The 4-1 decision was made as part of the Board’s deliberation on the adoption of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes the replacement of Fire Station 8.
The sole dissenter in yesterday’s vote was County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who argued that building the station on 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University would serve more residents by reducing the amount of time it would take for the fire department to respond to calls north of Lee Highway.
Garvey’s argument mirrored what supporters of the relocation have said in the plan’s defense.
“Far and away the most important criteria about where we site the fire station is getting as many people as possible that can be reached as quickly as possible in an emergency,” Garvey said. “If we move it further north, we can get more people we can reach in time in an emergency. It really may mean life and death.”
Other board members, such as Christian Dorsey argued that the current location, along busy Lee Highway, better serves the needs of the majority of calls to the fire department than a lower density location like 26th Street.
“It’s pretty clear that we should keep the fire station at its current location in order to meet people where they actually are, recognizing that the greatest number of calls required of our fire and EMS crews is to help people with EMS distress,” Dorsey explained. “It’s a crapshoot. There’s no way we can guarantee what’s going to happen in the future but if I’m going to have to make an allocation based on our best judgment and best data, it’s got to be where people are… versus static residences that are only used for a certain portion of the day.”
Board member John Vihstadt pointed to future development in the area as reasons to keep the fire station at its current location.
“We just approved a large new Ballston corridor development, which is serviced by the station closest to it, Fire Station 2 at George Mason and Wilson Blvd,” he said. “Fire stations south of Fire Station 8 are going to be increasingly called upon to deal with the increased density that is looming in our future.”
Vihstadt also said the location of Virginia Hospital Center played into his decision. “Why would we degrade service for so many to marginally improve service for a much fewer number?” he concluded.
Further planning on the new station will begin next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, according to a press release from Arlington County. While the construction is underway, the fire department will operate from an interim station for two years at a location that has not yet been determined, officials said.
The Board directed the County Manager to determine possible locations and expected costs for the temporary fire station by the end of 2016. The added costs of keeping the station on Lee Highway are expected to total several million dollars.
The new fire station will be ready for operations in spring 2021, according to county officials.
Last year, after a proposal to move the station from Lee Highway to county-owned land near Marymount University prompted an outcry from both residents who live near the current station and the proposed location, the county established a task force to consider the issue. With input from the task force, Board is expected to make a decision on the station location by the time it approves the CIP next Tuesday.
Residents near the fire station want it to remain where it is largely because of its historic significance to the community. Those near the proposed site are worried about noise and traffic issues, as well as a loss of green space. A majority of the task force agreed, voting in May to recommend keeping it at its current site.
However, supporters of the move — including fire department officials and County Manager Mark Schwartz — still say that it’s necessary to improve fire and EMS response times in northern Arlington and to modernize the fire station.
Additionally, keeping the station where it is will cost more money: because the land it sits on is smaller than the proposed site, a new station there must be built higher. It would also require the construction of a temporary fire station.
Among those supporting the move is long-time local civic figure and former Fire Station 8 task force member Jim Pebley, who says it’s the right thing to do from both a safety and financial perspective.
Pebley recently wrote the following letter to the County Board.
Dear Ms. Garvey and County Board Members,
This letter is provided to you as my personal input (not representing any extant group) with regard to your considerations about relocating/replacing the County’s current Fire Station Eight facility. As you will recall, I served as the EPAC representative on the Ad Hoc Task Force (TF) that was asked to provide recommendations about the location and building of a new Fire Station Eight. In that capacity, I attended 8 of 10 TF meetings but had to step down to undergo surgery for lung cancer. Now recovering, I find myself personally very strongly in support of the County Manager’s recent recommendation for relocating the fire station.
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Nash Street, near the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. Police say the bus driver was at fault.
“A Metrobus was traveling westbound on Lee Highway when the driver of the Metrobus proceeded through a red light and struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The pedestrian was taken to George Washington University Hospital in critical but stable condition. The driver of the Metrobus was issued a summons for failure to obey a traffic light.”
A Metro spokesman has thus far not responded to a request for comment.
The man grabbed the woman’s underwear, then fled the scene. A police dog attempted to track the suspect down but lost his scent.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 160525052, 3800 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At approximately 10:45 p.m., a female victim was walking down the street when an unknown male subject reached his hand underneath her dress and grabbed her underwear. The subject fled the scene on foot and a K9 track in the area was negative. The subject is described at a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 6ft tall with an average build.
Also Wednesday evening, a 19-year-old Arlington man was charged with being drunk in public, having a fake ID and attempting to bribe the officer who was taking him to jail.
ATTEMPT TO COMMIT BRIBERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, 160525042, 4900 block of N. Lee Highway. At approximately 5:27 p.m., officers were dispatched to the report of an intoxicated male subject. When the officers arrived, the subject provided them with a false identification. During transport to booking, the subject became agitated and offered to pay the officer to allow him to leave without charges. Ryan McNulty, 19, of Arlington VA was charged with Attempt to Commit Bribery, Possession of a Fictitious license (x2), Provide False ID to Avoid Arrest, Underage Consumption of Alcohol and Drunk in Public.
