(Updated 9:55 p.m.) Marymount University is developing plans to build a new sports facility on an embattled parcel of county property near its campus.
Currently, the property at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive, in the Old Dominion neighborhood, is home to a temporary road salt storage “dome” and a parking lot used for mulch distribution. In 2019, despite opposition from some neighbors, the county demolished a roughly 90-year-old water storage tank, repurposed for road salt, which was on the brink of collapse.
The tank saga came a few years after the county proposed and later nixed plans to relocate Fire Station 8 from Langston Blvd to the Old Dominion neighborhood.
Now, Marymount University, which was recently ranked for the first time as a national university and is showing other signs of growth — including higher enrollment rates, new softball and wrestling teams and new academic majors — is trying its hand at redeveloping the site.
The school, which has its main campus across from the county property and an additional presence in Ballston, first put forward a plan for the property two years ago. It proposes to build a sports field, a children’s playground and an enhanced walking trails to Missionhurst Preserve, according to a map on the university’s website.
In addition, it would replace the existing temporary salt dome with a new, solar-powered one, along with a mulch area.
A little less than a year ago, it also put forward a proposal to build new diamond fields where the Washington-Liberty High School baseball diamond in Quincy Park and the softball diamond on school property are. Since then, it has been in talks with W-L, Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation.
Marymount has advertised an informational meeting on this proposal, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29.
The university said in a statement to ARLnow that the session acts on a suggestion from Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz to “build consensus among community members and inform them of our proposed plans to create a generational green space for Arlington at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive that would improve and expand recreational opportunities for the County’s residents.”
It added that the forthcoming meeting also acts on a suggestion from a neighborhood association to meet with the three impacted neighborhood groups together. Marymount says it notified and invited Schwartz and the Arlington County Board to the meeting.
“We have put a great deal of thought and consideration into both projects, but these are proposals,” the university said. “We are discussing them with the neighborhood associations to receive their feedback after repeated attempts were made to communicate with the County about them.”
But Arlington County released a statement this afternoon (Monday) to clarify it has not endorsed the project.
“The County and APS received notice of Marymount’s November 29 Information Session at the same time Marymount informed the general public,” the statement reads. “The County and APS are not associated with or participating in the November 29 Information Session and do not sanction the materials or proposals presented by Marymount University.”
Per the statement, members of the Arlington County Board and the School Board have met with Marymount over the last year, at the university’s request, to hear the proposed concepts.
“At those meetings, County and APS staff asked clarifying questions but no decision was reached,” the county said. “At no time did County or APS staff indicate that these proposed facilities were feasible or acceptable.”
Arlington is set to spend more than $750,000 to construct stormwater handing infrastructure on the site of the county salt storage and maintenance facility along Old Dominion Drive.
The Arlington County Board is expected to consider the contract with Sagres Construction Corporation at its meeting this coming Saturday. With a contingency of about $150,000, the total contract authorization is just over $900,000.
The project will help deal with stormwater at the site, after the county granted itself an exception to its usual stormwater rules in 2018 in order to build the temporary salt storage facility, which replaced a rusted-out salt dome in danger of collapse.
“This contract for the construction of Stormwater Management / BMP will provide a stormwater filtering device and an underground stormwater detention facility as required by County Code before the expiration of the partial exception,” notes a county staff report.
“Most of the work will be within the boundaries of the County facility, with the exception of the storm drainage outfall pipe crossing 25th Road North,” the report continues. “There will be no impact to the surrounding trees. Traffic flow will be maintained along 25th Road North throughout the project duration.”
Dubbed the North Side Salt Storage Facility, the property serves as the rally point for salt crews treating roads in North Arlington during winter weather events.
Other uses for the site have previously been discussed, including a public park and sports field for nearby Marymount University, as well as a new fire station. The fire station idea was scrapped amid opposition from neighbors, many of whom spoke in favor of a park at the location instead. With this stormwater project, however, it appears that the county is banking on the salt storage use remaining in place for awhile.
The county staff report noted that residents will be provided information on the construction project after the contract is approved.
