Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

New Lyon Park Neighborhood Plan Approved — “The Arlington County Board today accepted the first update to historic Lyon Park’s Neighborhood Conservation plan since 1973. The update, spearheaded by the Lyon Park Citizens Association, seeks to address increased non-resident traffic and other challenges through 19 recommendations for improvements.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Traffic Enforcement in Crystal City — “Motor Officers conducted high visibility traffic enforcement along Crystal Drive today to curb illegal practices including stopping/parking in the bike and travel lanes. Increase roadway safety [by] being a PAL — Predictable | Alert | Lawful.” [Twitter]

How to Beat the Heat in Arlington — With a scorching weekend of dangerous heat ahead, and an Excessive Heat Watch issued, Arlington County is reminding residents of some ways they can keep cool, stay informed and help at-risk individuals. [Arlington County]

Metro Waterfall, Explained — Metro has an explanation of why a waterfall developed in the ceiling of the Virginia Square Metro station and inside a passing train during the Flash Flood Emergency last week. [DCist]

Grants for African-American Heritage Projects — “Two Arlington-based organizations are among 25 non-profits statewide that will share more than $140,000 in new grant funding from Virginia Humanities” for projects exploring local African-American heritage and history [InsideNova]

Beyer on Trump Impeachment Vote — “I strongly support an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump. I voted to table H. Res. 489 because it would effectively prevent the House from conducting such an inquiry… It would initiate an impeachment trial in the Senate solely to consider whether the President should be removed from office for his recent racist tweets.” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

Dueling APS Letters to the Editor — On one hand, Arlington Public Schools should stick to funding only the basics, like providing textbooks and pencils, according to one letter to the editor published in the Sun Gazette. On the other hand, APS should have a comprehensive approach to sustainability, including recycling and excess cafeteria waste, according to another letter to the editor writer. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Family Sues Metro for Va. Square Death — “A family has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), claiming negligence in the death of a man who lay down on the tracks at the Virginia Square rail station in July 2017.” [NBC Washington]

Jury Duty Process Starting Soon — “The Arlington Circuit Court… will soon begin its annual juror qualification process. Juror questionnaires will be mailed in early August to randomly selected residents of Arlington County and Falls Church City.” [Arlington County]

Tech Company Relocating to Arlington — “Still fresh off of raising millions in venture capital funding, Amify Inc. is leaving Alexandria for a larger space in Arlington just a few blocks from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. The company, which markets, sells and ships products for other companies on Amazon, has signed a three-year lease with JBG Smith Properties to take over the Crystal City space that was last rented by Trustify Inc., an embattled tech company that’s now in bankruptcy.” [Washington Business Journal]

Plaque Proposed for Wilson School — “Gone but not forgotten. That’s the hope of historic-preservation advocates when it comes to the Wilson School in Rosslyn… Plans for an historic marker noting the school’s provenance are wending their way through the county government’s approval process.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Exec Tapped as Accenture CEO — “Accenture Inc.’s board of directors has promoted Julie Sweet, a Greater Washington executive who now serves as the company’s North American CEO, to the top job of global chief executive effective Sept. 1. Her ascension makes Sweet, based in Arlington County, the 34th female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Update on Flooded Commuter Routes — “After time-consuming repairs, the District Department of Transportation reopened Canal Road between Reservoir and Foxhall roads late Monday morning…. In McLean, a rain-swollen [Pimmit] Run undermined a large section of Kirby Road. VDOT said the work to repair the road and embankment will take weeks.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by John Sullivan

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(Updated on 07/12/19) A new independent candidate has thrown his hat in the ring to challenge Del. Alfonso Lopez’s bid for re-election this year.

Terry Modglin is former non-profit organization executive who also served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam for four years. He’s now running against the Democratic incumbent to represent parts of Arlington and Fairfax County in the Virginia House of Delegates. This is the second candidate to run against Lopez, who recently defeated Democratic challenger Julius “JD” Spain, Sr. in the primary election.

Modglin’s campaign platform is centered around green energy, public transportation, and opposing expanded access to abortion.

Modglin said he supports the Independent Green message of “More trains, less traffic.” He’s also calling for new Orange or Silver Metrorail stations at Seven Corners and Skyline, advocating for more walkable and bikeable communities, and tax incentives for solar and wind power.

