The concession stand at the Crystal City Water Park has closed.
The concession’s last day was Friday, after landlord Vornado declined to renew vendor Adel Ishak’s lease, we’re told. Ishak, who was a prominent attorney in Egypt before he fled to the United States with his family due to safety concerns, had run the kiosk for at least six years.
ARLnow.com has learned that landlord Vornado — soon to be JBG Smith — is planning an expanded retail presence in the park, perhaps a more full-featured restaurant or a beer garden. A major residential redevelopment anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planned across the street.
Some local residents who heard that the concession stand would be closing started a petition calling for it to remain open, but to no avail.
“Rain, sleet, snow and shine, Adel was there,” one customer lamented to ARLnow.com. “He has built this business from the ground up – he started with nothing and now has run the stand year-round because of his customers. My hope is… that perhaps Vornado can move his concession to another part of Crystal City or Arlington.”
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 end of renovations at Tuckahoe Park will be marked Saturday with a ribbon-cutting to mark the completion of a two-year project. The ribbon-cutting is set for 11:15 a.m.
The park at 2400 N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church has had its bleachers and benches renovated, while the bullpens and batting cages for local baseball players have also had a facelift.
In addition, the grass and dirt in the park’s two diamond fields have been revamped and drainage improved, while a new electronic scoreboard has been added for use by the community and the nearby Bishop O’Connell High School. O’Connell contributed $18,000 towards purchasing the scoreboard.
ADA accessibility has also been added around the park, including from 26th Street N., the school and the existing park trail near N. Sycamore Street.
The park is already being used by Arlington Little League and other community groups. The County Board approved the $1 million renovation project in 2015.
The first ever Arlington Palooza is set for next weekend at Alcova Heights Park, and will include live music, art, games and more.
The free outdoor program for all ages lasts from 1-4 p.m. April 29 at the park, located at 901 S. George Mason Drive.
Away from the main stage, other entertainment will be provided by magicians, mini-guitar lessons by Music4Life and musical chairs. Art activities will include making flower crowns, decorating bandanas and helping install art at the park.
Also on offer will be moon bounces, face painting, a rock climbing wall, bubble forest, a smoothie bike and Very Hungry Caterpillar preschool activities. Food trucks from The Big Cheese and Rocklands Barbeque will be on site too.
Renovations will begin soon at Oakgrove Park and Tyrol Hills Park if the County Board gives the go-ahead for construction contracts at its meeting on Saturday.
In recent years, the Board approved funding for the earlier phases of the Tyrol Hills Park (5101 7th Road S.) renovation project, including more than $878,000 in upgrades in 2015. The current phase — phase four — is the final one and requires Board approval for a nearly $1.6 million construction contract.
The main upgrades include installing a new unisex bathroom, adding another picnic shelter and converting a sand volleyball court into a futsal court. The new court was an idea that came up during community outreach. The scope of work also includes stormwater management improvements, site furnishings, a paved plaza and landscaping.
If approved, construction on the phase four upgrades is expected to start before fall and should take about nine months.
The Board also is expected to approve the $795,000 construction contract for renovating Oakgrove Park (1606 N. Quincy Street). This is the second phase of upgrades for that park; the grass field and track renovations were completed in 2015.
This phase focuses on replacing the existing tot lot and adding play equipment for school-age children. Other improvements including replacing the picnic shelter, adding site furnishings, improving accessibility and improving stormwater management.
If approved, construction at Oakgrove Park is expected to start by the summer and last for about four months.
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.
The County Board will consider a $370,000 plan Saturday to convert the Gunston Park diamond athletic field to synthetic turf.
The park at 1401 28th Street S. has three lighted tennis courts, a multiuse field, a lighted softball field and basketball courts.
The nonprofit Arlington Sports Foundation proposed a grant of $180,000 to convert the field, and the county sports commission’s Diamond Field Fund would pay the additional $190,000. This extra $370,000 is on top of a previously-approved $1.4 million maintenance and improvement project at the park. That project’s funding was approved in a 2014 bond referendum.
The parks and recreation department required that half of the ASF funds be deposited with the county to get the design stage underway, with phased additional payments of $45,000 each. Any unspent ASF funds will be returned to them after the project is completed and all financial obligations are met.
A county staff report said installing the synthetic turf will help the Gunston Park field be better utilized.
“The conversion of this diamond field, which is currently lighted for night play, will extend the usable seasons and times by approximately 880 hours per year, and will also be configured to allow for players of different ages, different sports, and different levels of play to utilize the field,” staff wrote.
