Registration is open for Rep. Don Beyer’s (D) community forum in Fairlington later this month on helicopter noise.
Beyer will host the forum on January 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Abingdon Elementary School (3035 S. Abingdon Street), as part of a study he added to last year’s Defense Authorization Act that passed Congress.
Anyone wishing to attend must register online.
“The provision was proposed by Rep. Beyer in response to frequent complaints from constituents about excess noise from military helicopters,” organizers wrote. “It directs DOD to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”
Two local parks will receive extensive renovations under plans unanimously approved by the Arlington County Board at its meeting Saturday (December 16).
Benjamin Banneker (1680 N. Sycamore Street) and Fairlington (3308 S. Stafford Street) Parks will benefit. The former, near the East Falls Church Metro station, has expanded in recent years as the county has acquired more land.
For Benjamin Banneker Park, the Board approved a long-term vision for the park, which includes replacing its existing amenities and improving its trails. It will also give more protection to the Four Mile Run stream, a major feature of the 12.5-acre park.
Per a county press release, the long-term plans for the park include:
- Widening trails: Trails will be widened to 10 to 12 feet, following guidelines from the adopted Arlington Master Transportation Plan – Bicycle Element.
- Improving accessibility: A sidewalk connection from 16th Street N. to the parking lot will be added as well as a sidewalk around the parking lot perimeter, which will link internal sidewalks and trails with park amenities.
- Relocating playground: The playground will be shifted further from the stream along 18th Street N. The new location will be separated from trails and visible from the street. It will include new play equipment, more seating and tables.
- Parking lot improvements: The parking lot will be reconfigured and restriped to better accommodate up to 25 cars. The footprint of the lot will be reduced and made more efficient.
- Renovating Dog Park: The dog parks surface will be replenished and there will be new furnishings and play features.
“This plan will make Benjamin Banneker Park more accessible, provide more protection for Four Mile Run stream, which runs through the park, improve the park’s trails, and replace its playground equipment,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “We appreciate the great work that staff and the community did in crafting this well thought out plan.”
Separately, the Board approved a construction contract for the final phase of renovations at Fairlington Park.
The final phase will include replacing the park’s amphitheater with a playground for children in the 2-5 and 5-12 age groups. It will also add outdoor fitness equipment, a picnic area, improved ADA accessibility, furniture, landscaping, and improvements to drainage and stormwater management.
The amphitheater at Fairlington Park is set to be replaced by a playground in the park’s final phase of renovations.
The final phase for the park at 3308 S. Stafford Street includes a playground for children in the 2-5 and 5-12 age groups, outdoor fitness equipment, a picnic area, improved ADA accessibility, furniture, landscaping, and improvements to drainage and stormwater management.
It marks the completion of a project that began in 2010 with the first round of renovations to the park. The Arlington County Board will vote on the final phase at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).
During construction, the athletic field would be closed. County staff said they are “working with the Fairlington Creative Preschoolers Program and Fairlington Cooperative Playgroup to identify other spaces in the park that can be used for children’s play while the new playground is being constructed.”
“The outdoor amenities for Fairlington Park are past their life expectancy and are in need of replacement,” staff wrote in a report on the project. “Through meetings with program staff and feedback during the public engagement, it was determined that the existing amphitheater does not get much use. Rather than replace the amphitheater, it was determined that it will be removed as part of the project to make additional room for the playground.”
The Board will vote on whether to award a contract worth just over $1.9 million for the park renovations, with just over $190,000 in contingency for change orders. Staff recommended approval.
Several lanes of King Street are blocked near Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood due to a crash involving an Alexandria DASH bus.
At least three vehicles, including the bus, appear to have been involved in the crash, at the intersection of King Street and Menokin Drive, between I-395 and the Bradlee Shopping Center.
So far, there is no word on injuries, although numerous ambulances and fire trucks from Alexandria and Arlington responded to the scene following the crash.
🚨Service Alert: Accident at King St. and Menokin Dr. AT5 East/Westbound cannot service Bradlee Shopping Center. There will be AT5 access behind Bradlee on Braddock Rd side. AT9 will be detoured so expect slight delays.
— DASH Bus (@DASHBus) December 5, 2017
Voting is underway among some Fairlington residents on whether new sound walls should be added as part of the I-395 Express Lanes project.
