Metro’s next round of SafeTrack “surge” work begins Monday and it’s expected to have a major impact on Arlington commuters.
Surge #11 is scheduled from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. The 24-day project will involve track work and single-tracking between the West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations, on the Orange and Silver lines.
The first 14 days of the work are expected to be especially disruptive as Metro will be unable to run additional trains to make up for the reduction in service. That’s due to the location of the track work and Metro’s rail signaling service, officials said.
“There will be a severe reduction in train service,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer. “The first two weeks of this surge will be the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far since we started Safetrack.”
Riders should expect “very crowded trains and platforms.” Trains running through Arlington may be so crowded that riders will be unable to board during rush hour.
Additional ART buses and Metrobus shuttles will run along Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to help provide additional capacity during the surge. Arlington County is also encouraging commuters to telecommute during the project.
Ultimately, the track work is expected to result in a smoother ride and more reliable service along the Orange and Silver lines.
“It’s going to be intense for the first two weeks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, during a press conference at the West Falls Church Metro station. “It’s short term pain for a lot of gain and it’s something that we’ve got to do.”
It’s probably safe to say that “shock and horror” was the predominant reaction among local Democrats to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in Tuesday’s presidential election.
In Arlington, only 17 percent of those casting ballots voted for Trump, while 76 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Early on, as the results just started coming in, some officials we spoke to at the Democratic victory party in Clarendon refused to even concede that there was even a possibility that Trump could be elected.
Both the surprise over the result and the fear over what a Trump presidency means for Arlington and the nation was on display at Wednesday’s Arlington County Board meeting. Each Board member weighed in with their thoughts on the election. (See video, above.)
Here’s a bit of what Christian Dorsey had to say:
The outcome of this Presidential election was not what I desired, nor what I ever thought possible. This morning, my wife Rachel and I had to tell our budding feminist, 8-year-old daughter, who just a couple of weeks ago dressed as a suffragette for Halloween and explain to her that our candidate lost. That was hard. But harder still was finding answers to her very natural follow up questions, why, how? But I have to tell you that hardest of all, were finding words of reassurance to an outcome that in my opinion has dramatic consequences for our country. I hope to be proven wrong. Tens of millions of Americans, 20,000 Arlingtonians, and for all I know, perhaps some of you in this room chose Mr. Trump. I won’t try to believe it, but I will try to accept it.
County Board Chair Libby Garvey said a Trump presidency will not change the nature of the Arlington community.
At this point, I know we need to not give into fear, we need to not give into anger, we need to not assume that we know why everybody voted the way they did. And we need to continue what we have been doing here. This is a beautiful, wonderful community and we will do everything we can to preserve it and I am hopeful that we can. The rule of law and the rule of our constitution must prevail.
Jay Fisette said he was trying his best to cope with the results and give the new president a chance.
Yesterday was likely the most consequential election in my lifetime, for our country, to our world, to our understanding of democracy, the economy and our environment. Earlier today, I watched Hillary Clinton’s poignant and gracious concession speech and I actually took to heart her advice.
Number one, to respect the orderly transition of power that which is fundamental of our constitutional democracy. Two, to work with ourselves to open our minds and give our President Elect a chance to lead. And three, to continue to believe in our vision, in our values for the community, for the country.
In each of these, the first is easy for me. Everyone must and will come together to respect and accept the election results, as that is how we work, via the example that was set by our very first president, George Washington. So congratulations, Mr. Trump.
The second will be harder for some, like me, to open my mind and give our President Elect a chance to lead, yet we must do that. After we each finish our own grieving, those that supported Mrs. Clinton, and our assessment of what happened and why it happened, we must give the President a chance.
Independent John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the Board, said he was disappointed by the slate of presidential candidates this year.
Regardless of our political perspective, everyone in the nation and across the globe is still processing the remarkable outcome of yesterday’s election. Many are jubilant, others are apprehensive, or even fearful, and many others no doubt are conflicted. In my view, all four party nominees on the Virginia ballot for President this year fell short of what our nation deserved and needed in 2016. I voted, but did not vote for any of them. Still, the American people have spoken.
I am confident that our democratic institution will heal and endure, and I hope and pray, that people of goodwill will come together, lower our voices, and work together to find common ground to advance the human condition.
I’m reminded of the statement chiseled in stone above the main door to the state capitol of my home state of Nebraska, “the salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.”
