Arlington, VA

Update at 9:10 p.m. — Power was briefly restored but is back off, according to a Dominion spokeswoman.

Earlier: About 3,700 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington as of 8 p.m. Friday night.

A massive outage is mostly affecting customers in Alexandria, but thousands in Arlington’s Crystal City, Aurora Highlands, Arlington Ridge and Fairlington neighborhoods are also in the dark.

Some have reported the power flickering.

Power restoration is currently estimated between 10 p.m.-1 a.m., according to Dominion’s website. The cause of the outage is a malfunctioning circuit at a substation, according to a company spokeswoman.

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Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.

Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.

Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.

“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.

The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”

A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”

The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.

“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.

“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.

The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.

In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.

“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”

One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”

“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.

The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.

“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.

The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.

“I don’t envy them,” he said.

On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.

“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.

Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.

“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.

This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.

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Morning Notes

About Last Night’s Flyover — The two fighter jets that flew low and loud over Arlington last night, startling many, were participating in a flyover for the dedication of the new Eisenhower Memorial in D.C. [Twitter, Twitter]

Big Crane Coming to Amazon HQ2 Site — “There will be tower crane erection work this weekend, starting at 5 a.m. on Saturday, September 19 and 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 20. Work will be completed no later than 9 p.m. each day.” All southbound traffic on S. Eads Street will be detoured. [Twitter]

No PARK(ing) Day — “Arlington County will not be hosting annual PARK(ing) Day events tomorrow due to COVID-19 precautions. But feel free to imagine the possibilities of drab, curbside asphalt turned into unique community spaces.” [Twitter]

Barr Speech in Arlington Makes News — “Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the Justice Department has recently acted ‘more like a trade association for federal prosecutors than the administrator of a fair system of justice’ and equated some prosecutors to preschoolers and ‘headhunters’ […] in a speech at Hillsdale College’s annual Constitution Day Celebration, which this year was held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.” [NBC News]

New Fire Engines for ACFD — “The Arlington County Fire Department recently took delivery of two new Pierce Manufacturing pumpers, which went into service with Engine 105 and Engine 109. The twin pumpers have a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump and carry 750 gallons of water and 30 gallons of firefighting foam.” [InsideNova]

Virtual Award Gala Next Week — “Please join us for the 2020 Spirit of Community celebration on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM. This year, the Arlington Community Foundation will be honoring Arlington’s front-line human service workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic with the 2020 William T. Newman, Jr. Spirit of Community Award.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Fairlington 5K Goes Virtual — “Having canceled its traditional event in April, organizers of the Fairlington 5K have announced plans for a ‘virtual’ race on Saturday, Oct. 3. Participants will have one week to compete in the event, which will support Fairlington resident Ellie McGinn, a young girl born with the rare brain/spinal cord disorder LBSL. Additional funds raised from the event will support Abingdon Elementary School.” [InsideNova]

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The Arlington County Board took a first step towards the future redevelopment of Shirlington over the weekend.

The Board approved a new “Shirlington Special General Land Use Plan (GLUP) Study,” which has been in the works since December 2017 after being requested by Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), owner of the Village at Shirlington retail center.

The GLUP study contains the broad strokes of the potential redevelopment of Shirlington, which would include taller buildings but the retention of the neighborhood’s “main street” feel.

Shirlington, as people currently know it, was the result of redevelopments in the mid-1980s and mid-2000s, but the current site plan for the area does not allow additional development density. That prompted FRIT to ask for the study, which has been subject to a detailed public process over the past year. Shirlington-based television station WETA, which itself is moving forward with updates to its headquarters, later signed on to FRIT’s request.

“Federal Realty and WETA jointly applied for an amendment to the General Land Use Plan at Shirlington in order to facilitate long-term reinvestment in the Village at Shirlington,” Dan Corwin, Director of Asset Management — Mixed Use for FRIT, told ARLnow. “There are a few locations throughout the Village that provide opportunities for new vertical development that can be done in manner that respects the character and charm that makes Shirlington so special. Importantly, the additional density will facilitate future reinvestments in the public spaces which are needed to ensure Shirlington remains a great place for its residents, workers, and visitors to enjoy.”

The finished study calls for generally higher building heights around much of Shirlington, which currently has heights ranging from one-story retail buildings to a 13-story apartment building. Under the changes, the 13-story Io Piazza building would remain the tallest building in the study area, but higher buildings — from 4 to 12 stories — would be permitted where shorter buildings, or parking lots, currently exist.

