73°Rain

by Chris Teale July 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

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.

Under the plan, VDOT would also add tolls and improve local trails, as well as build a pedestrian bridge in East Falls Church.

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“Plantings are no longer maintained.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.

A request had been made to designate the site as a historic district, but the County Board followed staff’s recommendation and denied that designation in May.

“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

by Chris Teale June 7, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Members of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group sought to regroup Tuesday night and try to plot a new path forward on the future of the Shirlington Dog Park.

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.

by Chris Teale May 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

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 Board is set to have a work session on Four Mile Run Valley planning on May 30. Holland said that at no stage has removal of the park been on the table.

“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.

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

(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.

Photos courtesy @bobco85

by ARLnow.com May 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm 0

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

by Chris Teale March 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

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 unofficial Facebook page for the park said the county had a plan “to move the dog park and make it much smaller, or do away with it.”

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.

by ARLnow.com February 7, 2017 at 6:15 pm 0

(Updated at 7:15 p.m.) About 24 hours ago, the unofficial Facebook page for the popular and heavily-used Shirlington dog park posted something that could barely be believed.

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.

(Facebook has recently been making headlines as it combats so-called “fake news” on the network, with much of the focus coming in the wake of the recent presidential election.)

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.”

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Four Mile Run Valley arts area concept sketch (via Arlington County)Arlington County is scheduled to hold a series of focus groups on the housing needs of artists next week.

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.

by Tim Regan January 9, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

(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

by Andrew Ramonas September 19, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Four Mile Run construction and detour map

Walkers, joggers and cyclists soon will have to take a detour on the Four Mile Run Trail as Arlington County works to revitalize the path and the stream that borders it.

Work on the Arlington side of Four Mile Run between Mt. Vernon Avenue and Route 1 tentatively is scheduled to begin tomorrow (Sept. 20) and last until next fall, according to a county notice. During construction, the path in that area will close.

Trail users can take a detour through Alexandria across the stream. Signage on the path will provide directions.

The pathway will get new asphalt and railings, as well as a new observation platform. As for the stream, the county’s notice adds:

The work in the stream will include naturalization of the stream bank and construction of living shoreline features along the edge of the stream.  Living shorelines are a more environmentally sensitive way to protect stream banks and coastal areas, with wetland plantings behind small stone breakwaters. They provide numerous benefits including:

  • reducing erosion along the bank,
  • improving water quality by capturing sediment and utilizing nutrients, and
  • providing habitat for fish and waterfowl.

The existing stone rip rap that currently covers the stream banks will be removed and replaced with native vegetation that will improve the habitat quality and aesthetics of the stream channel.  Some of the stone will also be reused to create the living shoreline features.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration project is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. near Mt. Vernon Avenue and S. Glebe Road.

by ARLnow.com September 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm 0

Pill-laden meatball found in Bluemont Park (screen capture via Fox 5)Are several pill-laden meatballs found along a local stream an attempt to poison dogs? That’s what the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is trying to determine.

On Thursday, a local mother wrote to a local email listserv to warn about meatballs her dog scarfed up along Four Mile Run in Bluemont Park. The meatballs, she said, contained what her vet thought was rat poison. (The vet was able to quickly induce vomiting and the dog is expected to be okay.)

The story quickly made its way around other local listservs and attracted the attention of Fox 5, which interviewed the dog owner.

“For me, it’s a sick psychopath or something like that,” Natascha Weber told Fox 5’s Lauren DeMarco. “I have no idea why somebody would do something like that.”

AWLA is testing the meatballs, the organization’s COO, Susan Sherman, told ARLnow.com Friday.

“We received a call [Thursday] afternoon from a resident who thinks her dog may have ingested poisoned meat while they were walking in Bluemont Park at the intersection of Four Mile Run trail, near the stream,” Sherman said. “The dog owner gathered some of the meat and kept it refrigerated. We are picking up the sample now and will send it to a lab for testing.”

A similar incident was reported last year, after a resident found sausages stuffed with caffeine pills along a residential street near Lee Highway.

As of Tuesday morning, Sherman said the testing was still in progress and it will likely be a week before we know what exactly was in the meat.