“Following contract award and prior to the start of construction, a letter containing details about the project and construction schedule will be sent to the civic association president,” the report says. “Project information will also be shared to residents through Nextdoor.”
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) All lanes of N. Glebe Road were closed at 24th Road N., between Langston Blvd and Marymount University, due to a reported crash this morning.
Arlington Alert reported the crash and closure shortly after 7 a.m. Since then, the northbound lanes have reopened while the southbound lanes remain closed.
It appears that the crash took out a utility pole. Repair crews are on the scene.
“Avoid the area,” said the Arlington Alert. “Seek alternate route.”
LOCATION: N Glebe Rd/24th Rd N
INCIDENT: Traffic Collision
IMPACT: All lanes NB/SB Glebe at 24th Rd closed. Avoid the area. Seek alternate route. pic.twitter.com/CPKxMRxVya
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) October 12, 2021
A man with a gun robbed a woman along Lee Highway late Sunday night.
The robbery happened around 11:30 p.m., near the intersection of the soon-to-be-renamed road and N. Columbus Street — across the street from the McDonald’s.
“As the victim was entering her office space, the suspect approached from behind and brandished a firearm towards her,” Arlington County police said in a crime report. “He forced the victim to remove her jewelry before entering her office space. At that time, the victim was able to run from the scene. It was later determined that the suspect rummaged through the space and stole cash.”
There were no reports of injuries.
Police searched the area but could not locate the suspect, who was only described as a man wearing black clothing.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated 4:55 p.m.) At 10:50 p.m. on Friday, Patrick McNair and his wife Danielle were getting ready to bed when they heard a crash. In a few seconds, the power went out.
Outside their home along the 4800 block of Old Dominion Drive, near Marymount University, they saw a mangled car starting to smoke.
“I put shoes on and ran as quickly as I could,” Patrick tells ARLnow.
By the time he got there, the car was so full of smoke he could not see in and no response came from inside when he knocked on the window. The door would not budge.
As he was bracing himself to break the window with his hand, he remembered his son’s baseball bat was in his car. Danielle unlocked the car and Patrick retrieved the bat and broke the window. He described the driver as unresponsive, with cuts, scrapes and what appeared to be a broken leg.
Another neighbor, Roger Casalengo, arrived and the two men managed to get the driver out of the car. They set her down 25 feet away and she revived enough to tell them no one else was in the car.
“At this point, the entire front of the hood is on fire, and all under the hood is on fire,” McNair said. “By the time she was laid down, the car was engulfed in an inferno and the tree was on fire.”
Looking back, McNair said if he and his wife had just walked to the car, or waited for the police to arrive, “she would have absolutely been burned alive.”
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police were dispatched to the 4800 block of Old Dominion Drive at about 10:51 p.m.
“Upon arrival, it was determined that the driver was traveling westbound on Old Dominion Drive when she allegedly lost control of the vehicle and collided with a fire hydrant, utility box, tree and utility pole,” Savage said.
She confirmed the role the two men played in saving the girl and said Arlington County Fire Department extinguished the vehicle.
“The driver was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life-threatening,” Savage said.
After an investigation, the driver — who was under the age of 18 — was charged with driving after consuming alcohol.
On Saturday, McNair said he connected with the driver’s mother, who updated him on the two nights her daughter spent in the hospital, recovering.
“She was just in tears and very thankful for our efforts that we were able to save her daughter,” he said. “It was a very crazy event but we were thankful and happy to have gotten her out of there.”
Photos courtesy Patrick McNair and Michael Lindsay
(Updated 11/19/20 at 6:30 p.m.) Along with the coming cold snap and the yearly debate over when to play Christmas music, the arrival of Arlington’s annual Christmas tree sales are one of the signs the holiday season is upon us.
This year, some of the volunteer organizations and churches that hold the sales have changed their operations, with health and safety precautions in mind.
One is seeking County Board approval this weekend to return to the same location as last year.
The South Arlington Lions Club is asking Arlington County to allow it to set up a Christmas tree stand at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive, in a small county-owned parking lot. The County Board is slated to review the permit request on Saturday.