To help deal with traffic congestion during the track outages that are planned as part of Metro’s SafeTrack project, Arlington County is considering a plan to implement a bus-only lane on part of Lee Highway.
The bus-only lane would be implemented on the three-lane section of Lee Highway from N. Veitch Street near Courthouse to N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, and only during the morning rush hour. That portion of Lee Highway often experiences heavy traffic congestion in the morning.
The proposal will be discussed on Wednesday, June 1, during a “community check-in” on Lee Highway transit service. That event will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) and will also discuss plans for ART 55 bus service on Lee Highway, which will be getting a new timetable this summer.
Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet says the bus lane proposal is part of a “larger effort to address increased congestion during Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance work.”
“Since Lee Highway parallels Metro’s Orange/Silver Line, we expect it to become a key transit corridor for moving people when sections of the Orange/Silver Line are disrupted,” Balliet said in an email. “Discussions are underway with VDOT about this potential change, since Lee Highway is a state road, and we expect to have more information to share at the community meeting on June 1.”
At the time of this article’s publishing, details about other aspects of the county’s SafeTrack mitigation plan were not available.
Photo via Google Maps
The incident happened Saturday, at a market on the 5100 block of Lee Highway, around 10:15 p.m.
A clerk was clearing out the cash register around closing time when a masked man entered and brandished a gun. A second employee, in defense of her coworker, then started throwing bottles at the armed man, according to Arlington County Police.
The robber fled the store and the area empty-handed.
Police say the crime was not reported until Monday, which is hindering the investigation.
“We always encourage people to report crimes to the Arlington County Police Department as soon as possible,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “That always assists in the investigation.”
From an ACPD crime report:
LATE ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY, 160418039, 5100 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 10:15 p.m. on April 16, an unknown male subject entered a store and brandished a firearm. A female employee was able to defend a male clerk by throwing glass bottles at the suspect. The suspect fled the scene on foot without any merchandise. The suspect is described as a male, approximately 5’9″ tall and weighed 150 lbs. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, mask, and black or dark green gloves.
Old Dominion Drive is being shut down in both directions in the area of N. Wakefield Street and Lee Highway due to downed utility lines.
A truck brought down the lines and damaged at least one utility pole in the process.
An extended closure is possible and may make “a mess” of the evening rush hour, according to police radio traffic.
— Dale E. Brown (@daleebrown) April 11, 2016
The sign on the front door says it all: new pie store Livin’ the Pie Life expects to open “April-ish.”
Located at 2166 N. Glebe Road, near the intersection with Lee Highway, the store is the bricks-and-mortar manifestation of what has up until now been a business that sold its wares primarily at local farmers markets.
Owners Heather Sheire and Wendy MacCallum, two Arlington moms who founded the company in 2011, says they don’t have an opening date set yet — but they’re close.
The store just added a new espresso machine and will be serving Virginia-based Red Rooster Coffee. That’s of course in addition to cookies, cakes, pies (savory and sweet) and other pastries.
The pies will be served in regular and individual sizes, plus by the slice. There are also plans to serve ice cream later this year, once a suitable vendor is selected.
The store is awaiting a couple of county permits before opening. It includes a sizable kitchen, a counter service area and a seating area for customers.
Sheire and MacCallum will still be selling pies at the Westover Farmers Market, and on Saturday will begin serving the Courthouse Farmers Market for the first time. The company only offers whole pies at farmers markets.
The original District Taco at 5723 Lee Highway reopened at 11 a.m. this morning, after closing last month for renovations.
The restaurant doesn’t look all too different than it did before the renovations. We’re told much of the work focused on the kitchen; if anything, District Taco has been a victim of its own popularity in the form of out-the-door lines during the lunch and dinner rushes.
District Taco will be hosting raffles and giveaways today in celebration of its reopening, founder and CEO Osiris Hoil tells ARLnow.com.
Today is the final day for online comments on the current draft of the Lee Highway Community Vision.
The draft plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”
The rationale behind the plan, and the community process that helped inform it, is to set an aspirational vision for future development and transportation improvements along the Lee Highway corridor. The community can thus have more of a voice than if it were to just let piecemeal development take place along the corridor without a unified plan.
So, what do you think of the plan?
The draft, first published online last month after a public “charrette” planning process in 2015, outlines a sweeping vision for the corridor, which currently is a primarily car-oriented mish-mash of strip malls, aging apartment buildings and other assorted low-density businesses and infrastructure.
The plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”
New apartment buildings, townhouses and retail hubs would be encouraged to spring up. New parks and bus service would be added. Building heights up to 12 stories are discussed, though 3-6 stories would be more common; the taller buildings would be along Lee Highway itself and “sensitive transitions to single family neighborhoods” would be emphasized.