The original listserv email is below.

My daughter and I were walking our dogs today at Four Mile Run/Bluemont Park in Arlington, because we like the paths next to the stream. On our way back to the car, the dogs were wading in the water and when they got out, Yoko found something to eat. I wasn’t able to pull her away fast enough so she ate a good amount. I took a closer look and discovered more than 10 poison baits right next to the stream on and between the rocks (raw ground beef meatballs, mixed with all kind of pills, pellets and grain). Obviously we got her back to our car as fast as possible and went to the animal hospital straight away.

The vet made her vomit and since it was only 15-20 minutes between eating the stuff and the treatment in the hospital, she was confident, that she got everything out of Yoko’s stomach. The vet is 99% sure that it’s rat poison. We reported everything to Animal Control/Animal Welfare in Arlington, got back to Bluemont Park and collected the rest of the toxic baits…

I am absolutely shocked about this incident and hope that Yoko will recover completely. And of course I hope that no other dog was harmed by this crime of a maniac. So please (!!!) watch out when you are walking your dog(s) in that area but I guess, that can happen everywhere.

If you have an idea what else we could do (besides reporting it to Animal Control), I’d appreciate any advice. I know it’s unlikely to find this criminal but I am ready to do everything to increase the chances.

by Adrian Cruz August 15, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Barcroft Park/Four Mile Run clean-upA local organization is looking for Arlington residents to help remove litter from Four Mile Run next month.

Volunteers with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) will help pick up trash from the stream during the organization’s annual cleanup at Barcroft Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Those who sign up for the event will be tasked with removing debris from Barcroft Park and along the banks of Four Mile Run.

The cleanup is being held in conjunction with Clean Virginia Waterways Day and the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. As part of its collaborative efforts, ACE will collect data on the garbage its volunteers remove from the stream.

“We will submit the data to both groups to contribute to an understanding of how litter is impacting our waterways and the wildlife that depends on our waterways,” said Elenor Hodges, executive director at ACE.

Those interested in helping out should bring along sturdy shoes they don’t mind getting wet, work gloves and a water bottle and wear long pants and sleeves to protect against poison ivy, Hodges said.

by ARLnow.com June 20, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Crystal Car show in Crystal City on Father's Day 2016

Courthouse, Columbia Pike Developments Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a 90-unit condominium building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse. The Board voted 4-1, with John Vihstadt voting against, after hearing objections from residents of the nearby Odyssey condo tower. Also on Saturday, the Board unanimously approved a 105-unit condo building on the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Plans Filed for New Affordable Complex in Rosslyn — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has filed preliminary plans to redevelop the 39-unit Queens Court apartment complex into a new, 12-story, 250-unit affordable apartment building, with underground parking and a 9,000 square foot public park and playground. The redevelopment was included in 2015’s Western Rosslyn Area Plan, or WRAP. [Washington Business Journal]

Woodlawn Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $616,000 contract for improvements to Woodlawn Park in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood. The improvements to the 3.2 acre park includes “replacing the playground equipment, updating the trails and better protecting Lubber Run stream.” [Arlington County]

Couple Gets Engaged at Local Event — A San Antonio, Texas couple got engaged at Friday night’s Wine in the Waterpark event in Crystal City. [Twitter]

Stream Restoration Project OKed — The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a $3.5 million contract to restore the lower portion of the Four Mile Run stream. Work on the project, which has been in the works since 2000, is expected to begin later this summer and may result in some trail detours over the course of a year. [Arlington County]

First Day of Summer Today — Today is the first day of astronomical summer, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. [Capital Weather Gang]

Leadership Arlington to Run Volunteer Arlington — The nonprofit group Leadership Arlington will be taking over the administration of Volunteer Arlington from Arlington County. Leadership Arlington won the contract in a competitive bidding process. Volunteer Arlington is “the County’s clearinghouse for volunteerism, matching volunteers with non-profits and government programs that rely on volunteers in carrying out their work.” [Arlington County]

by Adrian Cruz May 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

The Arlington County Board has approved the redevelopment of the Berkeley Apartments near Four Mile Run.

