VT Says It Is Behind ‘Driverless’ Van — The “driverless” van seen driving around Clarendon over the past week was actually a Virginia Tech research project designed to record the “real world reactions” to a vehicle without a driver. However, there was a driver: a man dressed as a car seat. The mystery was solved in real time on Twitter yesterday and quickly went viral. [NBC Washington, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Twitter]
Retired Colonel Saved By Quick-Acting EMS Crew — Firefighters and EMS personnel from Arlington and Alexandria helped to save the life of a retired U.S. Army colonel who went into cardiac arrest in his home in Crystal City. The crew used defibrillators to revive him. [Facebook, WJLA]
APS Tells Staff to Stop Paying Sales Tax — As a public institution Arlington Public Schools is exempt from paying sales tax, but the school system’s internal auditor has found that some staff members have been placing orders for APS via Amazon without sales tax exempted. APS has since requested sales tax refunds for those orders. [InsideNova]
Arlington Resident Cited for Boating Incident — An Arlington man has been cited for operating a vessel while impaired after his 28-foot boat ran aground off the eastern shore of Maryland, south of Ocean City. [WMDT]
Notable Rivercrest Property Sold — A home and an adjacent vacant lot have been sold near the intersection of Military Road and N. Glebe Road in the Rivercrest neighborhood. The lot was the site of a “national debate over property rights and conformity,” when in 1969 an architect started to build a custom home on the lot but was ultimately stopped after a legal challenge by neighbors, who thought the home was ugly and would not “retain the very pleasant, beautiful nature of Rivercrest.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flipper: Selling Home to the County Was a Pain — A real estate investor has penned a piece for the Post in which he recounts the sale of one of his properties to Arlington County. The sale, of a house near Fire Station 8, was “neither lucrative nor convenient” and was more trouble than it was worth, he writes. However, the owner of a run-down property next to his received a much better price by holding out, the piece suggests. [Washington Post]
Mouthwash on Clarendon Bus Stop — Updating the saga of the stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop, the deodorant has now been joined by an errant bottle of Listerine mouthwash. [ARLnow]
Update on 6/27/17 — A bottle of Listerine mouthwash has joined the deodorant on top of the bus stop.
Earlier: Every once in awhile, a mystery captivates a community.
Today, those who work in the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd (including ARLnow.com’s staff) are wondering: under what circumstances did this stick of Old Spice High Endurance deodorant get on top of this bus stop?
The deodorant has been there, across from the Clarendon Metro plaza, for at least a week. Neither rain nor wind has knocked it from its perch. It’s unclear if anyone will ever remove it.
Some locals who spoke to ARLnow.com had theories as to how the deodorant got up there.
“People get drunk on the weekends, that would be my best guess,” said a man who works at a local bar.
“I assume somebody just threw it and didn’t expect it to land up there,” said another passerby.
“I ride this bus every day. I would’ve never looked up there, even though I’m tall I can’t see up there,” said a man waiting at the bus stop, who was previously unaware of the deodorant’s presence. “Maybe somebody was upset with the deodorant’s performance and threw it up there out of anger. Or, more often than not, people throw things up there to see how often they stay up there.”
The windows on the second floor of 3100 Clarendon Blvd — home to the MakeOffices coworking space and dozens of companies — do not open, thus making it unlikely that it was tossed from an office. There is a rooftop patio on the third floor, but it would have been difficult to get a stick of deodorant to land and stay on the angled bus stop roof from that height.
Have any other guesses? Let us know in the comments.
A restaurant that can only rarely be seen serving customers is again closed for reported maintenance issues.
Pio Pio, located at 3300 Wilson Blvd between Clarendon and Virginia Square, has been closed “for at least a week,” according to a tipster. That’s despite a “help wanted” sign in the window.
A sign reading “today afternoon closed for maintenance” is posted on the door, as it was this past December when we first reported that Pio Pio was closed for an issue with the roof. It’s unclear if Pio Pio reopened at any point between then and now.
