ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.
Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.
Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]
County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]
Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Flickr photo by John Sonderman
Two Arlington-based companies are set to receive incentive-based economic development grants as they expand in the county.
Rosslyn-based technology company Higher Logic and Clarendon-based media firm Axios are both in line to receive $60,000 each under the county’s incentive-based Gazelle Grant program. The program, administered through Arlington Economic Development, encourages businesses to move into or stay in Arlington.
Under the terms of the grants, both companies must commit to leasing a certain amount of office space and creating more full-time jobs. If they do not fulfill the terms as of December 31, 2020, they will be required to pay back at least some of the grant.
For its grant, Higher Logic must lease at least 31,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 107 full-time jobs and create 133 new full-time positions.
Founded in 2007, Higher Logic had been exploring a new location for its headquarters, having expanded to take up 15,000 square feet by 2015. It will move to 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn and occupy an entire floor of the building on a 10-year lease.
Axios, meanwhile, must lease at lease 15,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 60 full-time jobs and create 60 new full-time positions.
Having initially located at the MakeOffices coworking space at the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Axios is set to expand into the 13th floor at the same address and sign a 10-year lease.
The Arlington County Board will vote on whether to award the grants at its meeting Saturday (January 27). Staff recommended approval of both.
Arlington County is set to receive more than $17 million in grant funding from state agencies for various transportation and transit projects.
The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday (January 27) on whether to accept the funds, totaling $17.8 million, from the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Of that, the county is set to receive $15 million from DPRT, just over $870,000 from NVTC and almost $2 million from VDOT. The money is to fund transit, bridge renovations and other transportation projects.
DPRT funds come from its Smart Scale program, a statewide funding program where jurisdictions apply for a limited amount of grant funding. NVTC’s funding is through its program to administer revenue made from the I-66 tolls. The VDOT funding is from a revenue sharing program the county regularly applies for.
The county was awarded money for the following projects, by the following bodies:
- Ballston Metro station west entrance – $10 million (DPRT)
- Purchase of Mobile Commuter Store – $500,000 (DPRT)
- Purchase of eight 40-foot buses – $4 million (DPRT)
- Installation and accessibility improvements of bus stops along the ART route to Marymount University – $500,000 (DPRT)
- Bus stop consolidation and accessibility improvements – $462,000 (NVTC)
- Multimodal real-time transportation information screens – $250,000 (NVTC)
- ART bus rehabilitation for ART 55 peak service expansion – $160,000 (NVTC)
- Shirlington Road Bridge – $935,000 (VDOT)
- Pershing Drive – $1,050,000 (VDOT)
In a report, county staff recommended the Board accept the funds.
Phone2Action is a software-as-a-service company that creates software for organizations to launch campaigns on public policy. That includes helping connect advocates with lawmakers and other decision-makers. It has more than 300 clients.
The firm was originally located at 1401 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, but chose to relocate to 1500 Wilson Blvd in the same neighborhood after outgrowing its previous office space.
The county convinced it to stay through an incentive-based Gazelle Grant, which encourages businesses to move into or stay in Arlington.
Under the terms of the grant, Phone2Action would receive $50,000 in return for leasing at least 13,400 square feet of office space, maintaining its existing 50 full-time jobs and adding another 170 new full-time jobs.
If Phone2Action does not reach 90 percent of its office space target, and has not created at least 50 percent of the new jobs by September 30, 2020, it will have to pay back some or all of the grant. It will use the money to build out its new office, and to defray the costs related to hiring new employees and relocating.
“The company raised $4.6 million in July 2016 and is currently operating within two growth industries: the advocacy industry (growing at 12 percent annually) and the social media/CRM industry (growing at 17 percent annually),” staff wrote. “For all of these reasons, Phone2Action has a large market opportunity for the long term.”
The Arlington County Board will vote on the grant at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).
Photos via Phone2Action.
