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by ARLnow.com February 21, 2018 at 8:15 am 0

Pentagon City Metro Tunnel Now Open — At long last, the pedestrian tunnel from the corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. to the Pentagon City Metro station has opened. [Twitter]

Firefighters Push for RaiseIAFF Local 2800, which represents Arlington firefighters and paramedics, is pushing for a raise in this year’s county budget process. The group says Arlington’s compensation for public safety employees “is at the bottom of the DMV.” [Twitter]

Chamber Concerned With 4MRV Initiative — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the County Board expressing concerns with the Four Mile Run Valley Initiative and possible changes to or acquisition of the light industrial properties along Four Mile Run Drive. [Arlington Chamber]

Growing Up Black in Arlington — From 1950 to 1962, growing up black in Arlington meant facing segregation and racism at every turn, and not feeling safe venturing out of the largely self-contained confines of a historically African-American neighborhood like Hall’s Hill. [Falls Church News-Press]

Arlington Startup Raises $3 Million — What started as a way for the owner of conveyor belt sushi chain Wasabi Sushi to streamline his accounting is now a venture-funded startup. Arlington-based MarginEdge has raised $3 million to go national with its restaurant management software. [Washington Business Journal]

Axios Makes ‘Most Innovative’ List Fast-growing Clarendon-based media startup Axios has been named one of the top 10 most innovative media companies of 2018. [Fast Company]

by ARLnow.com February 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Edith Wilson, president of the Shirlington Civic Association and a member of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, regarding plans for Jennie Dean Park.

On February 6, the Parks & Recreation Department provided the Four Mile Run Valley (4MRV) Working Group with the staff policy framework for Jennie Dean Park over the next 20 years. Here’s a different view of the situation faced by decision-makers.

This park concept is vastly improved over initial proposals, reflecting many compromises where there is no perfect solution, Markedly responsive to a wide range of sharply competing interests and community input, it does right by the environment by respecting the flood plain and resource conservation area (RPA) and planting many more trees. It increases total recreation facilities by creating a new rectangular field where soccer and other casual sports can be played. A brand new playground would be located in the center of the park amid greenery and away from noisy trucks and buses from County facilities and the cement plant. It leaves the majority of new parkland along S. Four Mile Run Drive for landscaping and open space.

There is a lot of history to our valley, but part of that history is the new elements too. Take us for example. Over the last 40 years, residential multi-unit housing was built along the south side of the stream from the Village westward to S. Walter Reed Drive. Twenty years ago Arlington County worked hard to create the Village of Shirlington, a landmark mixed-use urban village with a population that celebrates its diversity. The Shirlington neighborhood now has over 2,200 households with tens of thousands of regular visitors to its business areas. How can this work, though, since there is no park, playground, not even a school or church with open space, in this area? What was the County thinking?

The answer is that literally across the street, though not within the boundaries of the Shirlington neighborhood, are the parks our community depends on: the long landscaped strip along S. Arlington Mill Drive, the dog park, and Jennie Dean Park. Arlington residents from all over come here with their families and pets. Shirlington residents are out there every single day, often several times.

What makes the valley between Shirlington and Nauck special is our beautiful section of Four Mile Run stream. This is presided over by Marvin, the elegant Great Blue heron who lives on a small rocky island in the lower stream, a stretch few visit because it is blocked by a large softball field fence. The Great Blue heron is the largest of all the North America herons, If you are lucky, you can see Marvin gliding down the center of the stream at dusk, dipping like a trick pilot under the pedestrian bridge. There are raccoons, turtles, ducks, geese, snakes, fish and lots of other birds too. Providing public access to the stream and wildlife such as this was the guiding principle of the enormously successful 20-year-old stream restoration project from Shirlington Road eastward to the Potomac River. Now it’s time to extend that principle westward.

This area has a high risk of flooding. – why do you think WETA needs to leave its old production center in the middle of the park? Environmental rules and common sense mandate addressing these conditions but the current softball field location stands in the way. The proposal shifts this field away from the stream, leaving a large open space for many more water-absorbing trees, traditional picnic areas, a nature overlook and a riparian pathway. Moving this field, in turn, also creates space for a new rectangular playing field lying across the back of two slightly repositioned diamond fields. Again, two-thirds of the frontage along Four Mile Run Drive would still be turned into casual space with landscaping and room for an impressive park entrance.