The Lions Club shop for trees, wreaths and garlands is scheduled to run from Saturday, Nov. 21 through Saturday, Dec. 12. Members and volunteers will be manning the pop-up location at the following times.
- Monday to Friday — noon-8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday — 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
The Optimist Club of Arlington, meanwhile, will start selling trees, wreaths and garlands on Friday, Nov. 27 in the Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway (2213 N. Glebe Road). The lot will be open every day until December 23, with the following hours:
- Monday to Thursday — 2-8 p.m.
- Friday — noon-8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday — 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Among the sales facing pandemic-era changes is that held by the Clarendon United Methodist Church.
The church has 150 Christmas trees available for sale until Nov. 22. That’s less than half of what the church typically orders, and the trees are only available for pre-sale. Due to the coronavirus, buyers cannot pick out the exact tree they want.
“Although this year is a bit different because of COVID-19, CUMC wants to help you celebrate the season with the beautiful sight and scent of a freshly-cut Fraser Balsam Cross Fir Christmas Tree,” the website said.
The six- to eight-foot tall trees cost $75, and the proceeds from the sale benefit Arlington Thrive. The nonprofit provides emergency financial assistance to residents experiencing a sudden financial crisis.
The church encourages those who are interested to visit its website and nab one soon because “once they’re gone, they’re gone!”
The boys and girls of Troop 167 have kicked off online pre-sales of Christmas trees, which come in three sizes, along with 25-inch wreaths. On-site sales will open at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church (1500 N. Glebe Road) on Nov. 26, 27 and 28 and the following weekend, Dec. 4, 5 and 6.
The hours for the pop-up at Mount Olivet are:
- Friday — 4-8 p.m.
- Saturday — 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Sunday — noon-6 p.m.
Due to the coronavirus, the scouts are offering a contact-less experience. Customers can order online and the scouts will deliver the trees and wreaths to customers’ homes. Trees cost $15 to deliver and wreaths $10. For both, the delivery fee would be $15.
“We will follow best advice health and safety protocols to make the experience as safe as possible for everyone, including the wearing of face coverings by all,” the troop’s website said.
Proceeds from the sales support a year’s worth of Scouting activities for the boys and girls of Troop 167.
Boy Scout Troop 162 will sell Christmas trees and rope in the parking lot of the Dominion Hills pool at 6000 Wilson Blvd. For COVID-19 protections, customers will be limited to ensure social-distancing and have the option to pay in advance with PayPal and have the tree delivered.
All proceeds subsidize the troop’s camping and outdoor activities.
The scouts’ shop first day of business is Friday, Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. After that, the hours are:
- Monday through Fridays — 4-8:30 p.m.
- Saturday and Sundays — 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
For the first time, this troop has partnered with Arlington Food Assistance Center to provide trees to those who are less fortunate.
“We have committed to provide trees to a minimum number of families and hope to exceed it,” Troop 162 Committee Secretary Alysia Fullen said in an email. “We welcome donations from our customers to support this effort.”
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (4000 Lorcom Lane) is selling fresh trees from Vermont, beginning on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend and continuing through Dec. 12 and 13, or while supplies last.
The first weekend of sales will be from Nov. 27 to 29. On Friday and Saturday, sales will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After that the schedule is:
- Saturdays — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sundays — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Do you know of other local sale locations not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments.
One person was injured after a moped and an SUV collided near the Lee Heights Shops this afternoon.
The crash happened shortly after noon at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and N. Wakefield Street. The moped’s driver appears to have slammed into the front driver’s side corner of the SUV, though the exact circumstances leading to the crash are unclear.
A video posted to social media shows the aftermath of the crash as firefighters arrive on scene; the moped driver can be seen lying in the middle of the roadway, attended to by passersby.
The moped driver was injured and transported to a local hospital, according to an Arlington County Fire Department spokesman, who described the injuries as “minor” and “non-life threatening.”
The same intersection was the scene of a two-car crash on Friday, Aug. 28.
Hat tips to @RealtorKyleC and @STATter911
Four community improvement projects are on this weekend’s Arlington County Board agenda.
The Board is expected to approve the $3 million slate of projects as part of its Neighborhood Conservation program. The somewhat controversial program, previously on the budgetary chopping block, awards funding to modest infrastructure improvement projects requested by local community groups.
The projects set for funding this fall include:
- Street improvements in the Glencarlyn neighborhood along 4th Street S., from Kensington to Illinois streets ($1.3 million)
- Pedestrian safety and intersection improvements in the Dominion Hills neighborhood at N. Larrimore Street and 9th Street N. ($1.2 million)
- Intersection improvements in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls neighborhood at 14th Street N. and N. Ohio Street ($0.5 million)
- Landscaping and beautification in the Old Dominion neighborhood at 24th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive ($28,125)
Photo via Google Maps
Red Flag Warning Today — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — The D.C. region is under a Red Flag Warning this afternoon for strong winds and low humidity, which can lead to wildfires. In Arlington, fire weather like this typically results in small brush and mulch fires that are quickly extinguished. [Weather.gov]
Report on Old Dominion Site Coming Soon — “With a task force prepping its final report on uses for the government parcel at 26th Street North and Old Dominion Drive, what will happen next to the recommendations? For both procedural and financial reasons, don’t expect the county government to jump into development of the 7.6-acre site immediately.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Eateries Among Harper’s Favorite D.C. Memories — Former Rosslyn resident Bryce Harper shouted out Silver Diner and The Italian Store in his farewell to D.C. [Twitter]
Presidential Race May Post Logistical Challenge — “As Arlington’s elections office begins mulling how to handle the 2020 presidential vote, it could be space, rather than money, that proves the biggest challenge.” [InsideNova]
W-L Hockey Player Raising Money for Diabetes Research — “Ethan Rostker, a freshman defenseman for the Washington-Lee hockey team, doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 20 months old. He wears an insulin pump while playing and completes a 100-mile bike trip yearly to raise money for diabetes research.” [WJLA]
Nearby: Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Update — “1,000 people are still displaced after two transformers burst into flames Monday morning– cutting off power to their Fairfax County apartments.” [WJLA]
Photo courtesy Jessica Hahn
County planners are now kicking off work to chart out the future of the former home of Arlington’s “Salt Dome,” the site of so much community consternation this past summer.
A task force convened by the County Board to study the 7.6-acre property, at the intersection of 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive and adjacent to Marymount University’s campus, is planning a “community roundtable” on the matter Saturday (Jan. 12). The meeting will be held at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), starting at 10 a.m.
For about 90 years, the property was home to a large metal “dome” storing road salt and served as the base of operations for salt trucks in the northern half of the county. But county staff discovered in July that the structure was on the verge of collapsing, and they took rapid steps to secure the Board’s permission to tear down the dome and build a temporary storage facility in its place.
The process took months to complete, but many neighbors still felt blindsided by changes that failed to follow Arlington’s notoriously extensive community engagement guidelines. In particular, some worry that the temporary facility would eventually become permanent, even though people living nearby had hoped for years to see the land transformed into a park or some sort of other community amenity.
County workers removed the old dome just last week, standing up a structure designed to hold about 4,500 tons of road salt in its place.
The Board has since issued a variety of mea culpas for its handling of the issue — new Chair Christian Dorsey even singled the process out as a “failure” during his Jan. 2 speech taking the Board’s gavel — and agreed to kick off a planning process for the property in part to rebuild trust in the community.
The “Master Planning Task Force” could eventually recommend one of all manner of new uses for the property, most of which sits empty. However, county staffers agree that they’ll need to maintain most of their existing operations on the site, from winter storm response to leaf and mulch storage.
As for the rest, there are plenty of possibilities being batted about. The county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, a group dedicated to finding space for public facilities around Arlington, is recommending that some sort of park or other public space must be created or maintained on the site, according to November meeting documents.
JFAC is also suggesting that the property could have room for an “elementary or secondary school,” at a time when land for new schools is a particularly acute need for the county, or for vehicle storage for police or school bus drivers.
Additionally, Marymount University is pitching the prospect of striking a deal with the county to build a “multi-use” athletic field on the site for its sports teams, alongside a one-acre park and playground to meet the community’s wishes.
The task force is set to meet again on Thursday (Jan 10.) and hopes to eventually deliver a report to the County Board with recommendations for future sites uses by April.
Arlington’s plans to demolish a roughly 90-year-old storage “dome” for road salt and build a temporary replacement are inching forward, even as some neighbors have cried foul about the county’s rushed public engagement process for the project.
The county Planning Commission unanimously lent its seal of approval last night (Thursday) to a series of zoning changes to let work on the salt dome move ahead, keeping the county on track to move about 4,500 tons of salt into a new shelter in time for the first threats of snow in late November.
Officials discovered this spring that the old dome, made out of a repurposed water tank and located on a piece of county property near the intersection of 25th Road N. and Old Dominion Drive, was on the verge of collapse. Considering that the dome was one of just two of the county’s facilities for road salt storage, staff wanted to take urgent action to commission a replacement.
The County Board agreed to kick off that process in July, but people living nearby were peeved that officials would push ahead with these changes on a considerably more expedited timeline than Arlington’s notoriously lengthy engagement guidelines might normally allow. Many neighbors were particularly concerned that the temporary replacement for the dome might become permanent, lending a considerably more industrial feel to the neighborhood, which is just near Marymount University.
“It will be the defining feature of the entrance of our neighborhood, and it will say ‘Welcome to Industrialville,'” Mike Hogan, president of the Old Dominion Citizens Association, told the commission. “Never have so many planning rules been violated in one proposal as this one.”
Arlington Department of Environmental Services Director Greg Emanuel stressed to the commission the rushed process is “clearly not how we prefer to do our work,” offering a mea culpa for his staff’s failure to identify the problem a bit earlier. But he also emphasized that the project was so important that it was worth speeding things along — should the dome fail, he expects the county would see its response time to a snowstorm increase anywhere from 30 to 40 percent.
“There should’ve been a public process, there’s no question about it,” Planning Commission Chair Jane Siegel told ARLnow. “Nobody’s trying to hide the ball here… but if there is no salt storage in the appropriate part of the county, we risk people getting injured.”
Siegel expects that county staffers managed to overlook the salt dome’s degrading status because the property was at one time slated to become the home of a replacement for Fire Station 8. When those plans fell apart, she suspects the salt dome got lost in the shuffle, as officials were initially expecting it to be removed.
Some neighbors, however, were not so convinced of the county’s good intentions.
“We’ve all known for a long time this is failing,” Jacqueline Smith, another Old Dominion resident, told the commission. “This is a really predictable crisis… and we’re being put under this pressure, saying we have no other options. And personally, I don’t see that.”
But Emanuel told the commission that staff did examine other options for the temporary salt dome, like a site the county uses for storing leaf removal and the Buck property, a piece of county land near Ballston eyed for all manner of uses over the years. Neither option, however, would quite fit the county’s needs, Emanuel said.
Even with the county stuck using the Old Dominion property, Siegel pointed out that vocal community scrutiny of the project managed to force some concessions from the county to make the effort a bit more tolerable. For instance, the county shrank the amount of land it plans to use for the project, and will save all but three trees it originally planned to cut down on the site.
“Even though it was not a full public process, the public did weigh in and get some wins out of this,” Siegel said.
Still, Old Dominion neighbors worry about the site’s future.
“We recognize this is intended to be temporary, but we’d like to know what temporary means,” Hogan said.
Manuel estimates that the temporary structure will stay in place for the next three to four years, until the county can build a new salt storage tank. And for any concerned neighbors, Siegel also points out that the County Board will soon convene a working group on a “master plan” for the property, a process she says might not have started for quite some time without the community’s interest in the salt dome.
“Temporary things become permanent if there’s no opposing group or force or idea, but here there obviously will be,” Siegel said. “There is a bulwark against the drift.”
The County Board will get a chance to weigh in on the salt dome zoning changes at its Sept. 22 and Sept. 25 meetings.