Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Climate Change Protests in D.C.Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]

APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]

County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]

APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]

New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]

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Thieves burglarized a house in Arlington’s Madison Manor neighborhood Sunday night, terrorizing a family that was inside the home at time.

The incident happened around 11:30 p.m. this past Sunday, on the 1100 block of N. Powhatan Street.

A man inside the home was able to chase off the suspects, but not before they stole some items and a family car. Police are now searching for the vehicle and the suspects.

More from an Arlington County Police crime report:

BURGLARY, 2019-09080227, 1100 block of N. Powhatan Street. At approximately 11:33 p.m. on September 8, police were dispatched to the report of a breaking and entering just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that unknown suspects gained entry to a residence and began rummaging through items. A female victim heard noise originating from within the home, observed two individuals outside the residence and notified the male victim. The male victim located a suspect inside the residence, confronted him and a brief struggle ensued. The suspect was able to flee the residence and steal the victim’s vehicle, a silver 2013 Ford Escape bearing Virginia license plate VKG7321, and personal property. No injuries were reported. The suspect is described as a dark-skinned black male in his late teens wearing dark clothing. The investigation is ongoing.

A woman identifying herself as one of the victims told ARLnow that her family was terrified during the encounter, which she described as a home invasion-style incident.

“Two intruders entered our home via main-level windows at 1130 p.m.,” she said via email. “One daughter heard noises outside and downstairs, saw men on the street out her window with our car doors open, called dad and sister to alert them in other parts of house — and called 911.”

“The men entered the house through back windows, went down to the basement where our other daughter was by herself, she jumped up and hid in the bathroom,” she continued. “Dad came down and chased them off. They had already taken a set of car keys from the kitchen and they drove off in our car. Everyone’s okay. Missing wallets, iPads, old iPhones, laptop… and car.”

News of the crime has spread quickly on local Nextdoor neighborhood forums, amid a series of mostly vehicle break-ins in northern Arlington neighborhoods.

“The spate of car break-ins (or entry to unlocked cars) in North Arlington has escalated,” the burglary victim write. “Seems like neighborhoods with quick access to I-66 are being targeted. Another car was stolen in the East Falls Church area the same night. Our car keys were tracked to Washington, D.C. yesterday via a Tile on key ring where the other car was located but unfortunately neither car was recovered at that time.”

Police are continuing to remind residents to lock their cars and homes at night, as part of a new initiative dubbed the 9 p.m. Routine. Sunday’s burglary victim urged fellow residents to do just that.

“Don’t just lock your car doors, lock your house doors and windows too,” she said.

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Madison Manor Park (6225 12th Road N.) will close starting next week for renovations.

Arlington County Board members began considering updates to the park back in 2017 and finally voted in May to begin construction.  

Planned updates include “a new nature-themed playground with loose play elements for kids to create their own spaces,” plus added greenery, sheltered picnic areas, a new basketball and volleyball court, news sidewalks, a change in fencing and upgraded irrigation system and an update to the multi-purpose sports field at the park.

More from Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation:

The existing combo-field (i.e. a field where both diamond and rectangular sports can be played) will be renovated with a new relocated backstop to improve water runoff. The combo-field will also have new dugouts, spectator seating, irrigation and sod. The Resource Protection Area, a space that helps filter water into our streams, will be planted with new trees and shrubs to help protect our natural resources. The project also features new native plants with pollinators in the park, as well as minimal fencing, new ADA-accessible walkways, a new picnic shelter and new site furnishings.

Over the last year, the county hosted public forums for residents to share input or raise concerns about the project. Capital maintenance funds are paying for the project.

Completion of the Madison Manor Park project is slated for spring 2020, according to the county website. 

Photos via Arlington County

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is set to vote on planned renovations to Madison Manor Park.

Board members will decide whether to approve a $2.82 million contract for upgrades to the 5.4 acre park at 6225 12th Road N., in the Madison Manor neighborhood, along the W&OD Trail.

County staff members have discussed the upgrades with residents since 2017. The final version of the plans shared in a staff report to the Board include:

  • Renovating and painting the basketball court for basketball and volleyball
  • Renovating the combination athletic field, picnic shelter and playground
  • Installing some fencing around the playground, athletic field, and basketball court
  • Landscaping improvements with 70 percent native species

If approved, the Board would award the contract to Gaithersburg, Maryland-based construction company Highway and Safety Services, Inc.

