Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Big Costco Crowds Over the Weekend — The Pentagon City Costco drew big crowds and long queues of cars over the weekend, as people stocked up on supplies amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. There were some reports of the store running low on items like toilet paper. [Twitter, Twitter]

Vets Visit Iwo Jima Memorial — “This February marks 75 years since the American flag was raised atop Mt. Suribachi, depicted in the famous photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. That photo became the model for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. This milestone is the reason a group of more than 50 Battle of Iwo Jima veterans descended on the memorial this week.” [WJLA]

Strong Finishes for W-L Teams — Among other action this weekend, the Washington-Liberty boys placed second in the 6D North Region boys basketball tournament — and will now advance to states — while the W-L girls track team placed third at the state track tournament. [InsideNova, Twitter]

Arlington Deploys Mobile Library Truck — “Arlington Public Library announces the arrival of The Truck, a traveling library designed to hold hundreds of books, games, crafts and DVDs for all ages and interests. The Truck’s first outing will be to Plaza Library on Wednesday, March 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.” [Arlington Public Library]

Voice of America Profiles Local Cornhole League — “A number of bars in Arlington, Virginia, offer their customers more than a selection of craft beers and cocktails, they offer them a chance to try their hand at cornhole, a game in which players take turns throwing small bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. It’s a unique bit of Americana that’s bringing people together.” [VOA News]

Owners of Bar Bao and The Lot Squabble — “The owners of Social Restaurant Group are accusing one another of fraud, financial mismanagement, and breach of contract in half a dozen lawsuits spanning the past year. The litigation involves at least five restaurants.” [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Steps Down from Transportation Board — “The Arlington County Board forced member Christian Dorsey to step down from a second transit board Saturday over a campaign donation from Metro’s largest union, and he apologized for misleading statements he made last month suggesting that he had already returned the money. Dorsey (D), who was reelected to the board in November, said he has sent back the $10,000 donation to the Amalgamated Transit Union and agreed to resign from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.” [Washington Post]

Thousands Attend Buttigieg Rally — Nearly 10,000 people attended Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign rally at Washington-Liberty High School yesterday afternoon. [Twitter, TwitterThe Pete Channel]

Klobuchar Had High Profile Local Landlord — “Chuck Todd — who helped moderate Wednesday night’s Democratic debate — is likely more familiar with one candidate than any other. He was Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s landlord, sources exclusively told Page Six. Klobuchar and her husband, lawyer John Bessler, rented a 3-bedroom home owned by Todd in Arlington, Virginia, sources said.” [Page Six]

Firm Floats Less Parking for HQ2-Adjacent Park — “The green space adjacent to the first pair of Amazon.com Inc. HQ2 towers could be so much grander if it weren’t for some redundant on-street parking. That is what New York-based James Corner Field Operations, the urban design and landscape architecture firm Amazon has enlisted to mold Metropolitan Park’s open space, said Thursday night during the first step of the park master planning process… the site has roughly 50 on-street parking spaces, but there is a significant number, about 350, of underused below-ground spaces.” [Washington Business Journal]

Iwo Jima Restoration Is Complete — “This Sunday, Feb. 23, marks 75 years since brave Marines raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, which depicts the historic moment, has been completely rehabilitated… The rehabilitation of the sculpture and surrounding parkland, the specially designed onsite exhibits and the new videos were made possible through a generous $5.37 million donation.” [Press Release]

Board Approves Child Care Funding, Park Contract — “The Arlington County Board today approved a contract with Crown Construction Service, Inc. to upgrade heavily-used Edison Park with new playgrounds and other amenities… [and] accepted a $200,000 donation to fund high-quality child care for low-income Arlington families, the first such donation to the Arlington Community Foundation’s  (ACF) Shared Prosperity initiative from a private corporation.” [Arlington County, Arlington County]

‘Ball Cap Bandit’ Sentenced — “An Arlington man was sentenced today to five years in prison for robbing two Falls Church pawn shops of nearly $800,000 in jewelry and watches. According to court documents, in July 2014, Budder Khan, 30, entered Route 50 Gold and Jewelry Exchange, forced the store’s employees to the ground using what appeared to be a real firearm, smashed the business’s glass display cases, and took jewelry and watches worth over $650,000.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Phil