Katie Cristol said Arlington County would “navigate the coming days as we have other major economic and political events in the past” thanks to residents, county staff and prudent planning.
Cristol said the county would continue to respect the rights of immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, in the face of Trump’s deportation promises.
I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm what has been a hallmark of Arlington County: inclusion and protection of our diversity and of our residents. I want to reaffirm that my commitment to the safety of our immigrant neighbors, emphasizing as this board did in 2016 that all residents and visitors to Arlington County have a right to public safety protection. That it is our longstanding policy that Arlington County law enforcement does not monitor, detain, interview or investigate people solely for the purpose of determining their integration status, and that the services we provide in Arlington County, including education, public transit, access to our parks and to our libraries are not restricted based on immigration status.
“Unofficial turnout was a record high of 121,807 but because of population increases, that represents just 82 percent of our 148,154 registered voters, falling a little short of the 85 percent turnout record set in 1992,” said Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg.
That mirrors the 2012 election, in which numerical turnout set a record in Arlington but percentage-wise the turnout was just short of the record.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey won re-election last night. Her swearing-in ceremony has not yet been scheduled but “will likely take place next month,” a county press release (below) noted.
Garvey applauded Arlington voters for approving all four bond issues on the ballot.
“On behalf of County leadership, I want to thank our residents for supporting every bond measure on the ballot, making that commitment to better, safer roads, parks, community centers, fire stations and schools in Arlington,” she said in a statement. “We will work hard to make sure these funds will be invested wisely and managed carefully as a public trust in our shared future.”
For additional election results, see our updated election coverage.
Arlington voters on Tuesday re-elected Libby Garvey to the County Board as she concludes her year as Board Chair. Garvey won 70.11 percent of ballots cast with 72,542 votes in the Nov. 8 election according to 100 percent of results posted this morning by the Virginia State Board of Elections.
Garvey was first elected to the Board in March 2012 in a special election to complete the term of now-state Senator Barbara Favola. Garvey won a full four-year term that fall and now has been re-elected to serve through 2020. Her current year-long role as Board Chair concludes next month with the job traditionally taken up by another member in the new year.
“Thank you Arlington voters for once again taking to the polls in such large numbers and for continuing to place your trust in me,” Garvey said. “Most importantly, on behalf of County leadership, I want to thank our residents for supporting every bond measure on the ballot, making that commitment to better, safer roads, parks, community centers, fire stations and schools in Arlington. We will work hard to make sure these funds will be invested wisely and managed carefully as a public trust in our shared future.”
All bond referenda approved
Voters approved all four bond referenda on the ballot, representing $315,775,000 in investment to fund transportation, infrastructure, parks and Arlington Public Schools projects.
The bond referenda were:
Metro and Transportation: $58.79 million (passed with 78 percent of the vote)
Projects include: Arlington’s share of Metro’s capital program, street paving, bridge renovations, bike and walking safety enhancements, streetlight maintenance and conversions, transportation system and signal upgrades and neighborhood curb and gutter improvements.
Local Parks and Recreation: $19.31 million (passed with 76 percent of the vote)
Projects include: Park maintenance, land acquisition and open space, trail modernization, improvement work for Jennie Dean Park and Tyrol Hills Park.
Community Infrastructure: $98.85 million (passed with 75 percent of the vote)
Projects include: Replacement of old Lubber Run Community Center building, underground parking to expand Lubber Run green space, ADA upgrades for Lubber Run courts and playground areas, parking deck for Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, increased neighborhood conservation support, facilities maintenance, Courthouse Complex renovations and infrastructure, Nauck Town Square and infrastructure, Barcroft gymnastics expansion, expanded childcare for County employees, critical systems infrastructure and replacement of Fire Station 8 facility.
Arlington Public Schools: $138.83 million (passed with 79 percent of the vote)
Projects include: an addition at the Stratford building to add 339 seats, the new school at the Wilson site to add an estimated 775 seats, renovation of the Career Center/Arlington Tech to add 300 seats, planning and design to build an additional 1300 secondary seats at locations to be determined, and HVAC, roofing and other infrastructure improvement projects at existing APS buildings.
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Local candidates celebrated victories Tuesday night while shocked Democrats watched the presidential election slip out of their grasp.
County Board Chair Libby Garvey will serve another term after defeating independent Audrey Clement. With all absentee ballots counted, Garvey and Clement have 71 and 27 percent of the vote, respectively.
