A man was found dead Sunday morning near the Four Mile Run bike trail and the intersection of S. Glebe and W. Glebe roads.
The bike trail is heavily used by those connecting from Shirlington and the W&OD Trail to the Mt. Vernon Trail that runs along the Potomac River. Arlington County Police are investigating the death but do not currently believe it to be suspicious.
“At approximately 11:40 a.m. on October 15, police responded to the area of S. Glebe at West Glebe Road for the report of a deceased male located near the bike trail,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The police department is conducting an active death investigation and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause of death.”
“The preliminary investigation does not lead us to consider this death suspicious,” Savage continued. “This appears to be an isolated incident and there is no threat to the community.”
— Jeff (@NoWayProducts) October 15, 2017
“Valley Fest” is set for Sunday, November 5 from 12-5 p.m. on S. Oakland Street, and will include live music, local art on display and food trucks.
New District Brewing Company (2709 S. Oakland Street) is also offering two packages that include commemorative Valley Fest cups and beer tasting tickets.
Admission is free, and entrance to the festival is available from S. Oakland Street’s intersection with S. Four Mile Run Drive in the north, and from next to the Shirlington Dog Park in the south.
More from a New District press release:
New District Brewing Company is proud to present the inaugural Valley Fest Street Festival! Valley Fest is a collaboration and celebration of the Four Mile Run Valley Arts and Local Businesses.
Valley Fest was conceived from area leaders who wish to foster the growing Four Mile Run Valley as an active arts and community hub. This area is alive with significant cultural and civic groups such as Theatre on the Run, Jane Franklin Dance, and, Arlington Cultural Affairs. Please help us celebrate this momentous occasion on Sunday, November 5, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.
Area musicians and performing artists will set the stage for entertainment, local artists will showcase their pieces and, food trucks will offer tasty delights. A kids zone will keep the family busy while beer will be in abundance for adults.
Information and Tickets: www.arlingtonvalleyfest.com
Map via Valley Fest.
Middle School Redistricting on Tap — Following a number of meetings and other processes designed to solicit public feedback, the Arlington School Board is expected to approve new middle school boundaries in December, to take effect for the 2019-2020 school year when a sixth county middle school is set to open. Past school boundary change processes have often proved controversial. [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Restoration Project Complete — Local elected officials and community activists celebrated the completion of the Four Mile Run Restoration Project on Saturday. The project, which was years in the making, revitalized the shoreline of Four Mile Run from just south of I-395 to the Potomac and included trail improvements and public art. [Arlington County, WTOP]
New Beneficiaries for Turkey Trot — The annual Arlington Turkey Trot 5K has some new nonprofit beneficiaries. Organized by Christ Church of Arlington, the race will no longer benefit Doorways for Women and Families — “in light of Doorways’ projected success to meet its current goal to raise $10 million to strengthen and expand its services” — and will this year benefit Offender Aid and Restoration and Christian group Young Life of South Arlington. That’s in addition to repeat beneficiaries AFAC, A-SPAN, Arlington Thrive and Bridges to Independence. [Arlington Turkey Trot]
The report, prepared by a committee of five group members over the summer, made various recommendations for the park’s short, medium and long-term future.
It looks to find ways to manage stormwater runoff into Four Mile Run from surfaces that do not absorb rainwater and to ensure the park remains well-used. The report was drafted after the Arlington County Board sent plans to reduce its size back to the drawing board.
The report said taking down two county-owned warehouses on S. Oakland Street, adjacent to the park, would help manage stormwater runoff and allow a connection between the dog park and a proposed arts district nearby.
“In addition to addressing some adjacent stormwater issues, this would serve an array of complementary objectives such as integrating this new park area and the dog park with the arts district, provide a flexible-use area for festivals and arts events, provide swing space for recreational functions as Jennie Dean Park is developed, and improve connectivity and open up the line of sight from South Four Mile Drive into the park,” the report reads.
But in suggesting those warehouses be taken down, some group members argued the committee exceeded the scope of its study.