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Morning Notes

Simple Greek Now Open — Fast-casual restaurant chain The Simple Greek has opened its new Rosslyn location in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. A ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday was followed by long lines at lunchtime. [Twitter, Twitter]

WiFi Available in Underground Metro Stations — As of today, free wireless internet service should be available in every underground Metro station. Per yesterday’s announcement from Metro: “Customers can log-in by selecting the ‘Metro-Public’ network in their device’s Wi-Fi settings.” [WMATA]

Signs Up for Sfoglina — “Coming soon” signs are up for the new Rosslyn outpost of the acclaimed Fabio and Maria Trabocchi restaurant Sfoglina Pasta House. The restaurant is located on the street level of the office building at 11oo Wilson Boulevard. [Twitter]

Water Rescue Near Chain Bridge — D.C. police and firefighters rescued two people whose kayak overturned in the Potomac River near Chain Bridge last night. Both were evaluated by medics but “neither have physical injuries,” per DCFEMS. [Twitter, Twitter]

Fox News Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — On Sunday, Fox News Channel will broadcast a portion of its America’s News Headquarters program (noon-2 p.m.) from the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. Elizabeth Prann will co-anchor “ANHQ” from the Memorial, “where the nation will be preparing for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration,” according to a Fox press release.

Arlington Has Millions in Prepaid Taxes — “The Arlington treasurer’s office still has about $8 million sitting untouched in its coffers, waiting to be applied to future tax payments. But that’s less than half the $17.2 million in total prepayments submitted by Arlington taxpayers in the waning days of 2017, hoping to beat changes to federal tax law that made some mortgage-interest payments non-deductible in 2018.” [InsideNova]

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From The West Wing to The Pelican Brief, Arlington has been home to a number of film scenes over the years.

The county’s tourism promotion agency, StayArlington, listed several notable locations in a recent blog post, and ARLnow hit the pavement to find some of the more famous sites.

Few political junkies have forgotten the famous attempted assassination scene in The West Wing, which was filmed in Rosslyn’s Freedom Park.

Other memorable sites include scenes from Charlie Wilson’s War, which was filmed at Rosslyn’s The Weslie Condominiums, from The Next Karate Kid and Flags of Our Fathers, both of which shot scenes at the Marine Corps War Memorial, according to StayArlington.

The Ballston Common Mall — now Ballston Quarter — parking garage is said to have been the set for a scene in The Pelican Brief. The Russell Crowe thriller State of Play, meanwhile, included scenes at the Rosslyn Metro station and the Americana Hotel in Crystal City.

Any other famous scenes we missed on our tour? Let us know in the comments.

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(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) The Iwo Jima memorial is set to get a new visitor center as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that was just signed by President Trump.

The act of Congress, which sets military spending levels for FY 2018, includes language introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D) to authorize building a new center.

It instructs the Secretary of the Interior to build a “structure for visitor services to include a public restroom facility.” It does not specify where the center will be built, but the text says it will be “in the area” of the memorial, the formal name of which is the Marine Corps War Memorial. A Beyer spokesman said this was the “final hurdle” to getting the visitor center built.

Beyer, whose district includes Arlington County, introduced a bill authorizing construction of the restrooms last year, funded by a gift from local philanthropist David Rubenstein.

Work began earlier this year to revamp the memorial, including washing and waxing the memorial and re-gilding its lettering; repairing any parts of the granite plaza that have become damaged; improving lighting; repaving roads and footpaths; and installing new signs, shrubs and trees.

Rubenstein pledged more than $5 million for the entire project and new visitor center.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Crews started moving in this morning (Tuesday, August 15) to begin work to give the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial — also known as the Iwo Jima memorial — a facelift.

The work will limit public access to the memorial and surrounding parkland until next year. In signs posted near the memorial and the Netherlands Carillon, the National Park Service said the revamp includes washing and waxing the memorial and re-gilding its lettering, repairing any parts of the granite plaza that have become damaged, improving lighting, and installing new signs, shrubs and trees.

The roadway and footpath around the memorial will also be repaved.