“I’d like to give a shout-out to my opponent, Audrey Clement,” said Garvey in a speech at the Democratic victory party at Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. It’s important for all voices to be heard in a democracy, Garvey said.
Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren, who both ran unopposed, have won seats on the Arlington County School Board.
Arlingtonians have overwhelmingly voted in favor of all four bond referenda. Metro and transportation has 78 percent approval, parks and recreation has 75 percent, community infrastructure has 75 percent and the Arlington Public Schools bond has 80 percent.
Like Virginia voters statewide, Arlington County voters rejected a “right-to-work” state constitutional amendment while approving an amendment providing property tax relief to the spouses of fallen first responders.
Arlington County voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. In that race, Clinton has 76 percent, Trump has 17 percent, Gary Johnson has 3 percent, Jill Stein has 1 percent and Evan McMullin has 2 percent.
Clinton’s net 71,724 vote victory over Trump in Arlington contributed significantly to her 182,954 vote margin over Trump statewide.
An initially optimistic mood at the Democratic event at Sehkraft gave way to anxiety over the results of the presidential race. At 10:40 p.m., CNN called Virginia for Hillary Clinton, lightening the mood a bit. Early Wednesday morning, however, the race was called for Donald Trump, raising questions about how Arlington might fare under a Trump administration.
In the 8th congressional district race, Arlington County voters gave a large margin of victory to incumbent Democrat Rep. Don Beyer, with 71 percent of the vote over Republican opponent Charles Hernick with 25 percent. That margin, however, was narrower than Clinton’s 76-17 margin over Trump in Arlington.
Beyer won the district as a whole 68 percent to 27 percent for Hernick.
County election officials did not receive reports of any major local voting issues. They say there were no lines at any of the county polling places within the last half hour of voting, indicating most residents who intended to vote already had. There were long lines at many polling places this morning, but they largely died down after 9 a.m.
Before the evening rush, Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg had said most precincts reported about 50 percent voter turnout, while another 25 percent or so voted absentee.
Lindberg expects final numbers to be close to those from 2012, when Arlington experienced 83 percent voter turnout. About 118,000 ballots were cast at that time, which was a county record.
ARLnow conducted a live video broadcast tonight from Sehkraft from 7:30-9:30 p.m., in which editor Scott Brodbeck spoke with elected officials including County Board Chair Libby Garvey, County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette and Virginia state senator Adam Ebbin. The video from the broadcast is available above.
(Updated at 6:55 p.m.) After fending off a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Erik Gutshall, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) is now running for reelection against independent candidate Audrey Clement.
In this week’s podcast, we asked Garvey about a number of local issues, from development to transit along Columbia Pike to preparations for snow removal this winter.
We also asked Garvey (around 36:30) about her support of Republican-turned-independent John Vihstadt, her colleague on the County Board. It was Garvey’s endorsement of Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze that precipitated her temporary expulsion from the local party’s good graces.
“He’s an independent, he’s clearly an independent,” Garvey said of Vihstadt. “It’s basically where a lot of Democrats are moving towards, and in fact where I think the center of this country is: socially liberal and fiscally responsible.”
“That’s where a lot of us are and I think it’s where Arlington is,” she concluded, “which is why I think John won and why I won.”
Garvey said the Board is functioning better as a body with more diverse viewpoints, as opposed to the previous all-Democrat regime that was “accused, somewhat justly I believe, of being in lockstep.”
Check out interviews of other local candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot from our previous podcast episodes: County Board candidate Audrey Clement (I) and congressional candidates Rep. Don Beyer (D) and Charles Hernick (R).
Last week we asked the two candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the November 8 election.
Here is the unedited response from incumbent Libby Garvey (D):
“What an exciting time to be in Arlington!” I said at our January meeting. Ten months on, my excitement about our community’s future has only grown. We have highly educated and incredibly talented people; diversity, which brings much of the world’s experience together in just 26 square miles; beautiful and safe neighborhoods; an outstanding school system; a strong safety net to protect the most vulnerable; and a committed and talented business community.
With our resources, we can solve just about any problem we face. And we’ve solved many. It has been a real privilege to serve you on the County Board for the past four-and-a-half years, and on the School Board for fifteen years before that. This is a wonderful community, but we have challenges. I am running for reelection to the County Board because I know that together we will continue to meet our challenges, and I want to help Arlington achieve our potential.
