Coronavirus Outbreak at Marymount — A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at Marymount University in Arlington. “Initially, cases were identified over Columbus Day weekend and we’ve seen a decline in the total number of cases since October 21,” university spokesman Nicholas Munson told Patch. “To date over the more than two-week period, 31 students have tested positive.” [Patch]
New Charges Against Arlington Resident — “Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled 15 felony charges against a pair of right-wing operatives over a recent robocall aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting their ballots by mail, similar to an indictment filed earlier this month by authorities in Michigan… The Ohio robocall claimed to be the work of the 1599 Project, an outfit that Burkman and Wohl run out of Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia.” [StateScoop]
Missing Middle Housing Event Tonight — “The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. All members of the community are invited to virtually attend the study’s kick off” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. [Arlington County]
Home Sale Prices Still Going Up — “The housing market in Arlington County, Virginia, is not cooling off, with sales and prices showing among the biggest gains in the nation in September. The median price of what sold in Arlington County last month was $710,000. That’s the highest county-level median price in Northern Virginia, and up 21% from last September.” [WTOP]
Library Pumpkin Decorating Winners — “We are thrilled to have received 42 pumpkin submissions for our first virtual Pumpkin Decorating Contest! It was hard to choose the winners, as we adored so many. Thank you for submitting, attending the virtual decorating programs and carving out fun with the folks at the library!” [Arlington Public Library]
Local Lawyer Pens New Novel — “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist.” [Washington Independent Review of Books]
Rosslyn Outdoor Coworking Space Update — “Arlingtonians have about a month left to enjoy outdoor office space provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID). The space, dubbed O2, was created after the pandemic pushed employees out of their cubicles and into their home offices… Reservations are free of charge and can be made on the O2 website. Masks are required for entry and tables are six feet apart.” [WDVM]
Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]
Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]
Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]
MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]
Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]
Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]
Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Evictions Halted in Virginia — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, August 10 and remain in effect through Monday, September 7, halts all eviction proceedings related to failure to pay rent.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]
Amazon Rents More Space in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. is adding more Arlington office space to its portfolio even during a pandemic that has forced most of the company’s corporate employees to work remotely… The [newly-leased] 18,700-square-foot space is part of the 272,000-square-foot 2100 Crystal Drive that Amazon agreed in December to eventually lease in full.” [Washington Business Journal]
Erroneous Library Card Renewal Email — Per Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist: “About 4,000 patrons were mistakenly notified to renew their library card in person. This is not required. We are working on communicating with any affected patrons to clarify and will do so today [Friday].”
Investigation Reveals ‘Historic’ Shed Built in 1974 — “A homeowner living in the Maywood Historic District of Arlington will be able to tear down a no-longer-considered-historic shed. The 10-foot-by-12-foot wooden structure at the back of a home in the 3600 block of 21st Avenue North long had been considered a ‘contributing’ part of the local historic district, a designation that likely would have prevented its demolition as sought by the current owners. But as it turns out, the shed doesn’t come from Maywood’s historic period, defined as 1906 to 1941.” [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Former ‘Lost Cause’ Textbooks — “A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state’s history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled ‘How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery,’ included these sentences: ‘A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.’ The masters ‘knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection.'” [Washington Post, Washington Post]
War Memorial Interpretive Project Honored — “Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program staff and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) will be honored with a Commission Excellence Award in the category of Best Practices: Public Outreach/Advocacy from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) during its virtual conference on Aug. 7. The award recognizes the work of County staff and the HALRB on the Clarendon War Memorial Interpretive Project.” [Arlington County]
Former YHS Star Goes to Cleveland — “The Cleveland Browns have claimed CB M.J. Stewart off waivers on Saturday. Released by Tampa Bay, Stewart was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 draft (53rd overall).” [Browns Nation]
Flickr pool photo by Vincent
With everything else that’s going on, Arlingtonians won’t have to worry about racking up late fees at the Arlington Public Library.
“On July 1, Arlington Public Library eliminated overdue library fines to make the library‘s collections more accessible to all Arlingtonians,” Arlington County said in a news release. “The goal is to increase access and minimize barriers for marginalized populations to use the
The move by the Arlington Public Library follows a similar policy implemented in D.C., and part of a growing nationwide trend. In January 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution condemning the use of late fees as creating an unnecessary economic barrier.
“This permanent change will make the library more accessible to all,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “It has been shown that library fines mostly fall on young people whose families cannot afford library fines. And that results in making the library less accessible to families with lower incomes, which is the exact opposite result that we want. I’m delighted that we are adopting this new policy.”