Modglin has run before with the Independent Green Party of Virginia in 2015 for the Virginia state Senate and as a Green Party candidate for the House of Delegates in 2013He clarified that this time around he is running as an independent.

Modglin told ARLnow one of the main reasons he decided to run was because of Lopez’s support for House Bill 2491, also known as the Repeal Act.

The bill would remove Virginia’s requirement that women undergo an ultrasound before they’re allowed to undergo an abortion and would make it easier for women to obtain a third-trimester abortion if their doctor found the women’s life was in danger. President Donald Trump criticized the bill in a rally earlier this year, focusing on the regulations around third-trimester abortions, which he and others have called “late-term abortions.”

The Repeal Act was tabled during the most recent legislative session.

When asked whether his anti-abortion stance could hurt his chances among Arlington voters, Modglin acknowledged the majority vote progressive but said he was convinced “voters in the 49th District do not favor late-term abortions. Mr. Lopez and I have a difference there.”  

One area both candidates agree on is the need for greater gun control in Virginia. Modglin said he supports the ream of reforms from Gov. Ralph Northam, which include universal background checks, protective orders, and bans on bump stocks and large-capacity magazines.

(The GOP-led state Senate adjourned yesterday before votes could be taken on gun control bills during a special legislative session called by Northam.)

Modglin said he has a personal connection to calls for gun reform. When he was serving in Vietnam, his 13-year-old brother accidentally shot himself in the face with a friend’s gun. 

“He would have died from choking on his own blood except for the tracheotomy given him by the EMTs,” said Modglin. “I asked him a few years later what happened with that gun. He said the young owner a few years later pulled over to the side of the road and shot himself through the head.”

Lopez has served in Richmond since 2012 and has racked up several endorsements from labor groups for his bid for reelection. He’s also raised a sizable war chest from green energy proponents after dropping campaign contributions from Dominion Energy.

Earlier, Lopez told ARLnow that his biggest accomplishments this year were increasing funding for affordable housing, ending a driver license suspension policy some say punished poor people, and mandating the state notify veterans whose military identification information was stolen. He’s since pledged to continue increasing affordable housing funding and countering “far right legislation” such as bills restricting access to reproductive health care.

Modglin will face off against Lopez in the general election on Nov. 5. Virginia residents can check their voter registration status here.

Image 1 via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Police Operation in Ballston — Arlington County Police say they arrested a wanted individual in Ballston Wednesday evening, in front of the DARPA building on N. Randolph Street. Officers used a “diversionary device” — witnesses described it as a flashbang grenade — during the operation, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow. “One suspect was taken into custody without incident,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. Additional details were not immediately available. [Twitter]

‘Perfect Friday Night Date in Rosslyn’ — “A round of miniature golf is one of summer’s pleasures, whether putt-putting past pirate statues at a course by the beach or playing in a regional park closer to home. It works equally well as part of a date night or a group outing with friends. And it’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d expect to find popping up in the plaza outside a Rosslyn office building.” [Washington Post]

Beer Hall Nears Opening in Ballston — The opening of Bronson Bier Hall in Ballston, the successor to A-Town Bar and Grill, is about a month away. Most of the major interior construction appears to have been completed. [Instagram]

Amazon Hosts LGBT Reception — “A special reception [was] hosted by Amazon at a location in the heart of its massive planned expansion was held at Freddie’s Beach [Bar in Crystal City] to greet the area’s LGBT community.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Subsidies for Late Night Commuters — “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has kicked off an effort to support late-night workers who travel when transit service is not available. Since July 1, qualified workers – such as those in the hospitality or health-care industries – have been eligible to receive a $3 subsidy toward travel on Lyft for trips taken between their home and workplace between midnight and 4 a.m.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Community Foundation Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington Community Foundation awarded new college scholarships totaling more than $540,000 to 72 students who will attend college next year. An additional 105 scholarships totaling $281,000 were renewed for returning college students, for a total of 177 recipients.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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(Updated at 9:27 a.m.) Commuters on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines faced minor delays this morning after smoke filled the tunnels of the Ballston station.

A Metro spokeswoman told ARLnow that a train suffered a brake malfunction and offloaded passengers at the station.

“The fans will be turned on and the smoke will dissipate,” said the spokesman. He added he not aware of any health concerns for those who breathed in the smoke.

As of 9 a.m. the gray smoke was still visible and smelled of burning rubber, but crowds has dissipated and first responders had left the scene.

First responders were dispatched to the scene around 8:45 a.m. this morning to reports of smoke filling the tunnel.

Metro-tracking bot Metro Hero Alerts reported that a train went out of service at the Ballston station at 8:43 a.m. this morning and that riders disembarked the train at the station.

https://twitter.com/metroheroalerts/status/1146036674255867905?s=20

Outside, one commuter ditched Metro and was waiting on an Uber to get to work.

“I could smell it going down,” Ashley McMahon said of the smoke as she walked down the escalator to the tunnel earlier that morning. “There was a lot of people.”

Photo courtesy of Ashley McMahon

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Morning Notes

Last Week of School — The 2018-2019 school year is concluding this week for Arlington Public Schools. Today is the last day of school for high schools, while Friday is the last day of school for middle and elementary schools. [Arlington Public Schools]

Park Service Advances Boathouse Plan — “Plans to establish a community boathouse on the Potomac River in Arlington just passed a major milestone. The National Park Service completed its Environmental Assessment (EA) with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which sets up the project to move forward.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

State of the County Address — “Christian Dorsey began his State of the County address by thanking the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington business community for their partnership ‘on specific issues from the transient occupancy tax, to dedicated funding for the Metro, to helping us put our best foot forward in the competition for  Amazon’s HQ2.'” [Press Release]

Arlington Public Safety Awards — “Following the State of the County address, awards were presented to honor Arlington County’s public safety personnel…  Stories of their heroic actions include two firefighters rescuing a person trapped inside a vehicle that was fully submerged in water, a detective dismantling a large, local cocaine trafficking organization with limited investigative leads, and a police officer saving two unresponsive passengers in an overturned, burning vehicle on the roadway.” [Press Release]

Fraud Alert from Arlington Police — “The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office are warning the public about a telephone scam that uses the threat of arrest to extort money from potential victims.” [Arlington County]

Metro Studying Second Rosslyn Metro Station — “After decades of discussion, Metro kicked off a study this week of a new, second station at Rosslyn and other changes that could overhaul the way trains on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines run throughout the system.” [WTOP]

ACPD: No Plans for ‘Mass Deportation’ — “The Arlington County Police Department called the plan ‘political’ and said they have no intention on working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fulfill [President] Trump’s mass deportation plan. The Fairfax County Police Department said it doesn’t participate with ICE on civil enforcement either.” [Fox 5]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Virginia Tech announced today that it will build its latest campus in Potomac Yard, just across the border from Arlington in Alexandria and within close proximity to Amazon’s HQ2.

The university will be building a 15 million-square-foot, graduate-level “Innovation Campus” on a 15-acre property near the Regal movie theater, across Potomac Avenue from the Potomac Yard shopping center. The property is being developed by Lionstone and JBG Smith, which recently inked its deal with Amazon.

The campus was part of the state’s pitch to woo Amazon and joins the university’s other Northern Virginia facilities in Ballston and the West Falls Church.

“The first class of Innovation Campus master’s degree students will enroll in the fall of 2020 in existing space adjacent to where its new academic buildings will eventually be built,” the university said in a press release. “When complete in about 10 years, the campus will enroll 750 master’s candidates and hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.”

Virginia Tech President Dr. Tim Sands said today (Monday) that he was “extremely pleased” about the location and its proximity to Amazon’s headquarters across Four Mile Run.

“It is the ideal location to support Virginia Tech’s bold plan to develop new tech talent, disciplines, programs, and human-centered research that will shape the economic future of the commonwealth and beyond,” he said.

“The campus’s strategic location, on 15 acres just south of the Four Mile Run stream that separates Alexandria and Arlington, positions Virginia Tech and its future partners near the nation’s capital, diverse industries, and leading tech companies, including Amazon and its HQ2 project,” the university noted in its press release.

“The campus will include academic classrooms, incubator space for new startups and research and development, offices for industry collaboration, and convening space for alumni events,” the press release said. “The development plans call for public open space and ground-floor retail, knitting the campus into the fabric of Alexandria.”

