Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

More APS Tech Issues Reported — Several people contacted ARLnow yesterday to report more technology issues involving remote learning. While Wakefield High School’s principal posted a possible fix on social media, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said that any remaining problems were isolated: “At last check this morning, there were 25,273 APS-provided student devices active on our network. There are some issues at the secondary level, but we are working directly with those students to reset their devices.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Sept. 11 Commemoration Tomorrow — “Arlington County will commemorate the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and express gratitude to all those who responded that day with a virtual event. To ensure everyone’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the public will view the event online or on the County’s cable channels.” [Arlington County]

State Grant to Boost COVID Testing — “The Virginia Department of Health has provided the Department of Human Services with $320,287 to increase COVID-19 testing capacity. The grant award covers the period August 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020. Grant funds will support operations and logistics at testing sites.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Holding Virtual Career Day — “Amazon is looking to build on the success of last year’s Career Day events across six U.S. cities that hosted 17,000 job seekers with over 200,000 people who applied for jobs in the week leading up to the event. The new completely virtual event will open Amazon Career Day 2020 to everyone, regardless of their location. Some of the new employees will be placed at Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, which is continuing to expand following its opening last year.” [Good Morning America, Amazon, WTOP]

Progress on DCA Expansion — “Project Journey is well on its way. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority this week offered an update on its two-pronged, roughly $650 million modernization program at Reagan National Airport. The final product will deliver a new north concourse, replacing the oft-maligned Gate 35X, and new security checkpoints. The former is expected to open in July 2021, and the latter by the fourth quarter of 2021.” [Washington Business Journal, NBC 4, InsideNova]

Wide Pedestrian Bridge Proposed — “The final EIS for Long Bridge recommended building 14′ wide pedestrian and bike bridge connecting Long Bridge, the MVT and East Potomac Park. Governor Northam committed to funding pre-COVID. This will be huge for regional trail connectivity.” [Twitter, Friends of the Mt. Vernon Trail]

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Morning Notes

ACLU Suit Names ACPD Captain — Arlington County Police Department Captain Wayne Vincent has been added, in his personal capacity, to the ACLU lawsuit over the actions by police to clear protesters from Lafayette Square ahead of President Trump walking from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Some twenty ACPD officers, who are not named, are also being sued over the use of force and chemical irritants. [WTOP, ACLU]

Where APS Students Are Going to College — “The following is a list of the colleges and universities where Arlington Public Schools high school graduates (Class of 2020) applied and where they were accepted.” [Arlington Magazine]

Sen. Kaine in Arlington Today — “On Thursday, September 3, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will host a socially distant conversation in Arlington with local leaders to discuss the work being done to support the Latino community in Northern Virginia, as reports show Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.” The closed event is taking place at an apartment building near Columbia Pike this afternoon. [Press Release]

Bus Project Likely to Be Funded — “A project submitted by the Arlington County government remains in contention for Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) funding, even as a number of other regional projects have been delayed for consideration due to sharp dropoffs in available funding. As a result, the Arlington project — an HOV- and bus-only lane on Route 29 in Rosslyn during rush hour — is likely to receive the $710,000 in regional funds being sought to help with the overall project cost.” [InsideNova]

Local Group Supports Eviction Moratorium — “Leaders of VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement) cautiously welcomed the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a nationwide eviction moratorium through Dec. 31, but noted that Congress and the Administration still need to work together to provide significant funding to prevent huge rental housing market instability after the ban expires.” [Press Release]

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

After experiencing a global health pandemic during the last several months, the one thing we’ve learned is the importance of community.

Arlington is made up of dynamic communities bound together and committed in their support of one another, and the local businesses that make up the woven fabric of diverse neighborhoods. Surviving a health crisis is challenging as our way of life as we know it is so vastly different.

