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County Plans ‘Short-Term’ Safety Improvements Along Fairfax Drive, 10th Street N. Corridor

County officials are planning some improvements along Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. as the roads run from Ballston to Clarendon, with a special focus on ways to make the corridor safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Arlington transportation planners are circulating a survey seeking feedback on how the roads should change, as the county weighs a series of modest improvements over the next few months. In all, the study area stretches from Fairfax Drive’s intersection with N. Glebe Road in Ballston to 10th Street N.’s intersection with N. Barton Street in Lyon Park.

The county is envisioning changes along the 1.5-mile-long stretch of road as “short-term, quick-build projects to enhance safety and mobility on the corridor.” Officials hope to eventually commission more expansive changes, after it took over management of the roads from the state this summer, but the county’s budget crunch means that options are limited, for now.

But, in the near term, the county plans to examine “multimodal traffic volume data, curbspace use, crash data, and transit service data” in addition to the community’s feedback to chart out small-scale changes, according to a project webpage.

The advocates with the group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County certainly have some suggestions for the corridor. The group sent an email to its members urging them to advocate for the transformation of Fairfax Drive into a “low-stress biking corridor, even if it requires re-purposing space from motor vehicles,” in addition to other cycling improvements.

“The existing Fairfax Drive bike lanes are narrow, frequently blocked, and fail to be low-stress due to fast-moving traffic,” the advocates wrote. “The existing, short two-way protected bike lane should be extended all the way from Glebe Road to Clarendon Circle.”

The group also argues that 10th Street N. and Fairfax Drive both lack safe road crossings, particularly as the corridor runs from N. Barton Street in Lyon Park to N. Monroe Street in Virginia Square.

“This makes the corridor a barrier,” they wrote. “Additional safe crossings should be provided and these crossings must be simple and easy to use for cyclists as well as pedestrians.”

The county survey on road improvements will be open for submissions through Dec. 16. Officials hope to have short-term recommendations ready by sometime early next year, then install those by the spring or summer of 2019.

Photo via Arlington County

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Arlington Boulevard Trail Changes in Lyon Park Spark Hope for Cycling Advocates

Arlington County is working on some modest improvements to the Arlington Boulevard Trail in Lyon Park, renewing hopes among cycling advocates that the trail will someday provide a fully contiguous alternative to Route 50.

The county is currently planning a series of changes on the trail as it runs near Arlington Boulevard’s intersection with N. Pershing Drive, near the Day’s Inn hotel in the area. Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services says it hopes to complete the following alterations sometime this fall:

  • Construction of a new, ADA-accessible curb ramp at the corner of N. Pershing Drive and Wainwright Road (the frontage street between Arlington Blvd and the Days Inn hotel)
  • Addition of on-street markings along the eastern portion of Wainwright Road to separate trail users from motorized traffic.
  • Removal of parking on the eastern portion of Wainwright Road.
  • Connection of the Wainwright Road on-street trail to the existing Arlington Boulevard Trail as it approaches 2nd St N.

The county envisions the new curb ramp connecting the trail to the new on-street trail along Wainwright Road, which will then connect to the rest of Arlington Boulevard trail running past the Washington and Lee Apartments.

“Arlington County expects that the markings/bollards used to delineate the trail along Wainwright Road will be short-term,” the county wrote in a NextDoor post. “Given the availability of funding, Arlington County plans to build out a curb separated trail adjacent to Wainwright Road to further increase the safety of this portion of the trail.”

The cycling advocacy blog WashCycle noted that these changes come a few months after Washington Gas replaced a pipeline in the area, leading to the repaving of the trail and the removal of some bollards nearby.

The blog hailed these latest proposed changes, noting that the trail is currently “discontinuous and below standard” and referred back to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s proposal to someday add three miles worth of trail along Arlington Boulevard as evidence of the trail’s potential for growth.

“The boulevard trails, like the ABT, MacArthur Boulevard Trail and the planned or under-construction South Capital and Washington Boulevard Trails, don’t get quite the coverage that the rail or stream trails get; but they’re [arguably] more important for transportation as they go right through the areas where people live and work,” WashCycle wrote. “The ABT has a long history and, as WABA points out, plenty of potential. It can, or already does, connect to eight trails including Rock Creek, Mt Vernon, W&OD and Cross County. As proposed by WABA, it could be a real backbone for Arlington County biking. It would be great to see this once again become a must-see trail.”