“The road will be rebuilt in its current configuration, but with materials to better support the heavy weight of the many tour buses that use the road daily,” NPS said in a press release.

As of Tuesday morning, crews were putting up detour signs for road and trail users, as the access road to the memorial’s parking lot will be closed. In an announcement of the work, NPS said the memorial will be surrounded by scaffolding for much of the project, but pedestrians can still access the memorial plaza from N. Meade Street. Buses will have a small area for pick-up and drop-off on N. Meade Street also.

The $5.37 million project is funded by a donation from local philanthropist David Rubenstein, who has also used some of his multi-billion dollar fortune to fund the Washington Monument’s post-earthquake repairs, enrich the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ endowment and gave $12.35 million to the Arlington House Robert E. Lee museum in Arlington National Cemetery.

NPS said public access will be limited until February 2018. The memorial was dedicated in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower and receives 1.5 million visitors per year.

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American Flag at Iwo Jima

For years, visitors to our country’s most recognizable military monument have had but one nearby option should they need to use the restroom: a line of green porta-potties.

The porta-potties near the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington might be convenient, but they were also “unsightly and they smelled,” says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). Plus, they presented big challenges for disabled veterans visiting the memorial.

Porta-potties near the Iwo Jima memorial (photo via Google Maps)Luckily, the local philanthropist David Rubenstein stepped up last year with a pledge of $5.4 million to rehab the monument, the lighting and the landscaping around the 62-year-old monument, colloquially known as the Iwo Jima memorial. Rubenstein’s gift will now also fund permanent restrooms.

(Rubenstein has also funded post-earthquake repairs to the Washington Monument and to Arlington House, and pledged $50 million for the expansion of the Kennedy Center.)

A bill sponsored by Beyer passed last week, authorizing the construction of the restrooms. The bill had bipartisan support, although its passage came a year after Rubenstein’s donation was first announced and it was made necessary by a provision that stemmed from a debate over the location of the Air Force Memorial 14 years ago.

“It’s a small victory but it moves us in the right direction,” Beyer said.

Amid congressional gridlock on important issues like the budget, immigration and gun safety, Beyer said there is still plenty of work getting done in Congress — provided the work is politically uncontroversial.

“There are places where we really can’t get things done,” said Beyer. “But those are all places where there are significant philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans. On things where there is consensus, we can actually move pretty quickly.”

But the fact that this pretty obvious improvement is getting done mostly because a billionaire ponied up for it may make a larger point about the current state of American governance and budget priorities.

“We’re fortunate to have the David Rubensteins of the world,” said Beyer, “but it is sad that we can’t free up more money for investments in public infrastructure.”

Beyer cited figures that suggest the U.S. is $3 trillion behind on needed infrastructure work due to deferred maintenance. The U.S. Park Service alone has $11 billion in infrastructure needs, including the funding still needed for repairs to Memorial Bridge.

For needs not deemed essential enough to receive taxpayer funding, private donations may be the only way to get it done in the near term.

“Until we get our arms around entitlement reform, finding ways to grow our discretionary resources for things like infrastructure, we’re going to be dependent on good folks like David Rubenstein,” Beyer said.

Though Beyer said he had not seen a timetable yet, he expects that the Iwo Jima improvements will take at least 12-18 months to complete.

“Arlington is a wonderful place to live — it gets all these awards for best suburb or best small city — and hopefully getting rid of the porta-potties at the Iwo Jima memorial will be another small step in improving the livability of Arlington.”

Photo (below) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of Arlington (photo courtesy of James Mahony)

Permanent Bathrooms Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — Congress has approved a bill to add permanent bathrooms to the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. The bathrooms will replace the current porta-potties and will be accessible to those with disabilities, including wounded veterans. The cost of the project will be paid for by philanthropist David Rubenstein. [WUSA 9]

Arlington 9/11 5K Registration Closing — Online registration for the 15th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K is closing at 10 a.m. this morning. The race will take place Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. [Zippyreg]

Remembering 9/11 in Arlington — Arlington County is holding events in remembrance of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Tomorrow, Sept. 8, the county’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission is holding a public event reflecting on the response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, moderated by NBC 4’s Doug Kammerer. On Sept. 11 this year, the county will hold its annual wreath-laying ceremony at Courthouse Plaza. [Arlington County]