“I felt as though the report spent a lot of time on issues that frankly were not in the group’s charge,” said group vice chair Robin Stombler. Others noted that a report on a potential arts district suggested using the warehouses as space for artists.
Longtime civic leader Carrie Johnson expressed her disappointment at what she described as a “disputed space problem,” and urged the group to find a compromise between the warehouses’ use in the arts district or removal for the dog park.
“I would have hoped to hear less fighting over acreage and more about how it could be used for everybody’s benefit,” she said.
In the short-term, the group recommended various small ways to help manage stormwater at the park, including no longer mowing the grass, protecting existing trees and limiting access to the stream.
But in the medium term, the report called on county government to show leadership in managing stormwater runoff from its buildings to help protect the park. They also urged an expansion of a program where businesses receive grants and other incentives to install ways to manage stormwater through green roofs, rain barrels and the like.
The area’s current zoning encourages making changes through redevelopment, as opposed to incentivizing existing businesses to make those environmentally-friendly tweaks.
“There seems to be no answer here, because the county seems unable to change anything for the existing businesses until they redevelop,” said Anne Inman, a group member.
The report noted that the need to balance stormwater with the park’s popularity is a “catch-22,” as “leaving the park in its current condition is not a viable long-term solution, but efforts to mitigate the environmental issues would trigger significant, costly and undesirable changes to the park.”
Group chair Charles Monson said they will not look to endorse any report prepared by a committee, but will instead use them to guide their thinking as planning the area’s future continues.
The report’s full recommendations are after the jump.
A Four Mile Run Valley Working Group member says some colleagues and the county are trying to turn property near Jennie Dean Park into an “arts district,” against the wishes of others on the group.
Michael Grace, who sits on the group as its liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the Arlington County Board is under “incessant pressure” from some members to repurpose five properties adjacent to the park at 3630 27th Street S. in Shirlington.
The properties were bought through a combination of tax dollars and bonds issued specifically for parks purposes, and Grace said the group is split on using them for an arts district instead. A wider plan for the area released in January suggested various park improvements, sports facilities and an “arts walk.” The group has previously struggled with the future of the Shirlington Dog Park, which the County Board sent back to the drawing board earlier this year.
“The fault lines are basically that there’s two constituent opponents,” Grace said. “One is people who actually live right near there… The other is people who operate businesses in the area, and I think they view an arts district as potentially more lucrative for their businesses compared to more park space.”
Another problem, Grace said, is also that proponents do not have a fully-formed plan for a new arts district, but appear to want traditional arts activities like painting and sculpting among others, as well as businesses like “wine bistros, designer coffee bars and restaurants” to build up nightlife nearby.
“No one has been able to answer crucial questions about an arts district such as (1) what it would contain, (2) who would pay for creating it, and (3) how it would sustain itself financially,” he wrote in an email.
Grace said the County Board should keep to its original mandate to the working group for “a vision for the comprehensive replacement and realignment of existing park features (exclusively for park purposes) and the addition of new park amenities to meet the growing demand for active and passive recreation, cultural resources and natural resource preservation.”
He added that there remains broad support for adding to the county’s parks, including at a “Visioning Workshop” held last December, but not for taking away properties originally bought to help the park.
“To be fair, some people did stand up and say they’d like to see more arts-type activities in south Arlington, the Four Mile Run Valley, but not one such individual advocated taking properties that were always intended for traditional park purposes and turning into an arts district,” Grace said. “There’s no public support for that that I can ascertain at all.”
A county spokeswoman said there is “no plan” to turn properties surrounding Jennie Dean Park into an arts district, and that instead the current draft for park plans includes acquiring additional land for its expansion. The spokeswoman noted that the County Board requested that land west of S. Nelson Street be explored for an arts district, and that a subgroup of the working group is working to define what that would entail.
Photo No. 2 via Google Maps.
Today’s heavy rain has turned Four Mile Run into a raging torrent of murky water.
A Columbia Pike resident posted videos of the overflowing stream on Twitter this afternoon (Friday). The video was taken near S. George Mason Drive.