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Crime Report: Police Investigating Stabbing, Attempted Robbery in Lyon Park

Arlington police are searching for two men who allegedly attempted to rob a man and stabbed him in Lyon Park Monday night (Aug. 13).

County police say the man exited a car and was walking along the 2200 block of N. Pershing Drive, near the Shops at Pershing and the Sheffield Court Apartments, when two men grabbed him from behind “and attempted to steal his belongings.”

The man was able to wriggle free and run away, but suffered a “non-life threatening laceration” during the struggle. He was treated at Virginia Hospital Center, where he informed police about the incident several hours later.

Police don’t currently have more detailed descriptions of the suspects.

Full details from a county crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING (late), 2018-08130027, 2200 block of N. Pershing Drive. At approximately 3:22 a.m., police responded to Virginia Hospital Center for the late report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 11:00 p.m., the victim exited a vehicle and was walking in the area when he was approached by two male suspects who grabbed him from behind and attempted to steal his belongings. The victim was able to free himself and run away, however he suffered a non-life threatening laceration during the incident. None of the victim’s belongings were stolen. There is no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

Here are the full highlights from the past week’s crime reports, including some we’ve already reported on:

BURGLARY (late), 2018-08140252, 1200 block of N. Rolfe Street. At approximately 9:41 p.m. on August 14, police were dispatched to the late report of breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 3:40 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence, causing damage. Nothing was reported stolen from the residence. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-0811069, 2600 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. At approximately 8:05 a.m. on August 11, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious vehicle. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when a vehicle pulled up next to her and the driver asked her for directions. The female victim was providing directions when she observed the suspect touching himself inappropriately and exposing his genitals. The victim yelled and the suspect drove away. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male with black hair. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY (late), 2018-08100128, 3900 block of Fairfax Drive. At approximately 12:36  p.m. on August 10, police responded to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:00 p.m. on August 9, the victim was walking in the area when an unknown male suspect approached her from behind, shoved her against a wall and stole her personal property. The suspect then assaulted her, however, the victim resisted and a brief struggle ensued before the suspect fled on foot with her property. The victim suffered minor injuries. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 40-45 years old, 5’8″-6’0″ tall, weighing 190-210 lbs., with brown hair. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-08090151, 6200 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 2:58 p.m. on August 9, police were dispatched to a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence and stole numerous items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

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El Fuego Food Truck to Open Restaurant in Lyon Park

Today, if you want the El Fuego food truck’s unique fusion of Peruvian cuisine with international flavors, you’ll have to track it down first. But this fall, El Fuego will find a permanent brick-and-mortar home in Lyon Park.

El Fuego mixes traditional Peruvian food with influences from other cultures, with a particular favoritism towards Chinese and Japanese dishes. Freedom to pursue his own types of cuisine was what drew Manuel Alfaro to leave the restaurant industry and start his food truck eight years ago. Now, that same freedom is what’s bringing him back to starting his own restaurant.

“We’re going to have our own restaurant, so we’ll be able to do things that have been constantly requested,” said Alfaro. “On a food truck, you’re dealing with a kitchen that’s four feet by eight feet. You have to have a menu selected and limited.”

Alfaro says many of their dishes are broken up into summer and winter menus. Some foods, like a Peruvian pulled chicken and yellow pepper dish with the fusion twist of added cheese and wrapped in an eggroll, just don’t keep in a food truck during summer months.

“This is an item that needs to be cooked from frozen,” said Alfaro. “During the summer we tried to have that on the food truck, but it doesn’t hold up to the temperatures in the kitchen. Even though we have a freezer on truck, they still start sticking together. Having a [restaurant] location will enable us to have all of these dishes.”

For the past year, Alfaro says he’s been looking for a location to put his restaurant. But Alfaro said his options were slim. He was trying to find a location that had partially been built out as a restaurant or had previously been a restaurant to cut down on the immense initial costs of installing a hood in the kitchen.

