(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) In addition to the official woodlands paths and trails through Arlington parks, a visitor is likely to find countless other well-worn paths that criss-cross the park built from decades of use.
As Arlingtonians venture into nature for a social-distanced outdoors experience, a local group is hoping to legalize the natural trails and make them sustainable.
An over 200-member Facebook page called Arlington Trails advocates for preserving and sustaining natural trails across Arlington — particularly for local mountain bikers.
“Arlington County is the only area that doesn’t allow mountain biking,” said Matthew Levine, who runs Arlington Trails. “It’s a great way of getting kids into nature. Right now, a lot of people need to be outside.”
“Bikes are not allowed on a natural trail in Arlington,” Kalish said. “Wheels on trails compact the ground and have a greater impact on the flora and fauna that make up our natural trails. Wheeled transport on natural trails compacts the soil and can destroy plants and damage tree roots. Compacted soils and less vegetation lead to water runoff and degradation of our streams. There are also safety issues as these trails are narrow and the walkers and bikers can’t easily step to the side without harming more vegetation and possibly themselves on steep embankments.”
Kalish said those trails have been damaged in recent months by irresponsible users.
“We find rogue, bushwhacked trails where trees have been cut down and plants pulled out,” Kalish said. “We’ve also found places where bikers have built ramps, jumps and holes.”
For Levine, the recent damage shows that cyclists are still using these trails despite local ordinance, and legalizing that use while providing less destructive options for use.
“Part of it is making these trails legal, otherwise there are rogue trails being built with thrillseekers going straight down,” Levine said. “If they’re not sanctioned and following protocol — that’s why you have kids in the woods building jumps.”
Nora Palmatier, an Arlington resident and a member of Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria, said that the trails through the parks are currently unsafe for mountain biking.
“It is too dangerous for off-road biking in small parks,” Palmatier said. “Several of us have been hit getting off trails by speeding bikes. I discovered 13 holly saplings 6-10 feet tall chopped down for bike trails which is just wrong in Lacey Woods. I love to bike ride but not where it destroys wildflowers and trees or where it is too dangerous.”
Currently, many of those trails are desire paths — reflecting the most direct routes park users take from one place to another. Levine said those paths aren’t made with concerns about erosion and other issues in mind, which is why Levine and local organization Mid Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) work to adapt those trails into sustainable paths. Emails Levine provided of his offers to do so in Arlington show park managers rebuffing those efforts.
After months of uncertainty, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization announced that the group’s annual summer movie series would be converted into a new drive-in theater format.
“On Saturday nights throughout July and August, CPRO will be showing blockbuster hits on the big screen at the Arlington Career Center parking lot (816 S. Walter Reed Drive),” the organization said in a press release.
The movies are scheduled to start at sunset, sometime between 8-8:30 p.m.
The event will remain free and open to the public, but with limited space, participants will have to register in advance. Attendees will also be asked to remain in their vehicles during the movie. Public restrooms will not be available.
An area will be set aside for households without vehicles, which CPRO said can be identified on the registration form.
The lineup (below) is a fusion of the earlier schedule for movie nights at Arlington Mill and Penrose Square, now that the only screenings will be at the Career Center.
- July 11: Jurassic Park
- July 18: The Secret Life of Bees
- July 25: Twister
- August 1: Crazy Rich Asians
- August 8: Apollo 13
- August 15: Ready Player One
- August 22: Coco
- August 29: Mary Poppins Returns
“2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia Pike Movie Nights and we had already hosted several rounds of voting to let the people pick this year’s line-up, so we were really eager to find a way to host the event safely,” CPRO Program Director Stephen Gregory Smith said in a press release. “So we worked with [Arlington Public Schools], libraries, and county staff to secure the Arlington Career Center parking lot and come up with a plan to allow everyone to still enjoy their favorite movies together — while still apart — this summer.”
Photo via CPRO
Wawa Planning 40 New N. Va. Stores — “Wawa Inc. has big plans for the Northern Virginia. Upon breaking ground on its latest project in Vienna Tuesday, the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain officially unveiled its expansion plan for the area, which includes 40 new Northern Virginia stores in the next 15 years totaling $240 million.” [Washington Business Journal]
National Honors for Arlington Traditional School — “Arlington Traditional School is one of nine Virginia schools, and 362 across the nation, to be named 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. It is the third time since 2006 the school – known as ATS – has received the national honor.” [InsideNova]
Census Is Important for Emergency Management — “The Census provides emergency managers and public safety officials with critical information to better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters in Arlington County. Data from the Census provides us with key demographic, socioeconomic and housing data that form the basis of Census Bureau tools we use in emergency management.” [Arlington County]
Outdoor Lab Ready for Another School Year — “The Arlington Outdoor Lab starts the school year with a host of initiatives, as well as a new incoming director. Michele Karnbach, who previously served as a resource assistant at the facility, has been tapped as its next director. Karnbach most recently was a science teacher in Prince William County’s school system.” [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a campfire series for families, staring this week.