The news release noted that the elimination of fines will have an impact on the library budget, but penalties for losing library materials will remain.
The elimination of fines will reduce the Library fine budget by an expected $155,000 in anticipated revenue to $10,000 in FY 2021. The $10,000 remains in the budget due to the continuation of replacement fees for lost items.
Under this new policy, any patron with a balance over $15 cannot borrow, renew, place holds on materials, or log in to premium sites, such as Consumer Reports. This would only impact patrons who are charged for losing or failing to return items to the library, since overdue fines are eliminated.
Patrons still need to pay their existing fines accrued prior to July 1, 2020.
“Every member of our community has a right to library services and library fines and fees are known barriers to use,” said Diane Kresh, Director of Arlington Public Library. “We are pleased that we can eliminate these long-standing barriers and continue our mission to reach everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background.”
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Utility Pole Catches Fire in Penrose — “100 blk S Wise St, Power pole fire. Area structures may experience power disruptions as the power company addresses the issue. Initial fire crews had to wait for @DominionEnergy to arrive to take down power, after which they could extinguish the fire.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]
Robbery from Clarendon 7-Eleven — ” At approximately 4:46 a.m. on June 7, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the counter and stole a jar containing an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect attempted to flee, however, the victim ran after him and the suspect produced a knife and hammer and struck the victim. During the altercation, the jar fell and shattered. The suspect fled in a green Nissan pick-up truck.” [Arlington County]
Library Material for Confronting Racism — “We have compiled a list of books, movies, podcasts, articles, and organizations where you can learn more about structural racism in the United States, how to engage with and act against anti-black racism, and what you can do to eradicate systematic racism and fight for justice in your community.” [Arlington Public Library]
Local Mail Carrier Dies from Coronavirus — ” An Arlington community is mourning the loss of its beloved mailman who died over the weekend from COVID-19 complications. Jesus Collazos suffered a stroke about a month ago that was caused by the coronavirus. Collazos was 67-years-old and and was most looking forward to being a grandfather to his three grandchildren.” [WDVM]
Evictions in Va. Temporarily Halted — “The state’s Supreme Court issued the ban Monday following a request from Gov. Ralph Northam. It extends previous orders that had put a hold on evictions, but expired last month. Under the new rule, even renters who have been threatened with eviction but have not been served a formal notice cannot be legally removed from their homes until June 28 at the earliest.” [DCist]
The Arlington County Board is set to consider a school expansion project that will involve changes to a local library.
Arlington Public Schools is requesting a use permit to add 150 seats to its Arlington Tech program at the Arlington Career Center. It’s the prelude to a larger expansion project for the facility at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, which would add 800 new high school seats and a 200,000 square foot addition by 2025.
The current project would add the new student capacity — bringing the total Arlington Tech seats from 350 to 500 — via interior changes, namely the use of what is currently the second floor of the Columbia Pike Branch Library. The library, in turn, would be modernized consolidated on the first floor of the building.
“Both floors of the existing Columbia Pike Branch Library will be renovated, with the second floor converted to classroom space for APS use during school hours and County use outside school hours,” a county staff report says. “There are no proposed changes to the façade of the building.”
If approved, Construction is expected to kick off in July or August and run through late fall. The library would be closed for 3-4 months, prompting some concerns from nearby residents.
“The Arlington Heights Civic Association expressed their concerns regarding the closure of the library during the renovations,” the staff report notes. “Residents will be able to access other full-service libraries to use the same services offered at this location, including the Shirlington, Aurora Hills and Glencarlyn branches, as well as the use of public computers at the nearby Walter Reed Community Center.”
The item at the end of the agenda for the Board’s meeting this coming Saturday.
More from the county staff report:
The Board will consider Arlington Public Schools’ request for an amendment to its Use Permit for the Arlington Career Center, located at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. If approved, the amendment would allow APS to add 150 seats for the Arlington Tech high school program through interior renovations that would include renovating both floors of the Columbia Pike Branch Library. The number of seats at the Career Center would be increased from 800 to 950. The plan calls for converting the library’s second floor to classroom space during school hours and County use outside school hours. The modernized library would be consolidated on the first floor. During the anticipated three to four months of renovations, the library would be closed. If the plan is approved, APS expects to begin construction in July or August 2020 and finish in late fall. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 34. on the agenda.