As Arlington’s population and density increases, demand for park and recreation space is shooting up. No one neighborhood owns any of these parks, not even those of us close by. Let’s absolutely respect and honor the important history of this particular neighborhood – including the baseball and softball leagues that have been played here for decades — but let’s focus on the future we need to build together. Let’s share.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com February 12, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by long-time Nauck resident Portia Clark, the current president of the Nauck Civic Association.

My family has lived in Arlington for more than a century. I was raised in Arlington, and my children and grandchildren live here too. Some of my ancestors from the 1800’s are buried in the cemetery next to Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church, which was established in 1866. Lomax falls within the Four Mile Run Valley Study Area.

When I was young, I went to Arlington public schools. Yet, my mother growing up in Nauck, was not allowed to play in most Arlington County parks because of the color of her skin.

The the only park open to her and her siblings was Jennie Dean Park. Arlington County’s then- Department of Recreation noted in its 1949 report that Jennie Dean Park was the county’s “sole recreation area for colored citizens.” In the Park’s historical markers, there are photos of my family members, friends and neighbors.

After decades of waiting, Arlington County is now focused on revitalizing Jennie Dean Park and the surrounding area in Nauck. I have seen the draft plans for Jennie Dean Park put forth by Arlington County staff. The plans are astoundingly tone-deaf.

The Nauck community hasn’t asked for much with regard to Jennie Dean Park, other than to revitalize it and to minimize the impacts on our community. We certainly have ideas for what amenities we would like to see in the Park, but we understand – maybe better than anyone else – that parks should be for the entire community. So, when the County told us that they wanted the same amenities to stay in the park – no more, no less – we understood that everything we discussed at numerous meetings could not go into the park.

We did insist, however, that respect be paid to the Nauck community. This means that the front of Jennie Dean Park, the portion fronting the neighborhood at Four Mile Run Drive, be left open for casual use. We want this area to be a gateway for the community to enter the Park. We want it to be green. We want it to be landscaped. We want it to have flowers and trees and open space.

Instead, the County has drafted plans to place a baseball field in that spot, instead of another part of the Park. A baseball field, especially one with fencing and stadium lights, is not welcoming. The County’s draft plan also hides a playground and shelter area away from the community it would serve. This County plan offers no connection to the neighborhood and its cultural heritage, except for a historical marker with some friendly faces on it. This plan will negatively impact our community in a number of ways.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, the County drew up plans, which it insisted were viable, that accepts the placement we requested and the honor we deserve.

The Nauck Civic Association has already voted – unanimously – that this draft plan from the County on Jennie Dean Park is a non-starter. We hope others will join us in expressing this concern.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The draft framework for the proposed Four Mile Run Valley area is now open for public comment. 

The county is setting out to reshape the Four Mile Run Valley area — centered around the Shirlington and Nauck neighborhoods — while balancing the commercial, residential, historic, environmental and industrial needs of the community. This is the latest step in a process which began June 2016.

The plan includes the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park, with the goal of maximizing the park’s open green space. It also includes the potential establishment of an arts district — with a clustering of studios, theaters and maker spaces — though the idea has received some criticism from groups that want more green space or playing fields.

Proposed park amenities include educational stream overlooks, improved access to the stream, and commissioned public art pieces or sculptures, per the framework.

Changes to the Shirlington Dog Park seem to be limited to minor changes to improve erosion and water quality issues. That follows a public outcry about a potential reduction of the dog park’s size.

Among environmental considerations, the document states that the “area’s history of [industrial] development suggests that there may be soil contamination in soil locations.” Further sections note that excrement from the dog park is another significant soil and water contaminant in the area. The need for “an eye toward environmental remediation, stormwater management, and stream protection” is cited in numerous sections of the draft.

Residents have until Friday, Feb. 16 to comment online. The plan is expected to be presented to the Arlington County Board this spring.

by Anna Merod February 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm 0

Several plastic pipes washed away from a construction project on the I-395 bridge into Four Mile Run after a downpour of rain Sunday.

The I-395 project between the Shirlington interchange and Glebe Road currently uses 35 plastic pipes to redirect water in Four Mile Run away from the work area. The rain’s movement of the pipes did not harm the construction project, said Jennifer McCord, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson.

Workers are currently moving the pipes out of the creek by hand and should be done with the removal sometime today or tomorrow, McCord said. She added that she is unsure if the pipes will be put back into place as they may no longer be needed for the project.