County staff recommends the Board authorizes the funds for converting the field to synthetic turf.
Photo via Google Maps
The weekend is shaping up to be warm and pleasant — despite high pollen counts — which is good news for those celebrating Easter on Sunday. That’s also the final day of spring break for Arlington Public Schools students.
There are plenty of special Easter happenings including church services, egg hunts and brunches.
Although county community centers are closed on Sunday, parks will remain open to visitors who may want to hike, picnic or use playground equipment.
Other spring activities include taking advantage of newly-opened farmers markets.
What are you planning to do this weekend?
Arlington has paved the way to finally break ground on a new public gathering place for the Nauck community.
The Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a one-story property at 2400 Shirlington Road for $803,000 earlier this week.
The newly purchased property is the third and final plot of land needed to begin construction on the Nauck Town Square, which will “serve as a gathering place for the community, where events can be held and residents and visitors can learn about Nauck’s rich cultural heritage through planned public art by award-winning landscape architect and artist Walter Hood,” according to a county press release.
“It was the last piece of the puzzle that needed to be pulled together by County staff and the community to make the dream of a Nauck Town Square a reality,” Garvey said. “We can now move forward with this project, and hope to begin construction this summer.”
The recently purchased property is the site of a plumbing business owned by father and son Leslie J. Engelking Sr. and Leslie J. Engelking Jr. The sale was held up for years after it went to court and was further delayed due to the fact that Engelking Jr., who jointly owned the plumbing business, went missing, the Washington Business Journal reported.
Even stranger, Engelking Sr. was in 2015 charged with perjury related to the disappearance of the Lyons sisters, two girls who vanished from Wheaton Mall in Maryland more than 40 years ago. Engelking Sr. told the Business Journal he had “had nothing to do with it,” however.
McCoy Park, a humble triangle of grass and trees between Lee Highway and I-66 near the new MOM’s Organic Market, is set for some upgrades.
Arlington County is in the midst of a design process for the park. A public open house is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., in a first floor conference room at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd). Residents can also share their thoughts via an online survey on the project page.
The draft plan for the park calls for more landscaping and amenities, including:
- A re-aligned sidewalk
- A seating deck with tables and chairs
- A shade canopy
- An interactive chalk art plaza with Four Square and Tick-Tac-Toe games
- Flowering trees, shrubs and perennials
- Trash and recycling receptacles
- “Discovery path” stepping stones
- New signage
The improvements are expected to be paid for with $125,000 in funding from the developer that built the adjacent shopping center, MOM’s market and apartments.
Additionally, the county is considering offering a dog bag dispenser and a Little Free Library — if it can find sponsors for either amenity.
The design process for the park is expected to wrap up within the first three months of 2017.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s playground and volleyball court, located at 1021 N. Quincy Street near Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School, is scheduled to take place Saturday from 1-2 p.m.
The revamped park features a “universal design” playground — Arlington’s first — with a play environment that’s accessible for users of all ages and physical abilities. Among the amenities are swings, picnic tables, a slide, a “climbing tree” and other play equipment.
The sand volleyball court, located adjacent to the playground, was created with adult after-work sports leagues in mind.
Though the ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for this weekend, the playground and the volleyball court are currently open to the public. Despite some earlier rain, at least a dozen kids and caretakers were taking advantage of the playground and its picnic shelter when ARLnow.com visited Wednesday afternoon.
More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for the Arlington County Board to take Rhodeside Green Park in Rosslyn off the list of potential locations for a temporary fire station.
As of 10:00 a.m. today, the Change.org petition titled “Save Rhodeside Green Park – No to Fire Station” has 550 signatures, over halfway to its goal of 1,000.
Arlington County originally proposed building the temporary fire station behind the future the H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn, but agreed to consider other locations after parents spoke out against the plan, citing concerns about student safety and the loss of open space.
The petition cites concerns about losing “one of the last green spaces we have” in the neighborhood and calls for the County Board to select an alternate location.