In BizLaunch, we are currently working on designing curriculum this summer for our small business community to help aide with challenges facing businesses as we work through this international health crisis. We are committed to introducing the latest round of funding sources offered by the Commonwealth of Virginia and organizations that support small businesses. The following are potential grant opportunities for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

On Monday, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced its RebuildVA Small Business Grant. The Grant has $70 million for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be made available through Rebuild VA, a new economic recovery fund, and grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses. The application opens August 10, 2020 and you can find specific details about the program here.

Rebuild VA will be administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD). Eligible businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees.

Eligible organizations include food and beverage establishments, non-essential retail, exercise and fitness, entertainment and public amusement, personal care and personal grooming services, and private campground and overnight summer camps. Businesses must also certify that they have not received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds or other funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act as well as local government funding.

Information sessions will be held on July 31 at noon and, August 4th at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The following grant opportunities have been compiled by the BizLaunch Team and are available for eligible small business funding. Click on the hyperlinks below for more details:

  • LISC — Small Business Grant. Applications accepted through August 3, 2020.
  • Red Backpack Fund — Applications open August 3rd and are specific grants for women entrepreneurs .
  • VISA and IFundWomen expanded their GRANT program for Black women-owned businesses through July 31, 2020.
  • Nav Small Business GRANT

Another summer opportunity is BizTalk. BizTalk is a new series of webinars hosted by BizLaunch which features hot topics of interest. Please join us on August 20th at 10 a.m. as we feature Arlington’s own Alan Zucker who will speak on “Adjusting to Uncertainty.”

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Morning Notes

County Getting $10K Tourism Grant — “‘Arlington will use [state tourism] grant funds to showcase outdoor adventures in an urban setting to East Coast road trippers,’ said [Arlington Convention and Visitors Service] Director Emily Cassell. In addition… ACVS will commission a photography and video shoot to expand its collection of images reflecting the County’s cultural diversity.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Signs Mutual Aid Agreement — “Marymount University has become a member of the National Intercollegiate Mutual Aid Agreement (NIMAA), one of more than 100 signatory institutions across the nation that pledge to support each other in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” [InsideNova]

USA Today Editor Recalls Racism in Arlington — A top former USA Today editor recalls, in an opinion column, how he was pulled over multiple times by an Arlington police officer in the mid-1980s. The traffic stops appeared to be the result of racial discrimination and intimidation. “I stopped going into Arlington proper,” the editor says of the impact of the incidents on him. “It was a small sacrifice, but it’s one of those things that you sometimes have to do when you’re black in America.” [Hot Springs Sentinel-Record]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.

The county and the city are supporting each other’s grant applications to the Virginia SMART SCALE transportation funding program.

Alexandria is asking the Commonwealth for up to $40 million for what it calls the Upper King Street Multimodal Improvement project. The project “would fund design, right-of-way and construction of traffic/multimodal and streetscape improvements along King Street (VA 7) between Quaker Lane / Braddock Road and Menokin Drive,” adjacent to Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood.

The car-oriented stretch is nonetheless a key pedestrian connection between Fairlington and the Bradlee Shopping Center. It has seen a number of significant crashes over the past few years.

“Today, there is a significant lack of multimodal facilities, contributing to safety needs along this corridor,” notes a county staff report, attached to a resolution supporting the application which will be considered by the Arlington County Board this weekend.

Also this weekend, the Board will consider its own SMART SCALE application, which asks for $20 million to widen and reconstruct 6.5 miles of the Mt. Vernon Trail between Roosevelt Island in Arlington and Jones Point Park, at the bottom of the Beltway, in Alexandria.

More from another county staff report:

This project would provide funding to the National Park Service (NPS) to improve and reconstruct approximately 6.5 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington and Alexandria, from Roosevelt Island to near Jones Point Park. A portion of the 6.5 miles is within the District of Columbia; the SMART SCALE application is only for the portion in Virginia, with the District of Columbia portion funded separately. The National Park Service (NPS) will manage the project across all jurisdictions. The project widens the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 feet where feasible, and makes other associated improvements including striping center and edge lines, signage, improved bridges, and realigned trail intersections. On June 23, 2020, the Alexandria City Council approved a resolution of support for Arlington to submit one project application for the trail portions in Virginia.

