49°Overcast

by ARLnow.com February 7, 2018 at 7:45 am 0

`(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Very spotty frozen precipitation fell overnight in Arlington, leading to some slick spots but no serious issues.

Concerns about an icy commute, however, led Arlington Public Schools to delay the start of school.

More from APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.

The school system’s decision, in turn, prompted Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation to also delay or cancel some of its programs.

From DPR:

Due to an Arlington Public School two-hour delayed opening, DPR will proceed as follows:

  • All congregate meal programs are cancelled.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-ops) are cancelled.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities scheduled to start prior to 11:59 a.m. are cancelled in all buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities with scheduled start times of NOON or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All evening Enjoy Arlington classes, sports league activities and nature center programs will proceed as scheduled.
  • All Community Centers (including the five joint use centers at Langston, TJ, Gunston, Carver and Drew will open on time as schedule.
  • APS Pools are open on time.

Arlington County government is expected to open on time.

Other delays and closures of note around the region this morning:

  • Federal government: Two hour delay
  • Fairfax County Public Schools: Closed
  • Loudoun County Public Schools: Closed
  • Prince William County Schools: Closed
  • Falls Church City Public Schools: Two Hour Delay
  • Alexandria City Public Schools: Open on time
  • Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools: Closed
  • D.C. Public Schools: Open on time

by Chris Teale January 26, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board will debate whether to name a park near Potomac Yard “Short Bridge Park,” after it being known informally as “South Park” for over a decade.

The county’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the name for the park between Potomac Ave and U.S. Route 1, along Four Mile Run. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria both own portions of the park.

A county staff report on the naming notes that the park had the informal moniker “South Park” as it is the southernmost park in the Potomac Yard Phased Development Site Plan, which provides a roadmap for development in the area. It was created in October 2000.

The park currently has a publicly accessible playground and a playground exclusively used by a daycare facility, planted shrub/perennial beds, walkways, a large grassy field and a steeply sloped grassy area.

Renovations to the park will improve its connectivity to the Four Mile Run Trail, as well as add facilities like a dog park, an “interpretative plaza,” more pathways, a shade structure and other plazas and a meadow.

In a letter to the Board, Parks and Recreation Commission chair Caroline Haynes said the group supports the plans for the park and its new name, which she said is a “complement to ‘Long Bridge Park‘ both in size and location.”

by ARLnow.com January 26, 2018 at 8:15 am 0

Rosslyn Vying for Amazon HQ2 — Rosslyn is being pitched as a possible destination for Amazon’s second headquarters, alongside Crystal City and other Northern Virginia locales. Rosslyn’s main downside is a lack of space for Amazon’s growth ambitions, but the neighborhood does have a sizable office development pipeline, close proximity to Georgetown and D.C., monumental views and numerous transit options. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Approves Service Guarantee — “Metro’s Board of Directors today approved the Rush Hour Promise program, a first-of-its-kind service guarantee for Metro customers. Beginning with tomorrow morning’s rush hour commute, on Friday, January 26, if a Metrorail or Metrobus customer using a registered SmarTrip card is delayed by 15 minutes or more, Metro will credit the customer’s SmarTrip card for future travel.” [WMATA]

Fire in Cherrydale — Arlington County firefighters extinguished a chimney fire in the Cherrydale neighborhood last night. The fire did not spread and no one was hurt. [Twitter]

Nominations for Park Volunteer Award — Nominations are being accepted through Friday, Feb. 2 for Arlington’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Award. The award “was established to pay tribute to lifelong parks volunteer Bill Thomas and to honor and encourage those residents who also demonstrate a passionate dedication and support for [Arlington parks] programs, natural resources and public open spaces.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Anna Merod January 24, 2018 at 2:55 pm 0

Cherrydale residents are seeking to reclaim the original spelling of a neighborhood park as it goes through a second phase of renovations.

In a presentation at an Arlington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting yesterday (Tuesday), neighborhood resident Harry Spector said he wanted to clarify the spelling of Oak Grove Park as two words and not one word.

There are three signs currently in the park that spell it as Oakgrove. However, the original sign in the park spells it as Oak Grove.

“With this being the oldest sign at the park, it’s clear to us that this was the county’s original intended spelling of the park,” Spector said.