The playground, picnic area, walkways, signage, and parking area are also listed in the project’s description but no details were shared on the intended changes to those parts of the park.

The county has said one goal of the renovations is to better comply with the standards from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation designed the new park upgrades, according to its website on the project.

Photo via Arlington County

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Arlington County has pledged to inspect the Madison Manor neighborhood’s sewers more often after sewage flooded homes last month for the third time since 2001.

“Typically, our maintenance program calls for inspections of our sewer pipes every four years; however, we have more aggressive schedules of 1, 3 and 6 months for known problem areas,” said Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Services.

“Given the most recent blockage on April 7, 2019, Water Sewer Streets crews will now be monitoring, inspecting and cleaning this location on a six-month rotation,” Baxter added.

Sewage flooded five homes on N. Powhatan Street on April 7, which required crews to work through the night to address the underlying blockage, ARLnow previously reported.

“Three houses on the street were flooded with county sewage both in [2008] and in 2001,” wrote three Madison Manor residents in a letter to ARLnow this week. “On April 7, when the county sewage system failed us for a third time, five houses were affected.”

Tree roots blocking the sewer main caused the first two floods, Baxter said, with debris in the sewer main causing the most recent backup. The county lined the pipes in 2002 to protect from intruding tree roots, she said. It also added a second pipe segment downstream in 2008 to improve flow.

Each flood of raw sewage cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars, according to copies of bills and insurance claims reviewed by ARLnow.

One neighborhood resident, Anne Riley, said her home was flooded all three times, with the latest flood costing $18,000. She wrote in an email that she is submitting a claim to her homeowners insurance but will have to foot her policy’s $2,000 deductible.

“Three times in 20 years is ridiculous,” Riley said. “We don’t even know all we lost.”

Another neighbor, Dave Oaks, said he couldn’t supply receipts for the flood damages to his home in 2001 and 2008 because they were stored in boxes in the basement — which were destroyed in last month’s flood.

Oaks noted the damages from this year’s flood will “run into the tens of thousands” and shared the costs he’s incurred so far:

  • Remove the filth, damaged furniture and contents, salvage and store remaining contents, de-water, dry and disinfect, remove the bottom 3 feet of drywall, all flooring, doors, and baseboards, haul off all the debris (initial estimate ~$8,500)
  • Rebuild walls, doors, baseboards, flooring, re-set bathroom fixtures, paint (initial estimate ~$11,500)
  • Replace washer, dryer, water heater (estimate ~$2,800)
  • Replace contents (no idea since we haven’t finished our inventory)
  • $500 insurance deductible

Neighbor Karen Lewis cited similar costs for the April flood. She told ARLnow that she spent $9,900 so far to inspect the furnace and remove her basement’s contaminated drywall, carpeting, downstairs shower, and hot water heater.

“Our homeowners insurance company estimates the rebuilding costs will be at least $16,000, before even beginning to replace our destroyed or contaminated furnishings and possessions,” she said.

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(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Sewage flooded a number of houses on N. Powhatan Street earlier this week, but officials say they’ve addressed contamination worries for a nearby public park.

Five homes in the Madison Manor neighborhood were flooded early Monday morning after a sewer main clogged, and it took crews all night to clear the line, per a statement from the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Officials said they don’t yet know what caused the blockage.

Neighbor Steve Starr told ARLnow he worried about nearby Madison Manor Park being contaminated, but those concerns were addressed by county crews.

A DES spokeswoman confirmed there was sewage discharge “adjacent to the park” from a house’s sump pump but that the sewage had “mostly infiltrated to the ground,” and that crews had applied disinfectant to the area. There was no impact to nearby trails, which connect to the W&OD Trail, the spokeswoman said.

Starr noted that crews were dispatched quickly to start the cleanup process inside the homes.

“Residents of N. Powhatan woke up to men in moon suits entering their houses to clean sewage,” he said.

The full statement from DES is below.