Police Car Involved in Crash — An Arlington County Police cruiser and an SUV collided yesterday afternoon while the police officer was responding to a call. The crash happened near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive, roughly between Shirlington and Wakefield High School. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Arlington Not a ‘Sanctuary City’ — Does GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on “sanctuary cities” put Arlington in danger? Probably not, county officials say, because Arlington is not a sanctuary city. “It is, and has always been, Arlington County’s policy to comply with requests from all other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the county said. [NBC 4]

Photo courtesy James Mahony

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Bikes on a tree, photo via Facebook : Kidical Mass ArlingtonThe Arlington chapter of a group centered around casual bike rides for families plans to lead a trek along George Washington Memorial Parkway this weekend.

A “Junior Park Ranger Ride” is set to kick off this Sunday at 9:30 a.m., according to Kidical Mass Arlington, the event’s organizers.

During the 60-90 minute trip, riders will hit several stops along George Washington Memorial Parkway, including the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove. The ride will end up at Theodore Roosevelt Island, according to Kidical Mass.

The event will also include activities from BikeArlington and the U.S. National Park Service. All young riders will earn Junior Park Ranger credentials for the GW Parkway once the ride is complete, according to event organizers.

Photo via Facebook / Kidical Mass

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Morning Notes

Lightning over D.C., as seen from Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Car on Fire Spotted Driving Down Street — Yesterday evening, an Arlington County Fire Department unit radioed dispatch to report that they had just seen a car with flames visible from the engine compartment drive past them on Carlin Springs Road, its driver oblivious to the fire. The fire engine was able to turn around, catch up with the driver near the intersection of Wilson and Glebe, pull the car over and extinguish the flames. [Twitter, Twitter]

Wrong Man on Iwo Jima Memorial? — The Marine Corps is investigating claims that a Navy corpsman identified as one of the men who raised the flag in a moment depicted by Arlington’s Iwo Jima Memorial was not, in fact, in the original photo. [USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times]

USS Arlington Returns Home — The sailors and Marines aboard the USS Arlington have returned to Norfolk after a seven-month overseas deployment assisting in the fight against ISIS. [Marine Corps Times, WAVY]

Former Top Federal IT Official Dies — Greg Ambrose, who had served in senior information technology posts at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Veterans Affairs, died early Tuesday morning. Ambrose took his own life at a Rosslyn condominium after posting on Facebook about a woman who had left him for another man. [FCW, Twitter]

Arlington, Virginia Tech Join ‘Smart City’ Network — “Virginia Tech and Arlington County have been accepted into the MetroLab Network of 35 city/county-university partnerships that works to bring data, analytics and innovation to local government.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

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Hope For Our Veterans event posterAn  poker run and rooftop benefit concert this weekend is aiming to help homeless veterans and prevent veteran suicide.

The Hope for our Veterans benefit starts 7 a.m. at the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. There, a group of veterans will do 22 pushups to signify the fact that, statistically, 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

The poker run portion of the charity event starts at 10 a.m. at the Iwo Jima memorial. During the poker run, teams drive or ride to five locations across Northern Virginia to draw one poker card.

The five locations are:

  • Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City
  • Walkers Grille in Springfield
  • Heritage Brewing Co in Manassas
  • Gypsy Soul in Falls Church
  • Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill in Courthouse

Poker cards may also be purchased for $20 each for those who don’t want to visit all the stops. All of the event’s proceeds go toward benefitting charities Operation Renewed Hope Foundation and Renovating Hope.

Organizers are hoping to attract Rolling Thunder participants — poker runs are popular among motorcyclists — but the event is open to bikers and non-bikers alike.

At 6 p.m., teams will convene on the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill to present their poker hands. The best poker hand wins a 10-day trip to the Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii.

The concert portion of the event also begins at 10 a.m. at the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill, and is hosted by former Yahoo! and TV Guide Channel personality Nikki Boyer. Artists such as McKayla Reece, Tommy Fields and Mars Rodeo will play until 1:30 a.m.

The concert is free before 2 p.m., after which tickets cost $25.

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