Nate Remnants Pushing Out — It has been a rainy and windy morning thanks to the remnants of what was once Hurricane Nate. The heaviest of the rain is over but it is expected to remain windy and humid during the day today, with a gale warning in effect until 6 p.m. for those on the water. [Twitter, Weather Channel]
Voter Registration Up This Cycle — Arlington County has processed twice the number of voter registration transactions between Labor Day and Oct. 6 this year as it did during the same period four years ago, according to elections chief Linda Lindberg. That suggests greater interest in this year’s statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, though County Board and School Board races are also on the ballot. [InsideNova]
Arlington Schools Get Grant — Arlington is among the Virginia localities getting a grant for new school security equipment. Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Langston High School Continuation Program are together receiving $44,480 through the state program, put in place in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in Connecticut. A total of $6 million is being divvied out to dozens of school systems, paying for “video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington Nonprofit Gets State Grant — “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Actual Driverless Car in Arlington — Moving beyond vans with people dressed as car seats, an actual driverless car has now taken to the streets within Arlington County. An autonomous vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University drove itself around Ft. Myer yesterday as part of the military base’s Industry Day event. [Facebook]
Nestle Buys Blue Bottle — Nestle, which is still moving into its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, has bought Oakland, Ca.-based hipster coffee brand Blue Bottle. Could that mean that a Blue Bottle location in Arlington is around the corner? Possibly, but the company already has a location across the river in Georgetown. [Washington Business Journal, Nestle]
Arlington Gets Gigabit Internet — Comcast announced earlier this week that “it has launched a new Internet service in Arlington that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to residential and business customers.” According to a press release, “these speeds will be among the fastest and most widely available,” utilizing DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The cost of the service is $79.99 a month with a one-year contract or $104.95 a month without.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A total of 21 financial grants were distributed, totaling $215,810, with the majority of recipients also being granted the use of county facilities and technical services. Twelve other organizations were granted the use of county facilities and technical services under the so-called Space and Services Grant.
“The arts enrich our lives and enliven our community,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “The Arts Grants program supports a diverse arts community in Arlington.”
There was a rigorous application process to receive the grants, which total $215,810. According to a report by county staff, the Arlington Commission for the Arts Grant Recommendations used a two-step grant application process that also included a mandatory attendance at grant preparation workshops.
Of the 28 grant applications asking for financial support in FY 2018, the Commission received 21 from nonprofit art organizations and seven from individual artists. The county received 54 applications in total.
The commission allocated three different kinds of grants for artists:
- Individual Artist Grants — direct financial support for an individual artist on a proposed work that they describe in their grant application
- Project Grants — direct financial support for a specific project proposed by an organization
- Space & Service Grants — grants for performance/rehearsal space and technical services for an organization.
The biggest organizations to receive grants include Washington Shakespeare Co., UrbanArias and the Arlington Arts Center.
The full list of grant recipients after the jump.
The program aims to “support organizations that sustain, enhance or protect the local environment and communities.” Transurban manages the HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway, and will do the same for the planned I-395 HOT lanes set to run through Arlington.
Over $550,000 has been awarded to 119 organizations around Northern Virginia since 2008, several of which that have been from Arlington. Any group can apply for a grant via the online application.
The Energy Masters Program, which promotes sustainability throughout Arlington, received grant funding to help residents at the Fort Henry Gardens apartment complex in Nauck with insulation issues, and to help refurbish over 50 units.
The CPRO received grant funding to improve the Columbia Pike farmers market and ensure that residents have access to fresh, locally sourced food. In addition, the money received was also used to design messages that were placed around schools, libraries, churches and apartment complexes and on social media about the grant program and how to apply.
In the future, CPRO plans to work with local partners such as the Arlington Food Assistance program on additional nutrition-related outreach.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimmick
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
A software startup received a $35,000 grant at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting after relocating to Crystal City last year.
Stardog moved to 1400 Crystal Drive in September, having launched in 2005 in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C. CEO Kendall Clark said the company helps businesses bring together internal data from various different sources.
Clark said that while that process could take a large company like Samsung a week and use 30 people to collate all the data on, for example, the purchases of a certain dishwasher in the corridor between D.C. and New York, Stardog’s technology does the job in a matter of seconds.
Stardog already serves the likes of NASA, Oxford University Press and Bosch.
“We’re lucky to have found a bunch of really big customers who have this problem and we solve it well,” Clark said. “It’s not an area that anyone else is really focusing on in our software, so it’s a good combination of need and the software business that we’re looking at, which is a good combination if you can find it.”
Clark said Stardog chose Arlington after its landlord in Shaw tripled the rent, but he said the new Crystal City location has many benefits for employees. With software developers based as far afield as Hawaii and Moscow, Clark said the close proximity to National Airport and Metro helps staff get around easily, while the places where people can eat and live are numerous.