There was a sewage backup that was reported last night, impacting approximately five homes in the 1200 block of North Powhatan Street. Crews worked overnight to flush the line and were able to break through the blockage around 1 a.m. The flow in the main quickly returned to normal and houses started to see relief around the same time as well. The line has been cleaned and inspected and is now back in service. We will continue to monitor it and investigate the potential issue for the blockage.

If customers continue to experience issues, please contact the Water Control Center at 703-228-6555.

Photo via Steve Starr

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A perilously perched tree has prompted the temporary closure of a playground near East Falls Church.

The severe rain storms of the last few days has caused a “tree-mergency” in Madison Manor Park (6225 12th Street N.).

Susan Kalish, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, says the rain managed to so thoroughly soak the ground at the park that the tree eventually tipped over. She says workers will be removing it “first thing” tomorrow morning (Thursday).

“After they have finished, parks crew will clean up any mess and refasten a section of fence that has been removed,” Kalish wrote in an email. “None of the play equipment has been damaged. One section of the perimeter timber has been dislodged by the tree’s roots and will have to be repaired once the tree is removed.”

Kalish said the county hopes to reopen the playground by “close of business tomorrow,” or Friday morning at the latest.

Parks and recreation workers plan to announce exactly when it will re-open on the department’s Twitter account.

Photo via @arlparksrec

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The County Manager’s fiscal year 2019 proposed budget includes service eliminations to Arlington Transit bus routes 92 and 54.

The reductions would save the county $356,771 in 2019, according to the proposed budget. Public hearings on the budget and tax rate are scheduled for Tuesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 5, respectively.

The routes “are not meeting minimum service standards,” according to the budget document, and “service delivery can potentially be met by other transit or other modes such as Capital BikeShare.”

ART Route 92 runs weekdays from the Crystal City Metro station to the Pentagon Metro station via Long Bridge Park. Several WMATA routes also run through that area.

According to the ART Route 92 web page, “the route also serves as a shuttle for those working at Boeing and the U.S. Marshals Service.”

ART Route 54 operates weekdays during the morning and afternoon rush hours from Dominion Hills to the East Falls Church Metro station via Madison Manor neighborhood.

Both routes have “experienced low ridership (3 passengers per hour) and [have] performed below the established minimum service standards of 15 passengers per hour and a 20 percent cost recovery ratio,” according to budget documents.

The County Board is expected to adopt its final budget on April 21.

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A man seen peeping into a home in the Madison Manor neighborhood fled the scene after being confronted by a passerby.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. last night, two blocks from McKinley Elementary School.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

PEEPING, 2017-10040316, 900 block of McKinley Road. At approximately 9:08 p.m. on October 4, police responded to the report of a peeping. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness observed an unknown male suspect peering into a residential window. When confronted by the witness, the suspect fled the area on foot. A canvas of the area by the responding officer was negative. The suspect is described as a white male between the ages of 18-25 with a thin build. He was wearing red shorts, a black tank top and a black baseball hat the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

Photo via Google Maps

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A car caught fire on N. Quintana Street in Madison Manor just after noon Wednesday (August 2).

The fire began under the hood of a black Honda parked on the street around 12:15 p.m. According to scanner traffic, flames were visible for a short time. Firefighters from Fairfax County Fire & Rescue quickly handled the blaze, a job perhaps made easier by a fire hydrant being located just feet away from the car.

A firefighter on scene had no information about why the fire started, and said it was “just one of those things.” There were no injuries, and the firefighters left the scene around 12:45 p.m. The car’s owner stood nearby talking on his telephone once the flames were doused.

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Madison Manor Park is getting a face-lift.

Renovations at the park at 6225 12th Road N. in the Madison Manor neighborhood will include redesigning the playground, basketball court, picnic shelter, multi-use field, water fountain, park furniture, irrigation walkways, fences and landscaping. The park will also be brought up to current standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The county has been soliciting input from users of the park on its future with a chalkboard where people can write suggestions for what they would like to see and what they would not like to see.

The “information gathering” process for the upgrades is happening summer. The design process is set to begin in September and last until November.

Under a timeline proposed by staff, the Arlington County Board is projected to approve a contract for construction by fall 2018 so work can get underway soon after. The county hopes to have the renovation completed by summer 2019.

The county’s Capital Maintenance Fund will pay for this project. The fund is used for projects that bring existing parks up to current standards.

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