The series starts this Saturday, September 7, at Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 Military Road) from 6-7 p.m. and offers attendees campfire stories, games, and s’mores.
The theme of this Saturday’s fire is “Nice Mice,” followed by an “Insect Chorus” event next Saturday 14 at the Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) from 7-8 p.m.
“The whole family is invited to join in our campfires, for lots of old fashioned fun,” wrote organizers on the event’s website. “You’ll hear campfire stories, may meet some animal guests, play games, sing songs and, of course, enjoy s’mores! Each campfire has a nature theme and promises to entertain.”
The series alternates on Saturdays between Gulf Branch and Long Branch until November 23, and each event costs $5 per person.
Image via Flickr/Kevin Smith
The newly rennovated Ballston Quarter mall will host showings of classic movies on its outdoor front plaza this fall, starting next week.
Movies will be shown for free on Thursdays, starting at around 8 p.m., in front of the mall at 4238 Wilson Blvd.
The series will start next Thursday, September 5, with the movie Grease, and will continue showing films every Thursday until October 31.
The complete list of scheduled films is below.
- Grease — September 5
- The Parent Trap — September 12
- Home Alone — September 19
- The Princess Bride — September 26
- Mrs. Doubtfire — October 3
- E.T. — October 10
- Sound of Music — October 17
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — October 24
- Hocus Pocus — October 31
Image via YouTube
Body Found in Submerged SUV — “Authorities were working Monday night to recover a body inside an SUV submerged in the Potomac River [near Roosevelt Island]… D.C. Fire & EMS said they found tire tracks leading into the river and divers were able to locate the SUV by 6 p.m. Monday. Sources confirmed to News4 that a body was trapped inside.” [NBC Washington]
Clarendon Beer Garden May Open Next Month — “The 22,000-square-foot space, dubbed The Lot… [is] anticipating an early June opening, pending final permit approvals, with plans to incorporate drinking games, picnic seating, and tacos.” [Eater]
UMD Coming to Crystal City? — “The University of Maryland is scouting out potential sites in Crystal City, where it could potentially help to feed Amazon.com Inc.’s long-term plans to hire at least 25,000 workers to support its second headquarters. The state’s flagship university is in the market for between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet to support the growth of HQ2, according to sources familiar with the situation.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Mosque Security Measures — “Members of an Arlington, Virginia, mosque are being trained on how to respond to an active shooter. Worshippers are learning how to take security measures to protect themselves and save the lives of others. The training follows mass shooting at houses of worship around the world.” [Voice of America, Twitter]
(Updated on 05/22/19) Rosslyn’s annual outdoor movie festival is returning to Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) starting next month.
“Every Friday this summer in Gateway Park, bring a blanket or low chairs and a group of friends and enjoy a night under the stars with your favorite movies,” the event’s website says. “Movies start at dusk, but the fun starts at 5 p.m. with games and our Pub in the Park. This event is kid and dog friendly.”
During the events attendees can “enjoy some popcorn from Popped Republic and food from local food trucks.” A spokeswoman told ARLnow that attendees can also get 10 percent off their bill at the nearby Continental Pool Lounge or Beer Garden if they mention they’re at the outdoor festival, and will also be able to order a “special, movie-themed cocktail.”
The film schedule is as follows.
- June 7 — Spider Man: into the Spider-Verse
- June 14 — Paddington
- June 21 — Casablanca
- June 28 — Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
- July 5 — Crazy Rich Asians
- July 12 — Incredibles 2
The June 14 and July 12 movies — Paddington and Incredibles 2 — are “special family nights,” according to the website. If there’s a chance of rain, organizers will announce cancellations by 3 p.m. on the event website.
Photo via Rosslyn BID
Seafood restaurant The Salt Line is coming to Ballston next year and plans to have a large outdoor patio space with seating for up to 100 patrons.
Before it opens, however, The Salt Line’s future landlord at 4040 Wilson Blvd is seeking Arlington County Board approval to build the outdoor cafe, which will sit on private property and feature a fixed bar. The site plan amendment is on the County Board’s agenda next week and county staff is recommending the Board approve it.
More from the county staff report:
As part of their build out, the tenant proposes to establish an outdoor bar in the planned outdoor café space. The café area begins on Wilson Boulevard, wrapping around the corner and lining the façade of the Salt Line along the new public plaza area. The entirety of the fixed bar area and the outdoor seating are located on private property. The number of proposed interior seats is greater than the number of proposed exterior seats, so the outdoor café does not need a use permit…
The request to permit a fixed bar in a private outdoor café requires County Board approval in order to modify the requirements of ACZO Section 12.9.15, which requires outdoor café furnishings to be temporary.