Among other potential changes, the GLUP study would allow an 8-10 story redevelopment of the gas station at the corner of Campbell Ave and S. Quincy Street; the redevelopment of the large surface parking lot along S. Arlington Mill Drive; and the replacement of several existing above-ground parking garages with new buildings.

FRIT unsuccessfully asked for the GLUP study’s approval to be delayed in order for it to make the case for even taller buildings and more flexibility to move around density.

Company representatives told the Board that the redevelopment of the parking garages, as well as the south side of the main Campbell Avenue shopping and dining drag, is unlikely at this time. On the other hand, the company would like to add more height than is called for in the GLUP study to the AMC movie theater site and the site of the former Capitol City Brewing location.

FRIT reps said the company wants to “reinvest in the property and the retail street environment,” citing maintenance issues with some of the aging buildings and competition from newer retail centers. In addition to new buildings, the company envisions “new family-oriented outdoor improvements,” including new outdoor seating areas along Campbell Avenue, water features, event space, art installations.

“We need to make sure Shirlington is a great place,” a company representative told the Board, promising to “breathe new life” into the neighborhood.

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Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.

The county and the city are supporting each other’s grant applications to the Virginia SMART SCALE transportation funding program.

Alexandria is asking the Commonwealth for up to $40 million for what it calls the Upper King Street Multimodal Improvement project. The project “would fund design, right-of-way and construction of traffic/multimodal and streetscape improvements along King Street (VA 7) between Quaker Lane / Braddock Road and Menokin Drive,” adjacent to Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood.

The car-oriented stretch is nonetheless a key pedestrian connection between Fairlington and the Bradlee Shopping Center. It has seen a number of significant crashes over the past few years.

“Today, there is a significant lack of multimodal facilities, contributing to safety needs along this corridor,” notes a county staff report, attached to a resolution supporting the application which will be considered by the Arlington County Board this weekend.

Also this weekend, the Board will consider its own SMART SCALE application, which asks for $20 million to widen and reconstruct 6.5 miles of the Mt. Vernon Trail between Roosevelt Island in Arlington and Jones Point Park, at the bottom of the Beltway, in Alexandria.

More from another county staff report:

This project would provide funding to the National Park Service (NPS) to improve and reconstruct approximately 6.5 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington and Alexandria, from Roosevelt Island to near Jones Point Park. A portion of the 6.5 miles is within the District of Columbia; the SMART SCALE application is only for the portion in Virginia, with the District of Columbia portion funded separately. The National Park Service (NPS) will manage the project across all jurisdictions. The project widens the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 feet where feasible, and makes other associated improvements including striping center and edge lines, signage, improved bridges, and realigned trail intersections. On June 23, 2020, the Alexandria City Council approved a resolution of support for Arlington to submit one project application for the trail portions in Virginia.

A recent National Park Service report recommended a widening of the trail due to heavy use and crash risks.

The county is also asking for $29.1 million in SMART SCALE funding to build two new street-level elevators to the Courthouse Metro station, including a replacement of the existing elevator.

The staff report, however, notes that the odds of any project being funded are relatively low.

“For this round’s pre-application cycle, 484 pre-applications were submitted for a total project cost of $7.5 billion, with nearly $3.1 billion in costs attributable to the VDOT Northern Virginia District,” county staff wrote. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately $700 million to $800 million in funding statewide was expected to be available for award in this round of SMART SCALE.”

“Generally, large projects that expand highway or transit capacity score well, with smaller projects scoring less well, but remaining competitive due to their comparatively lower costs,” the report adds.

Both the resolution and the application authorization are on this Saturday’s County Board agenda.

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Morning Notes

Online Forums Devolve into Shouting Matches — Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark writes about how a Nextdoor post about kids not wearing masks during a baseball game erupted into a barrage of insults and debates among neighbors. Nextdoor is not alone in becoming a forum for heated local debates on hot button issues: last month the popular Fairlington Appreciation Society Facebook group shut down after flame wars broke out over issues related to the Black Lives Matter protests. [Falls Church News-Press]

Virtual ‘Arlington Cares’ Event Tomorrow — “This free, virtual event will recognize the 2020 Community Service Award Winners and remind us of the importance of serving others. A heartwarming opportunity for all ages that will celebrate the overwhelming goodness that is within our community.” [Event Calendar]