A recent National Park Service report recommended a widening of the trail due to heavy use and crash risks.

The county is also asking for $29.1 million in SMART SCALE funding to build two new street-level elevators to the Courthouse Metro station, including a replacement of the existing elevator.

The staff report, however, notes that the odds of any project being funded are relatively low.

“For this round’s pre-application cycle, 484 pre-applications were submitted for a total project cost of $7.5 billion, with nearly $3.1 billion in costs attributable to the VDOT Northern Virginia District,” county staff wrote. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately $700 million to $800 million in funding statewide was expected to be available for award in this round of SMART SCALE.”

“Generally, large projects that expand highway or transit capacity score well, with smaller projects scoring less well, but remaining competitive due to their comparatively lower costs,” the report adds.

Both the resolution and the application authorization are on this Saturday’s County Board agenda.

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Morning Notes

Va. to Step Up Restaurant Enforcement — “Recognizing an increase in COVID-19 cases in parts of the state, particularly in the Hampton Roads area, Gov. Ralph Northam is increasing enforcement of the state’s rules around the coronavirus… State licensing agencies will be conducting unannounced visits to establishments, as needed, and the state health department is shifting an additional 100 staff members to its existing team of 500 inspectors.” [InsideNova]

Barrels Fail to Stop Rogue I-395 Driver — Someone stopped their car on a highway, got out, and moved an orange barrel in order to avoid a slight delay while driving from Arlington to D.C. on I-395. [Twitter]

County Board to Approve Arts Grants — “Arlington County Board members on July 18 are slated to approve approximately $216,000 in annual grants for arts organizations… Each of the 21 organizations that requested funding saw at least part of their request fulfilled; in addition, two of four individual artists seeking funding garnered a grant.” [InsideNova]

Local National Merit Scholars — Nine Arlington students are among the National Merit Scholarship winners for 2020. [Patch]

Arlington Students Ace Latin Exam — “According to Arlington Public Schools about 130,000 students across the country take the [National Latin Exam] which focuses on vocabulary, grammar, Roman cultural history and mythology. Nineteen students in the school system were among the few who achieved perfection.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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Four major transportation projects in Arlington will receive tens of millions in regional funding, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority announced today.

The projects, all of which are in the planning stages, will bring multimodal upgrades to Crystal City and Rosslyn, as well as to the W&OD Trail. In all, the NTVA is providing more than a half billion dollars in funding to 21 projects around the region.

“On the evening of July 9th, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority adopted the FY 2020-2025 Six Year Program, the Authority’s fifth funding program and the most competitive to date,” the regional governmental body said in a press release. “$1.44 billion in multimodal transportation funding was requested by 13 Northern Virginia localities and agencies – including Arlington County – with $539 million in Authority regional revenues available.”

“The Authority unanimously voted to fund 21 of the 41 transportation projects submitted for funding consideration,” the press release continues. “Arlington County was awarded $29.874 million in regional revenues on the following projects aimed at reducing congestion and getting people to their destinations faster.”

The projects being funded in Arlington include:

The “CC2DCA” pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to Reagan National Airport, which is envisioned as providing a “High Line“-like experience as it spans the GW Parkway and makes walking to the airport more feasible for those in the National Landing area.

The project is set to receive $18 million from NVTA, of the total estimated project cost of $36.2 million.

The project will create a pedestrian connection between Crystal City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). It would provide an additional transportation access point to the airport, which is less than one-half mile away from Crystal Drive, but is practically inaccessible by foot today. In addition to the potential reduction in vehicular traffic between the two destinations, the project is located roughly two blocks from the under-design Crystal City Metrorail Station East Entrance and provides a direct connection to bus service on the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway. The CC2DCA Intermodal Connector is intended to connect to the future relocated VRE commuter rail station. The CC2DCA Intermodal Connector project builds upon a recently completed feasibility study prepared by the Crystal City Business Improvement District (CCBID). This project will further evaluate alternatives, complete environmental documentation and approvals, engineering design, and ultimately construct a pedestrian connection between Crystal Drive and the terminals of DCA. The NVTA funding would be leveraged with both State and local funds to completely fund design and construction of the project; the Commonwealth has committed $9,500,000 to the CC2DCA Intermodal Connector.