In addition, Clark said, Stardog found Arlington to be a much easier place to do business in as a startup.
“All the business license and low level paperwork that doesn’t really get you any advantage to being in a place — but if you don’t do it it’s bad — it’s lots of stuff like that in Arlington that you can do online,” he said. “In the District, I found for whatever reason there was always some reason I or somebody else had to go to an office in Southeast, struggle with parking and the whole nightmare and then go in and you’re there all day.”
Under the terms of the grant, Stardog must create 70 new full-time jobs at its Arlington office and lease 3,500 square feet of office space. If, by the end of 2019, it has not hit 90 percent of its space target and 50 percent of its employment target, it will have to pay back some or all of the grant.
A staff report that recommended approving the grant said Stardog will use the grant to help build out its new office, relocate its operations and recruit and train new employees.
Clark said the company plans to triple its revenue from last year, and is “on track” right now to do just that. That new revenue will lead to more full-time employees, which will lead to “more people buying houses,” Clark said.
The diamond athletic field at Gunston Park will be converted from natural grass to synthetic turf after the Arlington County Board approved a $370,000 plan Tuesday night.
The nonprofit Arlington Sports Foundation offered a grant of $180,000 to convert the field, and the county sports commission’s Diamond Field Fund will pay the additional $190,000. The project is on top of a previously-approved $1.4 million maintenance and improvement plan at the park.
It is estimated the new field will add nearly 880 new possible playing hours per year, at a time when there is high demand for athletic fields in the county.
“Both the number of people playing sports in Arlington, and the hours our fields are in use continue to grow. We need creative solutions to meet the demand,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette. “Kudos to the Arlington Sports Foundation and the sports community for helping fund the conversion of Gunston’s field and expand its community use without increasing taxpayer support.”
Before the board’s unanimous approval of the project, there had been questions raised about the safety of the synthetic turf, which will be made from EPDM rubber. Local resident Kelly Alexis asked that a natural ingredient like coconut husks be used instead, and cited previous concerns about the health risks of playing on turf, especially that made up of crumb rubber.
Board vice chair Katie Cristol and others said the health of children is something Arlington takes “incredibly seriously,” and asserted that the health risks of EPDM are minimal.
Several members of the county’s sports community testified in favor of the conversion. Arlington Little League president Adam Balutis said the new turf means more games can be played and not be canceled or postponed due to the weather.
“Everybody would love to have natural, beautiful green fields that we could upkeep all year round and play and play and play, but it’s not possible in Arlington County because we don’t have enough space,” said Daniel Lopez, vice president of the board of the Arlington Soccer Association. “So the next best thing is we try to turf these fields so everybody can use them and everybody can enjoy them.”
Board members said that the funding model for the new turf field is something that could be repeated elsewhere, especially if community members are willing to help fundraise.
“We know in today’s tight funding times that the government is not going to be able to do it all and will rely increasingly on the generosity of the folks in our community,” said John Vihstadt.
“I think we’ve maybe got a new model,” said Board member Libby Garvey.
The County Board will consider a $370,000 plan Saturday to convert the Gunston Park diamond athletic field to synthetic turf.
The park at 1401 28th Street S. has three lighted tennis courts, a multiuse field, a lighted softball field and basketball courts.
The nonprofit Arlington Sports Foundation proposed a grant of $180,000 to convert the field, and the county sports commission’s Diamond Field Fund would pay the additional $190,000. This extra $370,000 is on top of a previously-approved $1.4 million maintenance and improvement project at the park. That project’s funding was approved in a 2014 bond referendum.
The parks and recreation department required that half of the ASF funds be deposited with the county to get the design stage underway, with phased additional payments of $45,000 each. Any unspent ASF funds will be returned to them after the project is completed and all financial obligations are met.
A county staff report said installing the synthetic turf will help the Gunston Park field be better utilized.
“The conversion of this diamond field, which is currently lighted for night play, will extend the usable seasons and times by approximately 880 hours per year, and will also be configured to allow for players of different ages, different sports, and different levels of play to utilize the field,” staff wrote.
County staff recommends the Board authorizes the funds for converting the field to synthetic turf.