Ballots have been mailed out to some neighborhood residents on whether sound barriers should be installed to mitigate the noise from the extended High Occupancy Toll lanes. The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.
The first round of ballots went out to residents in the north of the neighborhood in late September.
But Guy Land, president of the Fairlington Citizens Association, told ARLnow it was his understanding that a second round of ballots were mailed out earlier this month as less than 50 percent of the first round were returned. The results of the second round of balloting will be final, regardless of turnout.
AECOM Engineering Company is the contractor behind the sound walls, and is running the vote. An AECOM spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
In a presentation to FCA last year, the Virginia Department of Transportation said approximately 4.7 miles of highway in Arlington is eligible for the sound barriers, in addition to 3.4 miles in Alexandria.
Residents are eligible to vote based on their proximity to the proposed walls, and the noise the highway creates. Renters vote as well as homeowners, although the votes of owners have a higher weight.
FCA’s November newsletter detailed some of the concerns residents have with the sound barriers.
“The proposed walls are 25 feet high, which will impact sight lines and sunlight for residents on lower floors,” the newsletter reads. “The walls also require 10 feet of clear space on either side, which will require the destruction of a fair number of trees and shrubs around the neighborhood perimeter. And the walls themselves may only provide five decibels of noise reduction, according to designers.”
Image via VDOT presentation
Abingdon Elementary School’s own version of the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents got a visit from the real thing at school today (Monday).
The seven students and Little League friends, who wore the custom-made costumes for Halloween, were surprised by the four Racing Presidents, who race around Nationals Park during every home game. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes.
The Presidents came into an assembly at the school in Fairlington and gave the boys signed bobbleheads and tickets for them and their families to the team’s Winterfest in December.
“The final surprise was that the Nats presidents invited the Petite Presidents to race them at Nats Stadium in the spring,” Kathleen Branch, a parent at the school, said. “The boys were shocked, as they were told that they had to wear their uniforms to school to pose for more photos. They had no idea that the assembly was for the surprise announcement. Catherine Ladd, the creator of the Petite Presidents, was presented with a signed Bryce Harper jersey.
“The parents and families thank the Washington Nationals for their recognition of a school that loves the Washington Nationals.”
Photos via Catherine Ladd
— Abingdon APS (@AbingdonGIFT) November 6, 2017
The Arlington neighborhood tradition of Halloween parades continued today on a picture-perfect fall day.
Among the neighborhoods and schools hosting parades was Abingdon Elementary in Fairlington. Led by the Wakefield High School marching band, with rolling road closures courtesy of the Arlington County Police Department, hundreds of students and teachers marched down local streets as parents and residents snapped smartphone photos and cheered them on.
Among the crowd were ghouls, goblins and even raccoons.
One costume standout were small, paper mache versions of the Washington Nationals racing presidents. It took parent Catherine Ladd five weeks to custom-make the costumes for her sons and their Little League friends.
“It required the coordination of other parents… and taking over her first floor for over a month with the multiple figures in various stages of the design process,” Ladd said of the effort.
Dressed as George, Tom, Abe, Bill, Herbie and Teddy, the “petite” presidents batted cleanup near the end of the parade.
A vehicle overturned on the road from Shirlington to Fairlington Monday night.
The crash occurred around 11:30 p.m. on the 4200 block of 31st Street S.
It’s unclear how the crash happened. At least one parked car had visible damage near the flipped car.
It was initially reported that one person was trapped in the car, but that person was able to “self-extricate,” according to scanner traffic. No serious injuries were reported.
The road was closed following the wreck, while police waited for a tow crew to arrive.
Several power outages were reported in Arlington Saturday morning.
Small outages were reported along Columbia Pike and in the Westover neighborhood, while larger outages were affecting the Shirlington and Fairlington areas and the neighborhood around Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
According to Dominion’s website, 1,025 customers are without power in Arlington as of 9:45 a.m. For each of the Arlington outages, power is expected to be restored by 4 or 5 p.m.
Police will take part in a number of activities with local residents, including block parties, cookouts, safety demonstrations, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and more.
National Night Out aims to better relationships between the police and the communities they patrol. Many police departments around the country participate.