As a result of the renovations, the total ACC building capacity will increase from 800 seats to 950 seats. With its existing functions consolidated to the first floor, the library will be modernized with new technology, furniture, and equipment that improves the delivery of current resources and programs. During the renovations, which are anticipated to last for approximately three (3) to four (4) months, the library and its programs and services will be closed. Due to financial costs and the short-term nature of the closure, there are no plans to set up a temporary library location. However, residents will be able to access other full-service libraries to use the same services provided at this branch, including the Shirlington, Aurora Hills and Glencarlyn branches, as well as the use of public computers at the nearby Walter Reed Community Center.
While the renovations were initially intended to occur during the 2020 summer break and completed in time for the 2020-21 school year, due to the uncertainty related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) the planned renovations have been delayed with an anticipated construction start date of July/August 2020. APS intends to proceed with the renovations as soon as reasonable in coordination with pandemic recovery. In the interim, to accommodate the growing enrollment at Arlington Tech, APS is pursuing alternatives over the 2020 summer break to increase seat capacity including minor interior renovations to add a new science lab and rightsize existing classrooms, as well as the temporary installation of eight (8) additional relocatables on the existing parking lot.
The first step towards reopening will be a book pick-up from the Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
“Starting mid-June, Arlington Public Library will offer a walk-in/walk-out service for hold pickups and book bundles in the auditorium at Central Library,” Diane Kresh, Director of the Arlington Public Library said. “Operating hours for the holds pickup service are being decided and we will communicate details as we have them. Computers, self-check stations, and meeting rooms will not be available for use.”
“All branch locations will remain closed,” Kresh added. “Returns will be accepted via book drop at all branches.”
Both patrons and staff will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing at all times when inside the library building.
Arlington Public Library will continue its annual Summer Reading Challenge, Kresh said, though this year the program will be fully digital. Kresh said more details about that program will be forthcoming this week.
“Arlington READS continues virtually,” Kresh said. “In June, we will host a conversation with Brooke Gladstone, journalist, author, media analyst, and co-host and managing editor of the WNYC radio program ‘On the Media.’ And in October, we are thrilled to present Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Colson Whitehead (‘The Underground Railroad’ and ‘The Nickel Boys’). Stay tuned for details; both programs promise to be lively and engaging.”
Kresh said she knows that the planned reopening is not the kind of library experience many Arlington residents are hoping to return to.
“We recognize there is no replacement for an in-person, full-service library experience,” Kresh said. “Over the years, the staff and I have been honored to serve the community of Arlington and have always tried to strike a balance between the high tech of our digital content and the high touch of our popular story times and author events. We cherish the relationships we have developed with each one of you and look forward to better times. Please know that we are thinking of all of you and that together, we will get through this.”
County Opposes Second McD’s Drive-Thru Window — “Maybe, in the end, they can all sit down amicably over a Happy Meal. But the mood was decidedly unhappy when the Arlington County Board and representatives of McDonald’s recently tangled over redevelopment of the restaurant chain’s 60-year-old outlet in the 4800 block of Lee Highway.” [InsideNova]
Sloppy Mama’s to Reopen Today — “Sloppy Mama’s BBQ owner Joe Neuman also isn’t in a rush to open his dining room, though he is launching takeout at his Arlington restaurant on Friday. He received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which has terms that reward businesses that rehire staff. Neuman closed Sloppy Mama’s on March 16, just as barbecue season beckoned.” [Washington City Paper]
Va. Trying to Ramp Up Testing — “As the state plans to reopen on Friday — though it will delay Northern Virginia’s reopening until after Memorial Day — the commonwealth is still not meeting Gov. Ralph Northam’s testing goal of 10,000 tests a day. This week, Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management signed contracts with three commercial labs in an effort to ramp up testing as the state gears up to reopen.” [DCist]
March Hotel Occupancy Rate Shows Big Drop — “Arlington hotel and motel occupancy took a pummeling in March as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold… March’s occupancy rate of 34.5 percent for Arlington resulted in a first-quarter occupancy rate of 52.3 percent.” [InsideNova]
GMA Profiles YHS Senior Photo Project — “In Arlington, Virginia, photographer Matt Mendelsohn has made it his mission to give the senior class of Yorktown High School the celebration they deserve… With the growing popularity of his project, which he’s named ‘Not Forgotten: The Yorktown Seniors of 2020,’ he’s enlisted the help from his daughter on shoots and a parent.” [Good Morning America]
Library Launches Virtual Career Services — “Arlington Public Library is offering virtual one-on-one appointments to job seekers who want career help or to improve their resume. All appointments are free and confidential. Appointments are available Mondays and Thursdays, 5:30-7 p.m., and Tuesdays, 9:30-11 a.m. No library card is required.” [Arlington County]
