Press Club
Trapped coyote that was freed by animal control officers (photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington)

(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Coyote sightings are not uncommon in Arlington, but it’s also not every day that a coyote gets stuck in someone’s yard.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington says its animal control officers were able to free a coyote that recently became stuck between two fences.

In a social media post, AWLA said the frightened coyote was able to run away unharmed after being being freed.

When two local residents went out to see what their dogs were both barking at near their fence line, they were NOT expecting to find a coyote stuck in between their fences! Thankfully, they called us right away and Officer Elpers was able to safely maneuver him out and he ran away unharmed. While residents don’t spot coyotes often in Arlington, they are naturalized to the area. If you catch a glimpse of a coyote in your neighborhood, there’s no need to be alarmed, but you can always give us a call if you spot an animal that is injured or in distress!

The coyote incident happened south of Clarendon, well away from Arlington’s more wooded areas.

“It was on the border of the Lyon Park and Ashton Heights neighborhoods,” AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones tells ARLnow.

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Morning Notes

A kite stuck up a tree in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Another Malfunctioning Walk Signal — Just over a week after this, another reported crosswalk signal issue: “Instead of telling you when it’s safe to cross the street, the walk signs in Crystal City, VA are just repeating ‘CHANGE PASSWORD’. Something’s gone terribly wrong here.” [Twitter]

School Board Meeting Was Mostly Maskless — “For those playing the ‘how many Arlington School Board members will go mask-free at the first board meeting after requirements were lifted?’ home game, the winners were those who had put their money on four out of five. Board members David Priddy, Cristina Diaz-Torres, Reid Goldstein and chairman Barbara Kanninen were maskless at the March 10 meeting, as was Superintendent Francisco Durán. School Board member Mary Kadera kept her mask affixed.” [Sun Gazette]

Survey Work on GW Parkway — ” A $161 million ‘complete rehabilitation‘ of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway is being planned… Through Friday, March 18, there will be single-lane closures along the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway for bridge surveys. Drivers should proceed with caution in these areas and consider using alternate routes, according to an NPS alert.” [WUSA 9]

Arlington Doc Helping Refugees — “An Arlington doctor is not only battling the pandemic in Northern Virginia, but he also travels across international borders to help those in need. The current refugee crisis that began with Afghans in 2021, now includes Ukrainians facing a similar fate of displacement and an uncertain future. For three years before COVID-19 spread across the globe, Dr. Ali Karim helped build wells in Nigeria, aided orphans and women in Kabul, Afghanistan and filmed a documentary about his solo journey.” [WJLA]

Days Inn Redevelopment Update — “The plans to replace the Days Inn at 2201 Arlington Boulevard with 262 multi-family units and around 3,000 square feet of retail were filed with Arlington County last week. The eight-story project will also have surface and underground parking. STUDIOS Architecture designed the building.” [Urban Turf]

Social Sports Return to Crystal City — “Sand Volleyball is BACK in National Landing starting this May with a few fun new additions – Bocce and Corn Hole!” [Twitter]

Yes, It’s Getting Windier — “Our analysis of wind data shows that the strongest gusts have become more frequent recently. Last year featured more big wind gusts than any recent year, a trend that has continued into this year. Wind advisories, issued by the National Weather Service when gusts are expected to top 45 mph, have also been on the increase since the mid-2000s.” [Capital Weather Gang]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 40. Sunrise at 7:21 am and sunset at 7:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Ballston at twilight (Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler)

Slight Dip in Apartment Rents — “The average rental rate for an Arlington unit over the past month was down 0.4 percent compared to the month before, according to figures reported Nov. 1 by Apartment List. Arlington’s rental rates averaged $2,032 for one-bedroom units and $2,460 for two-bedroom units. Arlington was one of 22 of the nation’s 100 largest urban areas to see pullbacks in rental rates over the month.” [Sun Gazette]

Federal Funds for Local Bridge? — From reporter Michael Lee Pope: “@RepDonBeyer #VA08 infrastructure projects requested: $9 million for renovating the bridge connecting Mount Vernon Avenue in #AlexandriaVA to Arlington Ridge Road in #ArlingtonVA” [Twitter]