— Columbia Forest (@CFCA_Arlington) July 28, 2017
No major flooding problems were reported during the daytime Friday in Arlington, though forecasters warn that more rain may cause additional problems tonight.
There have, however, been scattered weather-related issues reported. A number of traffic signals have started flashing or gone dark and, as of 6:30 p.m., 165 Dominion customers were without power.
On N. Troy Street near Rosslyn, between Key Blvd and Wilson Blvd, a large tree fell on cars and power lines, according to scanner reports.
More videos of Four Mile Run, after the jump.
A plan to revamp Interstate 66 is threatening the character of the Custis Memorial Parkway, the highway’s name inside the Capital Beltway, historic preservation advocates said today (Wednesday).
Preservation Arlington, a nonprofit group that looks to protect Arlington’s architectural heritage, released its annual list of “endangered historic places,” with the parkway named as one.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the midst of an ambitious plan known as “Transform 66” to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston within the existing eastbound right-of-way.
But Preservation Arlington said the plan could undermine “the roadway’s unique parkway design.”
“Plantings are no longer maintained. Corten steel guardrails and sign supports are being replaced with standard, steel interstate highway components,” the group wrote. “The new toll road gantries, and large, new sign supports (and highway signage) on nearby arterial roads have further eroded the parkway’s ability to blend into its surroundings.”
Another piece of history under threat, according to Preservation Arlington, are the Education Center and Planetarium, chosen last week by the Arlington County School Board for an extra 500-600 high school seats and a renovation.
“While some exterior improvements will be necessary it is hoped that this will be minimal and will not alter the appearance of the historic structure,” Preservation Arlington wrote. “Designed as a headquarters building to show the strength and commitment to education, the building is iconic in our community.”
Also under threat, according to Preservation Arlington:
- 1000-series Metro cars, retired this month for safety reasons
- Community buildings like those for churches and service organizations
- Four Mile Run industrial area
- Housing stock from before World War II, with the continued loss of these homes “erasing Arlington’s architectural and community history.”
Image via VDOT presentation
But the need to balance the park needing to manage stormwater while preserving a beloved community asset weighed heavily after a strong backlash against reducing its size.
That community anxiety about the park’s future helped result in the County Board directing staff late last month to go back to the drawing board. Plans drawn up by staff would have shrunk the 109,000 square foot park to as little as 27,000 square feet to accommodate stormwater management.
During their work session, Board members said there must be a better balance between environmental needs and community desires. But some working group members felt the environment was forced to take a back seat.
“I felt extremely distressed with the comments and presentation because it didn’t deal with the environment,” said group member Nora Palmatier.
Several group members also criticized staff for not presenting more options to deal with stormwater beyond a 35-foot buffer near the stream. And while at-large member Keith Fred said it was a “shame” there hadn’t been more conversations about environmental protection at the site a year ago, others said it was an opportunity to put forward new plans.
“We have been challenged as a group and staff as well to think outside the box and look at other alternatives to protect what is a very important economic driver for the Valley,” said group member Adam Henderson.
And Edie Wilson, a member of the working group representing the Shirlington Civic Association, said that despite the community’s strong opposition to any changes at the park, residents care about balancing it with any environmental needs.
Wilson said it is possible to “walk and chew gum at the same time,” and that with staff putting new options forward, she looks forward to seeing what can be done.
“We need to be very careful with the assumption that we don’t care about the environment,” she said. “We have a variety of ways to do both. There’s work to do.”
Later in the meeting, Wilson said more must be done to educate the community about what is being done in the area, and particularly to show them why changes may need to be made to the dog park.
“We really need some public education, and I mean public education in the most civil sense of the word,” she said. “People have a lot of questions.”
County staff said they will meet with County Manager Mark Schwartz later this week to chart a path forward for the park and other projects in the Four Mile Run Valley. No public speakers at the meeting addressed the dog park’s future.
The much-loved Shirlington Dog Park could get much smaller under plans being discussed by the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group.