We must make sure our services work well for residents. We have taken steps this year, such as e-filing of building permit applications, but there is more to do. We must embrace new tools, but innovation and service delivery isn’t only about technology. I will continue to encourage our staff to try new processes to make using public services simple and straightforward.
I will continue my work to help us get around. The Transit Development Plan we approved this summer was a start toward realizing premium bus service on Columbia Pike and throughout the county, but we need to continue to update our transit services so they get riders where they want to go. The crisis with Metro reminds us that we must also deepen our cooperation around the region. I will continue to work with leaders around the region both to improve Metro and to build new regional transit options.
We must make sure that every Arlingtonian can participate in our community processes. We made a good start this year by webcasting and recording County Board work sessions and meetings of the Planning and Transportation Commissions, but we need to expand these webcasts to all commission meetings. I will continue to push for more online tools that both inform residents about what’s happening and allow them to provide feedback to their government. Traditional, time-intensive methods, which often don’t account for family and work commitments, cannot be a bar to resident participation in our community and government.
Arlington must be a place where everyone feels that she or he can contribute. This year, I helped bring people together on different sides of issues like Fire Station 8 and the Stratford school driveway to discuss the options openly before moving forward. Everyone can’t have his or her preferred outcome, and I did not have mine on every issue. But when we have an open dialogue and focus on speaking with – and listening to – each other, we make sure that everyone can contribute to the ultimate decision in some way.
We still need a strategic plan to unify all of our issue-specific master plans. Coming up with an overall strategic plan will take time and must include the whole community so that we hear everyone’s voice. We started down this path this year, and I look forward to building on it in my next term.
Arlington County is a place where residents, business, and government all work to bring out the best in our community. I ask for your vote on Tuesday to continue serving you as we work together to realize our full potential.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey says the county will be reviewing the findings of a study on the potential for a Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola system, which was released this morning.
The study found that a gondola system would cost $80-90 million to construct and $3.25 million annually to operate. The gondola would have a “projected minimum average daily ridership of 6,500 people (primarily workers and residents) and a capacity of 2,400 people per hour per direction.”
“Like Washington D.C.’s leadership, we find the results of the study interesting,” Garvey said in a statement. “We will be reviewing the report and doing significant analysis before making any decisions. We also will be talking with our regional partners.”
“It is important to note that no proposals have been made yet about how the gondola would be funded,” Garvey continued. “Should we decide to continue to explore whether or not to build a gondola, funding proposals would also affect the Board’s decision on whether to actually build the project.”
The full press release on the gondola study is below.
The Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola Feasibility Study was released this morning on GeorgetownRosslynGondola.com. The study, conducted by a consulting team led by ZGF Architects over a five-month period, identifies and details the demand, financial, regulatory, design and real estate considerations of an aerial gondola lift connecting the Arlington, Virginia Rosslyn neighborhood and Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
The consulting team, along with Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) President and CEO Joe Sternlieb and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick, will discuss the study’s findings and their implications at a public information meeting later today from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Georgetown Theater on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington.
“The charge for this study was not to sell the idea of a gondola, rather it was to evaluate if a gondola is technically feasible, from a multi-disciplinary approach, and to conceptually define the feasibility parameters.” said Otto Condon, Principal, ZGF Architects. “With our finding that a gondola is feasible, the decision to move forward is a discussion for both sides of the Potomac to have, both individually and collaboratively.”
Key findings include:
- System can operate seamlessly with Metro system, using same fare media and rates, and allowing cost-free direct transfers.
- A projected minimum average daily ridership of 6,500 people (primarily workers and residents) and a capacity of 2,400 people per hour per direction.
- A four minute ride door-to-door with 8-12 people cabins arriving every 20-60 seconds.
- Multiple feasible alignments, with the most favorable station locations along N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn and around the Exxon Gas Station on M Street in Georgetown.
- Significant potential economic benefits on both sides of the river.
- The potential to reduce as many as 100,000 bus trips per year across the Key Bridge
- Estimated $80-90 million in capital costs assuming high-quality design to enhance the public realm.
- $3.25 million in annual operating costs assuming operation 365 days a year.
- Relatively high operating cost recovery from fares.
“To put the study findings in context, as the region grows in population, we need to be exploring new ways to efficiently move people. If the Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola was viewed as Georgetown’s Metro station, ridership would be higher than over half the Metro stations in the DC-area while capital and operating costs would be lower,” said Joe Sternlieb, president and CEO, Georgetown BID. “This could be an attractive, cost-efficient regional transportation option that would give thousands of daily commuters, students, residents and tourists a quick, affordable, and reliable way to travel between neighborhoods.”