Post Reviews Lyon Park Restaurant — “When not hawking food, she is a parking enforcement officer with the Arlington County Police Department… In September, she moved indoors when she took over El Fuego Peruvian Kitchen, an Arlington business that had already made the successful transition from street vendor to a bricks-and-mortar restaurant.” [Washington Post]

Wild Incident on Columbia Pike — “At approximately 9:30 a.m. on November 6, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred and fire department units were also responding to investigate the smell of smoke and natural gas. Upon arrival inside the residential building, the suspect approached responding officers and began shouting. As the officers attempted to place the suspect into custody, he actively resisted and a brief struggle ensued before he was detained without further incident. The investigation determined that the suspect was allegedly acting irate and damaged the doors to multiple residential units.” [ACPD]

Parents Group Calls Out APS Calendar — “In prior years, APS aligned its calendar with neighboring (and vast) FCPS – an effort to support staff who worked and lived in different jurisdictions. This year’s calendar has a different start date and Spring Break than FCPS, and APS is off for five holidays when FCPS is not, which makes the schedule almost impossible for staff and working families to navigate.” [Arlington Parents for Education]

Rare Opening of Tomb PlazaUpdated at 9 a.m. — “Arlington National Cemetery will open up the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza Tuesday and Wednesday to members of the public and allow visitors to lay flowers for the first time in almost 100 years. The privilege is typically reserved for members of ‘The Old Guard,’ sentinels in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment who stand watch constantly at the Arlington National Cemetery landmark, officials say.” [NBC 4]

It’s Tuesday — Today will be near perfect, with sunny skies and a high of 72. Sunrise at 6:44 a.m. and sunset at 4:59 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 67. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Traffic on I-395 looking south as the sun sets (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Get ready for it to get darker even earlier.

Daylight Saving Time ends early Sunday morning, and along with the clocks being turned back by an hour will come 5 p.m. sunsets and extra traffic enforcement in the D.C. area.

Authorities say November is a crucial time for safety on local roads, particularly due to less daylight during the morning and evening rush hours, and they’re stepping up enforcement to try to counter that.

“Area residents can expect increased enforcement of traffic safety laws that protect people walking and biking in the metropolitan Washington region,” said the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, in announcing its fall Street Smart campaign earlier this week. “Police departments across the region will be ticketing drivers who fail to obey the speed limit or don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.”

Arlington County police said the added enforcement will run from today through the end of the month, with two “high-visibility” enforcement events in between, in Lyon Park and Ballston.

From an ACPD press release:

The arrival of fall brings cooler temperatures and less daylight during commuting hours. Everyone wants you to arrive at your destination safely, that’s why the Arlington County Police Department, and law enforcement agencies throughout the region, will participate in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Fall Street Smart campaign from November 5 – November 30. The Street Smart campaign aims to identify and change unsafe behavior patterns amongst motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, with the goal of reducing the number of traffic related collisions and injuries on our roadways.

Street Smart Enforcement Activations

As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – 2500 block of Washington Boulevard
  • Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – 4200 block of Fairfax Drive […]

Transportation Safety Tips

Whether you travel by foot, two wheels or four wheels, make our roadways safer by being a PAL – predictable, alert and lawful.

Drivers are reminded to:

  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Use caution when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • Yield to people walking or biking when turning.
  • Allow for at least 3 feet when passing bicyclists.
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving. Holding a hand-held communication device while driving is illegal in Virginia.

Pedestrians are reminded to:

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they are available.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street.
  • See and be seen! Wear light colored or reflective clothing after dark.
  • Watch for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using devices that distract you, such as cell phones, while you’re crossing the street.

Shared Mobility Device operators and bicyclists are reminded to:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic, using bike lanes when possible.
  • Use hand signals to communicate your intentions with drivers.
  • Wear a helmet, which is required for all bicycle riders 14 years of age and younger and recommended for all other riders.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and avoid the use of devices that may distract you.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with light colored and reflective clothing. Use lights at night when visibility is poor.

