What is now a peculiar outdoor tribute to the fall of the Berlin Wall is slated to become a play area for children.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday will consider a site plan amendment that would allow the Rosslyn Children’s Center, a childcare facility at 1401 Wilson Blvd, to move down the street to the office building at 1101 Wilson Blvd. The Board will also consider a lease agreement that would lease a small parcel at the rear of the building, facing N. Kent Street, to the center.
The parcel is owned by the county and is currently leased to the Newseum, which closed its former location at 1101 Wilson Blvd in 2002. (Artisphere has since come and gone from the former Newseum space.) It’s considered part of Freedom Park, which was originally designed as a vehicle overpass but later converted to a park after significant engineering problems were discovered.
The parcel used to be an outdoor display of sections of the Berlin Wall — the largest display of the wall outside Germany. With the portions of wall having been moved to the new Newseum in D.C. in 2008, what stands today is a large mural behind a fenced-off and weed-filled lot. In front of the fence, exhibit labels are still largely intact, explaining the history of an exhibit that no longer exists.
Under the terms of the proposed 15-year lease, the Children’s Center will convert the space into an outdoor playground.
The site plan amendment calls for the Children’s Center to occupy 10,140 square feet of space at 1101 Wilson Blvd, including 8,800 square feet of former office space and 1,340 square feet of soon-to-be-former parking garage space. The center will serve up to 121 children.
Rosslyn Children’s Center is moving from its 1401 Wilson Blvd location due to a planned redevelopment of the office building.
The Long Bridge Park playground will be located at the south end of the park by 6th Street. If approved, it is expected to cost just under $1.1 million to construct. All told, with design and project management costs factored in, it comes with a $1,324,300 price tag.
The proposed playground will offer an area for children ages two to five and one for ages five to 12. The play area for preschool children will include a shade structure, according to the County Board’s report.
The new playground will also have:
- a cooling “fog” system
- sculpted play forms
- tunnels and bridges
- fencing where the park meets the street
According to the planned layout of the park, kids can expect new play structures like a play tube, a play cocoon, tube slide and a double slide.
The playground was included in the already-approved master plan for the park, and the playground’s conceptual design fits in with the current aesthetic of the park, the report said. The county also gathered input from children on what should be included at the new playground.
“The sessions were lively and produced interesting feedback,” according to the report.
The County Board will also vote to approve a playground project at Tyrol Hills Park expected to cost $878,635. The project will replace current playground structures with new equipment.
The new improvements will include new equipment, new porus pavement, a new picnic shelter and accessible playground surfacing.
The Tyron Hills Park playground will also have a play area for children ages two to five and one for children ages five to 12.
A 9-year-old boy wearing an Arlington County Police Department t-shirt may not seem like a symbol of authority. But for today, he is.
This morning Police Chief M. Douglas Scott swore in Patrick Omberg, the winner of the inaugural “Chief-for-the-Day” essay competition.
“Today is National Night Out, so Patrick you’re going to work until about 10:00 or 11:00 tonight,” Scott joked during his speech at the ceremony.
Outside the police department in Courthouse, 9-year-old Patrick Omberg took an honorary police oath, read an excerpt of his winning essay and received a commemorative plaque before standing for pictures with police and his parents.
On July 8, the Arlington County Police Department announced the contest, which they plan to hold every year from now on. ACPD asked for essay submissions from children, ages 8 to 12, that answered the question: “What does it mean to be a police officer?”
“Based on his essay, it was a pretty easy selection for us,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. “Even at 9 years old, he seemed to have a good understanding of the police and for our role in the community.”
Omberg said that he wrote about how “the police keep people safe” in his essay, and although he doesn’t know if he wants to be a police officer, he was having fun as an honorary chief. He didn’t have to wrangle drunken pub-crawlers or chase down criminals, but Omberg did get a glimpse at the inner workings of the police department.
“We wanted to show him what life in the Arlington County Police Department could be like,” Sternbeck said. “We want to build positive relationships in the community. It’s been a great experience for us just as much as [it has been] for him.”
Before the ceremony, police picked up Omberg from his house in a patrol car and guided him on a tour of the police station, where they took his fingerprints and introduced him to their K-9 unit.