Signature Helps With Inn’s Mannequins — “Instead of letting tables sit vacant, the [Inn at Little Washington] chef plans to outfit his dining rooms with mannequins… The chef (who majored in drama in college) has been working with Shirlington’s Signature Theatre to get the faux humans costumed in 1940s-era garb. Servers will be instructed to pour them wine and to ask them about their evening.” [Washingtonian, Eater]
Northam Announces COVID Changes — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesdays that, starting today, Virginia residents can start having nonemergency surgeries and dental procedures again. The governor also announced that the state Dept. of Health will soon start releasing ZIP code-level coronavirus case data. [WTOP, @kamamasters/Twitter]
County Announces New Housing Director — “Arlington County has selected Anne Venezia to be the County’s new Housing Director… She most recently served six months as the Acting Housing Director and was the Housing Finance Manager for four years prior. Venezia joined Arlington County in 2008.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Pushing for More Census Participation — “Arlington government officials say the county’s census-response rate has passed 60 percent, and local efforts will now be made to reach out to low-response hotspots across the community… the 2010 response rate of 74 percent [was] slightly below the overall Virginia average that year.” [InsideNova]
County’s Memorial Page for Erik Gutshall — Arlington County has established a “Remembering Erik” page on its website, memorializing the late County Board member Erik Gutshall, who passed away earlier this month from brain cancer. [Arlington County]
Library Seeks Material for New Archive — “Arlington Public Library announces the COVID-19 Archives project, designed to create a comprehensive picture of Arlington during an extraordinary period in our history. The Center for Local History (CLH) seeks donations of journals, photos, and objects to help document this time of difficulty and struggle, but also of resilience and hope.” [Arlington County]
Overnight Crash on Carlin Springs Road — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “Video appears to show a car crash took down electric lines on Carlin Springs Rd near 7th St. S.” [@statter911/Twitter]
Governor Extends Business Closures — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he will extend Executive Order Fifty-Three for two weeks, through Friday, May 8, 2020. Executive Order Fifty-Three originally signed on March 24, bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Wi-Fi Available in Two Library Parking Lots — “Arlington residents who lack reliable internet service at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can now benefit from two new free County Wi-Fi hotspots. Access to the ArlingtonWireless network is now available at the Central Library and Columbia Pike Library parking lots.” [Arlington County]
Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Extended lane closures will occur this weekend beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 17, on I-66 East between the Dulles Connector Road and Sycamore Street for bridge work and other construction for the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.” [Press Release]
Buses to Toot Horns in Unison — “[Today] at 3 p.m., ART buses will join transit agencies around the country in honking their horns to honor transportation and other essential workers. Thank you to the ART bus drivers and staff, and all essential workers, for your work!” [Twitter]
Police Warn of Coronavirus Scams — “FRAUD ALERT: Be aware of COVID-related scams and know how to protect yourself. ACPD reminds you that the IRS will not call, text, email you or contact you via social media to request money or personal information related to economic impact payments.” [Twitter]
Disastrous Debut for Fairfax Distance Learning — While Arlington Public Schools catches flak for deciding not to teach new material until the fall, Fairfax County public schools have cancelled online classes for the rest of the week after the school system’s distance learning technology suffered a series of major failures. [Fairfax County Public Schools, Washington Post]
Three COVID Cases at Pentagon City Apartment — “Three residents of the largest apartment building in Arlington — The Bartlett owned by JBG Smith Properties — have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to messages sent to Bartlett tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]
Library Launches ‘Quaranzine’ — “Liz Laribee, the programs and partnerships librarian at Arlington Public Library, says she thinks in puns. So, when the word ‘quaranzine’ popped into her head a little over a week ago, it gave her an idea. On April 3, the library published the first issue of Quaranzine, a weekly online collection of works by local artists responding to the coronavirus pandemic.” [DCist, Arlington Public Library]
Dems See Few Refund Requests After Event Cancelled — “Arlington County Democratic Committee leaders say the party did not take a big financial hit due to the cancellation of its Blue Victory Dinner, which traditionally brings in about a third of operating revenue for county Democrats each year. ‘We had very few folks ask for refunds,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said… Democratic leaders offered those, who were willing to let the party keep the ticket prices, access to an online event.” [InsideNova]
ACFD Accepting Donations of Food But Not Supplies — “Thank you all for the generosity. You are amazing!! We have have been getting a lot of questions about donating PPE (masks, gloves, respirators, etc). At this time we are NOT collecting any supplies.” [Twitter, Arlington County]