The Street Smart campaign includes a public education component, featuring videos of crash survivors and the families of those killed on local roads. Among them is Arlington resident Helen Harris, who lost her leg after being struck by a dump truck in Rosslyn in December 2018.

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Two years since Henry Clay Park in Lyon Park closed for renovations, the since-renamed Zitkala-Ša Park is on the verge of reopening.

Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation is aiming to open the park by Friday, more than a year after its initial target reopening date. That will be a relief for neighbors, who have been peppering ARLnow with emails asking when it will finally open back up.

A parks department spokeswoman said the construction delays are related to the pandemic and the supply chain disruptions it has caused.

“Zitkala-Sa in particular has suffered heavily from the pandemic causing fabrication and material delivery delays, specifically we waited an extended duration for playground equipment to be manufactured and shipped and for the playground surfacing materials to be shipped to the site,” DPR’s Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “Once those were in hand progress on addressing many of the smaller details that are not readily apparent to casual observers has progressed steadily. We anticipate the park to open by October 1.”

Earlier this year the parks department also cited weather-related delays. At the time the department was hoping the park would open by July, which would have been one year behind the initial expected completion date of July 2020.

Upgrades to the park at the corner of 7th and N. Highland streets include a new basketball court, play structures, a picnic shelter, and upgraded fencing and landscaping. Last year Henry Clay Park was officially renamed after Zitkala-Ša, an Indigenous rights activist who lived near the park.

Kalish said a grand opening celebration will likely be scheduled for mid-October. There will also be a private ceremony for the family of the late County Board member Erik Gutshall, who lived nearby and for whom a memorial plaque is being placed at the park.

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A resident was seriously hurt after trying to confront a thief in his backyard.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. Friday on the 6200 block of Washington Blvd, in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls neighborhood between East Falls Church and Westover.

Police say the resident saw a man standing in front of the shed behind his house and went to confront him.

The suspect then “picked up the victim’s tool box and attempted to leave the area,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The victim grabbed the suspect in an attempt to prevent him from leaving and a physical altercation ensued, during which the suspect struck the victim multiple times. The victim then fell to the ground and the suspect fled the scene on his bicycle.”

“The victim sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries and refused the treatment of medics,” ACPD said. “The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 40 to 50 years old, 5’6″ tall, 150 to 180 pounds, wearing all black clothing and a black hat. The investigation is ongoing.”

In its weekend crime report, ACPD also reported an attempted robbery in Clarendon on Thursday night and an armed robbery of a taxi driver in Lyon Park late Saturday night.

ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 2021-07290227, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 10:50 p.m. on July 29, police were dispatched to the report of threats. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male victim was in the area when he was approached by the two known male suspects who began throwing rocks at him. The suspects then demanded that the victim give them money and fled the scene on foot when the victim confronted them. Suspect One is described as a White male with a thin build, approximately 19 years old, 5’10” tall with dark hair, a goatee and mustache, wearing a black backpack. Suspect Two is described as a White male with a thin build, approximately 18 years old, 5’5″ tall with blond hair, wearing a black backpack. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2021-07310275, 200 block of N. Fillmore Street At approximately 11:50 p.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a cab was dropping off passengers when two dark colored SUV’s pulled up and blocked in the cab. A male suspect then approached the rear passenger side door, brandished a firearm and demanded money. The suspect stole wallets and a cell phone from the victims before fleeing the scene. The suspect is described as a Black male in his early 20’s, approximately 5’6″ tall, with a skinny build. He was wearing a black mask, white tank top and dark colored pants. The investigation is ongoing.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and elsewhere battled a house fire in the Lyon Park neighborhood Tuesday night.

The fire was first reported around 8 p.m., near the bike trail at the intersection of N. Edgewood Street and 1st Road N. A tipster tells ARLnow they saw a column of smoke and fire trucks racing down Washington Blvd, en route to the scene.

“Crews arrived on scene locating fire to the rear of the structure,” the Arlington County Fire Department said via social media. “Crews are still actively engaged in fire suppression operations on the interior.”