But when Alfaro found the location on the 2300 block of N. Pershing Drive, it was perfect. The space was built as a restaurant, complete with a hood in the kitchen, back when it was originally envisioned as vegetarian restaurant Alt’s — the space only opened briefly due to family troubles among its owners, culminating in founder Bryan Morrell’s death last month.

When he first came to the area, Alfaro said he sat outside the restaurant around lunchtime and watched the traffic. There are several other restaurants in the nearby area, all of which were active around lunch. The street is a major cut-through when I-66 is backed up, and Alfaro said the nearby apartments and Fort Myer were promising for a steady dinner crowd.

Alfaro said the goal is for an opening in the middle of September, but experience in the restaurant industry tells him a grand opening sometime in early October is more likely. Alfaro said his vision for the opening day is to have the restaurant operational with the food truck serving more customers outside.

“We are serving something we are proud of,” said Alfaro. “This is our food. It’s not someone else’s menu dictating we serve this or that. This is food we are proud of… It gives us a drive to succeed and provide something any American can come in, try, and say ‘wow, this is awesome.'”

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The Little Gym Tumbles Into Lyon Park

The Little Gym, an international franchise focused on stimulating physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development in children through gymnastics, is coming to Arlington.

The new location is projected to open on Sept. 4 in Lyon Park at 2209 N Pershing Dr.

“The mission is serious but the method is fun,” said Jessalyn Crossman, gym director at the Arlington location.

The gym is non-competitive and focuses around utilizing gymnastics as a learning tool. There’s six other locations throughout Northern Virginia, including gyms in Falls Church and Alexandria, but Crossman said they found that many of the families going to those locations were coming from Arlington.

“When we looked at Northern Virginia, we noticed a really big gap,” said Crossman. “There’s a lot of young parents in Arlington starting out. There’s a lot of people who are implants from other parts of the country, who have come and started here. I like that we can build a gym community of people who are new to the area.”

Crossman has worked with the Little Gym since 2009 and said the biggest impact she’s seen on children is helping them build confidence.

“A lot of kids coming to the gym aren’t looking to be olympic gymnasts, they’re looking to grow as an individual,” said Crossman. “I love seeing kids make the transition to being able to come in by themselves. This translates into pre-school, where they have to confidence to do more things on their own.”

The Little Gym is aimed at children ranging from four months to twelve years old. While most of the classes focus on gymnastics, the Arlington gym will also offer an introduction to sports class that will help children understand the rules, strategies and fun of team sports.

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Owner of Lyon Park Vegetarian Restaurant Dies

The owner of a vegetarian restaurant that was briefly open in Lyon Park died last month.

Bryan Francis Morrell passed away last Sunday (July 29), according to an obituary posted on a Fairfax funeral home’s website.

Morrell helped found Alt’s Vegetarian Restaurant, which opened this past spring and served up meatless burgers in a space at 2300 Pershing Drive.

A tipster told ARLnow that Morrell was dealing with health problems, but otherwise didn’t provide details on how he died. Representatives with Alt’s did not respond to a request for comment, and the restaurant has shut down after opening its doors in late March.

Morrell was born and raised in Fairfax, according to the obituary, and attended W.T. Woodson High School. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Morrell worked for SAIC, in addition to founding Alt’s.

The obituary memorializes Morrell as “an avid environmentalist and wildlife enthusiast, sneakerhead and technology buff” and says he “will be missed for his stubborn, yet charismatic and humorous personality.” It added that Morrell helped champion the passage of a state law requiring that drivers over the age of 75 renew their licenses in person every five years, after his brother, Darren, was killed by an elderly driver in 2011.

Morrell is survived by; his parents, David and Cynthia; his brother, Matthew; and his “best friend,” Roxanne, according to the obituary.

The family is holding a private funeral, and urges anyone interested to send donations to the World Wildlife Organization in Morrell’s name in lieu of flowers.

Photo via Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home

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County Plans to Pilot New Bike, Pedestrian Features on N. Pershing Drive

Arlington is gearing up to test some protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety features along a heavily trafficked stretch of N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park.

The county plans to install the new “safety and accessibility improvements” on the road between Washington Blvd and N. Barton Street in the coming weeks, as part of some previously scheduled summer paving work in the area. Mainly, the construction will focus on adding protected bike lanes alongside some new landscaping designed to better separate cars from pedestrians.

Transportation planners have been studying the road for potential improvements since last summer, over concerns that Pershing can be challenging for cyclists and pedestrians alike along the road as it leads up to Route 50. While the county hopes to eventually make the changes permanent, Arlington’s gloomy financial picture means that officials will merely be testing out the new features over the next few years as “a cost-effective opportunity to implement improvements early,” according to the county’s website.

Workers also plan to relocate the Capital Bikeshare station in the area once the paving work gets going. The station currently sits along 7th Street N., but the county is planning to move it up the block a bit to where the road intersects with Washington Blvd, adjacent to a gas station in the area.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says that work will likely start sometime in September, noting “we don’t have an exact timeframe yet.”

Someday, the county plans to add pedestrian safety and bus stop accessibility improvements at intersections all along Pershing as it runs to meet N. Glebe Road. However, those projects are on hold until the county can come up with a bit more funding.

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Police Arrest Man for Peeping Near Lyon Park Apartment Complex

Arlington police arrested a man for peering into a window and trying to force it open near a Lyon Park apartment complex Tuesday night (July 24).

County police say they received a call about a man looking into the window of a home along the 100 block of N. Wayne Street just after midnight Tuesday. The block is home to the Washington and Lee Apartments, just off Washington Blvd.

Two people tried to confront the man, but he fled the scene on foot. Officers subsequently apprehended 33-year-old Andelino Carrillo Najarro, and charged him with peeping into a dwelling and drunk in public.

He’s now being held without bond, awaiting an Aug. 22 hearing in Arlington County General District Court.

Full details on the incident from a county crime report:

PEEPING, 2018-07240004, 100 block of N. Wayne Street. At approximately 12:10 a.m. on July 24, police were dispatched to the report of peeping. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness observed an unknown male suspect looking into the window of a residence and attempting to open the window. After being confronted by the witness and victim, the suspect attempted to flee the scene on foot prior to police arrival. Andelino Carrillo Najarro, 33, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Peeping and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Police

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Lyon Park Water Main Break to Snarl Evening Rush Hour Traffic

A water main break at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park is taking longer to repair than first expected.

An 8-inch water main burst along Washington Blvd this morning, causing hundreds of water customers in Lyon Park to either lose water service or experience low water pressure.

Traffic is being diverted around the work scene, causing slow traffic. Shortly before 3 p.m., Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said via social media that repairs would continue into the evening, after initial estimates were that work would wrap up by 4 p.m.

“Traffic will remain slow,” DES said. “Thanks for continued patience.”

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Potential Trouble for Alt’s in Lyon Park

Alt’s, a new restaurant in Lyon Park specializing in meatless burgers, may be hitting some roadblocks on its way to opening.

Last month, after a representative showed up unannounced at our offices to drop off menus, it seemed like an opening was imminent. Over the weekend, however, a local resident sent us a photo of a legal notice posted on the storefront at 2300 N. Pershing Drive that suggests the opening might not be happening soon, after all.

The notice says Alt’s has failed to obtain proper insurance and pay more than $56,000 in rent.

Should Alt’s fail to fix each of the items detailed in 10-15 days, the notice says, “then be advised that KV Associates, LLC intends to exercise its option… to terminate the lease.”

The Alt’s Facebook page was last updated on May 22, 2015 when the restaurant announced that it had signed a lease.

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Lyon Park Gun Store Sales Steady Amid Gun Control Debate

(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) A gun store in Lyon Park is quietly doing steady business despite a roiling national debate over gun control policies.

Sales at NOVA Armory have not been affected by local and national protests for gun control in the past month, according to owner owner Shaun Poulin.

“It’s a small growth every couple months, but I don’t think we can correlate it to an event,” Poulin said.

Poulin said that the store hasn’t followed typical gun sale trends because, he believes, his focus is on community, not profit. The store has become a place for people of all backgrounds, including law enforcement officers and military personnel, to hang out.

“We’re not here to get rich off this. We’re here because we like it doing a service for people,” he said.

According to CNN there was a national uptick in background checks, which correlated to increased gun sales, during the Obama administration, but gun sales and corresponding background checks fell nationwide in 2017.

NOVA Armory’s sales, according to its owner, have held steady and haven’t followed national trends since it opened in 2016. That includes upticks in sales seen nationwide after mass shootings during Obama’s presidency.