Rosslyn Multimodal Network Improvements, which is an extension of the Core of Rosslyn study. The study, which was completed last year, calls for major changes to Rosslyn’s road and pedestrian network, including removal of the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd and upgrades to crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes.

The project is set to receive $11.9 million from NVTA, its full estimated cost, though the project description does not mention the tunnel removal.

Design and construct a suite of complementary bicycle and pedestrian improvements largely taken from the recommended implementation projects in the draft Core of Rosslyn study. Collectively as a package, the projects significantly improve access to employment, housing, and transit within the Rosslyn regional activity center, and improve regional connections between Rosslyn and Georgetown, DC.

The long-planned VRE Crystal City Station Improvements project, which would building a new, upgraded Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City, the last VRE stop before D.C.

The project is set to receive $15.8 million of its estimated total $49.9 million cost.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Amazon Nears Thousandth HQ2 Hire — “Even amid the region’s economic shutdown, Amazon has still been staffing up its HQ2 offices in Arlington, quickly approaching its 1,000th hire at the second headquarters campus, said Brian Kenner, head of HQ2 policy. ‘We’ve been very happy with the caliber of candidates,’ Kenner said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pandemic Making Single-Family Homes Pricier — “Could the bloom be off the rose when it comes to urban (or urban-village) living? Figures are preliminary at best, but there is some inkling that the COVID-19 pandemic may be changing patterns among home-buyers. ‘Relatively better performance of single-family homes in relation to multi-family condominium properties clearly suggest migration from the city centers to the suburbs,’ said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association Realtors, in parsing sales data from May.” [InsideNova]

New Arlington Poet Laureate — “Award-winning poet and Marymount University professor Holly Karapetkova has been selected as the second Poet Laureate of Arlington County. During her two-year appointment, which begins July 1, 2020, she will serve as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, working to raise Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms.” [Arlington County]

Snubbed Business Owners Speak Out — “ASAP Screen Printing is a small business. Yet the Arlington County government did not find the company small enough to deserve assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead providing grants to the likes of” hotels and franchisees of chain restaurants like Subway and Jimmy John’s, writes ASAP owner Mohammad Shiekhy. [InsideNova]

Toppled Tree Knocks Out Power to Neighborhood — A large tree fell, took down utility lines, and knocked out power to more than 100 homes in North Arlington’s Bellevue Forest neighborhood last night. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Schwartz Presents New Capital Plan — “County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The County Manager, rather than proposing the traditional 10-year plan, is presenting a short-term proposal until the County better understands the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the one-year CIP is on projects that are already underway, those that improve failing or end-of-life infrastructure, and those required by legal or regulatory obligations.” [Arlington County]

Juvenile Court Reeling from Coronavirus Cases — “An outbreak of covid-19 in the clerk’s office of the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has forced the court to close the office to the public and has concerned lawyers who practice there daily. Four of the seven clerks in the office have tested positive for covid-19.” [Washington Post]

Small Business Grants Announced — “Arlington County today announced 394 businesses are receiving the Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term). The GRANT program provides financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The GRANT funds were designed to bridge the gap to provide near-term relief for businesses and nonprofits, some of whom have experienced delays or limitations with federal relief initiatives.” [Arlington County, Arlington Economic Development]

Va. Not Ready for Phase 3 — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that statewide Covid-19 numbers ‘continue to look favorable,’ but that he will not move the commonwealth into phase 3 of reopening this week. ‘I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country,’ Northam said.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Wardian to Run to Every District Taco — “This is Mike Wardian, a Guinness-World-Record winning runner, who is partnering with DT on Saturday, June 20 as he runs to ALL 12 DMV LOCATIONS (just about 60 miles)! If you see Mike on his run, snap a pic and use #whereswardian for in-app credit for a free taco!” [Twitter]