From the petition:
On Saturday, July 16, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to consider the Rhodeside Green Park at the corner of Rhodes Street and Clarendon Blvd. as a location to construct a temporary fire station. This station location would remain in place for at least 3 years while a new fire station is constructed as part of the new school development on Wilson Blvd. next to what is currently Wilson School. The Board plans to take final action at a meeting scheduled for September 24th, 2016. The first time Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights Civic Association (RAFOM) heard Rhodeside Green Park was one of 3-4 possible sites was at the July 16 Board meeting. There was no notification or consultation with the residents of Bromptons Rosslyn Homeowners Association (BARHOA), residents living in apartments and condos near the park, or anyone else impacted. Rhodeside Green was created during development of BARHOA then turned over to Arlington County in 2002 as part of a deal to create green space for our area. We request the Board not stray from the original intent. Construction of a temporary fire station will displace one of the last green spaces we have in Ft. Myer Heights. We are grateful for the services provided by the Arlington County Fire Department, this in no way diminishes our support and gratitude for what they do for all of us every single day. This petition is about protecting a cherished park that serves as a place for children to play, residents to gather, and for a small part of nature to exist within our over developed neighborhood. We urge the Arlington County Board to remove Rhodeside Green from consideration and select one of the alternate locations under consideration.
Photo Courtesy of Arlington County
Valor Awards Recount Harrowing Moments — Saving a suicidal woman who was about to jump from the seventh floor of a parking garage. Saving the life of a man who had just been run over by an SUV twice. Smashing a car window in order to resuscitate the victim of a major crash on I-395. Those are a few of the acts of valor recognized at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Valor Awards this week. [InsideNova, Arlington Chamber]
WaPo Questions Crystal City-Brooklyn Comparison — The Washington Post isn’t letting the New York Times get away with a quote that compared Crystal City to Brooklyn. The area’s hometown paper instead quoted a number of Twitter critics, one of whom called Crystal City a “Ballardian hellscape.” The Times story suggests that Crystal City — with its new restaurants, emerging tech scene, transportation improvements and community events — is experiencing something of a mini renaissance. [Washington Post]
Nauck Town Square Designs — Arlington County is seeking feedback on the draft design of the forthcoming Nauck Town Square park. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.” [Arlington County]
County Gets Adorable Letters — Arlington County gets adorable letters from children, who ask about things like raising backyard chickens and saving worms that might have gotten swept up as yard waste. [Arlington County]
Arlington County is preparing to update and add new features to the park next to the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Fairlington Park currently has exercise equipment, an exercise path, an athletic field, a playground, a gazebo and a small amphitheater.
The county says the scope of the upcoming park project will include “design and reconstruction of the playground, exercise equipment, circuit trail, picnic area, site circulation, site furnishings, fencing, stormwater management and landscaping.”
Before creating an initial design, the county is gathering community input, including via an online survey, which is active through April 15.
The survey asks a number of specific questions about exercise equipment, including: “would you like to be able to do a total-body workout in the park for strength and cardio fitness using equipment that’s similar to indoor fitness equipment?”
Arlington County is spending nearly $900,000 to buy and tear down a house along N. Harrison Street, to expand Chestnut Hills Park.
The County Board voted 5-0 yesterday to approve the purchase of 2833 N. Harrison Street for $820,000. The move comes just a few months after the county purchased an adjacent house for $728,000.
Chestnut Hills Park, near Yorktown High School, recently received a new pre-school playground. The park is said to be one of the most popular and most-used in the county.
Once the house is demolished, the county will expand the park and will “work with the community to enhance its features.” From an Arlington County press release:
For the second time in a year, Arlington County has agreed to buy land to expand the popular Chestnut Hills Park on N. Harrison Street in the Yorktown neighborhood.
The County Board today approved the purchase of a home and surrounding property at 2833 N. Harrison St., adjacent to the park. The agreed purchase price is $820,000 for the 10,405 square foot lot.
“Arlington is serious about looking for opportunities to add to our parkland and open space, and we plan for such purchases. We’re seeing real results for our commitment and planning,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.
The house on the lot the Board agreed to purchase today is a modest rambler, built in 1954, and has no remarkable individual architectural or historical significance. The County plans to deconstruct the house and restore the site as open space. The purchase price was obtained from a licensed Virginia real estate appraiser. The County estimates that closing costs will be about $5,000 and the deconstruction of the house and site restoration will cost about $50,000. The funds will be allocated from Park Land Acquisition funds.
The Board voted 5-0 to approve the acquisition. To read the staff report for this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #21 on the Agenda for the Tuesday, March 15 County Board Meeting.
In the late 1990s, the County asked owners of certain properties along North Harrison Street whether they would be interested in selling their properties to the County to expand Chestnut Hills Park. Between 1996 and 1998, the owners of three properties along North Harrison Street sold their properties to the County. A fourth sold his property in 2015. The park was renovated in 2014. As the park grows, the County will continue to work with the community to enhance its features.