Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

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

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The front porch and attic of a home in Arlington’s historic Maywood neighborhood caught fire early this morning.

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. on the 3200 block of 23rd Street N.

“Crews were able to extinguish the fire with very little interior damage,” the Arlington County Fire Department said via Twitter. “All 4 occupants and a hamster escaped without injury.”

Photo courtesy Arlington County Fire Department

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Morning Notes

Small Apartment Fire in Waverly Hills — “At approx 2 p.m. units were called to the 2000 blk of N. Woodrow St. Firefighters quickly extinguished fire in kitchen with minimal fire spread. Occupants escaped unharmed, not expected to be displaced. No firefighter injuries. Cause of the fire is under investigation.” [Twitter]

Parents Anxiously Waiting for APS Schedule — “Some Arlington parents are frustrated school leaders have not confirmed when school will start this fall. ‘We all like to plan ahead,’ said Arlington parent Meghan Thomas who is trying to plan her family’s summer travel and her kids sports schedule. ‘It is very frustrating not knowing right now what the August schedule is going to be.'” [WJLA]

Home Maintenance in Historic District May Get Easier — “Residents of Maywood soon may find it less onerous to make rudimentary changes to their properties. County Board members in coming months are expected to approve a change in rules governing the community’s local historic district, shifting some of the workload from the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) to county historic-preservation staff.” [InsideNova]

More on ARLnow’s Anniversary Party — “On Wednesday night, Jan. 29, a large crowd gathered at Bronson Bierhall in Ballston to help… celebrate ARLnow’s 10th anniversary. ‘We have had the privilege of continuing to serve the community for 10 years, and I’m just blown away,’ [founder Scott] Brodbeck said about the party.” [Patch]

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Arlington officials are pledging to take a fresh look at how they manage local historic districts, after one neighborhood’s design standards is forcing a Maywood family to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a roof repair.

Brendan and Jody Devine have spent more than a year working with county officials to get permission to use asphalt shingles when overhauling the roof of their home along the 3500 block of 21st Avenue N. But the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, known as the HALRB, blocked that request because the home is located in the Maywood Neighborhood Historic District, and the board feared replacing its current stamped tin shingle roof with a more modern style of roof would leave it out of step with the rest of the neighborhood.

The Devines appealed that decision to the County Board, but members voted unanimously yesterday (Tuesday) to uphold the HALRB’s decision.

Board members, however, expressed a great deal of remorse over that vote, lamenting that the county code obligated them to side against the Devines, even if they agreed with their concerns about the tin roof’s cost.

“We’re ending up on the wrong side of justice if we don’t provide a way to promote the architectural compatibility with the neighborhood, while at the same time accounting for real life circumstances,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey. “I think we can figure out a way to do better.”

Brendan Devine noted at the meeting that the tin shingles would likely cost as much as $30,000, compared to $5,000-6,000 for the asphalt option, and that that is only for a portion of the roof. He argued that the county would be effectively making the neighborhood an “enclave” for the wealthy if the Board forced homeowners to embrace such expensive options.

In general, Board members agreed with that sentiment, though they felt there was little they could do to make a difference in this particular case.

County Attorney Steve MacIsaac cautioned that members had little choice but to side with the HALRB’s ruling unless the Devines could prove that board made some sort of “arbitrary and capricious” decision. The Board took heed of his opinion, but with some communities around the county trying to pursue historic districts in order to protect affordable housing options, several members expressed a willingness to revisit the county’s policies on the matter.

“This is a cautionary tale,” Chair Katie Cristol said. “We’ve had members of our community who have sought to use a historic designation overlay as a tool to protect affordability… but to the extent we’re looking to protect either garden apartments or single family homes, it can sometimes work at cross purposes.”

Board members were particularly interested in finding a way to get the HALRB to consider the cost of a change like this as a central part of their deliberations. Joan Lawrence, the HALRB’s chair, told the Board that her group did indeed take the expense of the tin shingles into account, but ultimately felt making an exception in this case could lead to a slippery slope.

