condo association acknowledged the break-ins in a statement posted on its website and social media Monday, writing:

Management is aware of the events over the weekend regarding vehicles being vandalized and police activity. As it is an ongoing investigation, the police has no information to release at this time. We will update the community as soon as information becomes available.

As a safety measure, if you’re outside at night, please be aware of your surroundings and please keep your phone with you.

Forty-one auto thefts have been reported in Arlington since January 1, up from 32 stolen vehicles reported in the same period last year, according to ACPD’s Community Crime Map.

All told, there were 176 reports of stolen vehicles in 2018, an increase from 158 in 2017. Records from 2016 are not available as police rolled out the crime map that year.

Photo via Andrea L. on Facebook

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Morning Notes

A Look at Bryce Harper’s Rosslyn Apartment — “For much of the time that Harper was in a Nationals’ uniform, he rented a two-bedroom, 2,000 square-foot loft condo at the Wooster and Mercer Lofts, a luxury residential development from Abdo Development in Arlington.” [UrbanTurf]

Crash Takes Out Traffic Signal Near Fairlington — Per Alexandria Police yesterday: “Use caution in the 3600 block of King St, the Bradlee shopping center. A vehicle crash caused a traffic light outage. Treat uncontrolled intersections as 4-way stops. Be patient & take turns.” [Twitter]

Car Careens Over Wall in Arlington Mill — A car somehow rolled over a low wall and onto a sidewalk across from the Arlington Mill Community Center yesterday. The circumstances surrounding the crash are unclear. [Twitter]

Big Hole in Road Near Shirlington — A main road between the Shirlington and Fairlington neighborhoods was blocked for a period of time yesterday due to large hole in the road. The closure happened on 31st Street S., where a new sound wall is being constructed, during yesterday’s nightmarish evening commute. [Facebook]

Ballston Startup Gets Funding — MotoRefi, an auto refinance startup we profiled earlier this week, has “announced a $4.7 million seed raise led by Accomplice with participation from QED Investor sand Motley Fool Ventures. Ryan Moore, co-founder of Accomplice, will join MotoRefi’s board of directors.” [MotoRefi]

Service Cut to Metrobus Line — Metro is reducing service to Metrobus Route 2A (Dunn Loring-Ballston), after a ridership drop. Metro increased service to the line a few years ago and that net increase is now being eliminated. [Twitter]

Nearby: Companies Worried About HQ2 — “‘Recently a company was looking to put 600 jobs in this area, and they decided not to come here because they were concerned about getting the workers they need,’ [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Chair Cathy] Lange said, not identifying the company. ‘Many of the companies are worried that their workers in Fairfax County are going to be hired by Amazon. And they are not going to be able to have their growth plans.'” [Washington Business Journal]

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A white nationalist group has been sticking posters on signs, poles and other public property in parts of Arlington.

Patriot Front, a group identified as a “white nationalist hate group,” took credit on social media earlier this month for its “activists” placing the stickers in Arlington. Photos from the social media post appear to show the stickers — with slogans like “reclaim America” and “better dead than red” — in Crystal City and Pentagon City.

More recently, Fairlington residents reported in a local Facebook group that a number of stickers had been placed around the neighborhood. One of the stickers has the slogan “Keep America American” and urges people to “report and and all illegal aliens.” A Fairlington resident said in the post that he took down some of the stickers.

Patriot Front has been active around Northern Virginia, with stickers also popping up in Reston, Herndon, Vienna, Alexandria and elsewhere.

The effort has led to charges against at least one man. A 21-year-old Herndon man was arrested on Saturday, March 16 and charged with destruction of property after Vienna police allegedly saw him place a Patriot Front sticker on a public utility box, our sister site Reston Now reported exclusively.

This is not the only recent instance of a hate group being active in Arlington. KKK recruitment flyers popped up in the East Falls Church neighborhood last year.

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Crews have been cutting down trees along I-395 to make room for sound-mitigating walls expected to help buffer noise from expanding the highway’s HOV lanes.

Drivers may notice construction crews clear cutting trees and brush along I-395 where large new concrete wall panels are being set up.

The walls are being built because officials expect more traffic to result from their two-year project extending I-395’s Express Lanes through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. border.

The eight-mile, $475 million project converts two HOV lanes to HOT lanes, and adds a third HOT lane, between Turkeycock Run at Edsall Road to Eads Street near the Pentagon and is scheduled to finish later this year. The construction is taking place within the highway’s existing right-of-way.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contracted Australia-based toll company Transurban to build and operate the project. VDOT directed ARLnow’s requests for comment about tree removal to Transurban.

Transurban spokesman Michael McGurk acknowledged residents may be upset about losing the trees, but the company”takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal” and is “committed to adding landscaping” along the walls.

McGurk also noted that the company is giving grants to communities for new tree planting or “other beautification projects” and that neighborhood can apply for a grant by March 31. He also said the wall construction is “on time and on budget” with southbound walls scheduled to be completed this summer, and northbound walls expected next spring.

The construction of the walls was preceded by a community outreach. In 2017, wall contractor AECOM polled residents who lived near I-395 in the Fairlington neighborhood if they wanted sound walls built to mitigate noise from the highway. The vote came at the same time the Fairlington Civic Association (FCA) wrote that its residents were concerned that the proposed 25-foot walls required 10 feet of clearance on both sides, likely necessitating tree removal.

The HOT lane expansion has been touted as a way to increase revenue for other local infrastructure upgrades, with Transburan pledging to pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions for projects like renovating bridges and re-doing the Pentagon’s south parking lot.

Read Transurban’s complete comment below:

The project team takes as much care as possible where it comes to tree removal. We know how much the community cherishes the tree canopy and how important the trees are to our environment. VDOT and the 395 project team has committed to adding landscaping in identified areas along sound walls. And, Transurban, the operator of the 395 Express Lanes, has provided many of the neighborhoods along the corridor a grant to plant trees or to pay for other beautification projects. We invite any neighborhood in the 395 corridor to apply for one of our quarterly grants… The next deadline is March 31st.

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