The activity nodes along Lee Highway, which would be the focus of pedestrian-oriented development and placemaking, include:
- North Highlands / Spout Run / Lyon Village
- Cherrydale / Maywood
- Glebe Road / Lee Heights / Waverly Hills
- Harrison / George Mason
- East Falls Church
Changes are expected to be made to the plan based on feedback received online, before the County Board reviews it in May. Greater Greater Washington has more details about the Lee Highway plan and process.
Other notes and quotes from the draft plan, after the jump.
More than 500 Dominion customers are without power at this hour due to a reported equipment problem.
As of 11:55 p.m., 541 Dominion customers were in the dark. The outage is centered around the High View Park neighborhood, along the Lee Highway corridor.
At the outage’s peak, more than 1,000 Dominion customers lost their electricity.
The power company says it hopes to have the problem fixed and power restored by 2 a.m.
I-66 Public Hearing at W-L — VDOT is holding a public hearing on the changes planned for I-66 tonight. The hearing is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, one letter-writer is decrying the “whining” from Arlington residents who complain about the proposed partial widening of I-66 while using it to make a reverse commute to Fairfax County — and the protestations from Arlington policymakers who are more than happy to have large employers come to Ballston and other dense neighborhoods along I-66, thus increasing traffic on the highway. [VDOT, Washington Post]
Wakefield, Yorktown Victorious in Key Games — The Wakefield boys basketball squad defeated Deep Run 50-48 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 5A state basketball tournament. This will be the Warriors’ third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Yorktown’s hockey team, meanwhile, defeated Washington-Lee 5-3 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Friday night. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Abingdon Elementary Design Approved — On Thursday the Arlington School Board approved a final design for an addition and renovation to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project will add 12 classrooms and 136 seats to the school, while renovating the gym, kitchen and media space. [Arlington Public Schools]
Retired Fire Officials Speak Out Against Station Move — Two retired Arlington County Fire Department officials say a proposed relocation of Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned location farther north does not make practical sense and would mostly benefit residents of Fairfax County. Residents around the current fire station and around its proposed new location have been protesting the planned move. [InsideNova]
Arlington Complying With Immigration Detainers — Arlington County law enforcement is complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for jail inmates, but only if ICE reimburses the county for certain expenses and picks up the inmate within 48 hours. Fearing that some jurisdictions are not complying with federal detainers, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed bills to make such requests mandatory. [Washington Post]
County Board to Meet With Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board tonight is holding a meeting with the chairmen of the county’s advisory commissions. ARLnow.com hears that the Board has received complaints about certain commissions overstepping their bounds or operating inefficiently. The meeting will address diversity in commission membership, training for commission members and potential improvements to commission communication and community outreach. [Arlington County]
Osiris Hoil, who founded District Taco as a single taco cart and now serves as the chain’s CEO, said the Lee Highway restaurant is getting some needed TLC and will remain closed for a few weeks.
“We opened back in November 2010 with a low budget and since then we have improved the model with our new restaurants,” Hoil told ARLnow.com. “I believe in a system that our work environment need to be fun and clean so we can perform better in general.”
“The Arlington location, is getting the love that the other DT stores have and our longtime employees of that store will love getting a new restaurant with new equipment,” Hoil continued. “We should reopen in [a] couple weeks, we are working day and night so we can reopen and serve tacos to our amigos again!”
Arlington residents with a District Taco craving can head to the company’s new location in Rosslyn, which has been doing brisk weekday lunchtime business since it opened.
Photo courtesy Matt Gibert
Widening Critics Still Questioning I-66 Deal — “Widening the highway for four miles from Beltway to Ballston will not relieve traffic congestion, according to every expert I’ve spoken to,” writes WAMU transportation reporter Martin Di Caro, regarding the I-66 deal struck by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, meanwhile, says the overall plan for tolling I-66 is worth the compromise. [Twitter, WAMU]
Arlington Probably Won’t Sue Over I-395 HOT Lanes — After mounting an expensive legal battle over a plan by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) administration to convert the HOV lanes on I-395 to High Occupancy Toll lanes, Arlington appears poised to accept a similar HOT lane plan by VDOT and the McAuliffe administration. There are some key differences between the two proposals, observers say. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Man Arrested in D.C. Cold Case — Arlington resident Benito Valdez, 45, has been arrested and charged with an alleged accomplice in a 1991 triple homicide cold case in the District. [Associated Press]
Chamber Concert in Lyon Park This Weekend — On Saturday, IBIS Chamber Music will hold a free concert of chamber music in the newly-renovated Lyon Park Community Center (414 N. Fillmore Street). The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. and feature music by Schubert, Beethoven and Debussy. [ARLnow]
Local Resident’s Cat Story Appears in Book — A story by Arlington resident April Riser is featured in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat,” according to a PR rep for the publisher.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick