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
The 20-page booklet, “African American History in Arlington, Virginia: A Guide to the Historic Sites of a Long and Proud Heritage,” was first published in 2001. It was a joint project between the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, the Chamber of Commerce and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington.
The funding for the booklet comes from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, in the form of a $3,000 grant that was accepted by the County Board.
Print copies of the guide ran out several years ago, but the booklet is still available online in a PDF.
According to a press release, the booklet was popular among Arlington residents and visitors who wanted to explore memorials such as Arlington House, the historic neighborhoods of Nauck, Hall’s Hill and Butler Holmes and various celebrated churches and historical homes.
Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Arlington County historic preservation planner, said that her office has found “quite a bit of new additional research” that will enhance the guide.
The still-operating Green Valley Pharmacy in Nauck will be featured in the new edition. It was opened in 1952 and served African Americans who were refused service in Arlington’s segregated drug stores.
Also included will be dozens of graves previously considered “lost” that have been identified in the cemetery at Calloway United Methodist Church.
Liccese-Torres estimates that the guide will be completed and ready for distribution in spring 2016.
McMenamin Leads Cash Race — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Michael McMenamin has the most cash on hand of the four candidates in the race. McMenamin’s campaign reported $13,699 on hand as of Aug. 31, compared to $10,127 for Democrat Katie Cristol, $8,853 for Democrat Christian Dorsey and $1,657 for independent Audrey Clement. Dorsey has thus far spent the most on his campaign: $55,048, compared to McMenamin’s spending of $2,050. [InsideNova]
‘Demolition Derby’ for Old Houses — All over Arlington, older, more modest homes are being torn down and much larger, more lavish homes are being built in their place. The actual number of homes destroyed is low relative to Arlington’s population — the county reported 124 demolition permits for the first six months of 2015 — but it still worries long-time residents. “Can middle-income people in their 30s, first-time buyers, still live in Arlington?” asked one woman. [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Youth Pilgrimage to Philly — Six hundred teenagers from around Northern Virginia, plus 185 students from Arlington’s Bishop O’Connell High School, will be making a pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the visit of Pope Francis. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Death Nears for Man Who Raped, Killed in Arlington — A man suspected of raping and killing a woman in Arlington in 1988 is scheduled to be executed in Virginia in two weeks. Alfredo Prieto has also been convicted of or is suspected in a number of other murders and rape cases in Virginia and California. [Los Angeles Times]
Grants for Serving Those with Disabilities — Arlington County has $111,910 available for grants to groups that provide services to Arlington residents with physical and sensory disabilities. The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 30. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Arlington Commission for the Arts recommended approval for $215,810 worth of grants that are to be allocated among 17 organizations and three individual artists. These grants, specified in a County Board agenda item, are a part of county funding set aside for Arlington’s support of the arts in the county’s Fiscal Year 2016.
The total amount of the grants is $16,710 more than was allocated to the arts in fiscal year 2015.
The following organizations are the recommended recipients for the proposed cultural grants, in descending order by amount:
- Synetic Theater — $32,529.00
- Arlington Arts Center — $31,927.00
- Bowen McCauley Dance — $23,962.00
- BalletNova Center for Dance — $18,162.00
- Washington Shakespeare Company — $14,194.00
- Encore Stage and Studio — $13,571.00
- No Rules Theatre Company — $12,980.00
- Teatro de la Luna — $11,284.00
- UrbanArias, Inc. — $9,638.00
- EducationalTheatre Company — $5,802.00
- Arlington Artists’ Alliance — $5,316.00
- The Arlington Players — $5,152.00
- Washington Balalaika Society — $5,012.00
- National Chamber Ensemble — $3,799.00
- Jane Franklin Dance — $3,061.00
- Indian Dance Educators Association — $2,546.00
- Dominion Stage — $1,875.00
Three individual artists, Kate Fleming, Melanie Kehoss and Sushmita Mazumbar have been recommended by the Commission to each receive $5,000 “Spotlight Grants.”
Additionally, 26 organizations have been recommended to receive non-monetary support in the form of space and services:
ACW Dances, The Metropolitan Chorus, Alma Boliviana, Old Dominion Cloggers, Arlington Philharmonic Association, Opera NOVA, The Arlingtones, Peter’s Alley Theatre Productions, Bangladesh Center for Community Development Inc., Potomac Harmony Chorus, Cambodian American Heritage, Inc., Prio Bangla, Inc., Centro Cultural Peru, Inc., The ProBolivan Committee, Dance Asia, Requiebros Spanish Dance Group, El Tayrona, Shristee Nrittyangon, Inc., Festival Argentino, Signature Theatre, Inc., First Draft, Sultanas Troupe, Hālau O’Aulani, Tinkus Tiataco USA, Los Quetzales Mexican Dance Ensemble, Vietnamese Cultural Society of Metropolitan Washington.
NBC4 ‘Celebrates’ Arlington — NBC4 reporter Angie Goff anchored a series of segments about Arlington this morning. Goff broadcast live from Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike, and had a number of on-air guests. One segment — “celebrating romance in Arlington” — featured a bartender from Carpool in Ballston, County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes and a rousing game of cornhole. [NBC Washington]
Neighbors Remember Boy Killed By Car — Neighbors are remembering 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary School student Eli Sachar, who was killed over the weekend when he and other family members were struck by a car in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. No charges have been filed against the driver so far, though the crash remains under investigation. [WJLA]
Arlington Teens Injured in Charlottesville Stabbing — Two 19-year-old men from Arlington were stabbed in Charlottesville Saturday night. The victims were both visiting friends at UVA for the weekend. A witness said the incident started when someone threw a beer can in the direction of the two suspects. [NBC 29]
Board to Consider Art Grants — The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider nearly $200,000 in art grants. The Arlington Commission for the Arts has recommended the grants be distributed to 20 different local recipients. [Arlington County]
Bus Lights Bush on Fire — Firefighters responded to the Exxon station at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street in Rosslyn yesterday for a report of a bush on fire. The fire was quickly extinguished, though a section of bush was denuded by the combination of flames and high water pressure. The fire was caused when a bus backed into the bush and the heat from the engine caused the shrubbery to combust. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
County Board Approves Glencarlyn Park Playground — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a $485,000 construction contract for a new playground at Glencarlyn Park. The playground is intended for 5-12 year olds and includes a swing set and a “treehouse” log play structure. [Arlington County]
Demand Rises at AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center “has seen a 20 percent surge in families visiting the food pantry in need of groceries over the past six months.” The director of AFAC says cuts in food stamp (SNAP) benefits has increased need in the community. Those cuts are expected to deepen if Congress passes a new compromise farm bill that includes $800 million in annual food stamp reductions. [Patch]
Grant Accepted for Innovation Initiative — Arlington County has accepted a $350,000 from the state to help fund “an innovative public-private initiative that will connect fast growth technology product companies with national security agencies headquartered in Arlington and the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Arlington will contribute a $175,000 matching grant to the project. [Arlington County]
Dem Caucus Is ‘Basically About the Streetcar’ — On its Twitter account, the blog Greater Greater Washington opines that this week’s Democratic Arlington County Board caucus is “basically about the streetcar.” Alan Howze and Peter Fallon, who GGW recommends voting for, generally support the Columbia Pike streetcar project while Cord Thomas has spoken out against it. [Twitter, Greater Greater Washington]
New African American Book Club — Arlington Public Library has launched a new African American Book Club. The club will “discuss the novels of both new and well-known authors, thought provoking non-fiction about the African American experience.” [Arlington Public Library]
Pageview Problem on ARLnow.com — We are currently trying to resolve a problem that is causing the pageview counter on each article to significantly undercount the actual number of views. The problem is impacting articles published within the past 24-48 hours.
Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone
Ft. Myer Alarm System Test Today — In conjunction with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Operations, the Department of State will test an alarm system on Summerall Field on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base at 2:30 p.m. today. Residents near the area can expect to hear high noise levels. For more information call 703-696-0573.
September Start Date for Ashlawn Addition Construction — A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 5:30 p.m. on September 6 for construction on the addition to Ashlawn Elementary School. Construction on the three level addition is expected to take about two years. The new portion will add about 26,000 square feet to the existing 69,000 square foot school building, allowing the capacity to grow from 524 students to about 680. [Sun Gazette]
Grants for Non-profits — Arlington County is accepting grant proposals from non-profit organizations that help residents with physical and/or sensory disabilities. Projects should increase or maintain independence and community integration for residents with disabilities through empowerment focused services. The 2015-2016 Regional Grants to Disability Groups Application Packet can be found online. Grant proposals are due by September 30. [Arlington County]
The Arlington Commission for the Arts recommended that 18 arts organizations and one individual artist receive direct financial support as part of the county’s Fiscal Year 2014 art grants. One of the organizations set to receive a grant, Signature Theatre, withdrew itself from consideration after it accepted a $250,000 tax bailout from the county in May.
The following are among the recipients of the $199,100 worth of proposed grants.
- The American Century Theater — $9,780.00
- Arlington Arts Center — $39,118.00
- Arlington Philharmonic Association — $1,356.00
- The Arlington Players — $6,457.00
- Bowen McCauley Dance — $19,108.00
- Dominion Stage — $2,421.00
- Educational Theatre Company — $4,970.00
- Encore Stage and Studio — $11,923.00
- IBIS: A Chamber Music Society — $4,564.00
- Jane Franklin Dance — $2,891.00
- The Metropolitan Chorus — $3,951.00
- National Chamber Ensemble — $2,362.00
- Prelude: The Arlington Youth Orchestral Program — $3,420.00
- Synetic Theater — $39,701.00
- Teatro de la Luna — $14,969.00
- UrbanArias, Inc. — $8,160.00
- Washington Balalaika Society — $4,947.00
- Washington Shakespeare Company — $14,002.00
- Hendrick Sundquist for “Supply and Demand, A Natural History of Consumption” — $5,000.00
Additionally, the following are to receive facilities and technical services grants from the county:
Alma Boliviana, The Arlington Artists Alliance, The Arlington Children’s Chorus, The Arlingtones, BalletNova Center for Dance, Bangladesh Center for Community Development, Inc., Cambodian American Heritage, Inc., Carmen de Vicente Spanish Dance Academy, Centro Cultural Peru., Dance Asia, El Tayrona, Festival Argentino, First Draft at Charter Theater, Halau O’Aulani, Hexagon, Indian Dance Educators Association, Los Quetzales Mexican Dance Ensemble, Matices DC, Old Dominion Cloggers, Opera NOVA, Potomac Harmony Chorus, Prio Bangla, Inc., The ProBolivan Committee, Signature Theatre, Tinkus Tiataco USA, Vietnamese Cultural Society of Metropolitan Washington, Washington Area Mongolian Community Association.
The Board discussed the matter in a closed session before unanimously approving it. According to County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac, it is standard procedure for the Board to discuss a grant behind closed doors. The grant agreement will be made public once the county attorney finalizes it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the grant will help bring the theater current with real estate taxes owed to the county. Funding for the grant was provided from budget savings identified at the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
The Arlington County Department of Management and Finance indicates the grant includes around $85,000 for past due real estate and business tangible taxes, $99,000 for the next two payments of real estate taxes and around $30,000 for the next business tangible tax payment. The remaining $35,000 will either help fund a financial consultant study or go to future tax payments.
Signature Theatre has sole access rights and branding capability in its current space within a county owned building. It is responsible for the full costs of operating that facility, including real estate and business tangible taxes. Other county supported arts groups performing in county subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes.
“Signature is thriving, and has a great future ahead of it,” Donnellan said. “This grant addresses an immediate, short-term need by providing temporary relief from a tax burden that is not shared by other supported arts groups.”
The county emphasizes that the theater is a cultural anchor for Shirlington and provides financial benefits to the community. It estimates that more than $150,000 in annual sales and meals taxes can be directly attributed to Signature’s presence in Shirlington.
Signature faced several debt-related lawsuits in Arlington General District Court last year, including claims from Waste Management, Conde Nast Publications and the Delancey at Shirlington Village apartment building. The Waste Management and Conde Nast claims were eventually dismissed. The court ruled in favor of Delancey at Shirlington Village.
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun Gazette that Signature was delinquent on its real estate and business taxes.
APS to Benefit from State STEM Funding — Arlington Public Schools will be getting a boost from the Virginia Department of Education’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grants. A $247,000 grant to George Mason University will provide support to 90 educators in seven school districts, including Arlington. Additionally, a $250,000 grant shared by four colleges and universities will support 76 teachers in 45 school districts, including Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Public Hearing for School Boundary Changes — On Wednesday, the Arlington School Board will host a public hearing on the recommendations for boundary changes. Last month, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his recommendations for boundary changes. The hearing will take place at the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (April 3).
JBM-HH Works with County to Reduce Use of Energy — The Directorate of Public Works at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) has been working with Arlington County to share information about energy use and conservation. Although the two entities aren’t sharing policy yet, they’re sharing information about a community plan to reduce the use of energy. [U.S. Army]