Though the Oakgrove spelling is cited in the county’s Parks and Recreation master plan, Spector said there is no record the county intended to change the spelling.

“It’s a typographical error that was never corrected,” he said.

Other official documents since the 1990s that required county approval have also used the two-word spelling, Spector said.

While it seems the change could be made administratively, Spector said he was directed to the Parks and Recreation Commission by county staff, as there is a two-part process for renaming parks. The commission makes recommendations to the Arlington County Board, which has the final say on approval.

“It’s a little time consuming to correct a typo, but it’s probably the only way to do it,” said David Howell, a commission member.

Spector was hoping to fast-track the change, since the county acknowledges the park as Oak Grove while the department references it as Oakgrove. He said he wants the change to happen before the park’s renovation is complete, sometime between February and May.

The renovations include a new playground for 2-5 year-olds and 5-12 year-olds. There will also be new benches and a new gazebo with picnic tables.

All the members of the committee agreed with Cherrydale residents that the name should be changed, and will be holding another meeting on the protocol of name changing and will include another motion to move forward the spelling of the park.

“It’s kind of absurd to have go through such a process for a simple, obvious grammatical error,” Spector said.

Photos via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com January 9, 2018 at 8:25 am 0

Arlington Public Schools is opening on a two-hour delay due to icy conditions in many part of the county this morning.

Sleet and frozen rain caused few problems in Arlington during the day, but untreated sidewalks and other surfaces turned icy at night as the sun set and temperatures dropped to be below freezing.

APS made the decision to open on a two hour delay earlier this morning. From APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time.

A number of other Arlington County programs and events have been either delayed or canceled. Among them:

  • All congregate meal programs are cancelled.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-ops) will open on time.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities scheduled to start prior to 11:59 a.m. will be cancelled in all buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington classes, 55+ classes, trips, nature center programs and sports league activities with scheduled start times of NOON or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All evening Enjoy Arlington classes, sports league activities and nature center programs will proceed as scheduled.
  • All standalone Community Centers including: Madison, Lee, Fairlington, Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center, Lubber Run, Walter Reed, and Arlington Mill will open for regularly scheduled operating hours.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Langston, and Carver Community Centers will open at 10 a.m. Drew, and Gunston will open for their normal operating hours.
  • APS Pools are on a two hour delayed opening.

Many roads and sidewalks around Arlington and the D.C. area remain slick as temperatures climb back above freezing. Authorities are urging those who do have to drive to be extra cautious, while those who can delay their trips should.

A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for the region, as parts of the area are covered in a thick, frozen fog.

… DENSE FOG ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM EST THIS MORNING… * VISIBILITIES… ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES. * IMPACTS… GREATLY REDUCED VISIBILITIES MAKING TRAVEL DIFFICULT. TEMPERATURES BELOW FREEZING MAY CAUSE A GLAZE OF ICE ON ANY UNTREATED SURFACE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A DENSE FOG ADVISORY MEANS VISIBILITIES WILL FREQUENTLY BE REDUCED TO LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE. IF DRIVING, SLOW DOWN, USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS, AND LEAVE PLENTY OF DISTANCE AHEAD OF YOU. &&

In a semi-weather-related closure, the main ramp to Reagan National Airport from the GW Parkway is currently closed due to a water main break. Officials say anyone driving to the airport should use the second ramp, about a half mile down the parkway, or the entrance from Route 1 in Crystal City.

File photo

by Chris Teale December 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board voted yesterday (Tuesday) to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.

The Board voted 4-1 to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent vacant lot for $1.23 million. Chair Jay Fisette voted against the proposal.

Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.

Fisette raised concerns at some aspects of the process, and the precedent it might create. Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot, and Fisette said that might create an “out of hand” system where residents request the county buy land and create more parks.

“To me, the one universal reality that I’ve experienced, given the choice or an opportunity of a park, 95 percent of people will ask for, sign a petition and want a park. Everybody likes a park,” Fisette said. “In this case, it makes it harder for me, since I can’t really justify how to distinguish this very well from the next five or 10 or 20 or 30 requests that will come, that to me is where the focus should go: how you distinguish one opportunistic lot from another.”