“My favorite part was seeing the dogs,” Omberg said.
“Do you remember what his name was?” Omberg’s father, Peter, asked his son.
“Drogo,” Omberg said, although the rising fourth-grader didn’t seem to get the “Game Of Thrones” reference in the name.
To cap off his day, Omberg would look at the station’s booking department with the sheriffs and have lunch with Scott, Sternbeck said.
“I can use all the help I can get,” Scott said at the ceremony. “So having someone like you help me [for today], is very much appreciated.”
County Official: I-66 Doesn’t Need More Lanes — Arlington County officials have repeatedly expressed opposition to widening I-66 inside the Beltway. Now one county official is even decrying a proposal to add lanes to I-66 outside of the Beltway. Arlington County Commuter Services chief Chris Hamilton says the plans “are not only maddening, but they fly in the face of everything we’ve learned about induced demand… it’s impossible to build ourselves out of congestion because the roads themselves cause traffic.” [Mobility Lab]
ACPD to Hold ‘Chief-for-the-Day’ Contest — The Arlington County Police Department is holding an essay contest for children ages 8-12. The kid who submits the best answer to the question “what does it mean to be a police officer?” will be named “chief-for-the-day.” The winner will be “picked up at his or her house on August 5, 2014 by a patrol car and driven to the ACPD to spend the day involved in fun filled activities.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Beauty Queen Almost Married Dean Martin — Beauty queen and Washington-Lee High School grad Gail Renshaw, who was named Miss USA-World in 1969, nearly married the late Rat Pack crooner Dean Martin. In the end, Renshaw turned down Martin’s marriage proposal, moved to Prince George’s County, worked as a dialysis nurse and married a banker. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Native Goes to China, Voices TV Show — Yorktown High School grad Emily Jeffers wasn’t sure about what exactly she wanted to do for work when she traveled to China on a one-way ticket and a tourist visa. Eventually, she found employment dubbing a state-produced Chinese sitcom into English for syndication on South African TV. [InsideNova]
Potomac Yard Metro Station Progress — Federal transit authorities have narrowed down the list of potential locations for a Potomac Yard Metro station from four to two. The two remaining locations are also the two least expensive options studied — one is relatively close to the existing Potomac Yard shopping center while the other is close to the Potomac Greens neighborhood. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Are mom and dad heading out for dinner and leaving the kids at home?
The Arlington County Police Department has released a video with safety tips for children who are home alone. The tips include:
- Do not have friends over without an adult in the house to supervise.
- Keep your doors closed AND locked when you’re home alone.
- Do not open the door for anyone even if you know the person.
- Don’t answer the phone and never tell anyone you’re home alone.
- Make sure you have a trusted neighbor you can go to if you need help and a list of emergency phone numbers to call.
Those emergency numbers include 911 in an actual emergency, and the police non-emergency line (703-558-2222) for everything else, including reports of suspicious activity.
“Even playtime can be a dangerous time if kids aren’t careful,” says a new video from the county-run Arlington TV channel, released just in time for the start of summer.
(Last week was the last week of the school year for Arlington Public Schools students.)
The video, above, offers safety tips like “don’t play too close to the road,” and “never talk to strangers that approach you.”
If kids are approached or followed by a stranger, they’re encouraged to tell a trusted adult. That adult should then call police at 703-558-2222 — or 911 in an emergency — according to the video.
Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]
Library to Launch Tool Lending — Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]
Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]
Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Shuttleworth Drops Out of Congressional Race — Arlington resident Bruce Shuttleworth has dropped out of the still-crowded race for Congress. There are now 7 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Jim Moran. Of those, 6 are from Alexandria and only Del. Patrick Hope is from Arlington. [Blue Virginia]
Garvey Phones It In, Literally — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, who was injured on Friday in a bicycle accident, voted and participated in Tuesday’s County Board meeting via phone. It’s the first time that has been done in Arlington — Virginia law only recently changed to allow board members to participate in meetings via phone in certain circumstances. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Church Turns 105 — The Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street) will celebrate its 105th anniversary on Sunday. The church will hold a special anniversary worship service at 11:00 a.m. Originally formed as Clarendon Baptist Church in 1909, the church has seen many changes in its 105 years. One recent change was the new sanctuary that was completed in 2012, as part of a controversial deal that added an 8-story affordable apartment complex above the church.