This area was envisioned for private outdoor seating and therefore is not inconsistent with the original approval, and since the fixed bar does not encroach into the public realm, staff is supportive of the request. Staff has recommended a condition requiring removal of the fixed bar at the termination of the lease with The Salt Line, thus freeing up the space for future retail uses that would not necessarily be restaurants.
County staff is “supportive” of the outdoor cafe proposal but is also recommending “conditions related to the proposed design and window transparency in order to ensure that the space, as planned, becomes a vibrant and active pedestrian plaza,” according to the staff report.
The Salt Line, which first opened in D.C.’s Navy Yard in 2017 to critical acclaim, is hoping to open the new Ballston location next spring, telling ARLnow that they plan to make the restaurant “a real neighborhood gathering place.” The building, meanwhile, is nearing the end of its construction process and is expected to open to office and retail tenants by the end of the year.
An annual, family-friendly outdoor festival is scheduled to return next weekend with music, dancers, and games.
The 3rd annual “Arlington Palooza” will be held in Alcova Heights Park (901 S. George Mason Drive) from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.
This year, organizers at the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation say there will be laser tag, a bouncy house, face painting, and lessons in making flower crowns and pinwheels, among other activities listed on the event’s website.
This year’s musical line-up includes:
- 1-1:30 p.m. — The Sunshine Gang, a classic rock and roll band
- 1:50-2:20 p.m. — Sarah Baumgarten, an H-B Woodlawn student and singer-songwriter who plays the ukulele
- 3:15-3:50 p.m. — The Blue Flames, an five piece Arlington-based rock band
The Sultanas Troupe will perform a fusion of traditional Middle-Eastern and modern dances from 2:40-3 p.m.
The Arlington Art Truck will also join the festivities with a traveling show about electricity by Baltimore artist Neil Feather.
Police will close one block of 8th Street S. between S. Randolph Street and S. George Mason Drive during the event.
The county is warning that parking near the event will be “extremely limited” and is encouraging attendees to find alternative transportation. A spokeswoman for the event noted there will be bike valets, and that scooter company Bird is offering a $5 credit with the coupon code BEFREE.
The department said there will be a “designated drop-off area along S. George Mason Drive near 8th Street S.” for people with disabilities.
Photo via Arlington County
Outdoor Lab, an educational facility that serves Arlington students, is fighting for funding after Arlington’s superintendent proposed cutting the outdoor science program out of next year’s budget.
About 10,000 APS students visit the 225-acre site in Fauquier County each year for lessons on biology, earth science, and astronomy, per its website. The Lab is owned by the non-profit Arlington Outdoor Education Association and also provides students some overnight and summer programs.
Now program staff are urging parents to contact officials on their behalf because Superintendent Patrick Murphy has proposed eliminating funding for Lab staff and bus rides to the program as part of the $8.9 million in cuts he floated to balance his $662.7 million budget proposal for the school’s next fiscal year.
APS spokesman Frank Bellavia gave the same response to ARLnow’s request for comment as he did for the debate last week over the superintendent cutting crew for the county’s high schools.
“The Superintendent and APS does not want to take any of the proposed budget reductions. To present a proposed budget that was balanced, however, $8.9 million in reductions had to be proposed,” Bellavia said in the statement, adding that “instructional programs” were prioritized.
“You know the Outdoor Lab is a special place for seeing science come to life, taking a hike in the woods, and sleeping in a tent under the stars,” wrote Arlington Outdoor Education Association President Todd Parker in his plea to parents to contact the County and School Board on the program’s behalf.
“The Lab is a unique resource for students in Arlington Public Schools,” Parker wrote. “We need your voice to help ensure the Lab continues to serve thousands of Arlington students next school year.”
Eliminating funding for the Lab would save APS about $700,000, according to Murphy’s budget proposal.
The $8.9 million in total budget reductions proposed by the superintendent can be reduced if the county adds more money to the APS budget during deliberations next month.
The facility celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 by raising $84,000 for capital improvements, exceeding its $50,000 fundraising goal. The Outdoor Lab has previously said APS’ rising enrollment is squeezing its capacity.
The superintendent’s full comment about the budget cut proposal is below.
The Superintendent and APS does not want to take any of the proposed budget reductions. To present a proposed budget that was balanced, however, $8.9 million in reductions had to be proposed. Staff focused on preserving our instructional programs and the critical support provided to schools, students and families, but many difficult decisions had to be made about possible reductions. We continue to hope that the APS budget will be fully funded by Arlington County Government through funding strategies including an increase in the tax rate.