Garvey Wants to Nix New Year’s Day Meeting — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey has proposed moving the Board’s traditional New Year’s Day meeting (this year it would otherwise be held on Jan. 2, the federal observance of the New Year holiday) to the next business day: Tuesday, Jan. 3. [Washington Post]
Neighbors Upset About Sex Offender’s Halloween Decorations — A 57-year-old registered sex offender says he did nothing wrong in putting up Halloween decorations in front of his Arlington house. But nearby residents don’t agree: they called the police and local TV stations, saying the display is “inappropriate” since it might “entice” children. One concerned resident said, “we are within our rights as taxpayers and longtime members of this community to protect the children in our community.” [Fox 5]
Higher Meal Tax Possible? — If state lawmakers act to provide counties with the same taxing powers as Virginia cities, as Arlington County is asking for again this year, it could eventually mean an increase in the meals tax at local restaurants. [InsideNova]
It’s November — Today is the first day of November. In a week, it’s finally Election Day. In three weeks and two days, it’s Thanksgiving. The weather forecast for the next two days, however: highs of 75 and 79 on Wednesday and Thursday.
Board Holds Pike Transit Station Meeting — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — More than three-and-a-half years after it was first revealed by ARLnow.com that a prototype bus stop on Columbia Pike cost more than $1 million, the discussion of less expensive bus stop alternatives continues. The County Board last night held a work session with staff to discuss the current status of Pike transit station planning, ultimately voting to approve the County Manager’s design recommendations. [Arlington County]
APS High School Boundary Refinements — The next step in what promises to be a contentious process of adjusting Arlington’s high school boundaries will take place tomorrow. A community meeting is planned at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington Public Schools]
Cemetery Bike Ban Starts Today — Starting today, only loved ones visiting a grave or niche will be allowed to ride a bike in Arlington National Cemetery. That nixes a commuter route through the cemetery that some cyclists used to avoid busy roads elsewhere in the county. [ARLnow]
Clement Attacks Pay Raise Proposal — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s pay raise suggestion is opening her up to attacks from challenger Audrey Clement. “The problem is [the] County Board doesn’t do much work, unless you consider rubber-stamping done deals ‘work,'” Clement told supporters via email. Clement also is criticizing a plan to add an extra high-occupancy lane to I-395 and, in response to local noise complaints, calling on NASA to develop quieter helicopters. [InsideNova, Audrey Clement]
Stalled Cab Company May Retain Permits — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the County Board give All Access Taxi, which specializes in providing wheelchair-accessible transportation, two more years to get its service off the ground. Currently, the company has only one cab — and 49 unused permits. [Washington Post]
Local Ghost Stories — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist Charlie Clark has received recent reports of ghostly encounters from “reliable sources” at several local places: at Arlington Hall, along George Mason Drive; at the Overlee swim club and a nearby home; and at an 18th century home in McLean that was torn down last month. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pamplona May Open in December — Pamplona, a new Spanish restaurant in the former SoBe space in Clarendon, is hoping to open “by the end of the year.” James Martin, a 29-year-old rising culinary star, will be the restaurant’s executive chef. He hopes Pamplona will win the kind of critical acclaim that can “put Clarendon on the map.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey recently started a discussion about whether Board members should be better paid.
County Board members make just over $50,000 a year for what is considered part-time work. But in reality, Garvey says, Board members spend full-time hours studying and discussing the issues, attending community events and taking meetings, in addition to the long hours spent conducting County Board meetings and work sessions multiple times per month.
With Arlington’s high cost of living, a $50,000 a year salary may give otherwise qualified County Board candidates a strong economic disincentive to run.
(It should be noted that the earliest the County Board could enact a pay raise for themselves is 2020.)
On the other hand, some argue that there have been no shortage of candidates running for County Board and that the office does not necessarily have to be a full-time endeavor.
So what are County Board members spending their time on? A daily schedule for County Board members, obtained by an Arlington resident under the Freedom of Information Act and provided to ARLnow.com, provides a glimpse of Board members’ working schedules during the last three months of 2015.
Currently, County Board members are paid between about $51,500 and $56,500. The position is considered part-time, and three out of the five current members have other jobs, but in practice Board members end up working full-time hours in service of the county.