High Streetcar Ridership Projected — While critics bash the combined $585 million estimated cost of the Crystal City and Columbia Pike streetcar lines, streetcar proponents are calling attention to ridership projections. With 37,100 daily riders by 2035, the combined streetcar system is projected to serve more riders than MARC, VRE and the light rail systems in Baltimore, San Jose, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Houston, Seattle and Norfolk. [Greater Greater Washington]
Truck Day at the Library on Saturday — Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) is again inviting children “to get up-close and personal with a menagerie of trucks and buses” in the library parking lot. Truck Day will take place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. There will also be transportation-related crafts inside the library auditorium. The library is warning nearby residents to expect to hear some noise from the trucks and the kids during the event. [Arlington Public Library]
The Columbia Pike Branch Library is seeking a volunteer finger puppet craftsperson.
From the Volunteer Arlington listing:
If you enjoy working with your hands, consider creating finger puppets for children’s story time. They will be used for singing songs or saying nursery rhymes. Some favorites are “Jack & Jill”, “Little White Duck” and “This is the Beehive.” The puppets may be knitted, crocheted, cut out of felt, or drawn on paper.
The work place is of your choosing as our the hours.
We need someone who enjoys working with their hands and is dependable. Felt will be supplied. Those 18 years and older must consent to a background check.
Interested parties should contact volunteer coordinator Barbara Dean via phone (703-228-7688) or email.
Resolution Honors Arlington’s First Female Judge — The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution honoring Eleanor Spence Dobson, Arlington’s first female judge. Dobson served in the General District Court from 1982 to 1997. She passed away on September 18, 2013. The resolution honoring Dobson was sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D). Another Hope-sponsored resolution, honoring the late Arlington civic activist Robert Atkins, is scheduled to come to the House floor on Friday. [Sun Gazette]
Chick-fil-A ‘Date Knight’ Returns — Missed your chance to go on a medieval-themed fast food date with your mom last year? Good news: Chick-fil-A is once again holding its Mother-Son Date Knight at Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Blvd). The food court eatery is one of the participating Chick-fil-A locations nationwide that are hosting the whimsical event. As of last night there were still a dozen reservations available for the event, which is being held the evening of Monday, Feb. 10. The Crystal City Chick-fil-A location has already sold out of its Date Knight reservations. [Chick-fil-A]
Starr Hill Brewing Tasting Tonight — Virginia brewery Starr Hill will be holding a complimentary tasting tonight. The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave). Reservations are required. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
The Arlington County Police Department teamed up with 7-Eleven for “Operation Chill” to reward good behavior. The program allows police to “ticket” Arlington youth spotted doing good deeds — with a coupon for a free small Slurpee good at 7-Eleven stores across the county.
Some of the “offenses” officers might give out a coupon for could be a kid helping another person, wearing a bicycle helmet, picking up trash or participating in other positive community activities.
“We look forward to participating in Operation Chill each year, as these coupons provide an excellent tool for our officers to encourage responsible behavior within our community,” said Chief M. Douglas Scott.
Since the program began in 1995, Arlington County officers have distributed tens of thousands of Slurpee coupons to children.
Emails sent to the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) listserv describe an older man who has been spotted leering at young children while slowly driving by in a white sedan.
“I was walking with my two children in the Lyon Village area… when a man in an older, what I believe to be a late 90s, white sedan (Nissan Sentra I think) drove by very slowly at approximately 1-2 miles per hour,” said one email, sent last night. “As he drove by, the driver stared at us out of his open window. He was an older man (60s) with white hair and looking to be a bit overweight from what I could tell. He drove past us for a block and then did a U-turn and drove very slowly past us again staring at us in a very creepy way.”
At least three other sightings were reported recently.
“A 10 year-old boy and his 10 year-old friend were playing basketball in their driveway… when a man fitting the description of the man in the email drove down North Nottingham Street into Arlington and slowed way down and stared at us in a weird, creepy way,” said another email. “The man drove off. He was older, had whitish gray hair and a whitish gray beard. He was driving a white sedan.”
