A fire station project in Arlington is getting an additional $2.88 million to add environmental-friendly upgrades and more.

The County Board approved the budget increase Saturday, bringing the total project cost — including contingencies — to $27.92 million. It covers the new Fire Station No. 8 at 4845 Lee Highway, in the Hall’s Hill area, and a temporary facility to allow firefighting operations to continue during construction.

“The new total project budget is $27.92 million which includes: $19.98 million in hard construction costs; $1.21 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E); $3.26M in soft costs (design and construction administration fees, County staff time, and permits and inspections); $2.51 million in land acquisitions, and $0.96 million for contingencies,” notes a county staff report.

The fire station will be the first county building to have a “green” (vegetated) roof and solar power, thanks to panels atop the building.

The budget increase approved by the Board covers the solar panels for the 20,522 square-foot facility, placing utilities underground in front of the station along Lee Highway, and other additions, Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin said in an email.

The additional cost will be covered by a 2020 bond premium, the county said.

To rein in costs, a value engineering process found savings to the tune of $1.43 million, according to the county. A Public Facilities Review Committee meeting in November detailed those changes, which included reducing the amount of glass used and other adjustments.

Golkin said groundbreaking on the new facility is slated for this fall after the temporary facility is complete.

Photos via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Future of Fairlington Fire Station — “A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled later in the year, a top community leader says. The Arlington government in late 2018 closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington’s Affordable Housing Effort — “Some jurisdictions are building more homes than others. Of 10 localities analyzed by HAND’s Housing Indicator Tool, D.C. and Arlington County are closest to meeting some affordable housing targets recommended by the Urban Institute… For its part, Arlington County has excelled at adding more homes for low-middle-income households, but has built virtually none for the most vulnerable households in the last two years.” [DCist]

Women in Stolen Car Arrested Near Crystal City — “An officer observed the vehicle enter Arlington County on I-395 NB. With the assistance of additional units, a traffic stop was initiated. The occupants of the vehicle were initially noncompliant and were observed reaching around the vehicle and storing items on their persons, but were detained without incident. During the course of the investigation, the vehicle was confirmed as stolen; distribution quantities of marijuana were located and determined to be associated with the driver of the vehicle.” [ACPD]

Cicada Swarm Coming Soon — “They’ve been buried — alive — for 17 years. And now, Brood X, one of the world’s largest swarms of giant fly-like bugs called cicadas, is ready to rise. When the ground warms to 64 degrees, they’ll stop gnawing on tree roots and start scratching toward the surface by the hundreds of billions.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Metro 29 Diner Back Open — After temporarily closing in late December due to “COVID-19 concerns,” Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway reopened earlier this week. [Facebook]

Arlington Rents Going Back Up — “In what might be another sign of a return to a semblance of normalcy, average rents for Arlington apartments increased in February for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic. The 0.7-percent month-over-month increase also mirrored the national index, which reported its biggest monthly increase since June 2019.” [InsideNova]

Alamo Drafthouse Declares Bankruptcy — A centerpiece of some of the changes in Crystal City is the planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. But the company just declared bankruptcy, potentially putting new theater projects in jeopardy. [CNBC, @abeaujon/Twitter]

More Edging Work Along Trail — “The morning volunteer session this Saturday has sold out but we still have 8 spots open for the afternoon session. Come help us continue to uncover the [Mt. Vernon] trail and make it a little bit wider.” [@MtVernonFriends/Twitter, Eventbrite]

Don’t Worry About Flipped Car at Fire Station — “Have you driven by one of our fire stations and noticed an overturned car? Don’t be alarmed, it’s likely a vehicle extrication training prop like the one pictured below at Fire Station 5! These vehicles provide us high fidelity training to respond to serious auto crashes.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

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Arlington County has received just over $1 million in grants from both the federal government and the state to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The Department of Justice is providing about $900,000 to the county’s Department of Human Services to assist in improving access to treatment, identifying alternatives to incarnation, and to hire two full time staff to further help those being treated for substance abuse.

Virginia is granting $110,000 that will add a contracted nurse position and help continue to train police and DHS staff on techniques to best help those in need of treatment.

The grants will also help purchase more Narcan (Naloxone) kits.

Suzanne Somerville is with the Department of Human Services and will be overseeing how the grants will be used as the Bureau Chief for Residential and Specialized Clinical Services. She says the grants will allow the department to continue to build out programs that focus on harm reduction and “pre-arrest work.”

“[That’s] partnering with police… and working with folks who are having substance use issues,” Somerville says. “Or when they first bring them into the jail, looking to see if we can divert them and send them to treatment instead of incarceration.” 

She says that a large portion of the grants are going to hiring two full-time staff — a case manager and therapist — but a chunk is also going to help with sober living options.

There are four Oxford houses in Arlington, a self-supported program that houses those in recovery. Somerville says that a portion of the grants will help residents pay for these programs.

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage Arlington County. While 2017 remains the county’s worst year for incidents involving opioids, after a downturn in 2018 and 2019, last year saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses. There were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than 2018 and 2019 combined.

The pandemic is likely to blame for much of the resurgence.

“There are a lot of reasons why people have relapses,” says Somerville. “A lot of it does have to do with employment. A lot of our clients… work in the service industry and a lot of them lost their jobs.”

And 2021 is looking even more tragic and deadly. Somerville says since January 21, there have been six known overdoses in Arlington County, three of which were fatal.

For many, the first step in asking for help is the hardest. So, the county is attempting to lower the barrier for that.

It has established a confidential “warm line” for folks in crisis that is staffed with peers and those in recovery themselves. The number is 571-302-0327.

“They’ve been through this and they understand what it’s like to try to quit and all of the pressure that comes with it,” says Somerville.

Starting in April, all Arlington fire stations will become “safe stations” where residents can simply walk in and those there will initiate the process of getting them help.

There are also a number of upcoming training sessions for Arlington residents to learn how to administer Narcan.

These grants will assist the county in closing gaps in service, says Somerville, and provide quicker, more complete help to residents in need at a particularly hard time for all.

“It’s our job to help you connect to treatment and help you figure out how you can do better,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Parent Group Calls Out APS — From the Black Parents of Arlington: “In addition to tracking incidents of racism, APS needs to implement mandatory anti-racism and implicit bias training for all teachers and staff throughout the system on a regular basis. Moreover, APS must begin to track incidents of racial and ethnic hostility and make these findings public. The time is now. We will no longer wait. Arlington’s Black children deserve better.” [Facebook]

Pizzeria to Open Next Month in Clarendon — “A storied Connecticut pizza shop is making one of its biggest moves, opening a new location in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood next month. Colony Grill is gearing up to debut Oct. 13 with a 5,200-square-foot space, taking over at 2800 Clarendon Blvd. for the Gallery Clarendon art installation pop-up that shuttered in February. The restaurant offers seating for 170 guests in three different areas.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Potomac Bridge Moving Forward — “With the state budget in tatters and commuter levels at record lows, now might hardly seem the right moment for Virginia to embark upon a $1.9 billion rail project. However, the recent conclusion of the Long Bridge’s environmental impact study has cleared the way for the commonwealth to do just that.” [Virginia Mercury]

Eagle Scout Project at Fire Station 5 — “A special project is taking shape to honor the victims of September 11th.
A piece of steel from the World Trade Center was brought to the Arlington County Fire Department nearly ten years ago. Now, a local high school senior and aspiring Eagle Scout wants to transform the area into a place where people can gather.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington Man Jailed in Belarus — “A U.S. diplomat warns that her Belarusian American husband’s health is in ‘immediate danger’ following his late-July arrest by security forces of the authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Vitali Shkliarov, a political analyst and dual citizen who worked on the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, was detained while visiting his parents in his hometown of Gomel, Belarus, in the runup to the country’s Aug. 9 presidential elections.” [NPR]

County Reaffirms Fair Housing Commitment — “Arlington will continue to follow the federal government’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, despite the federal government’s July 2020 action to rescind that rule within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the County Board said in a resolution approved at its September 15 Recessed Meeting.” [Arlington County]

Local Historian Dies — “It is our sad duty to announce the passing of beloved historian Ed Bearss, one of the legends of the battlefield preservation movement and a long-time member of the American Battlefield Trust board.” [National Parks TravelerTwitter]

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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

Another School Boundary Process Coming — “It might go well, or it might be the civic-engagement equivalent of a bloodbath. But either way, Arlington school leaders are about to embark on a new round of rejiggering elementary-school boundaries.” [InsideNova]

Fire Station 8 Contract Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $16.1 million construction contract and a concept design for a new, energy-efficient, four-bay station to replace the obsolete Fire Station No. 8 at 4845 Lee Highway. The new fire station will better serve the community while honoring Fire Station No. 8’s long history.” [Arlington County]

Local Man Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Violations — “An Arlington political consultant who served as the treasurer of multiple Political Action Committees (PACs) pleaded guilty today to lying to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) about approximately $32,500 in payments of PAC money that he directed to himself and a close friend.” [Press Release]

Run With a Running Legend FridayUpdated at 2:45 p.m. — “Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 became the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon – wearing bib number 261 – and is the founder of the global non-profit 261 Fearless, will be in Arlington this Friday to run with the 261 Fearless Club DC Metro/VA. The short, easy run will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington. It is free and open to the public; all are invited.” [Press Release]

ACPD Celebrates Accreditation — “The Arlington County Police Department has received its Initial Accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). The announcement comes following an intensive on-site assessment, which took place in April 2019.” [Arlington County]

Notable Local Candidate Endorsements — The website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed a number of Arlington candidates, including Del. Alfonso Lopez for the 49th House of Delegates district, Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol for County Board, and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Additionally, Cristol has endorsed Dehghani-Tafti. [Greater Greater Washington, Twitter]

Photos by Verónica Colón/Twitter, Sandra P., Bill Colton, Arlington County Fire Department/Twitter, and Susan C.