Three alternatives have been put forward for the park along Four Mile Run, including one that would reduce it by 75 percent to approximately 27,000 square feet, known as Alternative 1. The park would be cut in half at the current S. Oxford Street entrance, with the area west of Oxford Street reforested and the park running between S. Oxford and Oakland Streets.
The other two proposals would have the park at around 55,000 square feet (Alternative 2A) or 47,000 square feet (Alternative 2B). Both incorporate a proposed, expanded portion of parkland along S. Oakland Street.
A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said that new plans are being explored for the dog park due to concerns around stormwater management. Jennie Dean Park and Shirlington Park are also being planned as part of the working group’s wider look at Four Mile Run’s future and a parks master planning process.
The possible reduction in size of the dog park is not quite as drastic a change as earlier rumors — that the county was planning to “move the dog park and make it much smaller, or do away with it” — had suggested. It has, however, sparked loud opposition from supporters of the dog park on social media, including on the park’s unofficial Facebook page.
“Just out of curiosity, what happened to the chorus of reassurances we got from the board reps just a couple of weeks or months ago about them not touching the park?” wrote one supporter. “I don’t know what bothers me more; the fact they continue to push initiatives that put the park at risk or that they misled supporters to believe the park was safe as-is.”
An online petition against the proposal has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
“4 Mile Run Shirlington Dog Park is the best dog park in Northern Virginia,” wrote one signee. “One of the biggest reasons is its current layout. The small dog area, the water access, and the lengthy, open run area, as well as the seating, provide the best experience. Please do not alter this dog park!”
“It is an all too rare NOVA stress reliever that should be protected, not changed or reduced in size,” wrote another.
A separate Facebook group has also been started dedicated to saving the dog park and energizing supporters.
Parks department spokeswoman Martha Holland said there are no “short term” plans to change the park, but didn’t rule out longer-term changes due to state water runoff rules.
“Currently there is no immediate funding or intention on changing the configuration of the Shirlington Dog Park in the short term, however as capital renovations happen in the future or significant maintenance is needed in the parks, state mandated stormwater management standards will need to addressed,” she said. “County staff is working with the County-Board appointed Four Mile Run Valley Working Group on developing a plan for the park to meet state requirements and community interests.”
“The county recognizes that the Shirlington Dog Park, one of eight Arlington County dog parks that residents and their pets enjoy, is a tremendous and much-beloved resource for the county and there has never been any intention to remove it from the area,” she said.
The County Board is set to adopt the parks master plan for the three parks early next year. Public input on the draft concepts will be taken in July.
(Updated on 5/17/17) A brush fire that burned for an hour yesterday between the Four Mile Run Drive access road and the W&OD Trail left a large, scorched scar on the hillside.
A passerby photographed the scene yesterday evening and said “you can still smell” the smoke and fire, which was caused by a downed power line.
At least one vehicle appeared to be damaged during the incident.
— Robert Svercl (@bobco85) May 15, 2017
— Robert Svercl (@bobco85) May 15, 2017
Photos courtesy @bobco85
Update at 2:30 p.m. — The fire has been extinguished and Four Mile Run Drive is expected to reopen shortly. The access road is expected to remain closed until the fallen tree is removed.
Update at 2:15 p.m. — Electricity has been shut off to the fallen power lines and firefighters are now working to extinguish the brush fire.
Earlier: A tree has fallen on power lines and sparked a growing brush fire along Four Mile Run Drive.
The incident was first reported by a passerby just after 1 p.m.
Initial reports suggest a large tree fell across the Four Mile Run Drive access road, striking a power line. That sparked a brush fire in the dry grass below, which as of 1:20 p.m. continues to burn.
The fire department cannot extinguish the wildfire around the power line until Dominion Power crews arrive and shut off the power, according to scanner traffic. As of 1:40 p.m. the flames were nearing vehicles parked along the access road.
Residents should expect “a lot of smoke in the area,” according to a police officer on scene. Police have shut down traffic in both directions on the access road near S. Wakefield Street and are preparing to shut down the mainline Four Mile Run Drive.