The Berkeley, located at 2910 S. Glebe Road near the Arlington-Alexandria border, currently contains 137 apartments in two four-story buildings. Of those, 110 are committed affordable.

The redevelopment will replace them with two five-story buildings containing 257 apartments, 155 of which are committed affordable. One hundred forty units will be family sized, containing two or more bedrooms.

“This project will add high-quality housing — both market rate and committed affordable — to Four Mile Run,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey, in a press release. “Two older apartment buildings will be replaced, and we will gain a total of 45 affordable units — most of them big enough for families.”

The project’s developer, AHC Inc., will file an application with the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to help finance the redevelopment. During the financial underwriting process, AHC is hoping to increase the number of committed affordable units from 70 percent to 80 percent.

AHC also committed to achieving Earthcraft Gold green building certification, ensuring that the buildings meet Energy Star requirements. Community benefits of the project include a widening of the Four Mile Run trail from 8 to 12 feet and a $75,000 public art contribution. 

The project was met with resistance from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association, which expressed concerns about the size of the new buildings.

Some building residents also expressed concerns a condition imposed by county staff that the property’s fence that runs along the Four Mile Mile Run trail be removed. The fence helps to improve the building’s security, residents said. County staff and others said the fence does not comply with the Four Mile Run Master Plan.

“The proposed fence would completely undercut that effort, and send a message to both Berkeley residents and others that Four Mile Run is a scary place to be avoided,” said Liz Birnbaum of the Four Mile Run Joint Task Force. “Just as we are beginning to achieve the Master Plan vision of an inviting, accessible Four Mile Run, the fence proposal denies that possibility.”

Ultimately, staff softened the language of the condition, instead requiring that the fence be removed no later than Dec. 31, 2026.

“The proposed change ensures that there will not be a continuous fence along the entire frontage of the Four Mile Run Trail and provides a date certain for removing the fence, while addressing the the applicant’s concerns related to safety and security in the near term,” staff wrote, noting that AHC preferred to keep the fence in place.

by ARLnow.com April 20, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run, near Shirlington (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Times Lauds Crystal City’s ‘Reboot’ — Arlington’s Crystal City community is “is quietly and persistently reinventing itself,” with tech startups and co-working spaces moving in and taking advantage of office space left vacant by departed federal and military tenants. Crystal City stakeholders are positioning it as a less expensive but still amenity-filled alternative to the District. “Think Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Mitchell Schear, president of property owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith. [New York Times]

Ballston Named One of the Area’s ‘Hottest Neighborhoods’ — Ballston is among the top 5 “hottest neighborhoods in Washington,” according to Washingtonian. The magazine notes that Ballston’s median home price rose by nearby 10 percent last year, and that the forthcoming renovation of Ballston Common Mall will convert it into “an airy, downtown-like destination, akin to Fairfax’s Mosaic district.” The other four hot neighborhoods are Mount Pleasant, Trinidad, Shaw and Hyattsville. [Washingtonian]

Archaeological Dig Unearths History — An Arlington County-supervised archaeological dig at Dawson Terrace, near Rosslyn, has unearthed “243 ceramic objects, 1,603 glass objects, 74 metal objects and 13 others.” Most of the objects are believed to be from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dawson Terrace is Arlington’s oldest stone house, dating back to around the Revolutionary War. [Falls Church News-Press]

County Recognizes ‘Notable Trees’ — At yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting, the county recognized this year’s batch of “notable trees.” Among the record 23 trees bestowed the honor for “their importance to our community, our environment and our sense of identity” was a Southern magnolia in Clarendon, planted in 1965 in honor of a fallen firefighter. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Initiative Advances — The County Board yesterday appointed a working group, charged with “providing advice, guidance and feedback to the Board and County staff on developing a comprehensive vision for Four Mile Run Valley.” The 95 acre area between Shirlington and Nauck, also known as Shirlington Crescent, is currently home to various light industrial businesses but may be ripe for redevelopment. [Arlington County]

Tickets Available to W-L Theater Production — Tickets to the Washington-Lee High School production of “Dark of the Moon” are available online. The show runs from April 28-30. [Tix.com]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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