“A defining feature of this historic district is this particular roof,” Lawrence said. “We’re dealing with a situation of death by a thousand cuts… I don’t think being good stewards of a historic neighborhood, a historic house, is making it an enclave.”

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Police: Bike Thieves Busted

Two men have been arrested and charged with trying to steal bikes from a front porch and a parking garage.

The pair were allegedly spotted in Maywood and near Lyon Village attempting to steal bikes Friday morning. Police were called, searched the area and arrested the men, both in their mid-20s.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

GRAND LARCENY, 2017-08040083, 3200 block of 23rd Street N. At approximately 9:43 a.m. on August 4, police were dispatched to the report of two suspicious males attempting to steal a bicycle from the front porch of a residence. Shortly after, a similar call was received reporting two subjects were attempting to steal a bicycle from a parking garage in the 1900 block of N. Daniel Street. Responding officers canvassed the area and located two subjects matching the descriptions provided by the witnesses. Philip Taylor, 25, of Capitol Hills, MD, was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny (x2) and Grand Larceny with Intent to Sell. Raheem Freeman, 24, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny and Identity Theft. Both were held on no bond.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/894633418612461568

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It’s an ongoing problem: thieves using “skimmer” devices to steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting customers of local businesses.

Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood appears to be the latest target of the skimmer scammers.

Reports a resident:

Maywood listserv lighting up with reports of multiple people getting their credit cards skimmed recently. Most people point to common thread of Liberty Gas station on Lee Highway (and a few other likely places in the area) as common thread. But that is not 100% clear.

In most cases, someone buys gas here. Later someone tries to purchase gas in California. Per Cherrydale listserv earlier, it looks like Arlington Police already found a “skimmer” machine earlier at Exxon across the street, but these are new reports from another potential location.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed at least a portion of the neighborhood scuttlebutt.

Here’s what she said via email to ARLnow.com:

Our Financial Crimes Unit received reports of possible credit card skimming at the Liberty Gas station. They responded to the area and during their investigation did not identify a point of compromise at this location. On March 9 at approximately 1:57 p.m., police responded to the Exxon gas station in the 4000 block of Old Dominion Drive for the report of a recovered credit card skimmer. That investigation is ongoing.

These type of cases are typically reported to police as credit card fraud and since we use credit cards for almost all purchases (online, in person, groceries, gas, etc.) the challenge is identifying the point of compromise. Turnaround time from point of compromise to first fraudulent use varies depending on how the suspects intend to use the stolen data. Police work closely with banking institutes who notify us when there is a trend with customers cards being compromised and they identify the location all the cards have in common.

There are some things citizens can do to protect themselves:

  • You will not know if a gas pump has a skimmers. In most cases, the skimmers are being placed inside the machine.
  • Pay inside at the gas station rather than at the pump.
  • Always pay using credit rather than debit – it’s easier to dispute the charges and isn’t linked directly to your bank account.
  • If you haven’t switched to a chip reader on your credit card, do so.
  • Regularly check your bank statements and if you notice fraudulent activity, notify the bank so they can begin an investigation.
  • If you find you were the victim of fraud, file a police report.

Photo via Google Maps

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Power outage 2/9/17

Nearly 600 Dominion customers are without power in the Donaldson Run, Maywood and Riverwood neighborhoods of north Arlington.

Initial reports suggest Dominion crews shut down power to the grid after a tree or a large branch fell on a power line, which started arcing. Those crews are currently working on the lines on the 2600 block of Military Road, according to scanner traffic.

Power crews are keeping busy due to the high winds today. Nearly 2,500 Dominion customers are without power throughout Northern Virginia, though so far no other outages have been reported in Arlington.