The campus will ultimately be part of a 65-acre mixed-use development, with the planned redevelopment of the big-box shopping center.

Amazon’s arrival renewed a funding push for Potomac Yard Metro station project as well as a proposed second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station earlier this year, though fluctuating cost estimates have made the details of the Potomac Yard project murky.

Development officials in Arlington and Alexandria previously hoped Potomac Yard and Crystal City would help attract Amazon. During an August Bisnow event, they noted that even with Four Mile Run drawing a municipal boundary between the two neighborhoods, developer JBG Smith owned large properties throughout the two regions and transportation projects made the area a prime spot for large-scale commercial development.

“If we can’t get it, we turn around and ask the next Fortune 100 company about their expansion plans,” Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said of the Amazon selection process at the time.

During a Sunday event in Arlington about using tax revenue from Amazon to preserve affordability and equity in the area, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said he was “excited” about the new campus and what it can do for the region.

Wilson added that Sands is “under extreme pressure” from Commonwealth leaders to diversify the stream of tech workers in the state.

“And we said, here are we,” Wilson said of Alexandria. “We are a school system of 62 percent free and reduced lunch and 32 percent English language learners. We can help you do that.”

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Morning Notes

Arlington Wins State Safety Award — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Department of Environmental Services (DES) were awarded the 2019 Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety at the 2019 Virginia Highway Safety Summit.” [Arlington County]

Ducks Close Fairlington Pool — “Due to a family of ducks ‘living’ in pool 2 (safely re-located) earlier today, the pool will be closed until Premier Aquatics balances the chemicals to meet Arlington County Health department code.” [Twitter]

Translation Added to County Website — “The County website — arlingtonva.us — now includes a built-in language translation tool that web visitors can use to more easily translate online content into more than 100 different languages.” [Arlington County]

More Candidate Endorsements — Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Senate candidate Nicole Merlene. The Sun Gazette, meanwhile, has endorsed incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. [Greater Greater Washington, Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Sugar Shack Hurt By Metro Shutdown — Metro’s “summer shutdown” is hurting the Alexandria location of Sugar Shack donuts and other small businesses in the city. [Washington Post]

Nearby: Electric Scooter Bursts into Flames — “A Skip e-scooter burst into flames near Franklin Square in downtown Washington on Thursday morning… The cause of the fire is not clear, though it appears to have started around the battery pack while the scooter was parked.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Smoking Hot Near HQ2 — “Since Amazon announced in November its choice of Crystal City and Pentagon City, the median home sale price in that area has increased 17.7%, leaping to $655,000, and the typical home was placed under contract in just six days, down from 10 days last year, according to fresh data from real estate brokerage Redfin.” [Washington Business Journal, Axios, WTOP]

Marymount Names Tech-Oriented Interim Business Dean — “Tech expert and entrepreneur Jonathan Aberman is the new interim dean of Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology. Aberman replaces outgoing dean Marianne Ward-Peradoza and officially takes the reins of the school July 1.” [Washington Business Journal, PRNewswire]

Missing: Firefighter’s Keys — “A firefighter left his keys on the bumper of a fire truck while rushing to an emergency! If you happened to pick up this set of keys along Wilson Blvd from Ballston to 7 Corners, kindly return them to Fire Station 2!” [Twitter]

Water Main Work in Lyon Village — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews are working on an 8-inch main at the 2800 block of Key Boulevard. Some 150 water customers could be affected. The street is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]

Metro Summer Shutdown Underway — “After long lines and packed buses shortly after opening, commuters on Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines are seeing more frequent pick-ups but some traffic delays… Tuesday is the first work day that six stations on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport are closed for platform repairs and other upgrades until Sept. 8.” [WTOP]

Photo: Tomb Sentinel in Thursday’s Storm — “On Thursday, Arlington was hit hard with rain and wind with gusts up to 70mph, but that didn’t stop one man from honoring the fallen. A Tomb Sentinel withstood torrential rains and wind gusts to honor the fallen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” [WJLA, Facebook]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

Landmark Trees Felled During Storm — A well-known, historic oak tree near the Reevesland farmhouse, one of seventeen designated specimen trees on private property in Arlington, was among the trees that fell during yesterday’s storm. Trees were also downed in Arlington National Cemetery; one tree crushed a car. [Twitter, Twitter]

May 23 Storm vs. 2012 Derecho — “The ~36,000 Dominion customers without power in Arlington at the post-storm peak today is just over half the ~68,000 after the 2012 derecho.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Trump HQ Rent Raises Questions — “President Trump was ‘thrilled’ that his campaign acquired northern Virginia office space at ‘bargain basement’ rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va. But campaign finance specialists say the ‘steal’ could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.” [Washington Examiner]

Median Home Price in Arlington Up $100K — “Amazon’s impending move to Northern Virginia has had a significant impact on home list prices in Arlington County, a new analysis by online real estate platform Realtor.com finds. The median list price for a home there has grown 17 percent since last November.” [Curbed]

Amazon Employees Seeking Furnished Apartments — “Oakwood, which already managed a full Crystal City building at 505 18th St. South, recently extended its deal at the property for another five years, Eicholtz said. She said Oakwood is already seeing demand from Amazon employees, but it is not just coming in Crystal City.” [Bisnow]

Another County Board Contender — “Arlington resident Arron O’Dell has qualified to be on the ballot in the Nov. 5 County Board race. ‘My focus is on affordability. I will work to keep Arlington the place we enjoy living in now while controlling costs and taxes’ and ‘making the county more efficient and small-business friendly,’ O’Dell said on a nascent campaign website.” [InsideNova]

Police Chase Ends in Pentagon City — “Alexandria [Police] chased a robbery suspect on NB I-395… Chase reportedly ended at Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City mall. Three suspects in custody.” [Twitter]

Senators Unveil Metro Funding Proposal — “Metro, which is about to undergo extensive summer track work, would receive $150 million a year for badly needed capital improvements under legislation outlined Thursday by U.S. senators from Virginia and Maryland.” [WTOP, Blue Virginia]

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Within the next decade, a new transit group wants to make the bus the go-to transit option in the D.C. area

Earlier this year, the Washington Area Bus Transformation Project — which is backed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — released a draft strategic plan with a variety of short and long-term goals and strategies for improving the D.C. region’s bus network.

“The national capital region is adding 40,000-60,000 jobs and households each year,” the group said in its strategic plan. “But its transportation system is struggling to keep pace, leading to some of the longest commutes and worst traffic congestion in the nation.”

Potential ways to improve D.C. area buses and thus help alleviate traffic issues were broken into six categories, ranging in complexity and potential cost.

  • Ease of use: make simpler, consistent maps, naming conventions, and pricing. Another recommendation would be free transfers between Metrorail service and local bus lines.
  • Prioritizing buses on roads: potentially with bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority, though regional coordination will be needed.
  • Frequent, reliable, convenient service: overhaul existing routes to create a more efficient system and provide flexible, on-demand transit services for areas not well served by conventional buses.
  • Balance regional and local bus systems: develop a 10-year plan to allocate services between bus systems and applicable routes. The plan also includes a recommendation to “revise the cost local jurisdictions pay WMATA for local service to better match the actual cost to provide service.”
  • Streamline back-office functions: most of the recommendations in this category are behind-the-scenes improvements, like consolidating support functions and developing regional standards for bus data collection and analysis.
  • Centralizing regional bus networks: form a regional coalition of jurisdictional representatives with authority to implement strategy recommendations.

The bus system has a long way to go if it wants to turn its image around. Since 2012, bus ridership has fallen 13 percent across the region. The project will also require cooperation from the region’s nine bus service providers.

Much of the project also depends on local jurisdictions to implement strategies like restricting parking to facilitate better bus transit. This is why representatives from Arlington Transit and several Arlington County departments are in the group’s technical team and strategy advisory panel.

Meanwhile, most of the technical team and all of the leadership team are WMATA employees.

So far there are no cost estimates for the plan’s recommendations. Allison Davis, a member of the project team, said the price tag will come later in the process.

The project started in September. The group is currently in the middle of a public outreach campaign to sell the public on the idea and gather feedback. At an open house yesterday at George Mason University’s Arlington campus, the room was covered with boards for collecting thoughts on the project and the direction it should take. A survey is also available online.

The plan goes to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the WMATA board this summer for review, with a roadmap planned for development in the fall.

“We’re trying to look at this from a customer perspective,” Davis said. “This [plan] is a tool we have to make better [transit] choices.”

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