“We are committed to building strong partnerships with those we protect and serve and effectively communicating to ensure the public’s trust.” said spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
“Events such as National Night Out are important because they provide us with another opportunity to interact with our community, hear about any public safety concerns they have and continue to use effective problem-solving methods to reduce and prevent crime and improve the quality of life of Arlington’s residents, visitors and businesses.”
Events will be hosted at the following locations:
- Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
- Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (First Presbyterian Church, 601 N. Vermont Street) from 5:30-8 p.m.
- Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6-7:30 p.m.
- Cathcart Springs townhomes (4600 4th Road N.) from 6:30-7 p.m.
- Fairlington Villages (3000 block of S. Abingdon Street) from 5-7 p.m.
- Park Glen Condo Association (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7-8 p.m.
- Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. between Shirlington Road and S. Kenmore Street) from 6-8:30 p.m.
Fairlington to Trap Raccoons — Following two well-publicized raccoon attacks in the past week, the Fairlington Villages condo association is taking action. In a letter to residents, the association says its Board of Directors has “authorized management to engage a wild animal control contractor to begin a program of trapping raccoons on the property.”
County Moves Forward on Fairfax Drive Ownership — “Arlington County wants to own State Route 237 (Fairfax Drive/10th St. North) from roughly Ballston to Courthouse. The County Board voted at its July 18, 2017 meeting to request that the Commonwealth transfer ownership of the stretch of road to Arlington.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Mulls Lee Highway Ownership — Now that it owns Columbia Pike and is requesting ownership of Fairfax Drive, should Arlington also consider asking VDOT for ownership of Lee Highway? “It’s an intriguing idea,” said one County Board member. [InsideNova]
Darbys Dish on Their Split — Even friends of Real Housewives of Potomac castmates Ashley and Michael Darby might not have suspected that the couple had split up before revealing it on a RHOP reunion show. The pair, who jointly own Oz restaurant in Clarendon, “still spend time together socially” but as of February both have separate apartments in Arlington. [Bravo]
Road Closures for 5K Race in Crystal City — The annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race will shut down parts of Crystal Drive, Long Bridge Drive and other adjacent roads Saturday night. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy “ARLnow Reader”
A week after a woman was attacked by a raccoon, requiring 87 stitches, another attack happened in Fairlington this morning, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
The incident happened on the 4800 block of 28th Street S., AWLA said. That’s the same block as yet another raccoon attack last year.
On a neighborhood Facebook page, the victim’s wife said he was attacked after walking out of his house and, unlike the last week’s attack, no pets were involved.
“One bit him on the leg and the other attempted to get in the house,” the woman said. “Rabies shots required and X-ray of fingers.”
Another neighbor said the attack happened just before 6 a.m.
Animal control officers were unable to locate the raccoons involved in the attack, according to Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint. AWLA is stepping up its response to the attacks, she said via email.
We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reducing the risk to the public as well as preventing future incidents as quickly as possible. We have reached out to the neighboring animal control agency to quicken potential response times to future incidents. We have contacted a biologist with the VA State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to access raccoon population management and discuss the most recent incidents and attacks. Animal control formally presented to the Fairlington Villages community and property management last year, with the assistance of the Humane Society of the United States-Urban Wildlife Management, to consider alternative trash policies and other precautionary measures to aid in preventing these types of incidents from occurring while reducing the raccoon population.
It is important that the community stay alert, and that they remove any attractants around their properties including–standing water, trash, and bird feeders. Dogs and domestic pets should be kept inside or on leash at all times. 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.
Animal control requests that any sightings of raccoons out in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately at 703-931-9241. Raccoons are known to be carriers of rabies as well as other diseases so any interaction with them (person or pet) should be reported immediately to Arlington County Animal Control. Animal Control is reachable directly 24/7-365 days a year at 703-931-9241.
On the neighborhood Facebook page, a few residents have started calling for the raccoons to be trapped and relocated or shot, though both are illegal. Others say the neighborhood’s condominium associations should reconsider their trash policies.
The attack happened Wednesday night as the woman was on her patio with her dog. A neighbor described the woman “screaming and flailing around,” then “spraying down the blood stains on her patio” the next day, with a bandaged foot and arm.
This latest incident follows two other bloody raccoon attacks last year, which set a Facebook page for Fairlington residents abuzz. Now, residents are calling Fairlington’s trash policies into question.