Photo via Google Maps
Clarendon Ballroom Battles Alt-Right Blitz — After beating up on Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation earlier this month, the alt-right faction seeking to hold inauguration rallies and parties in Arlington has focused its attention on the Clarendon Ballroom. The Ballroom, one alt-right leader alleges, turned away their planned “DeploraBall” due to political pressure. The Ballroom, however, says the organizers never actually signed a contract. Since then, the Ballroom has been receiving “hundreds of slanderous, dangerous, vulgar and threatening posts and tweets,” along with threatening phone calls. [NBC Washington, Washington Post]
Library Director’s Christmas Playlist — Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh has released her annual “mix tape of seasonal favorites” on the library blog. This year’s list is a Spotify playlist that starts with Diana Krall’s rendition of “Let It Snow” and concludes, on a unique-to-2016 note, with “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies. [Arlington Public Library]
Six Fired by Metro in EFC Derailment — Following an investigation, Metro has fired six track inspectors and supervisors and demoted several others in the wake of July’s East Falls Church train derailment. Additional firings are in the works. [WJLA]
Arlington Community Foundation Grants — The Arlington Community Foundation has approved grants to 26 local nonprofits and school, totally nearly $100,000. [Patch]
Women of Vision Honorees Announced — The 2016 Arlington County Women of Vision award winners have been announced. The honorees are Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh, Sprout CEO Rebecca Carpenter and STEM education advocate Susan Senn. Kresh, Carpenter and Senn will be honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, June 28. [Arlington County]
Immigration Rally in Arlington — Local immigrants rallied in Arlington last night “to make their voices heard — and some began the process of becoming a citizen.” Some 100 people attended the CASA-sponsored event. [WJLA]
APAH Gets Big Grant — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing announced yesterday that it was one of 40 nonprofits nationwide to be selected for a grant from the Citi Foundation Community Progress Makers Fund. “APAH will receive a core operating support grant of $500,000 over the course of two years to continue its work in the community around affordable housing.” [APAH]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
State Lawmaker: Add Lanes to I-66 — State Sen. Chap Petersen (D), who represents part of Fairfax County, doesn’t much care for Arlington’s efforts to dissuade VDOT from adding an extra lane to I-66. “When I was a little boy, we put a man on the moon. We can figure out how to put six lanes through Arlington County,” Petersen said in an interview. [WTOP]
Del. Levine Proposes Minimum Wage Increase — For his first piece of state legislation, freshman Del. Mark Levine (D) has proposed a bill that would allow localities in Virginia to raise the minimum wage up to $10. The maximum amount would then rise every year with the consumer price index. The likelihood of the bill passing is slim. [InsideNova]
Highway Project Giving Away Grant Money — Transurban, the private company behind the newly-revived I-395 HOT lanes project, is trying to endear itself to the communities along the I-395 corridor. For one, the company recently joined the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. It’s also giving away grants of $1,000 to $5,000 “to respond to the needs of local organizations and direct impact neighborhoods located within the I-395 corridor.” Applications for the Community Grant Program are currently being accepted. [395 Express Lanes]
AFCYRs to Host MLK Event — The Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans will “celebrate and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recommit ourselves to living out Dr. King’s dream” at the group’s meeting on Monday. Speaking at the event will be Elroy Sailor, CEO of the J.C. Watts Companies and current senior advisor to Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Violent Attack at Pentagon City Metro — A seemingly random act of violence at the Pentagon City Metro station injured a man late last month. Details of the attack were just released: a 19-year-old man collapsed on the platform after being sucker-punched. Witnesses took cell phone photos of the attacker, who fled. The incident is one of a string of recent violent incidents at Metro stations. [Fox 5 DC]
GGW Questions Garvey’s Leadership — Will new County Board Chair Libby Garvey move Arlington forward with smart infrastructure investments, or pull back and scale down the county’s ambitions? That’s the question being posed by urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington, which has been critical of Garvey’s anti-streetcar stance. [Greater Greater Washington]
Garvey Announces Reelection Bid — Thought she has positioned herself as a somewhat anti-establishment figure in the local party, Libby Garvey detailed her Democratic bonafides while announcing her reelection bid at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting earlier this week. Garvey is facing a primary challenge on her left, from small business owner Erik Gutshall. [Libby Garvey]
Grant for ‘Little Saigon’ History — A $9,000 grant will allow Arlington County to produce a full-color booklet preserving the history of Arlington’s “Little Saigon” — a concentration of Vietnamese immigrants and businesses in Clarendon in the 1970s, before the opening of Metro. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick