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 Friday — Updated 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]
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Board Approves Water Main, Fire Station Projects — “The Arlington County Board today approved contracts for two capital improvement projects, one to bring Fire Station 8 into the 21st century, and the other to replace a 90-year old water main with a larger pipe that will better serve the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills neighborhoods.” [Arlington County]
‘Say Yes to the Dress’ Star in Arlington — “TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta’s Monte Durham will be on campus next Tuesday, January 29th from 7:30-8:30 at Ballston Center. Durham will announce the Portfolio In Motion fashion show Designer of the Year.” [Twitter]
Snow, Cold on the Way — “A powerful arctic cold front is set to blast through the Washington region Tuesday evening. It could have disruptive effects, with rain quickly changing to snow during the evening commute and then rapidly freezing over roads.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
New Publishing Schedule this Week — Readers may notice some regular ARLnow features publishing at different times and/or days this week. For instance, this Morning Notes post is publishing at 7:30 a.m., while an opinion column that usually publishes on Thursdays is scheduled for this afternoon. We are trying out a new schedule this week — let us know what you think.
Photo courtesy Jim Harvard
Arlington officials are just about ready to kick off design work for a replacement for Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway.
The Board voted back in 2016 to approve the construction of a new, two-story building on the same site as the current station, located at 4845 Lee Highway. That decision was a particularly contentious one, as some favored relocating it to a site adjacent to Marymount University’s campus, a property that’s home to Arlington’s northern salt storage facility.
But the majority of the Board hoped to keep the station at the same location, reasoning that it would be closer to a rapidly developing section of the county. The station’s history also factored into the debate — it was once the only firehouse in segregated Arlington to employ black firefighters.
The $21 million project will eventually add a 15,000-square-foot building to the site, with room for four fire engine bays and a new fueling station, according to a report prepared for the Board by county staff.
Construction is set to start on the effort later this year, so long as the Board signs off on the design contract at its meeting Saturday (Jan. 26).
Once it does, the fire department will set up a “temporary engine bay structure” on some land along N. Culpepper Street that the county recently acquired for the project. Firefighters will have a temporary living quarters at an existing building along the street.
The current building just passed its 100th birthday just last year, and a celebration of its history is set to take place in Ballston tomorrow. It will be held at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building (4301 Wilson Blvd) from 2-6 p.m.
Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway just passed its 100th birthday, and now a celebration of the station’s legacy is on the way in Ballston.
The John M. Langston Citizens Association is convening a “centennial celebration” next Saturday (Jan. 26) at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building (4301 Wilson Blvd).
Built in 1918, the fire station has long been one of the most historic sites in the county — it was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 1960s, and it often served Hall’s Hill, a historically black community that was once literally walled off from the rest of the county in the days of segregation.
Accordingly, the program will be geared toward “chronicling Fire Station 8’s 100 years of legacy and impact” and there will be a display with “history and memorabilia associated with Fire Station 8,” according to an event listing.
“For 100 years the men and women of Fire Station 8 have served the communities of Arlington County, Virginia selflessly, and with honor,” the citizens association wrote. “Not only did they serve, but they served segregated, and unrecognized by the county for almost 40 years. Fire Station 8 has not only changed history and the future of blacks in the fire service, but is getting ready to have a change in look too.”
The fire station is indeed set to be fully replaced, with construction set to start later this year. County officials had initially considered moving the fire station elsewhere, but opted instead to rebuild it on its current site.
The celebration is set to run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fire Station 7 in Fairlington will soon shut down temporarily and its firefighters will relocate elsewhere, due to some structural concerns at the property.
Arlington County’s fire department announced the move yesterday (Thursday), reassuring Fairlington and other South Arlington residents that other firefighters near the station (located at 3116 S. Abingdon Street) will continue serving the area during the closure.
The fire department says the trouble stems from the “apparatus bay floor” of the station, where fire engines are housed inside the building. Whenever firefighters would pull an engine into or out of the station, the county says crews heard noises that convinced them to undertake an engineering investigation — particularly because some of the crew’s living quarters are located directly beneath the area in question.
That closer look at the concrete convinced the fire department to move its crews elsewhere, for now.
“First, the floor was built many decades ago and was not designed to handle the weight of modern fire engines, which has almost doubled since the station was built,” the fire department wrote in a blog post. “Second, with the additional weight, engineers found that the steel and the concrete structures of the flooring were no longer working in unison to support the load. The noise the crews heard was the concrete and steel in the floor rubbing against one another as they were flexing at different rates.”
With the onset of some colder temperatures, firefighters don’t feel comfortable simply storing fire engines outside, so crews working out of Fire Station 7 will move to Fire Station 4 in Clarendon (3121 10th Street N.) as work continues.
The fire department expects it will need a month or two to complete a “more thorough inspection of the concrete slab,” and then expects to identify some “possible fixes” for the station.
Until then, the county expects to rely on Fire Station 9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive), two stations in Alexandria and one in Bailey’s Crossroads to serve the area.
“The fire department is committed to providing high-quality and dependable service to Arlington residents,” Acting ACFD Fire Chief Joseph Reshetar wrote in a statement. “The proximity of Fire Station 9 and our mutual aid agreements with Alexandria and Fairfax County will ensure that Fairlington continues to receive thorough fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coverage.”
Crews at Fire Station 7 will officially move out this coming Tuesday (Oct. 30).
Photo via Google Maps
Work is kicking off on a massive new development in West Rosslyn, and its developer is offering a first look at its plans to build three new residential towers, a new fire station and an improved Rosslyn Highlands Park.
The D.C. developer Penzance announced today (Monday) that it would be dubbing the project “The Highlands,” which will be located at 1555 Wilson Blvd.
In all, the development will include 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space, including a new CVS pharmacy replacing the old shop at the location that closed earlier this year.
The Highlands is the result of a years-long effort by county officials to guide the redevelopment of a busy section of Rosslyn while maintaining space for public amenities, including a new Fire Station 10 included in the development and a public school on the adjacent site of the old Wilson School. The 1.2 million-square-foot Highlands development will also be centered around a new park to replace the existing Rosslyn Highlands green space.
“The Highlands will establish a culturally-rich, welcoming, and lively urban-style space that aligns nature with architecture to create a pedestrian-friendly, connected environment, delivering equal parts D.C. culture with Northern Virginian charm,” John Kusturiss, Penzance’s vice president of development, said in a statement.
Penzance, which purchased the property at 1555 Wilson for $67 million back in 2011, has already kicked off initial preparations at the site. In all, the developer plans to build a 27-story tower featuring 449 apartments, a 26-story building populated by the 104 condos and a 23-story building with 331 apartments. Amenities at the site will include “a cabana-covered rooftop pool, private club deck and state-of-the-art fitness center,” according to a Penzance release.
The CVS is the only ground-floor retail tenant the developer has announced thus far, but it expects to unveil others soon. The construction will also include a “north-south connector street” to better connect Wilson Blvd to 18th Street N. for pedestrians, the developer said.
Penzance hopes to hold an official groundbreaking for the project on Oct. 24, and expects the entire project to be finished by 2021. The new Wilson school is set to open next fall.