A support crew from the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department was also called to the scene.

After a protracted firefighting effort involving 70 firefighters, the flames were finally reported out at 10:20 p.m. Two firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

The cause of the fire was grilling too close to the house, ACFD announced Wednesday morning, reminding residents to keep grills away from the sides of homes. The blaze caused more than $350,000 in damage.

Map via Google Maps

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Arlington-based Shooshan Company is looking to redevelop the mid-century Days Inn Motel across the street from the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The site, at the intersection Arlington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive, has development potential as “the de facto neighborhood gateway,” wrote Jonathan Kinney and Matthew Roberts, land-use lawyers representing Shooshan, in a letter to the county.

Shooshan set its sights on the motel in 2019.

“The hotel is nearing the end of its useful life and is increasingly becoming functionally obsolete,” the lawyers said.

If redeveloped, most of the hotel would be torn down to make way for a mixed-use development that will likely include apartments, townhouses and retail, with open space and underground parking

But making these changes require a study of the site and surroundings to see what level of development would be appropriate, a study that just concluded. The resulting Pershing Drive Special General Land Use Plan study views the land as a “highly visible gateway node” that can support higher density and provide needed open space and trail connections, meaning Shooshan may soon be able to take the next steps toward redevelopment.

“The amendment is critically important to the effective redevelopment of the site and completion of the ‘gateway’ entrance into the Lyon Park neighborhood,” a report on the study said.

This study recommends rezoning the land for office, apartment and hotel use with a maximum height of eight stories or 90 feet along Arlington Blvd, with shorter maximum heights of three to six stories, or maximums of 50 to 70 feet, where the building transitions into nearby apartments and single-family homes. The document envisions a building with all-underground parking, “welcoming” ground floor retail and open space.

The open space would be on the northwest corner, along N. Pershing Drive. Along the southern edge, where the hotel faces the Washington & Lee Apartments, the document recommends the site should “present an inviting façade with three to four-story buildings, individual entrances, trees and landscaping…rather than turning its back on its neighbors.”

This area will have a shared street that pedestrians and bicyclists can use to access the Arlington Blvd Trail.

The study also recommends preserving the sign and lobby, described as iconic examples of mid-century modern design, and incorporating them somehow into the redevelopment. Before becoming a Days Inn, the hotel was called ARVA Motor Hotel, a name created by blending together “Arlington” and “Virginia.”

“The original shape and design of the blade sign should be rehabilitated to capitalize on this unique community landmark, while allowing for the sign to be reused to advertise the name of the new development, business, etc.,” the document said. “The lobby area could, in fact, serve as a trail-oriented retail space or cafe.”

The motel used to be the ARVA Motel, a portmanteau of Arlington, Virginia (Via Arlington County)

Overall, according to the staff report, participants during a community engagement process — mostly neighbors — said they are in favor of redevelopment and reinvestment along this segment of Arlington Blvd, preferably with new apartments, restaurants and retail. Respondents to a survey stressed the importance of a casual-use open space, connections to the Arlington Blvd Trail nearby, more tree canopy and better sidewalks.

“There is general support for the recommendations outlined in the Study Document among Long Range Planning Committee and community members,” the report said.

This Saturday, the County Board is set to decide whether to approve future public hearings to consider adopting the special study and to consider changing the zoning of the site, per the study’s recommendations. The adoption of the document could come on July 17 or 20.

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Zitkala-Ša Park in Lyon Park could be ready by July to welcome neighbors who have gone without their community green space since October 2019.

Construction on the park at the corner of 7th and N. Highland streets is nearly a year behind schedule due to pandemic- and weather-related delays. Upgrades include re-doing the basketball court and adding new play structures, a picnic shelter, as well as fencing and landscaping.

New signage also went up recently to reflect a name change. In December, the County Board officially renamed Henry Clay Park after Zitkala-Ša, an Indigenous rights activist who lived near the park.