Rather than using trash cans, condo association rules call for Fairlington residents to put trash bags out in front of their buildings in the mornings, for pick up 6 days a week. The trash is picked up later in the morning, but often after birds, squirrels and other critters (rarely raccoons, which are nocturnal) start clawing at the food inside the bags, spreading the contents on the ground. And that’s not to mention the times when residents heading out of town or simply flaunting condo rules will put trash out at night, an almost sure-fire way to ensure wildlife gets to it before the trash collectors.
“The Arlington Animal Welfare League says they will not attempt to remove the raccoon because there is an underlying problem in our neighborhood related to the trash,” said a neighbor of the woman who was attacked last week, in a widely-discussed Facebook post. “No other part of Arlington has as many raccoons as our lovely Fairlington. To address the problem, the Head of Animal Control suggested closed trash cans that could still be picked up daily, and could be tasteful and wooden and raccoon proof.”
“I think this is something we should advocate for,” the neighbor continued. “Until the trash situation is sorted out, the raccoon population will remain high, most likely leading to more attacks.”
In a letter from the Fairlington Villages condominium association, one of several in the larger Fairlington neighborhood, general manager Colin Horner blamed habitat loss and said residents should not feed birds nor feed their pets outside.
“Wild animals are very bold these days. This is because their territories are shrinking,” Horner wrote. “Wooded areas where wildlife resides are being destroyed to make way for human expansion. As a result, animals are being forced out into the open to search for food and lodging.”
Horner urged residents to only put out trash between 6-9 a.m., saying that “the availability of food from trash left out overnight has been singled out as a primary cause for the increase in the raccoon population,” but added that “a review of the trash policy is a current item on the Board agenda.”
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, said it is “actively managing this case.”
“Animal control officers were unable to the locate the suspect raccoon,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint. “We are actively managing this case and ask that anyone with direct knowledge relating to this incident or anyone who sees a raccoon acting abnormally or coming close to residences in this area contact animal control immediately at 703-931-9241.”
Photo (top) courtesy Lilia Ward via Facebook
(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”
At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:
- The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
- The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
- The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike
A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”
The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.
To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.
The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.
The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.
All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.
The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.
Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.
That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.
Image via county staff presentation
A Fairlington woman is honoring the anniversary of her sister’s passing in a unique way.
Jennifer Pearce lost her sister Nicole seven years ago in a car crash caused by drowsy driving. The driver of the car Nicole was in fell asleep and ran off the side of the road in West Virginia. Nicole, who was wearing her seat belt, died in the hospital.
To honor her memory, Pearce — along with family and friends — hid over a hundred smiley-face painted rocks around Fairlington last night, and hundreds more around the D.C. area and beyond.
Pearce says raising awareness about drowsy driving has become a life mission.
“We have been very proactive about trying to get awareness awareness, my family will go to 95 and different rest stops and hand out coffee,” said Pearce. “I started doing this because the days just suck. My sister was such a bright and shiny happy person and it was so counter intuitive to try and live that way when your heart was broken.”
According to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are an estimated 6,400 deaths per year from people nodding off while driving, with more than 50 percent of drowsy driving crashes involving drivers who are 25 years old or younger.
For the past four years, Jennifer has given away small tokens on her sister’s birthday.
“We started with filling up mylar balloons and we would just hand them out to strangers. Smiley faces were her thing and it’s become sort of a holiday that’s brought back her spirit.”
She gave away smiley face balloons because smiley faces were Nicole’s favorite. This year she’s doing something different and has painted about 700 smiley face rocks that have been hidden all over the D.C. area — “and way beyond including Paris, South America and many other states and cities,” she said in a Facebook post.
Many were placed throughout north and south Fairlington, where Pearce lives.
“I hid a hundred rocks in Fairlington, I tried to hide some that were a little easier for kids, there were some I randomly put on car door handles, I hid some in the crevices of tree bases and near the pools, the tennis courts, the dog park, they’re kind of everywhere,” said Pearce.
“My staff is out at the zoo today and we’re going to Georgetown for lunch so they’ll be there. Whoever finds them, what they do with them or why they might need them that day is totally between them and the universe.”
If you happen to come across one of the smiley face rocks, comment on Nicole’s Facebook post with a picture of it.
More information about Nicole and the impact of drowsy driving can be found on a website created in her memory.