A third email describes a man fitting the description looking at children at a Falls Church park through binoculars. A fourth said the man was spotted on Key Boulevard in Lyon Village, driving a white car with a Florida license plate.
Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said police know who the man is, have spoken to him, and have notified other police departments about the situation. They have not, however, been able to link the man to any crime.
“Our detectives have reached out to neighboring jurisdictions to see if he has committed a crime in those areas,” Sternbeck said. He encouraged residents to immediately notify police of any suspicious activity.
“If someone’s acting suspicious, please contact police first,” Sternbeck said. “It’s good that they share this [via email] and have awareness of a potential person of interest, but failing to notify police of a suspicious person is an action we want to see corrected. Never assume your neighbor is going to call.”
I enter on all sides of the conversation here: I’m an operator who deals with families all the time, I’m a Dad who loves to eat out with my daughter, and I’m a diner who often likes eating out with just grown-ups. A lot of you fall into the latter two categories, so you can surely appreciate how nuanced the topic is.
Here is the deal: some kids are angels eating out, some kids have a hard time in restaurants, and sometimes it’s the same kid on different days. Some parents are like Baby Whisperers with their kids, some parents struggle more, and sometimes it’s the same parents. Also, we could all probably stand to take a deep breath and relax just a little bit.
It’s just that simple. And it’s just that hard.
As an operator, I love kids. Their parents spend money, after all, and there are a ton of advantages to marketing to families. In Arlington, families represent a very lucrative demographic; I’d be crazy to ignore them. Also, as stated above, today’s family at brunch could turn into next week’s anniversary dinner or next month’s mom’s night out in the bar. We have always prided ourselves in welcoming kids into Eventide and Spider Kelly’s. We have families ourselves.
And let me be very clear to point out that the responsibility for ensuring everyone has a good time is on us. It’s our job to make all our guests happy, and that’s what we try to do.
But we could all use a few ground rules.
When I became a parent, I realized that the restaurant business had actually prepared me well. For work, I had to learn to be ready for anything at anytime. I had to learn to keep calm and trust my preparation. Parenting was the same except infinitely more wild and unpredictable. The best part about kids is you never know what will happen next, but that can make plans and events and dinners maddening. A sense of humor helps a lot, but it won’t always save the meal.
Batman dropped by the Arlington YMCA (3422 13th Street N.) on Friday to warn kids about the danger of poison and toxic household items.
The Caped Crusader, also known as Maryland millionaire Lenny B. Robinson, arrived in style in his 1966 replica Batmobile. He was also spotted cruising the streets of Arlington and hanging out in Clarendon after the event.
The event was organized by the Alliance for Consumer Education, along with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the YMCA and Robinson’s Superheroes for Kids organization. During the event, kids were encouraged “to be a superhero in their home by reading labels, asking permission before using an unknown product, and other poison prevention tips.”
Another superhero, Ace Clean, was also on hand to “teach kids about good health through cleanliness and proper hygiene practices.”
Photos courtesy Eddie Paylor Photography
The Caped Crusader will be at the ‘Y’ from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 22, hosting an event called “Be a Superhero in Your Home.” The event, which is sponsored by the YMCA, the Alliance for Consumer Education and the American Association of Poison Control Centers, will teach kids “to be a superhero in their home by reading labels, asking permission before using an unknown product, and other poison prevention tips.”
The highlight of the event will be a visit by the Dark Knight — also known as Maryland millionaire Lenny B. Robinson — who will be arriving in style in his $300,000 1966 replica Batmobile. Robinson, 49, has been visiting sick kids in children’s hospitals across the county in the vintage Batmobile, as part of his Baltimore-based Superheroes for Kids organization.
Robinson made international news last year when his $250,000 Lamborghini Batmobile was pulled over by Montgomery County Police. The dashcam video of the traffic stop went viral and Robinson became a minor celebrity in his own right.
Arlington families interested in participating in Friday’s poison prevention event are asked to RSVP to [email protected] Only 100 tickets are available for the event.
Photo via Facebook