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Morning Notes

Snowy sunrise (photo courtesy Valerie Crotty)

County Moves to ‘Phase 4’ of Snow Cleanup — With all residential streets passable, Arlington County has moved to “Phase 4” of its snow removal operation. “Phase 4 will focus on clean up, widening primary and secondary routes, as well as addressing trouble spots in residential areas,” the county said. “Widening and hauling snow from major corridors will continue at night when it is safest — we will do our best to minimize disruption, but please expect some noise.” [Arlington County]

Heavy Traffic Again This Morning — Pretty much the entire stretch of northbound I-395 was a parking lot this morning, as the D.C. area continued to get back to work following this past weekend’s blizzard. Other traffic problem spots include eastbound Route 50, which was backed up starting around Courthouse, Washington Blvd around the Pentagon, and the southbound GW Parkway, which slowed near the first overlook.

McMenamin Digs Out Maywood Neighbors — One Arlington neighborhood that was particularly slow to be plowed after the blizzard was Maywood, along Lee Highway. Residents pitched in to clear the streets, including former independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin, who “brought out his powerful snowblower and carved out walkways, driveways and helped clear a path for an Uber driver whose Chevy Suburban got stuck at the height of the storm.” [Washington Post]

Video: Marymount Swimmers Train in Florida — Want to think warm thoughts after this morning’s icy commute? Here’s a video of Arlington-based Marymount University’s swim team taking a recent training trip to Key West. [YouTube]

Photo courtesy Valerie Crotty

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Morning Notes

Cupid's Garden sculpture in Rosslyn (photo by Justin Funkhouser)

Caps, Star Spotting at Don Tito — The Washington Capitals play their season opener Saturday, but the team has already been spotted out on the town. Members of the Caps were seen dining at Don Tito in Clarendon Wednesday night. Among those in attendance: Caps center Brooks Laich and fiancee Julianne Hough, of Dancing With the Stars fame.

Key Bridge Rehab Coming — D.C. is seeking a contractor for a two-year, $30 million rehabilitation of the Key Bridge. The project will include safety improvements for pedestrians. [Washington Business Journal]

GW Parkway Ramp Closures — The ramp from Reagan National Airport to the GW Parkway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday for paving. Also scheduled for closure during that period: the ramp from the GW Parkway to northbound I-395. Starting tonight, a third ramp — from the GW Parkway to the Key Bridge — will be closed for paving through 7 p.m. Saturday

E.W. Jackson to Address Arlington GOP Women — Controversial 2013 GOP lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson will be the featured speaker at the Arlington Republican Women’s Club fall dinner on Oct. 20. [InsideNova]

School Cafeteria Taste Test for Parents — Arlington Public Schools parents got to taste test food at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria as part of a school lunch open house. The reaction: generally positive. [WTOP]

Maywood Profiled — Washington’s daily paper of record has profiled Arlington’s tiny Maywood neighborhood, off of Lee Highway. Homes in the community now regularly sell for more than $1 million, a contrast from 30 years ago when Maywood was home to “rough characters who rode motorcycles.” [Washington Post]

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Former Curves storefront in Cherrydale, possible home to a new gun storeUpdate on 5/20/15 — Nova Firearms has confirmed that it is indeed opening a store in Cherrydale.

The Maywood and Cherrydale neighborhood email listservs are abuzz today with talk of a gun store coming to the neighborhood.

The rumors surround the former Curves storefront at 2105 N. Pollard Street, in a small strip mall along Lee Highway. In a widely-circulated email, a neighbor says she’s spoken with the shopping center’s owner and he confirmed that a gun store will open there.

The property owner, Kostas Kapasouris, told ARLnow.com last week that an “expensive sporting goods” store has leased the space. He would not say who owns the store was or whether it would sell guns.

Listserv users have said they believe that the store may be linked with NOVA Firearms, a gun store in McLean. A man who answered the phone this afternoon said the owner of NOVA Firearms would call an ARLnow.com reporter back — but then quickly hung up before asking for a phone number.

Owners and employees of other stores in the shopping center said they heard the same rumors of a gun store or a high-end sporting goods store selling guns, but said they had not heard anything definitive from Kapasouris. Some expressed concerns about a gun store moving in, particularly given that there are several schools in the area.