County Offers Free Trees and Tree Maintenance — “Arlington County loves trees, and knows trees are critical for our stormwater infrastructure, environmental and human health benefits, and through its Tree Canopy Fund EcoAction Arlington offers grants to plant or maintain trees on private property.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Big Response to Small Biz Grant Program — “Those hit hard by the pandemic can receive help through the small business emergency grant program. More than 1,100 businesses have applied, [County Board Chair Libby] Garvey said, and at least 63% of them are owned by women or minorities. ‘With an additional $1.6 million, we can provide grants to a total of 400 businesses, more than 50% of those that… were eligible,’ Garvey said,” during her State of the County address Tuesday morning. [WTOP, Zoom]

Chamber Presents Valor Awards — Also on Tuesday, “awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel and first responders. Fourteen honorees were recognized for their courageous, and often lifesaving, actions in the line of duty. Leadership of all respective departments submitted nominations for the honorees, based on their performance over the past year.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce, InsideNova]

Road Closures for Grad Parades Tomorrow — “On Thursday, June 18, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will support Senior Graduation Parades for Wakefield High School and Washington-Liberty High School. Traffic around the schools will be impacted at the below listed times. The public can expect to see increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.” [Arlington County]

CivFed Wants More Open Space — “The president of the Arlington County Civic Federation on June 13 delivered his message quietly but bluntly: The county government needs to put much more emphasis on acquiring land for parks and open space before the window of opportunity closes. Allan Gajadhar handed County Board members a Civic Federation resolution calling on the county government to better balance open-space and passive-recreation needs with facilities for sports and active recreation.” [InsideNova]

COVID Cases Among DCA Construction Workers — “Employees with 17 contractors working on Reagan National Airport’s massive capital improvement project have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a staff report issued ahead of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s upcoming board meeting… The most recent positive result was confirmed June 7.” [Washington Business Journal]

Juneteenth May Become State Holiday — “Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Tuesday that he will support legislation to make Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery, a state holiday in Virginia. He gave executive branch state employees the day off Friday — June 19 — in recognition of the event. On that date in 1865, federal troops told enslaved people in Texas they had been freed, more than two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Reopening Starts Today — Arlington and Northern Virginia is starting Phase 1 of a gradual reopening of the regional economy today. You’ll be able to dine outside, get a haircut, and shop at non-essential businesses, with restrictions. Additionally, starting today, Virginia is requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Face coverings are also required in ART buses. [Arlington County, Arlington Transit]

Local Leaders Promote Mask Usage — Leaders of Northern Virginia’s local governments, including Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, star in a new video encouraging the use of masks as the region reopens. [YouTube]

Arlington Orgs Providing Food During Pandemic — “Since May 1, CHFA volunteers have delivered 6,174 meals to homebound COVID-19 positive patients and immunocompromised clients, with plans to provide an additional 14,000 meals over the next two months, in partnership with Jeffrey’s Catering. Since the state of emergency declaration on March 15, referrals to AFAC increased by 36 percent, from 3,606 individuals to 4,902 on May 10.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Holding Graduation Parade — “On Friday afternoon, members of Marymount University’s graduating class will celebrate their accomplishments through a Graduation Parade, with faculty and staff cheering them on along a four-mile route that loops between Main Campus and the Ballston Center.” [Press Release]

Local Snakes Face Sticky Situation — “Our Animal Control officers are always on hand to help animals in need, even the scaly ones! Today we got a call that 2 snakes were stuck to a glue trap. Sgt Ballena and Officer Citrone worked hard to gently un-stick the snakes and release them safely nearby.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

ARLnow Receives Google Grant — ARLnow has received a modest grant from Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. The grant will allow ARLnow to host a paid intern this summer. The pandemic has negatively affected ARLnow’s business, and at the same time has also caused a shortage of internships nationwide. We’re grateful for Google helping us to offer an internship to a promising young journalist.

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