Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

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

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Arlington officials are just about ready to kick off design work for a replacement for Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway.

The County Board is set to hand out a $1.1 million contract this weekend to start the planning process for the full reconstruction of the 100-year-old station.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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The demolition for Fire Station 8 is still a long ways away, but two homes behind the building are being prepared for demolition to eventually make way for a temporary station.

According to Peter Golkin, a spokesman with the Arlington Department of Environmental Services, the homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street will be demolished at the beginning of next week.

Currently, contractors at the site are putting up sediment and erosion control barriers around the buildings.

The buildings were purchased by Arlington County in December 2016 for $1.6 million.

According to Ben O’Bryant, spokesman for the Arlington Fire Department, demolition of Fire Station 8 is still at least a year away. O’Bryant says the Fire Department wants to have the temporary station built and running before they start to tear down the existing station.

Photos via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Issued for Arlington — Arlington, D.C. and points west are under a Flash Flood Watch today, starting at 10 a.m., as the remnants of Hurricane Florence drop heavy rain on the area. [Twitter]

New Food Distribution Site in Ballston — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has joined with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to open a new food-distribution site at The Springs, an apartment complex in the Ballston area. The site will distribute food on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and will serve eligible residents from the apartment as well as neighboring APAH communities.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn Fire Station Leveled — Rosslyn’s Fire Station 10 has been demolished as construction proceeds on a new fire station on the ground floor of a new development. [Twitter]

‘Coffee With a Cop’ Planned — “Wednesday, October 3 is National Coffee with a Cop Day and the Arlington County Police Department is hosting two events with our Community Outreach Teams to celebrate. Community members are invited to join police at this informal event to ask questions, voice concerns, get to know their neighbors, interact with the Community Outreach Teams and meet officers from other sections of the department.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The legacy of Arlington’s Fire Station No. 8, and how to honor it, will be the subject of a community discussion this weekend.

The event is scheduled from 3-4:45 p.m. on Saturday (April 14) at the Arlington Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street).

During segregation Fire Station No. 8 was the only Arlington station staffed by African Americans.

The Fire Station 8 History and Legacy working group is hosting the discussion, “to share memories, perspectives and ideas on how to recognize, emphasize and honor the history and legacy of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park Volunteer Fire Department and Fire Station No. 8,” according to an Eventbrite page.

The group is due to submit recommendations for ways to honor the fire station’s legacy by late May.

A new, four-bay station is set to be built at 4845 Lee Highway, where the existing Fire Station No. 8 stands. The design process is scheduled to begin this summer.

Photo via Arlington County 

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Morning Notes

DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]

Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]

More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]

Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]

Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]

Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]

Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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Morning Notes

Board Votes for Housing Conservation District — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted 4-1 in favor of the creation of Housing Conservations Districts, which will make it more difficult for property owners to convert multifamily buildings into single-family homes. The Board says there is an urgent need to preserve market-rate affordable apartments, though critics charged that the Board rushed a decision that will restrict the rights of private property owners. [Washington Post]

Volunteers Place 245K Wreaths at ANC — “The weather was chilly but that didn’t stop huge crowds from heading to Arlington National Cemetery to help out with the annual wreath laying Saturday. Traffic was jammed and sidewalks were packed with long lines of volunteers.” [WTOP, Twitter]

New Fire Station 8 Moving Forward — The County Board approved a zoning change that will allow the creation of a new Fire Station #8 on Lee Highway to move forward. [InsideNova]

Doctor Charged With Spiking Drink with Abortion Pill — A doctor who had recently moved to Arlington was arrested in May and charged with spiking his pregnant girlfriend’s drink with an abortion pill, which then caused her to lose the baby. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County jail, awaiting trial. [Fox News]

Bridging the Biking Gender Gap in Arlington — “Despite overall growth in the number of people biking to work, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed by cities, organizations, and employers for more women to bike more often.” [BikeArlington]

Children Visit Incarcerated Parents — Children of inmates at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse were able to visit and play with their incarcerated parents during the jail’s annual holiday party. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Phil

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The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office will take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day tomorrow (Saturday).

In partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, county residents can safely dispose of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Drugs will be collected at the following sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

  • Fire Station 1 (500 S. Glebe Road)
  • Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street)
  • Fire Station 8 (4845 Lee Highway)
  • Fire Station 9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
  • Pentagon parking lot between S. Fern Street and S. Eads Street (551 Army Navy Drive)

The DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharp objects. Only pills or patches will be accepted.

More from an ACPD press release:

Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds–more than 4,050 tons–of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines–flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash–both pose potential safety and health hazards.

If residents are unable to participate in this event, please visit the Arlington County website for information on how to prepare unwanted medications for disposal. For additional information about the October 28 Take Back Day Event, please visit the DEA Diversion website.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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