Reached at the restaurant’s phone number, a man who did not give his name said “I don’t know” when asked when Pio Pio would be reopening. “Someone will call you back,” the man said before hanging up.
Tipsters who’ve contacted ARLnow.com have expressed fascination with the “mysterious” business which, like the former Sam’s Corner before it, does not seem to keep regular hours.
Said one tipster:
The Pio Pio restaurant at the corner or Wilson and Jackson has been closed for at least a week. Interestingly, there’s a “help wanted”
sign in the window of the shuttered restaurant. The place rarely has had any customers, and often has a Hummer parked outside. And then there’s that man in a crazy chicken costume who used to stand outside scaring passers-by. Strange…
From another tipster:
… have you guys ever done any investigation as to the real story at Pio Pio? It would be funny if it weren’t so mysterious. There’s literally no one ever in there. They are closed during peak hours including Saturday afternoon and evening. Has to be some story there but I have never seen it told.
The plaque reads:
FORT ETHAN ALLEN CHAIN BRIDGE GULF BRANCH SANCTUARY FOR WILDLIFE AND NOT SO WILDLIFE HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS …
… HISTORICAL SITE OF CIVIL WAR FORT ETHAN ALLEN WHICH COMMANDED ALL THE APPROACHES SOUTH OF PIMMIT RUN TO CHAIN BRIDGE DURING THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION (1861-1865)
Of particular interest is the phrase “War of Northern Aggression.” It’s safe to say that this term, used by some southerners to refer to the Civil War, has been out of favor in Arlington for some time.
The plaque is attached to a large stone on the corner of N. Richmond and Stafford streets, near where the fort once stood. Behind it is a small but lush green space, surrounded by a wood rail fence. But “the Sanctuary,” according to neighbors, is the name a housing developer gave to the homes he built in the area.
Many residents of this 18-home community, who say their homes were built on land owned and developed by the Caruthers family, find the plaque near the entrance to their neighborhood a little strange. (We were unable to reach the Caruthers family to comment on the plaque.)
“The thing that mentions the War of Northern Aggression?” said Maxwell Denney. “I mean, it’s just ridiculous.”
Other locals also find the terminology out of place.
“I thought this plaque… was rather odd,” said a tipster who emailed ARLnow.com. “While I recognize that Virginia seceded at the Civil War, a modern-day reference to the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ (at the site of a Union fort) strikes me as somewhat peculiar.”
Officials we talked to said they are not sure of the story behind the plaque.
The Arlington County Historic Preservation program, Arlington Public Schools, the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation, and even the people at the Madison Community Center — none knew anything about the plaque. Arlington historic preservation officials said the plaque does not belong to the county and they had no record of its installation.
Update at 5:05 p.m. — Commenter AnonymousArlingtonian linked to a 2011 Arlington Connection article that points to Preston Caruthers as the plaque’s builder. The plaque also was mentioned in a Falls Church News-Press column in 2011, but the author of that column, Charlie Clark, told us today he doesn’t believe Caruthers installed it.
Update at 6:45 p.m. on July 24 — Clark has updated his previous assertion, saying he has since confirmed the plaque was indeed installed by Caruthers.
Update at 9:50 a.m. on July 25 — Falls Church News-Press columnist and Arlington history enthusiast Charlie Clark has walked back his earlier statement on who wrote the three-decade-old plaque mentioning the “war of northern aggression” that is on display on private property on N. Stafford Street at the Madison Center and Fort Ethan Allen.
Clark over the weekend contacted the Caruthers family and learned that it was indeed developer Preston Caruthers who created the sign, which the family has long seen as a humorous way to get people’s attention. Here is Caruthers’ statement to Clark:
“Thank you for the concern about some my friends and good neighbors’ attention to our sanctuary street sign. It was never intended to be offensive in any way, but rather to point out to citizens and visitors the sad history of our area during the Civil War. The plaque and statues on the school playground provide so little attention to this sad era of our community’s history. I’m very sorry if this has ever offended anyone.”
A small prop plane was flying circles over Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. yesterday, and one tipster says it was probably an FBI surveillance plane.
The Cessna 182T Skylane plane was tracked by the website Flightradar24, flying around parts of Arlington. The Associated Press reported last month that the FBI uses that exact model of plane, equipped with high-resolution video cameras and cell phone trackers, to conduct surveillance flights over U.S. cities.
The AP also reported that such flights sometimes orbit Reagan National Airport.
“I stumbled on [the website] yesterday and much to my surprise there was one of those planes flying over Arlington,” said the tipster. “Just thought others in Arlington would be curious to know it is happening here as well as all over the country as the AP points out.”
The Washington Post reported in May that a Cessna 182T, registered to a company in Bristow, Va., was tracked flying over Baltimore during the Freddie Gray riots.
ARLnow.com has fielded occasional questions from readers over the past year or so about small aircraft seen circling overhead. The flights have struck readers as odd because with few exceptions FAA regulations limit aircraft flying over the immediate D.C. area to government aircraft and flights arriving and departing at Reagan National.
There are instances, however, when the FAA allows commercial general aviation flights over the restricted air space for aerial photography or research purposes.
“Route 50 in Illinois” in Arlington — Why does Route 50/Arlington Boulevard show up in Google Maps as “Route 50 in Illinois?” That’s unclear — but it turns out the mis-labeling problem in Google Maps is not limited to Arlington. [Yurasko.net]
Latest Salvo in Buses vs. Streetcar Fight — Greater Greater Washington’s Ryan Arnold weighs in on the argument that articulated buses are a better alternative to streetcars on Columbia Pike: “Articulated buses are appropriate in many places, but they are not the same as streetcars. They don’t accomplish the same goals, and are not merely a less-expensive substitute.” Arnold says a streetcar will “accomplish the planning goals set out by the county and approved by its voters” in a way that buses cannot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Hidden Rosslyn Restaurant Serves Pho — Delightful Food Court, a semi-hidden restaurant at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive most often frequented by local office workers, now serves pho and bahn mi sandwiches. [Rosslyn Blog]
An Arlington woman woke up this morning to find a .45 caliber bullet in her living room.
This incident happened on N. Bedford Street in the Lyon Park neighborhood. A resident of a townhouse called police around 9:00 a.m. after finding that a bullet — likely a stray bullet — had punched through the front of her house and had come to rest on the living room floor. Only the woman and her husband were at home at the time, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Detectives were called in and were able to determine the trajectory of the bullet, but have so far been unable to figure out where exactly it came from.
“It could have come from numerous places in a pretty large radius,” Sternbeck said.
A search of the neighborhood this morning did not turn up any clues, but police are looking into a report of a gunshot heard near the 2700 block of Washington Boulevard around 1:00 this morning. The man who called in the gunshot was reportedly intoxicated, and at the time officers were unable to locate anybody else who had heard the shot.
Police are asking anybody with information about the incident to call the Arlington non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.
Update on 5/7/12 — We have published a statement from Arlington National Cemetery.
A weathered gravestone for Robert Porter Patterson, a top military official during World War II, can be seen propped up against an old building inside the future Penzance office construction site in Clarendon.
Patterson was the Undersecretary of War during World War II and is credited with being “instrumental in the mobilization of the armed forces preparatory to and during” the war. He later served as Secretary of War under President Harry Truman.
Patterson was also a Harvard Law School graduate, a decorated army officer during World War I, a U.S. District Court judge, a prominent New York City attorney, and president of the Council of Foreign Relations. He died in a plane crash in 1952 and was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.
It’s unclear how Patterson’s gravestone — inscribed “Soldier. Jurist. Statesman.” — came to be propped up against the aging brick building along 11th Street N., next to a small fenced-in parking lot. The structure is set to be torn down as part of a large new office complex that will soon be built on the site.
One likely explanation is that the gravestone was somehow connected to the now-shuttered T.A. Sullivan and Son cemetery monument business, which is located within the Penzance block and which provided monuments to Arlington National Cemetery. However, we were unable to reach anybody at the business’ Vienna location to confirm that.
Reached by phone, Arlington National Cemetery officials were unable to provide any information about the wayward gravestone, and were unable to confirm whether there is a newer monument now marking Patterson’s grave.
In 2010 the cemetery was rocked by a scandal after it was revealed that hundreds, maybe even thousands of graves were misidentified or misplaced and that a number of gravestones had been discarded along the banks of a small stream.
Hat tip to Peter Golkin
Over the past couple of weeks, people have been noticing mysterious, concealed video cameras mounted on lamp posts along Columbia Pike.
Some residents thought they were ingenious surveillance cameras in place for the 9-11 anniversary. Others thought they were part of some shady dealings, and called police to investigate.
In reality, however, the cameras are merely being used by Arlington County to monitor traffic patterns at intersections. According to Arlington Traffic Engineering and Operations Chief Wayne Wentz:
These are video cameras that are temporarily in place to collect intersection data. The videos will be viewed in the office and technicians will create vehicle turning movement counts. These data will be used for our periodic (every three years) traffic signal optimization effort.
As of yesterday evening, three cameras were in place at the intersections of Columbia Pike and S. Courthouse Road, S. Scott Street and S. Quinn Street.
The plaque marks the building where employees of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency helped to conceive ARPANET, the forerunner to the internet. Last week several of those former DARPA employees attended an Arlington County Board meeting, where the plaque was unveiled and dedicated.
Imagine the surprise of our tipster, then, when he saw the words at the bottom of the sign: “Erected in 2008 by Arlington County, Virginia.” The sign was only installed last week, so why does it say it was erected in 2008?
Turns out the plaque was actually conceived, written and produced in 2008, but it was never installed. According to Arlington spokeswoman Diana Sun, the county was unable to get permission from the building owner to put the sign on their property, so they had to go through a lengthy process of getting the sign installed in the public right-of-way (sidewalk). By the time all the pieces were in place, and by the time they could organize a small ceremony at a County Board meeting, it was 2011 — three years later than originally planned.
Photo courtesy Geoff Collins
What kind of an animal left these unlikely prints in the snow overnight Sunday? That’s what one Arlington homeowner is asking.
I found these in the driveway early [Monday] morning. I’ve Googled animal prints and sent copies to friends, but no one has figured out the type of animal responsible.
One theory is that the prints belong to a hobbled bunny. Any other guesses?
We believe the space above, the one with the big “retail space for lease” sign, is where Cava’s new Clarendon location is supposed to be. Yet the gas-lit entrance, on the ground floor of the Station Square development at 2900 Clarendon Boulevard, remains boarded up and there are no building permits to be found in the county’s public records system.
“Is Cava Restaurant still planning to come to the Station Square development?” a tipster asks. Does anybody know?
We’re learning more about the mysterious Mad Rose Tavern, coming soon to 3100 Clarendon Boulevard.
Mad Rose will be “an American style restaurant and bar with about 150 indoor seats, two bars, great food, and great times,” according to a new Facebook page.
The owners hope to open the restaurant “sometime this fall.” They also hope to open an outdoor patio at some point this spring. It promises to be “one of the largest patios in all of Arlington,” according to the page.
Mad Rose is opening on the ground floor of a Clarendon office building that houses SoBe Bar & Bistro, Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe, Pacers Running Store and offices of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
An demolition permit for 4,000 square feet of interior space has been posted in the window of the future restaurant.
A planned restaurant called Mad Rose Tavern has applied for a liquor license at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard. The license application, filed on July 27, describes the future establishment as a restaurant with a seating capacity of over 150 seats.
The restaurant’s parent company, Mad Rose Inc., was incorporated on July 7 , according to state records. Little else is known about it.
Curiously, all the storefronts at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard are either currently occupied or have “retail space for lease” signs in the window. A call to the leasing agent has not been returned.
As mentioned in this morning’s Notes, 3100 Clarendon Boulevard is home to such businesses as SoBe Bar & Bistro and Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe.
Hat tip to @jamesp326 for the link to the liquor license.