Initially, the Department of Parks and Recreation set out to complete the changes by July 2020 but the pandemic caused manufacturing and shipping delays. A new timeline of December 2020 was set. Now, work is being hampered by weather, said parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

“We are progressing along as best we can, however, due to weather we have not been able to complete all the work we’d like to do,” she said.

Kalish added that many of the remaining tasks — planting, laying asphalt and safety surfaces, striping the basketball court — “are weather-sensitive and can be completed only after the weather gets a little better.”

These two complications combined led the department to move the completion date sometime between April and June 2021.

When completed, the community “will see a new basketball court, playground, open field and picnic shelter with updated site circulation, site furnishing, fencing, drainage and landscaping,” Kalish previously told ARLnow.

The park “is a heavily used facility,” the county said in a 2019 report. “The outdoor amenities for [Zitkala-Ša Park] are now past their useful life and are in need of replacement.”

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Morning Notes

Statements of Support for AAPI Community — “Arlington Public Schools condemns racism and all expressions of hate, bias and discrimination. The horrific shootings in Atlanta earlier this week are a tragic reminder of the increase in violent attacks, hate speech and discrimination targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We grieve with the families of the victims of the shootings in Atlanta on March 16 and share the sorrow of all who stand against hate and discrimination.” [Arlington Public Schools, Press Release]

Opposition to Zoning Proposal — “The proposal has nevertheless attracted some pushback from Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, a community group that has begun organizing opposition to the county’s housing efforts on the grounds that Arlington hasn’t properly prepared for additional growth… Other affected neighborhoods, including Green Valley in South Arlington, also offered opposition.” [Washington Business Journal]

Citizen Group Wants Tree Update — “‘Don’t call us, but we promise we’ll call you’ appears to sum up the Arlington County government’s reaction to an Arlington County Civic Federation call for an expeditious effort to update an analysis of the county’s tree canopy… The Arlington government last conducted a tree inventory in 2016, reporting the findings in 2017. The roughly 750,000 trees in the county’s 26 square miles cover about 41 percent of the county’s ground area.” [Sun Gazette]

Chainsaw Art Coming to Lyon Park — “This summer, Mallon is scheduled to do chainsaw sculptures on three stumps trees near the community center in Arlington’s Lyon Park, a community-owned park in the county. Mallon, who grew up in Arlington, said he usually brings about five chainsaws to a project, depending on the level of detail of the work.” [Patch]

GOP Gov. Candidate in Arlington — Glenn Youngkin, a Republican candidate for governor, made a campaign appearance at the Crystal City Sports Pub over the weekend. The event was criticized by Democrats for its crowd of maskless supporters. [Twitter, Twitter]

Airport Passenger Volume Going Up — “TSA screened 1,543,115 people yesterday, Sunday, March 21. The last time checkpoint throughput topped 1.5 million was March 15, 2020.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is set vote this Saturday, March 20 on a nearly $1 million project to improve the intersection at N. Pershing Drive and Washington Blvd.

The busy intersection in Lyon Park lacks accessible curb ramps and has narrow sidewalks, long crossings and outdated bus stops, per the county manager’s report, creating a harrowing experience for many pedestrians and cyclists.

Concerns about the intersection were first brought up in May 2018. Four other nearby intersections along N. Pershing Drive were approved for “Complete Streets” pedestrian safety upgrades last year.

The requested $987,270 for the newest project will improve safety and accessibility at the Pershing and Washington intersection by expanding sidewalks and updating curb ramps to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the county says. It also shortens crossings.

Designs were completed last summer.

If approved, construction is expected to start early this summer according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Eric Balliet.

More details about the timeline will come after the county’s approval and a contractor is onboard, Balliet notes in an email to ARLnow. The project is being funded by grants from the Virginia Department of Transportation, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, as well as funds from the county’s Capital Projects Fund.

Ardent Company is being recommended as the construction company by county staff, after the firm came in as the lowest bidder out of six.

Ardent has worked with the county on numerous projects, including the Green Valley Town Square project, the Ballston Metro station’s bus bays, and pedestrian improvements in Crystal City.

Photo via Arlington County

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