Arlington Falls in Parks Ranking — Arlington and D.C. both fell in the annual ParkScore rankings of cities by The Trust for Public Land. Arlington was ranked sixth in the nation this year and D.C. ranked fourth, while last year they were ranked fourth and third respectively. [The Trust for Public Land, Washington Post]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — The Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved $5.5 million in neighborhood improvement projects, including “street improvements, streetlights, intersection improvements and a neighborhood sign.” [Arlington County]
How to Live in Arlington on $50,000 — A young woman who works as a case manager outlined her expenditures while living in Arlington on a $50,000 salary, as part of a “Money Diaries” feature. Eschewing the urban millennial stereotype of profligate spending, she manages to save $1,000 a month — although that is helped by her parents continuing to pay her cell phone bill. [Refinery 29]
County to Sell Millions in Bonds — The County Board has approved issuing up to $185 million in general obligation bonds to help fund various capital priorities, including: Metro, Neighborhood Conservation, paving, parks land acquisition, maintenance capital, Lubber Run Community Center planning, Nauck Village Center action plan and transportation. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The projects have been advanced by a county committee via Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Program, which encourages neighborhoods to apply for funding for various types of local improvements.
The projects set for approval are:
- A new neighborhood sign for Long Branch Creek ($12,500)
- Street improvements and new streetlights along 31st Street S. in Fairlington, between S. Randolph and Woodrow Streets ($1.7 million)
- New streetlights on S. Oak, Ode and Orme Streets in Foxcroft Heights ($562,704)
- Intersection improvements along 2nd Street S. at S. Wayne, Uhle and Wise Streets in Penrose ($1.6 million)
- Street improvements along N. George Mason Drive between 11th Street N. and I-66 in Waycroft-Woodlawn ($1.4 million)
The County Board is expected to vote on the Neighborhood Conservation projects at its Saturday meeting. The measure also includes an additional $200,000 for the county’s “Missing Link Program,” which funds the construction of small stretches of new sidewalk to connect existing sidewalks.
Children already are climbing on equipment at the two newly renovated playgrounds at Woodlawn Park, ahead of this weekend’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The ceremony will take place at the park (1325 N. Buchanan Street) this Saturday, April 22, at 4 p.m.
Members of the community — including kids — helped design the new playgrounds. As part of the renovation process, the new equipment was installed farther away from the creek than the previous fixtures had been.
Invasive plants were removed and the area along the creek has been reforested with native trees, shrubs and perennials. The park also now offers better accessibility. Lawn aeration and overseeding will be completed next week.
The County Board approved funding for the $795,000 neighborhood improvement project in 2014, and construction began last August. A federal grant funded part of the reforestation.
The park remains open and usable in the time leading up to the ribbon cutting.
No new projects to improve pedestrian safety — such as sidewalk fixes or streetlight installations — will be approved until at least December after a vote last week by a citizen committee.
The Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee voted April 13 to suspend its spring funding round due to “anticipated increases in construction costs for projects that have already been approved by the County Board,” neighborhood conservation program coordinator Tim McIntosh said in an email.
NCAC represents 48 of the county’s 57 civic associations and leads the development of neighborhood plans. It also recommends neighborhood-initiated improvements for county funding, like sidewalks, street beautification, pedestrian safety projects, street lights and parks.
The NCAC’s decision does not affect existing projects already approved by the County Board. McIntosh said design work and construction on several plans will continue this year, but that the committee “wanted to reserve a portion of its 2016 bond to cover any cost overruns which may occur later this year for projects going out for competitive bid.”
“The focus will be on continuing design work for approved projects and making sure sufficient funding is on hand to complete them prior to approving new ones,” McIntosh said.
In an email, an anonymous tipster was critical of the NCAC approvals process and said more must be done to help improve pedestrian safety.
“Clearly, the NCAC system isn’t working as a method to help improve pedestrian safety,” the tipster wrote. “These projects are getting conflated with beautification projects and are now shut down due to poor project controls. The queue of vital pedestrian safety projects, many in the NCAC process for years already (projects that have neighborhood endorsement) is growing rapidly as Arlington traffic increases and there is now no way to address these problems.”
McIntosh said no decision has been made about the fall round of funding, set to be voted on in December.
“[Neighborhood Conservation] staff and the NCAC will evaluate whether or not to have the December funding round later this year,” he said.
New Restaurants Coming to Rosslyn — A bunch of new restaurants and a cafe are coming to Rosslyn as part of the under-construction Central Place project. Fast casual eateries Sweetgreen, Nando’s Peri-Peri and The Little Beet are signing deals with developer JBG. A Compass Coffee is also set to open and negotiations are reportedly underway with Cava Grill. [Washington Business Journal]
Sidewalk Cafe for Pike Beer Garden — The Arlington County Board last night approved a use permit that will allow the future beer garden at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive to operate a 32-seat outdoor cafe. The outdoor seating will “enliven the restaurant space and provide greater activity on this corner” of Columbia Pike, county staff wrote. County Board members expressed enthusiasm for the business, from the owner of nearby Twisted Vines, with Jay Fisette calling it “a fabulous use for this site.” [Arlington County]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — Last night the County Board approved $4.7 million in funding for six neighborhood conservation projects. The projects include a neighborhood sign for the recently-renamed Arlington Mill neighborhood; street improvement projects in Yorktown, Waverly Hills and Lyon Park; new LED streetlights in Arlington Heights; and a vegetation and sidewalk project in Boulevard Manor. [Arlington County]
Guas Appears on ‘Chopped Junior’ — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse was back on national TV last night, starring as a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped Junior.” [Patch]
WERA Anniversary Nears — Arlington’s own community radio station WERA will be celebrating its first anniversary in just over two months. The low-power FM station is “having an impact,” with some ninety producers generating local programming. Fundraising for the station, however, has been sluggish. [InsideNova]
Fmr. Sen. Warner to Endorse Clinton — At an event in Alexandria this morning, five-term former U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) is expected to endorse the presidential ticket of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). It will be the first time Warner has endorsed a Democrat for president. [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The County Board allocated $1.4 million for the community improvement projects, which were selected by the citizen-led Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. The committee makes such funding recommendations to the Board twice a year.
Three of the projects were largely uncontroversial — a neighborhood sign for Shirlington, a beautification project for the historic Calloway United Methodist Church cemetery, and street improvements for the 4800 block of 9th Street S. The biggest recommendation, a $800,000 improvement project for Nelly Custis Park (701 24th Street S.), picked up some outspoken critics in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.
The project would add new plantings, an ADA accessible walkway, improved storm water management and a small play area for school-aged children next to an existing playground. While supporters said most of the community was in favor of the project, a few critics launched a campaign against it, objecting mostly to the playground. Other concerns included the addition of extra pavement from the ADA pathway and “tricycle loop.”
“We heard a number of concerns from the community,” acknowledged Lisa Grandle, of Arlington’s parks and recreation department.
What’s usually an easy vote on the County Board’s “consent agenda” instead became a nearly hour-long discussion that centered around the Neighborhood Conservation process in general and the park project in particular. Board member John Vihstadt led the questioning, and attempted a motion to separate out the Nelly Custis project from the other three, for a vote in March. The motion failed.
The necessity of the conversation seemed to frustrate some Board members. “I‘m disappointed that we’re here tonight, but we’re here,” said Christian Dorsey.
In the end, the Board voted to approve the project as proposed. From a county press release:
The Arlington County Board today approved nearly $1.4 million in funding for four new Neighborhood Conservation projects. The approved projects include street improvements, neighborhood beautification, park improvements, and a neighborhood sign.
The projects, submitted by residents and endorsed by civic associations, are qualified by staff, then evaluated by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC) before coming to the County Board for approval. The NCAC considered 31 projects at its Dec. 10, 2015 meeting and decided to recommend four of them to the County Board for funding.
The Board voted unanimously to approve funding for the four projects. To read the Staff Reporton this Item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #10 on the Agenda for the Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 Regular County Board Agenda.
“We rely on residents to help us identify the best projects to make their neighborhoods safer, stronger and more attractive,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “For more than 50 years, Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation program has helped build community by funding projects identified by the people who live in the neighborhoods.”
The projects approved by the County Board today are funded by the voter-approved 2014 Neighborhood Conservation Bond. It is the third set of projects to be approved from the $12 million bond. The four approved projects are:
- $12,500 for Shirlington neighborhood sign – Location and design by the community with staff assistance. Sign fabrication, sign installation and landscaping.
- $798,222 for Aurora Highlands Park project – Improvements to Nelly Custis Park including storm water management to correct existing drainage problems; removal of invasive species; improving circulation for accessibility and park use; additional school-age play equipment; new site furnishings; and additional plantings for shade and beautification.
- $129,625 for Highview Park beautification project – Calloway United Methodist Church Cemetery improvements that include a perimeter fence, interpretive sign, a bench and trash receptacle. A public access easement over the local historic district will allow the public to visit the cemetery and interpret its history.
- $432,561 for Barcroft street improvement project – 4800 block of 9th Street S to W&OD Trail. Includes completion of missing concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk along the south side of 9th Street S, in the westerly half of the 4800 block, between S Buchanan St and the W&OD Trail. Street milling and paving as needed, including the trail connector between the street dead end and the W&OD Trail. Storm water drainage improvements and the addition of LED Carlyle-style streetlights are a part of the proposed project
The Board also approved the use of $228,000 in additional funds required for street improvements on South Fern Street (project previously approved by the NCAC at the fall 2011 funding session). This additional funding was reviewed and voted on by NCAC at its Jan. 14, 2016 meeting.
The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider a $1.6 million slate of minor neighborhood improvement projects.
Most of the time, such “Neighborhood Conservation” projects are uncontroversial. The latest includes a neighborhood sign for Shirlington, a beautification project for the historic Calloway United Methodist Church cemetery, and street improvements for the 4800 block of 9th Street S., which leads to the W&OD Trail in the Barcroft neighborhood.
One project, however, has resulted in a flurry of back-and-forth emails to reporters and county officials, accusations of lies and bad faith, and exhaustive five-page missives. No, this isn’t over a bocce court. It’s over a play area for 5-12 year olds in a 0.8 acre park in Aurora Highlands.
At $798,222, the Neighborhood Conservation project for Nelly Custis Park (701 24th Street S.) is the priciest item in the latest batch. The project includes new plantings, improved storm water management, removal of invasive species, a new ADA accessible walkway and — most controversially — a small play area for school-aged children next to an existing playground.
On one side are members of the “Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks” group, which formed last year to oppose a new playgrounds and athletic courts, saying that the neighborhood had enough of them already.
A member of the group, who in her latest emails asked not to be identified by name, had this to say about the Nelly Custis project: “It has been contentious and controversial from within the neighborhood from the beginning and continues to move forward with some very significant questions about tax-payer waste, process and community input.”
On the other side are residents and Aurora Highlands Civic Association members who say they’re in favor of the changes, which are coming after an extensive planning process involving the community.
“The neighborhood is in overwhelming support of the project and it has undergone an extensive (more than required) development process,” said Mary Humphreys, who’s lived in Aurora Highlands, near Crystal City, for more than 10 years. “Unfortunately, there is a very vocal resident… who is opposed to the improvements and despite many kind and collaborative efforts, he continues to spread incorrect information.”
Humphreys said the spat essentially boils down to the fact that opponents of the play area want local parks to serve “age-diverse needs” — more green space, dog park and water features, not just playgrounds.
For opponents, until the project is approved, the fight continues. On Monday, the “Friends” member who asked not to be identified wrote a letter to the County Board with a slew of questions. Among them:
“How can the public have confidence in the environmental integrity of NC park projects when the formal process fails to include a review by all relevant county commissions, including the Arlington Park & Recreation Commission and the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission?” she wrote. “No commission or committee formally reviewed this project despite requests for them to do so.”
“This is not the Arlington Way,” the letter-writer concluded.
The Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee and county staff has recommended the five projects, and the Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on whether to allocate money from the $12 million Neighborhood Conservation bond the voters approved last year.
Cherrydale’s Oak Grove Park, along N. Quincy Street, has been recommended for $795,000 worth of improvements, including a redone “tot lot,” construction of a playground for 5-12 year olds and replacing the existing gazebo with a larger picnic shelter.
Waycroft-Woodlawn is in line for $790,000 in pedestrian upgrades. The neighborhood has requested the money to fund curb ramp improvements for accessibility curb extensions at four intersections:
- N. Evergreen Street and Washington Blvd
- N. George Mason Drive and 11th Street N.
- N. Evergreen Street and 11th Street N.
- N. Buchanan St and 11th Street N.
The other projects would each receive less than $500,000 in funding:
- $471,731 in pedestrian improvements along S. Courthouse Road from Columbia Pike to 12th Street S. in Columbia Heights
- $348,987 for street lights in Madison Manor, along 12th Street N. from 11th Road to N. Roosevelt Street
- $198,033 for street lights in Douglas Park, along 12th Street S. from S. Monroe Street to Quincy Street
Five of the projects approved by the County Board in February are in the middle of their design phase and are on track for construction next year:
- Street improvements to the 5700 block of 2nd Street S. and the 100 block of S. Kensington Street in Glencarlyn.
- A trail connector from the 4800 block of 7th Street S. to the W&OD trail in Barcroft.
- Pedestrian safety improvements to 19th Road N. between Woodstock Street and Upton Street in Waverly Hills
- Street improvements to S. Lang Street between Arlington Ridge Road and 28th Street in Arlington Ridge
- Streetlights and trail improvements on N. Ohio Street between 22nd Street and Washington Blvd in Highland Park Overlee Knolls.
The sixth project approved in February, improvements to Woodstock Park in Waycroft-Woodlawn, still does not have a scheduled completion date.
Photo via Arlington County
The residents of the Waverly Hills neighborhood in North Arlington want more mixed-use development and to be able to age in place, according to the community’s just-approved Neighborhood Conservation plan.
Waverly Hill is the area north of I-66, south of Lee Highway between N. Glebe Road and Utah Street. According to a survey of almost 400 residents in the 3,800-person neighborhood, 70 percent of Waverly Hills residents want to retire in the neighborhood.
“Seventy percent is a very large number, and I don’t want to say we’re transient, but there are a lot of people that come and go from Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It shows how many people like it enough to suggest that they want to live their whole life here and take advantage of the services into retirement.”
The County Board approved the new neighborhood conservation plan, which includes a request to implement a master plan for Woodstock Park (pictured), which would include a vision for future improvements. The County Board approved a $644,000 renovation for the park in June, which will include a new playground and basketball court, under construction now.
County Board members said they expect the update to the NC plan for the community to serve as a model for other civic associations, both with a focus on aging in place and the update’s thoroughness; according to the county’s press release, the civic association spent more than 1,000 hours on the process.
“This plan gives us an inclusive outline for preserving our livable community while addressing the concerns of our residents,” Michael Polovina, president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, said in the release. “We are very proud to have accomplished this revisioning after a process that took several years to complete. The next 15 years look very bright for Waverly Hills.”
Other priorities for the update include facilitating mixed-use development along Lee Highway and Glebe Road, with nods to affordable, senior accessible housing. The neighborhood also requests a sidewalk on 20th Road N. adjacent to N. Utah Street and further pedestrian improvements for walking to nearby schools like Washington-Lee High School and Glebe Elementary.
Wilson Blvd Sidewalk Improvements Delayed — Arlington County Board members were apologetic on Saturday after a resident complained about the state of sidewalks along Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont area. The first phase of an improvement project, which will only consist of repaving and restriping the road, is now not slated to take place until the spring. County leaders promised to try to implement the second phase, which will actually improve the sidewalks, sooner rather than later. [InsideNova]
Bar to the Rescue in Crystal City? — Crystal City property owner Vornado hopes Highline, a new bar coming to the neighborhood, will help its growing tech community there after work. Vornado is trying to restyle Crystal City — which has lost government tenants for millions of square feet of office space, as a result of BRAC — as a tech hub. [Washington Post]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — A $2.5 million slate of four neighborhood improvement projects was approved by the County Board on Saturday. The projects include three in north Arlington and one in south Arlington. [Arlington County]
Bank Robber Sentenced — A D.C. man who robbed two Wells Fargo banks in Arlington has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced. James Link, 57, was accused of robbing a Wells Fargo branch on Nov. 25, 2013, injuring an elderly woman in the process, and a branch on Dec. 31, after which he and an alleged accomplice were arrested by FBI agents who were waiting outside. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Four projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety, removing invasive plants and more are likely to be approved at this Saturday’s regular Arlington County Board meeting.
The final four projects funded by the 2012 Neighborhood Conservation bond, approved in June by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, will receive a total of $2,540,175 if the Board approves them. About $1.3 million of those funds would come from the 2012 bond, while about $1.2 million is expected come from the bond referendum on the ballot on Nov. 4.
The four projects up for approval:
- Pedestrian safety and street improvements for the intersections of N. Vacation Lane with N. Stuart and N. Utah Streets in Donaldson Run. Improvements include replacing a yield sign with a stop sign at the northeast corner of N. Stuart Street, replacing sidewalks on N. Utah Street and curb extensions at both intersections. Total cost: $608,749.
- Street improvements for N. Quintana Street between Washington Boulevard and 19th Street N. in East Falls Church. This includes constructing curbs and gutters on both sides of the road and installing a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side on the street. Total cost: $756,581.
- Park improvements for Oakland Park at 3701 Wilson Blvd. in Ballston-Virginia Square. This project is meant to give the park a complete upgrade, bringing features up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and adding new site furnishings, ornamental plantings and wood decking. Total cost: $798,845.
- Removing invasive plants from Lucky Run Stream in Fairlington-Shirlington. The project calls for creating a “pollinator habitat between the stream bank and bike trail” and creating buffers with trees on either side of the stream. Total cost: $376,000.
The four projects were selected from a pool of 26 applications from neighborhoods around the county because they scored the highest on the NCAC’s points system, which is explained in the county staff’s report.
The county also has produced a five-minute video, embedded above, in honor of the Neighborhood Conservation Program’s 50th anniversary.
“When it was created in 1964, the goal was to empower residents by having them come together to discuss and share ideas for improving their neighborhoods,” the narrator says. The video includes interviews from NCAC Chair Bill Braswell and other committee members. “Over the years, the program has moved from beautification efforts to focus more on infrastructure needs… The program enables residents to identify and plan projects in their own neighborhoods.”
Clinton Signs Books at Pentagon City Costco — Former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton signed books at the Pentagon City Costco store on Saturday. One group of Clinton supporters who lined up outside the store Saturday morning told ARLnow.com that they were in line for more than 4 hours before getting their books signed. The signature: a simple, cursive “Hillary.” Also dropping by on Saturday was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was shopping and stumbled upon the event. [Huffington Post, Washington Post]
Board Approves Waycroft-Woodlawn Plan — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved an updated Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the Waycroft-Woodlawn community, located northwest of Ballston. The plan calls for funding “to address speeding and cut-through traffic, improve pedestrian safety, enhance street conditions and make park improvements.” Waycroft-Woodlawn has 1,600 residents, mostly in single-family homes. [Arlington County]
Healthy Vending Machine Installation Complete — Arlington Public Schools has completed installation of 115 new “FitArlington Healthy Vending Machines” in all 40 APS-owned buildings. The machines offer “bottled water and 100% fruit juice beverages, and a variety of healthy snacks, such as dried fruit, baked chips, and granola bars.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Snow Leads to Numerous Accidents — Numerous accidents were reported around Arlington this morning due to snow-slickened streets. Accidents were reported on Route 50 near Carlin Springs Road, Lee Highway and Key Blvd at N. Rhodes Street, and on N. George Mason Drive across from Lubber Run Park. As of 9:00 a.m. the accident on Route 50 was still reportedly causing traffic backups.
No Tickets for Snow Removal Violations — Arlington County has not handed out any tickets or fines for violations of the county’s snow removal ordinance so far this winter. The ordinance requires home and business owners to shovel their sidewalks within 24-36 hours of the end of a snow storm. County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the County Board yesterday that it had received 118 snow removal-related complaints, but each time a property owner was notified of a violation they “took care of it.” [Sun Gazette]
Lopez Receives Local Endorsements — Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) has picked up the endorsement of some local Arlington County figures in his run for Congress. Lopez announced this morning that he has been endorsed by Arlington County School Board Member Emma Violand-Sanchez, Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur and former Arlington County Democratic Committee chair Mike Lieberman.
Alcova Heights Neighborhood Plan Approved — The County Board last night approved an update to the Alcova Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan. The plan calls for improving the neighborhood’s appearance while preserving its character and protecting it from speeding and cut-through traffic. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Six projects are slated to receive $3.5 million in funding in the fourth
and final round of appropriations from 2012’s $11 million Neighborhood Conservation Bond.
The projects are:
- Street improvements to the 5700 block of 2nd Street S. and the 100 block of S. Kensington Street in Glencarlyn. Cost: $724,042. Expected completion date: June 2016.
- A trail connector from the 4800 block of 7th Street S. to the W&OD trail in Barcroft. Cost: $135,317. Expected completion date: October 2015.
- Pedestrian safety improvements to 19th Road N. between Woodstock Street and Upton Street in Waverly Hills. Cost: $753,845. Expected completion date: May 2016.
- Street improvements to S. Lang Street between Arlington Ridge Road and 28th Street in Arlington Ridge. Cost: $713,003. Expected completion date: October 2015.
- Streetlights and trail improvements on N. Ohio Street between 22nd Street and Washington Blvd in Highland Park Overlee Knolls. Cost: $380,369. Expected completion date: July 2015.
- Park improvements to Woodlawn Park in Waycroft-Woodlawn. Cost: 795,000. Expected completion date: None given.
The projects were chosen based on a priority scale and approved for recommendation by the NCAC in December.
The projects given the highest priority were those in neighborhoods that have recently updated or completed new conservation plans and in neighborhoods that have waited for projects the longest. The county staff report has the full list of criteria.
Board Accepts Arlington Ridge Neighborhood Conservation Plan — At its meeting on Saturday (October 19), the County Board voted unanimously to accept the first revision in 40 years to the Arlington Ridge Neighborhood Conservation Plan. The plan outlines residents’ vision for the neighborhood and names improvements residents most desire. The plan includes more than 100 recommendations, including a neighborhood “zoning freeze” in light of the area’s 37.5 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010. [Arlington County]
$1.5 Million Approved for Neighborhood Improvement Projects — The County Board approved $1.5 million in funding for three street improvement projects. In the Leeway neighborhood, along 24th St N from N. Illinois Street to N. Kensington Street, $781,082 was approved for sidewalk, curb, and gutter street improvements. Nearly $160,000 was approved for the installation of LED street lights in Columbia Forest, on S. Edison Street from George Mason Drive to 11th Street South. And more than $521,000 will go to improvements in the Williamsburg neighborhood, on N. Sycamore Street from 26th Street North to Williamsburg Blvd, for traffic lane reduction, bike lanes, ADA compliant ramps at intersections and landscaped medians. [Arlington County]
Survey Puts Metro Area on List of Best Apartment Kitchens — A survey by Apartment Guide magazine lists the D.C. metro region as number four on a list of rental properties with the best kitchen amenities. Chicago, San Antonio and Los Angeles were the top three. [Sun Gazette]