As reported by the Washington Post, Garvey wants to start a discussion about raising County Board member pay closer to the county’s median family income of $110,900, which would be more in line with what Fairfax and Montgomery counties pay their elected officials.
Board member John Vihstadt, a partner with a D.C. law firm, says he does not favor a pay raise and thinks it’s better for County Board members to have other jobs.
What do you think?
Fire Station Open Houses — Arlington County’s ten fire stations will be hosting open houses on Saturday as part of Fire Prevention Week. The open houses will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will allow attendees of all ages to tour the stations, climb in the trucks, talk to firefighters and learn about fire safety. [Arlington County]
Sun Gazette Endorses Garvey — Incumbent Democratic Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has won the endorsement of the Sun Gazette over independent challenger Audrey Clement. Garvey “is the only candidate on the ballot who has both a track record on the issues and in building coalitions to serve the public,” the newspaper says. [InsideNova]
Arlington Ranked No. 25 Bicycling City — Arlington County is the 25th-ranked “city” for bicycling in the country, according to Bicycling Magazine. Arlington offers robust bicycling infrastructure and does a good job of encouraging residents to get out of their cars and try biking to work instead, but it “consistent enforcement” of traffic laws to protect cyclists “remains an issue.” [Bicycling]
Garvey to Hold Book Discussion — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is launching a series of community book discussions on various topics. Tonight Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren will discuss the best-selling book “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.” The discussion will take place at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 7:30-9 p.m. [Facebook]
Beer Store, TechShop Collaborate for New Kegerator — Crystal City Wine Shop (220 20th Street S.) has teamed up with nearby TechShop to create a new kegerator. The custom-modified refrigerator allows the store to offer varieties of craft beer that aren’t available in bottles or cans. Customers can take the beer home in fillable cans known as crowlers. [Washington Business Journal]
Cosi Files for Bankruptcy — The Cosi chain of sandwich and salad restaurants has filed for bankruptcy and closed 40 percent of its locations. Among the closed stores: the Cosi in Courthouse. A rep for the company told us yesterday: “The decision to close this restaurant was based on its financial performance and market density. At this time, we do not have any plans to reopen this restaurant.” [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Flash Flood Watch Continues — Forecasters are expecting several more inches of rain to fall between now and Saturday. The potential for flash flooding along streams and low-lying areas remains and a Flash Flood Watch is still in effect. [Twitter, Twitter]
It may not be worthy of a “blue ribbon panel” designation, but a group of county staffers will soon be tasked with examining the tangle of Arlington County’s various codified master plans and priorities.
The County Board unanimously approved a charge for the “interdepartmental staff team” yesterday afternoon, with little further discussion. The team will conduct an “integrated review” of the 11 elements of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, along with various neighborhood and place plans and County Board resolutions, and will report back to the Board this spring.
The overarching goal: “to clearly communicate Arlington County’s priorities.”
In April, the Board approved the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” of mostly outside experts to do basically the same thing: develop “recommendations for how the Board should develop strategic priorities.” A month later, the Board voted unanimously to defer the creation of the panel, following complaints from community groups.
County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who’s championing the initiative, says the latest charge is the successor to the blue ribbon panel plan and is intended to be more informative than prescriptive.
“Things are all in different places,” she said, referring to the county’s sundry plans. “We want to put it all in one easily accessible and understood place and make things more clear.”
“I’ve been talking for years about the need to do strategic planning,” Garvey continued. “The blue ribbon panel approach was to get a small group of people to tell us how to do that.”
Following the complaints, Garvey said, “it was pretty clear to me that we needed to approach it in smaller steps.”
The County Board will consider the group’s report — it will also be placed on the county website for public review — and will then decide whether more action is necessary.
“That seems like a good step and we’ll see where we go from there,” Garvey said.
Arlington Searching for Ultimate Frisbee Coaches — With ultimate frisbee approved as a new school-sponsored sport, Arlington Public Schools in now on the hunt for frisbee coaches at each of its middle and high schools. [InsideNova]
Dems Hold Unity Event — Arlington Democrats are presenting a unified front heading into election season. After a bruising primary, both County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her once-challenger, Erik Gutshall, attended a Democratic unity event at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette last night. [Twitter, Twitter]
‘Tranquility’ in Crystal City Underground — Gallery Underground, the subterranean art gallery in the Crystal City Shops, is preparing for its next exhibit, on the theme of “Tranquility.” The month-long art show starts Sept. 1. [Gallery Underground]
Photo courtesy Eric LeKuch