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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.

Read More

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The Arlington County Board may soon move forward on the plan to redevelop the Fire Station 8.

The County Board is scheduled to vote on awarding several contracts for the project to replace the Hall’s Hill fire station with a new, 15,000-square-foot facility during their meeting next Tuesday, October 22.

The station, located at 4845 Lee Highway, has been slated for a facelift for years, with the Board approving a $1.1 million contract to begin the design and planning process this past winter.

Next week, members will consider awarding a contract for the design of the temporary station used while Station 8 is under construction to Reston architecture firm LeMay Erickson Wilcox — the same firm tapped for designing the permanent Fire Station 8.

On Tuesday, Board members will also vote on awarding another contract to D.C.-based construction MCN Build, Inc. to build the new station. The exact amount of the contract has not yet been posted on the county website.

Plans for building the temporary station called for knocking down two homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street — demolition work that began last fall. The homes have been earmarked for use as a staging station area for the first responders since the county purchased the land for $1.6 million three years ago.

This year, the station celebrated its 100th anniversary, marking the legacy of the station which was the firehouse in segregated Arlington serving the historically African-American Hall’s Hill neighborhood — which itself was walled off from a neighboring, white neighborhood until the 1960s.

Originally, the fire department asked to relocate the new station further north to keep response times low in residential portions of far northern Arlington. However, the Board voted to keep the new station on the same site in 2016 in anticipation of more development along Lee Highway, pleasing the retired first responders who had worked at Station 8.

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Arlington officials have proposed two preliminary designs for the replacement of Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway.

The designs will be discussed tonight at a 7 p.m. public community meeting in the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpepper Street).

In July, the county asked residents in an online survey which outdoor features they’d like to see at the new station. There were 164 responses, with a “historic map” as the top request.

All of the outdoor features in question — a historic map, seating wall, exterior skin, beacon of light, and virtue monuments — are distributed between two design proposals.

The design process was conducted with the fire station’s history in mind. For decades, Fire Station 8 was the only station in Arlington staffed by African-Americans — members of the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

Designed by the architecture firm Lemay Erickson Wilcox, the firm aims to “pay homage to the past while providing an updated and modern facility for this 21st-century fire department and the community it serves.”

One of the proposed designs, “Plaza Concept A” would feature a salvaged stone wall made from the Hicks family house, memorializing the importance of the Hicks family, which owned businesses along Lee Highway and in 1934 provided the land — at the intersection with N. Culpeper Street — on which the fire station now sits.

Additional “Plaza Concept A” features include the requested historic map, designed as a stone outline of the Station 8 coverage area, plus landmarks of the Hall’s Hill neighborhood.

Alternatively, “Plaza Concept B” would feature a large perforated metal screen on the outside of the station, depicting a historical image of the station to be seen by cars which drive by.

A seating wall wrapped around the edge of the “Plaza Concept B” would provide seating areas for the public and firefighters, with historical dates written throughout.

The county is still a ways away from breaking ground. The $21 million reconstruction project for the 100-year-old station is expected to officially kick off next fall, with full completion slated for fall 2022.

Photos via Arlington County

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A 26-foot-tall sculpture of a fire nozzle is coming to the new location of Fire Station 10 as a tribute to Arlington firefighters.

The artwork is the result of a partnership between Arlington Public Art and Penzance, the developer behind the upcoming massive development in western Rosslyn dubbed “The Highlands.”

Set to open in 2021, The Highlands will be the future site of the new Fire Station 10. Currently, the station is temporarily located at 1791 N. Quinn Street.

“This is our first opportunity to integrate public art into a fire station, which is a recommendation in Arlington County’s Public Art Master Plan,” said Angela Adams, Director of Arlington Public Art, in a press release. “Partnering with Penzance has allowed us to honor the history of Fire Station 10 through an enriching piece of public art for all to enjoy for years to come.”

Baltimore artists David and Eli Hess were commissioned for the artwork, which was funded by Penzance as a part of The Highlands development process.

The sculpture, described by officials as “larger-than-life,” will be fabricated from the same bronze used in actual firefighting nozzles. More from the press release:

The nozzle of the piece will act as a giant sconce or torch mounted to the side of the building. At night, a light inside the nozzle will illuminate the spray of water above. The water will be made from stainless steel pipe, twisting and bending in a quasi-spiral formation. The entire sculpture will be 26-feet-tall, attached 8 feet above the ground, extending to the top of the station’s façade. The stainless steel and bronze of the sculpture contrast the dark brick of the station, and the stainless water spray will shine at night against the rich red glow of the brick behind.

The Highlands, on the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd, will include three towers, up to 27 stories, with 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Images courtesy of Penzance

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