Residents on the listservs expressed similar concerns.

“Wow! Was hoping for something a bit more family friendly,” one said. “I’m sure ‘walkable to gun shop’ will do wonders for our real estate values.”

“I am adamantly opposed to this!” another said. “If others feel the same way, can we petition the County to prevent this business in our neighborhood?”

It’s unlikely the county government has any legal standing to prevent a gun store that’s otherwise following Virginia law from opening. At least one resident privately told ARLnow.com that he’s not sure why there’s such an uproar.

“Note that the pawnshop on Lee Highway and Kirkwood (which used to go by National Pawnbrokers) also sells firearms, so I’m not sure what the big deal is,” he said.

Interior construction could be heard inside the store last week and workers could be seen coming and going. County officials told ARLnow.com that construction permits were not necessary because the work was minor. Inspectors responded to the location and found no code violations.

As of Tuesday afternoon, opaque plastic sheets covered the store’s windows and no other activity could be seen.

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Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood lost its foremost historian last month.

Robert McAtee, the community’s oldest resident, died Aug. 10 at the age of 100. A colorful local figure, “Mac” was a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was known for his love of collectables, Scottish history and of telling tales of “old Arlington.”

Members of Maywood’s neighborhood listserv were informed of McAtee’s passing last week. The email included an obituary, written by Maywood resident Peter Harnik.

The obit is reprinted, with permission, below.

Robert McAtee, the oldest resident of Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood, died on Sunday, August 10. He was just two months shy of 101 and had lived in the same house for 98 years.

Universally known as “Mac,” Mr. McAtee was an institution in the county, attending community meetings and high school reunions in the kilt of his Scottish kinsmen and regaling all listeners with scrupulously accurate stories of old Arlington. An inveterate collector, Mac is reported to have had more than 20,000 license plates and 1,000 books of Scottish history along with cameras, buttons, stamps, coins, fossils, and much more.

He attended Cherrydale Elementary School (since demolished) and enjoyed telling stories of clambering along (and under) the trestle of the old Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. He also attended Washington-Lee High School, where he was a proud member of the Cadet Corps. After graduation in 1932, he began his working life at the Government Printing Office, where he worked until being drafted into the Army of the US in the fall of 1941. Mac was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA where he graduated with Class 13. He served for three years and was honorably discharged as a Captain. To further contribute to the war effort, Mac subsequently volunteered for the US Maritime Service.

At the conclusion of World War II, Mac returned to Maywood. He attended Columbia Tech where he studied electrical engineering. He worked for General Electric for a short time until he began managing a trailer rental lot on Lee Highway. In 1955 he purchased a trailer rental business at Seven Corners which he operated for over 45 years.

Mac had one sister but was never married and leaves no survivors. In recent years he was cared for by his long-time friend Robert Beck, Katherine Skerl, and care-givers Denora, Amy, and Marina.

In addition to good health, he also had a prodigious memory. Almost until the end he could rattle off the names of every family member in virtually every house in Maywood in the 1930s. He delighted showing visitors his collection of 24 letters and postcards – each with a different address – that had arrived at his house. The house didn’t change, but over the years its street name, city name, post office, zip code and other identifiers did.

Mac also reported that his family was the first in the neighborhood to install indoor plumbing. He told of the regular deliveries of milk, eggs, coal and blocks of ice, and he pointed out the location of small shops and the kindergarten within what is now the residential neighborhood.

He was perhaps best known in the neighborhood for annually renewing his automobile’s license plate with his updated age, usually entwining Roman numerals with his initials. Even though he wasn’t able to drive at the end, he kept his car, and at his death his plate spelled simply “RBM 100”.

Mr. McAtee took part in many recorded remembrances and also bequeathed much of his historically significant collection to the Virginia Room of the Arlington Library.

A memorial service will be held in the Fall.

After the jump: McAtee’s memories of Arlington in the first half of the 20th century, reprinted with permission. Read More

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