Reduction in Homelessness Prior to Pandemic — “For the 20th consecutive year, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee has conducted a regional Point-in-Time (PIT) enumeration of the area’s residents experiencing homelessness and those who were formerly homeless. This year’s enumeration and survey occurred on January 22, 2020. Arlington saw a 7-percent reduction in overall homelessness, down from 215 persons in 2019 to 199 in 2020.” [Arlington County]

More Flood Damage in Waverly Hills — “After countless floods in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood soaked his basement, Tom Reich finally ordered a custom-made waterproof door to protect his home’s bottom level.
On Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled to arrive, yet another storm dumped buckets of rain on the region — and especially on 18th Street North. There, overwhelmed storm water mains sent three feet of water coursing down the street.” [Washington Post]

Beyer Furious at Response to Shooting Inquiry — “‘For nearly three years Bijan Ghaisar’s family and community have sought answers from federal authorities about why these officers killed Bijan and what consequences they will face. This response which tells us nothing after an eight-month delay is an insult to the people we represent,’ said [Rep. Don] Beyer. ‘The contempt such a pathetic answer shows for public transparency and accountability is unacceptable and will further damage the standing of the U.S. Park Police at a time when the region’s trust in them is already at an all-time low.'” [House of Representatives]

Report Businesses Flouting the Rules, Gov. Says — “As Virginia starts seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ralph Northam reiterated Friday what has become a familiar message about limiting crowds, washing hand frequently and wearing face coverings. But he added a new fourth point: Report businesses flouting the rules to the local health department.” [InsideNova]

Freddie’s Closes Temporarily — “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close temporarily. One of our employees has tested positive for COVID-19. We are actively reaching out to customers and staff who may have been in contact since Wednesday July 8. We are beginning the process to have the restaurant fully sanitized so we may safely reopen as soon as possible.” [Facebook]

Nearby: MoCo Starting School Year Online — “Montgomery County students will begin the next academic year online, with a phased approach to bring them back to school buildings part-time by the end of November, according to the school district’s draft plan released Saturday.” [Bethesda Magazine]

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(Updated at 11:45 p.m.) More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 to be renamed “Black Lives Matter Bridge.”

The petition was created amid dueling efforts to place and remove the letters “BLM” on the bridge’s chain link fence, a thus far nonviolent dispute that has resulted in multiple calls to Arlington County police.

The BLM art first appeared about a month ago, during nationwide protests over the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement.

Two weeks ago, the red cups used to form the letters were removed, promping locals to replace them with new cups and to write new chalk slogans. Among them: “no justice, no peace” and “take it down and we’ll do it again.”

Melissa Schwaber, who sent photos of the cups being replaced, described those doing so as “Fairlington moms and their kids.”

The cups were later removed again, which led to Black Lives Matters supporters creating a heart and spelling out BLM with harder-to-remove ribbons. That won Twitter praise from Arlington County Board Chair and Fairlington resident Libby Garvey. The next day, however, someone spray-painted “TRUMP 2020” under the letters.

The spray paint was in turn sprayed over later that morning, and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” written in chalk over it. Then, more spray paint appeared.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, July 1, a local resident posted photos of an older man and a younger man — wearing a motorcycle helmet and a Liberty University shirt — who she accused of vandalizing the bridge and the lettering.

On Friday, a tipster said the “BLM vs. MAGA battle” was continuing to escalate.

“Now there are people putting up conspiracy theory banners on the bridge and people camped out on the bridge with large dogs,” the tipster said. The banners included a photo of Hillary Clinton under the words “WANTED 4 Crimes Against Humanity.”

Later that day, there were more skirmishes.

“I was driving on the Fairlington Bridge an hour or so ago and saw a man arguing with several white women near the BLM signs,” said another tipster. “He was waving his arms in one woman’s face. About 15 minutes ago, on my way home, I saw that the Arlington PD (about 3 cars) had detained the man at the gas station in Shirlington.”

An Arlington County police spokeswoman tells ARLnow that officers have responded to the bridge several times.

“ACPD has responded to multiple reports of disputes in the area of the S. Abingdon Street bridge regarding the posting and removal of signage,” said Kirby Clark. She said that “no charges have been filed related to any incidents involving the signs,” but one incident is under investigation.

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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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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A fox that later tested positive for rabies attacked two cats in the Fairlington neighborhood, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington announced today.

AWLA says animal control officers responded Saturday to two separate incidents in Fairlington in which a fox attacked a resident’s cat. The fox was found dead the next day and tested positive for rabies this week.