The store sells the AR-15, the same gun used in the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that recently reignited the gun control debate.

Poulin noted that NOVA Armory has reserved the right to refuse service on any reason the store sees fit. There have been no threats made against the store since the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., he added.

The store, however, faced major community backlash prior to and shortly after opening two years ago. NOVA Armory, at that time under different management, threatened to sue 64 individuals who spoke out against the store’s opening. Also in 2016, the store suffered a burglary and an incident in which “a man with mental health issues walked [in] and started yelling obscenities.”

Photo via NOVA Armory/Facebook

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Alt’s Vegetarian Restaurant to Open Soon in Lyon Park

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) Alt’s, a vegetarian restaurant in Lyon Park, might soon be opening.

Though Alt’s signed a lease at 2300 N. Pershing Drive in May 2015, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page, and filed permits to renovate later that year, the restaurant has only recently revealed signs of life.

Signs and a business hours card are up on the restaurant’s storefront. A company representative arrived unannounced at ARLnow’s office yesterday with laminated menus in hand, saying that it was opening this week. (Note to other businesses: please email information to us instead.)

No one from the restaurant answered calls or emails today and it was not open during lunchtime.

The restaurant’s business signs indicate it will be closed on Mondays and open from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 12-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. on Saturday to Sunday.

The restaurant sells basic vegan and vegetarian “Altburgers” for $4.50 and a vegetarian “altbacon” cheeseburger for $6.20 — “the true pinnacle of meat alternative burgers.” Customers can sub out the bun for a “delicious gluten free rice tortilla” if desired, according to the menu.

On Alt’s website, it claims people can’t tell the difference between a regular burger and its meatless burgers.

“Come to Alt’s, where your perception of a meatless burger will be forever changed,” the site writes.

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District Martial Arts Hosting Free Women’s Self-Defense Seminar

The world isn’t always safe, but it helps to be prepared. That’s why District Martial Arts (2300 N. Pershing Drive) is hosting a free self-defense seminar on Friday (March 2). And this one is catered to women.

Taught by coaches with decades of experience, the two-hour session is for participants of all fitness levels. Students will learn self-defense moves derived from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, boxing, and krav maga. Instructors for this class are Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Scott Dance, boxing veteran Dawson St-Jure, and ex-Australian military krav maga expert Richard Dittler.

Located in the heart of Arlington, District Martial Arts caters to people who aren’t afraid to break a sweat, but don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s about cultivating a community-centered fitness experience.

And if you enjoy this seminar, or can’t make it, there’s more practice to be had. The studio offers world-class martial arts training for both competitive fighters and everyday people who are looking to learn martial arts or switch up their fitness routines. Regular classes include Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling. While each program offers a total fitness experience, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu focuses on being grounded and Muay Thai keeps you on your feet. Wrestling can be considered a mix of the two.

The women’s self-defense seminar is taking place on March 2 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Visit District Martial Art’s website to learn more about this event and other opportunities.

The preceding post was written by ARLnow.com and sponsored by District Martial Arts.

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Vehicle Flips on Side in Lyon Park Crash

A collision at a busy intersection in Lyon Park blocked traffic during the Monday evening rush hour.

The crash happened just before 5 p.m., at the intersection of N. Daniel Street and 10th Street N. One vehicle, a Volvo XC70, tipped to its side while a Mitsubishi Eclipse was severely damaged.

Two ambulances were dispatched to the scene, though no serious injuries were reported, according to the police scanner. The intersection was temporarily blocked by emergency vehicles; it reopened around 5:45 p.m.

At least two vehicle occupants were walking around the closed-off intersection speaking with police and taking photos of the crash.

Map via Google Maps

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Military Device Prompts Scare in Lyon Park

An unexpected find by a Lyon Park resident prompted a police and fire department response on the 200 block of N. Barton Street last night.

The resident called the authorities after finding a military mortar shell in his or her basement. Police, firefighters and the county’s bomb squad responded to investigate.

Eventually, it was determined that the object was indeed an old World War II mortar shell, but that all of the explosives has already been removed.

“Nothing illegal or dangerous about it, but [the] homeowner turned it over to [the] bomb team anyway,” a fire department spokesman said via text message.

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