Photo courtesy Alex Chamandy, John Chandler
Rumors of the Shirlington dog park’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated.
The latest round of drafts released by the county for the Four Mile Run Valley initiative include the park in the plans for Jennie Dean Park. Three alternatives put forward for a meeting of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group held Tuesday night all include the dog park in some form.
The first option keeps the park as it is, while the second option proposed reconfiguring the dog park but keeping it the same size. The third alternative would also keep the dog park in place, but renovate it.
Notably, the second alternative would divide the dog park into two sections: one for larger animals and another for smaller.
The alternatives also make suggestions for programming to the west of South Nelson Street, which could include more arts and recreation space. It also suggests a number of amenities for the park in the site’s northeast corner, like sport courts, baseball fields, a playground and a trail. All three alternatives also propose adding to the site’s 136 existing parking spaces.
The park’s future had been the cause of some concern earlier this year on social media.
The Shirlington Dog Park Page cited a presentation of early land use proposals generated in January as part of the Four Mile Run Valley planning process. However, the presentation appeared to show that the area of the dog park is being considered generally for “outdoor parks/rec/cultural” uses — which could include a dog park.
“The County recognizes the popularity and importance of the Shirlington Dog Park and does not plan to move it from the park or the park plan,” division chief Chikwe Njoku wrote in an email to a dog park page subscriber last month.
“As part of any planning effort we have to do our due diligence and evaluate the existing site in addition to making recommendations on potential alternatives that are based on a variety of factors such as environmental regulations, overall design/impact, usage, and other County standards, then make recommendations that are discussed with the 4MRV Working Group who also takes input from the community.”
The Four Mile Run Valley Working Group will meet again March 15 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Park and Natural Resources Operations Building at 2700 S. Taylor St.
Arlington County, the page said, has a plan “to move the dog park and make it much smaller, or do away with it.” It’s unclear who exactly posted that on behalf of the page — there is no contact information on the page’s “About” section — but the reaction from its more than 2,500 fans was swift.
“Whaaaattt??? Noooo!!!!” and “This is bullshit. (Sorry for the language, but it’s that serious)” were typical responses.
“That’s insane,” said another person. “The dog park is one of the biggest draws of the area for people when considering places to live; plus, people come from all over to use it = lots of money into [Shirlington]!”
In all, there have been some 200 responses and comments on the post and another 175 shares, so far. It has been re-posted, separately, by concerned residents on a Fairlington neighborhood Facebook page and elsewhere around the social network.
The Shirlington Dog Park Page cites a source for its alarming assertion: a presentation of early land use proposals generated last month as part of the Four Mile Run Valley planning process. However, the presentation appears to show that the area of the dog park is being considered generally for “outdoor parks/rec/cultural” uses — which could well include a dog park.
Only one of seven alternative scenarios presented shows the dog park apparently replaced — by a “riparian zone” and a promenade.
Virginia Farris, a member of the Four Mile Run Valley working group who’s also active in the Shirlington Civic Association, offered one of the 75 comments on the Facebook post.
“There is no proposal from the County yet, nor will there be for awhile yet,” she wrote. “The Working Group meets twice a month and the planning process still has a long way to go. The Dog Park has solid supporters among Working Group members — it’s definitely not going to be closed!”
Her post received seven likes as more than a dozen additional comments from people upset about the possibility of the park closing followed. Dog park supporters, in the meantime, are being encouraged to write emails to all five County Board members, with some pledging to do so every day until they get a favorable response.
The page, and Farris, are also encouraging dog park supporters to attend a meeting of the working group Tuesday night. The meeting, scheduled from 7-10 p.m. on the second floor of 2700 S. Taylor Street, will include a discussion of the land use plans and a 15 minute public comment period at the end.
“If you come… you can expect to hear a lot of questions and push-back from the Working Group members on many aspects (including the dog park) of the second set of conceptual drawings,” Farris said.
County officials have struggled to respond to the rumors as they spread like wildfire, with thousands of Facebook users likely seeing the original dog park post.