The project costing $7.2 million should be complete by November 2018, she said.

Photos by Mark Wigfield

by ARLnow.com February 2, 2018 at 9:05 am 0

Arlington Tree Canopy Increases — “Arlington’s tree canopy increased slightly from 2011 to 2016, according to new data, but remains below levels of a decade ago. A total of 41 percent of Arlington’s acreage was filled with tree canopy when evaluated last year, an improvement from the 40 percent from the last time it was studied.” [InsideNova]

Police: Drive Safely This Weekend –Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter, and the Patriots and Eagles will be facing off in Super Bowl LII on Sunday — both are occasions for the Arlington County Police Department to remind residents to drive safely. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington During the Sit-Ins — A Buzzfeed photo essay on the sit-ins features several photos from Arlington. [Buzzfeed]

Green Color in Stream Explained — A dye used in fire department training activities turned part of Four Mile Run bright green yesterday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Thank You to Quantum — Staff from Clarendon-based recruiting firm Quantum Search Partners helped ARLnow’s team move some heavy furniture as we expanded into a new office yesterday. Thank you for lending a hand!

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

by Chris Teale January 23, 2018 at 11:55 am 0

Arlington County Police announced today (Tuesday) that three teenagers from Alexandria have been charged in a stabbing yesterday on the Four Mile Run Trail.

Police said the suspects, all aged 16 and 17, were each charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Gang Participation.

Officers responded to the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road at around 4:50 p.m. on January 22. They found a man suffering from multiple stab wounds. He was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The man was walking on the trail when the suspects approached him. After an argument, the suspects assaulted the man before fleeing the scene. As they are juveniles, the suspects’ names will not be released at this time.

More from an ACPD press release:

Police have charged three Alexandria, VA juveniles for their involvement in a stabbing on the Four Mile Run Trail on Monday evening. The suspects, ages 16 and 17, were each charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Gang Participation.

At approximately 4:50 p.m. on January 22, police were dispatched to the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road for the report of a stabbing. Arriving officers located one male victim suffering from multiple stab wounds and immediately began performing life saving measures. The victim was transported by Alexandria Fire Medics to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that the male victim was walking on the trail when he was approached by the suspects. Following a verbal altercation, the suspects assaulted the victim before fleeing the area. Arriving officers established a perimeter and located three suspects matching the descriptions provided by witnesses.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Detective Henretty of the Arlington County Police Department’s Gang Unit at 703-228-4110 or [email protected]. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com January 22, 2018 at 8:20 pm 0

Update at 11:55 a.m. — Three suspects, all teens, have been arrested and charged in the stabbing. Police say the incident was gang-related.

Police have charged three Alexandria, VA juveniles for their involvement in a stabbing on the Four Mile Run Trail on Monday evening. The suspects, ages 16 and 17, were each charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Gang Participation.

At approximately 4:50 p.m. on January 22, police were dispatched to the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road for the report of a stabbing. Arriving officers located one male victim suffering from multiple stab wounds and immediately began performing life saving measures. The victim was transported by Alexandria Fire Medics to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation determined that the male victim was walking on the trail when he was approached by the suspects. Following a verbal altercation, the suspects assaulted the victim before fleeing the area. Arriving officers established a perimeter and located three suspects matching the descriptions provided by witnesses.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Detective Henretty of the Arlington County Police Department’s Gang Unit at 703-228-4110 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Earlier: Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing along the Four Mile Run Trail.

The stabbing happened around 4:50 p.m., along the trail near the county’s water treatment plant. Police say a man was stabbed after some sort of altercation with a group of suspects.

Other trail users came to the victim’s aid. He was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital and is expected to survive.

An ACPD spokeswoman said the investigation is “ongoing” and that police talked to witnesses at the scene, but thus far no arrests have been made. As of Monday evening there was no description of any of the suspects nor any word of a motive for the crime.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com January 17, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

Garbage Truck Crash — Among a number of other potentially weather-related crashes this morning, a garbage truck ran into a utility pole on the 4600 block of 27th Street N., near Marymount University. Dominion crews responded to the scene for a report of downed power lines. No injuries were reported.