“We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reduce the risk to the public and prevent future incidents,” AWLA said in a press release, below. “It is important that the community stay alert at this time. Animal Control requests that any fox sightings in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately.”

On a neighborhood Facebook page, the owner of one of the cats described the attack, which came without warning.

“We were grilling ribs on the patio and the fox jumped the fence and came onto our patio with us standing there. I’ve never seen anything like it. He attacked the cat right in front of us,” said Kay Houghton, a local real estate agent. “When my fiancée tried to break up the fight, the fox started growling and lunging at him. He found a wooden board in the bushes and used it to beat back the fox. This is absolutely not normal fox behavior.”

The cat was “severely injured” and had to be resuscitated by Houghton’s sister, according to the Facebook post. The cat later came to at a local animal hospital but needs additional treatment for potentially debilitating injuries. Houghton’s sister, meanwhile, is receiving rabies shots for the possible exposure.

The second cat was “viciously ambushed,” suffered a badly injured leg and also requires expensive veterinary care, potentially including an amputation, according to a fundraising page established to raise $5,500 for the treatments.

“Luckily, one of the neighbors was able to scare the fox away after several persistent attempts, in cooperation with a bystander’s dog barking that caused the fox to retreat,” the page recounts. Alexandra, the cat, “will come out of this situation stronger than how she came in, and we hope that our outpouring love and the support of others will relieve her anguish caused by this unfortunate event.”

The full AWLA press release is below.

Two separate incidents occurred on Saturday April 25th in the Fairlington Community of Arlington, VA in which a fox attacked and injured two domestic cats.

Animal Control responded to the 2800 block of S. Columbus St. in Arlington County on Saturday April 25th in the afternoon in response to a call about a fox attacking a domestic cat. Shortly thereafter, another call came in regarding an additional cat being attacked by a fox in close vicinity. Animal Control officers were unable to locate the suspect fox at that time.

On Sunday April 26th, Animal Control responded in the morning and retrieved a deceased fox in the 4800 block of 27th Road S. in Arlington County. This fox was sent for testing and confirmed to be positive for rabies.

We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reduce the risk to the public and prevent future incidents. It is important that the community stay alert at this time.

Animal Control requests that any fox sightings in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately. Foxes are known to carry rabies, so any interaction with them (person or pet) should be reported immediately to Animal Control. Animal Control is reachable directly 24/7-365 days a year at 703-931-9241.

Dogs, cats, and other domestic pets should be kept inside or on leash at all times. Children should be supervised at all times when outside. Do not feed or approach any wild, stray, or feral animals, even if they appear friendly or injured. Please make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

If you believe you or a member of your family may have had contact with any wild animal, including a fox, please contact the Arlington County Department of Human Services, Nurse of the Day at 703-228-5200, option 1.

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Arlington County Police are conducting a death investigation in the Fairlington neighborhood.

Initial reports suggest that a person with a head wound was found dead behind the closed Fire Station 7, on the 3100 block of S. Abingdon Street. The scene is also near a row townhouses and a small commercial building that includes a child care center.

Officers have strung crime scene tape around much of the area and have kept news photographers well away from where the body was found.

Residents should expect an extended police presence in the area while detectives gather evidence. A police spokeswoman said the death is thus far not considered suspicious.

Map via Google Maps. Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

Elite Yorktown Swimmer Has Bright Future — “So far during her three-year high-school swimming career, Victoria Huske has never lost an individual race. Included in Huske’s victories for the Yorktown Patriots’ standout are six individual state championships in various strokes and she has been a member of five winning relays with one close second.” [InsideNova]

Fairlington Bus Stop Getting a Roof — “Arlington County anticipates beginning work on enhancement of the bus stop at the corner of S. Buchanan Street and 30th Street S., which include installation of a weather shelter, the week of March 9th.” [Twitter]

New Tech Helps County Explore Pipes — “With no interruption to service, our new high-tech pal PipeDiver today explored key Arlington water supply pipes, gathering a wealth of unprecedented data to assess conditions now and for long-term planning.” [Twitter]

Whitlow’s to Serve Beer with Your Face on It — “Ever wanted to drink your face? Well join us [Thursday] night from 6:30pm-8:30pm! @guinness will take your [photo], and in less time than it takes to pour a perfect pint, the 3D Malt Printer puts your face in your beer.” [Instagram]

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