The Dept. of Parks and Recreation did respond to the post, just an hour after it was first published (see gallery above), but the response was buried since it was made to a comment on the post rather than the post itself.
At 5:35 p.m. Tuesday evening, six hours after our first enquiry about plans for the dog park, a county spokesperson responded to ARLnow.com but did not directly address what was being considered.
“There will be four ideas proposed at tonight’s 4MRV meeting,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “This is just a first step to get feedback. There will be another meeting solely on getting input on the dog park on March 18 from 9-11 a.m. at the Park Operations Building.”
A county webpage for the March meeting says it will “discuss opportunities for improvements to the Shirlington Dog Park as part of the overall 4MRV Parks Master Plan.”
“This is an opportunity to share your ideas for the dog park with DPR staff and learn more about the 4MRV park planning process,” the page said.
“To look at the bright side,” concluded Kalish, “there is obviously a lot of support for the dog park and we should be able to get lots of great input to make it better through the Parks Master Planning process.”
The public discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and will be led by Minneapolis-based Artspace, a nonprofit that “uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work.”
“The conversation with arts, community, and business leaders will focus on the potential for artist housing in a variety of neighborhoods in Arlington,” according to a web page for the event. “The visit will assess the viability of arts-related programming for selected sites.”
There are four areas being considered for arts-related development: Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, the Four Mile Run Valley/Shirlington area, and the 23rd Street S. commercial district in Crystal City.
The $20,000 cost of the feasibility study is being paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, according to the county, but at this point no final decision has been made as to whether to move forward with artist housing facilities in Arlington.
“By convening a broad-based conversation among community leaders, Artspace hopes to stimulate serious, forward looking dialog on the needs of Arlington’s creative community, including affordable housing for art teachers, music instructors and working artists,” said the county. “This is simply a conversation to explore the range and feasibility of arts-related uses broadly in and within a handful of specific neighborhoods.”
“If the results of the initial feasibility study are positive, Artspace may be engaged to conduct a Phase II study which offers a deeper dive into the needs of the community,” the county explained. “AFAI has indicated that it will fund the Phase II study if the results of the original feasibility study warrant it.”
The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, at the Arlington Economic Development offices at 1100 N. Glebe Road, 15th floor. Anybody is welcome to attend.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) The industrial stretch of Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington could one day house more arts or recreational facilities. Or at least, that’s what some local residents have asked for.
Last June, Arlington County began holding public working groups for its Four Mile Run Valley initiative. The goal of those working groups has been to gather ideas from the public to “help guide public and private investment in the area over the long term,” according to the county.
The Four Mile Run Valley area as defined includes Four Mile Run Drive, the Nauck Town Square area, Shirlington Road, Shirlington Park, Jennie Dean Park and Nelson Street. Many of the businesses along Four Mile Run Drive are car-oriented: body shops, towing lots, service centers, gas stations, car washes and the Virginia DMV office, which was set to reopen this week following renovations.
So far, members of the public have asked for additional pedestrian crossings and bridges, more access for cyclists and an “arts walk” with public art and studio, theater or rehearsal and “maker” spaces. Meeting attendees have asked the county to preserve the area’s industrial character, citing Yaletown in downtown Vancouver, Canada as an example. There has also been discussion of designated artist housing.
Other requests include upgrades for nearby dog parks (including the heavily-used Shirlington dog park), an indoor “field house” sport facility for local little league baseball teams and the construction of a multi-use activity center for cultural, art, recreation and community events.
How all of these improvements might look, however, is still up in the air. The plan is currently in its “very early stages,” according to Chikwe Njoku, the county staffer leading the project.
“We’re in the process of taking that information and developing concepts and alternatives,” said Njoku. “We’re not at a point where we’re ready to make a recommendation on what that might look like.”
Arlington County will continue to hold about two working groups a month throughout the year, Njoku said. Next month, officials will begin to share designs and ideas.
The next working group meeting is scheduled to be held at the Parks and Natural Resources Operations Building at 2700 S Taylor St. next Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Photos via Arlington County’s Four Mile Run Valley Dec. 6 presentation