Four Mile Run Valley Meeting Cancelled — A meeting of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, scheduled for tonight, has been cancelled. The cancellation is due to county staff reviewing “key pieces of the 4MRV transportation analysis,” the county wrote. “Staff will provide an update on the process schedule and timeline at the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6.” [Arlington County]

Lee Highway Planning Moving Forward — “Funded with two county grants, donations and sponsorships, the Lee Highway Alliance is now back on the front burner of Arlington’s planning agenda, said county board Chairman Katie Cristol, who promised forward movement in the next couple of months.” Meanwhile, businesses along Lee Highway are generally supportive of redevelopment, according to the alliance. [Falls Church News-Press]

ACFD Helps Battle Fairfax Fire — Arlington County firefighters assisted Fairfax County on an apartment fire near Tysons Corner early this morning. About 34 residents were displaced by the fire. [Twitter, Twitter]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

by Chris Teale December 1, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

(Updated at 11 a.m.) The chairs of the Park and Rec and Sports Commissions have criticized the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group for focusing on a planned arts district, comparing it to the push that led to the creation of the since-closed Artisphere.

In a letter to working group chair Charles Monfort, Caroline Haynes and Shirley Brothwell said they are “disappointed” to realize the working group’s outcomes “may not be as transformative as they could have been.”

The pair specifically critiqued the group’s key focus on a two-block area west of S. Nelson Street near Jennie Dean Park, which has been suggested as the location for a new arts district. Some group members wish to repurpose the properties as an arts district, which could include traditional arts activities like painting and sculpting, among others, as well as businesses to build up nightlife nearby.

That plan has already come under scrutiny from working group members and others in the community, and they said that more planning may be needed if this continues.

“Because of these issues, we believe the 4MRVWG runs a very real risk of missing the target altogether and doing a disservice to the County Board and residents,” Haynes and Brothwell wrote. “The Board may get a clear vision of what some members of the working group prefer for a tiny portion of the study area, but constituencies in the surrounding neighborhoods and in the parks, recreation, and sports communities already have challenged and rejected that vision.”

Instead, the pair urged any land acquired in that area be used to expand Jennie Dean Park — especially if purchased with bond funds intended for parkland acquisition — and that the group develop more specific information about how arts are supported in the county.

“When bond funds voted on by Arlington taxpayers and designated for park land acquisition have been redirected toward arts purposes in the past, the results have not been positive; specifically, $4 million of such funds were redirected to build out the Artisphere,” the letter said. “We note that the arts were pulled out from [the parks department] after it became apparent that the Artisphere was financially unsustainable.”

“It remains unclear how the proposed arts hub would be financed or managed over time to become self-sustaining,” said the letter writers. “We do not want to repeat a costly mistake.”

Photo No. 2 via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale November 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board approved an additional loan Tuesday night to help redevelop an affordable housing complex near Four Mile Run.

The Board loaned $13.5 million from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to the Berkeley II project at 2900 S. Glebe Road to help with the cost of construction.

Approved in 2016, the project will redevelop the Berkeley Apartments into two new buildings, known as Berkeley I and Berkeley II.

The Board approved a $7.4 million loan for the Berkeley I building to nonprofit developer AHC, which owns the property, earlier this year from AHIF’s FY 2018 budget. This latest loan is from the FY 2019 budget.

When built, the buildings will have more than 250 committed affordable apartments. Currently, the Berkeley has 138 units, and Board member John Vihstadt said the redevelopment will be a “huge boost and a lift up to that community.”

Current tenants will be relocated during construction, with AHC required to adhere to a relocation plan approved last year. Tenants on the Berkeley I site received 120-day notices to vacate in July and August, and those on the Berkeley II site should receive their notices this fall.

“AHC’s goal is to find housing for all eligible Berkeley residents at either AHC sister communities in close proximity to The Berkeley or at other nearby rental properties,” county staff wrote in a report on the loan. “Any existing Berkeley resident who is in good standing and who meets the income qualifications will be given first priority to apply for an apartment in the new buildings.”

At the County Board meeting, AHC officials said they expect ground-breaking to begin in April on the new buildings.

by ARLnow.com October 16, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

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.”

by Chris Teale September 26, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

A new street festival this fall will celebrate the Four Mile Run Valley’s businesses and artists.

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.

by ARLnow.com September 25, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

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]

by Chris Teale September 19, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A report on the future of the Shirlington Dog Park did not recommend reducing its size, but still left members of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group with plenty of questions.

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.

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