Board vice chair Katie Cristol also had some misgivings given the popularity of parks and how other neighborhoods could start requesting the county buy land to accommodate them. She pushed staff to show that there is a need for this new park in Aurora Highlands.

“I think if we leave it to what we’re hearing from community members about the need in their neighborhood or about the relative use of the other parks, everyone will identify a need for more parks in their neighborhood,” she said. “It’s one of the more popular uses for land in the county.”

Someone currently rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.

At this stage, county staff said they intend to turn the land into casual park space with no programming, and Board members were convinced that the acquisition is worth it.

“I do look at the strategic nature of the opportunity and the relative value with which it can be had, and that ultimately tips the balance in favor of thinking this is worthwhile,” Board member Christian Dorsey said.

Photo via Google Maps

by Chris Teale December 18, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

Two local parks will receive extensive renovations under plans unanimously approved by the Arlington County Board at its meeting Saturday (December 16).

Benjamin Banneker (1680 N. Sycamore Street) and Fairlington (3308 S. Stafford Street) Parks will benefit. The former, near the East Falls Church Metro station, has expanded in recent years as the county has acquired more land.

For Benjamin Banneker Park, the Board approved a long-term vision for the park, which includes replacing its existing amenities and improving its trails. It will also give more protection to the Four Mile Run stream, a major feature of the 12.5-acre park.

Per a county press release, the long-term plans for the park include:

  • Widening trails: Trails will be widened to 10 to 12 feet, following guidelines from the adopted Arlington Master Transportation Plan – Bicycle Element.
  • Improving accessibility: A sidewalk connection from 16th Street N. to the parking lot will be added as well as a sidewalk around the parking lot perimeter, which will link internal sidewalks and trails with park amenities.
  • Relocating playground: The playground will be shifted further from the stream along 18th Street N. The new location will be separated from trails and visible from the street. It will include new play equipment, more seating and tables.
  • Parking lot improvements: The parking lot will be reconfigured and restriped to better accommodate up to 25 cars. The footprint of the lot will be reduced and made more efficient.
  • Renovating Dog Park: The dog parks surface will be replenished and there will be new furnishings and play features.

“This plan will make Benjamin Banneker Park more accessible, provide more protection for Four Mile Run stream, which runs through the park, improve the park’s trails, and replace its playground equipment,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “We appreciate the great work that staff and the community did in crafting this well thought out plan.”

Separately, the Board approved a construction contract for the final phase of renovations at Fairlington Park.

The final phase will include replacing the park’s amphitheater with a playground for children in the 2-5 and 5-12 age groups. It will also add outdoor fitness equipment, a picnic area, improved ADA accessibility, furniture, landscaping, and improvements to drainage and stormwater management.

by Chris Teale December 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

The amphitheater at Fairlington Park is set to be replaced by a playground in the park’s final phase of renovations.

The final phase for the park at 3308 S. Stafford Street includes a playground for children in the 2-5 and 5-12 age groups, outdoor fitness equipment, a picnic area, improved ADA accessibility, furniture, landscaping, and improvements to drainage and stormwater management.

It marks the completion of a project that began in 2010 with the first round of renovations to the park. The Arlington County Board will vote on the final phase at its meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

During construction, the athletic field would be closed. County staff said they are “working with the Fairlington Creative Preschoolers Program and Fairlington Cooperative Playgroup to identify other spaces in the park that can be used for children’s play while the new playground is being constructed.”

“The outdoor amenities for Fairlington Park are past their life expectancy and are in need of replacement,” staff wrote in a report on the project. “Through meetings with program staff and feedback during the public engagement, it was determined that the existing amphitheater does not get much use. Rather than replace the amphitheater, it was determined that it will be removed as part of the project to make additional room for the playground.”

The Board will vote on whether to award a contract worth just over $1.9 million for the park renovations, with just over $190,000 in contingency for change orders. Staff recommended approval.

by Chris Teale December 5, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Crews will pre-treat the Washington & Old Dominion Trail for the first time this winter when accumulating snow or ice is in the weather forecast.

Officials behind the 45-mile paved trail between Shirlington and Purcellville announced the change in a series of tweets last week.

When snow or ice is in the forecast, crews will pre-treat the trail “in Arlington heading west.” The change comes after discussions with staff from Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation, who have been pre-treating trails for at least the past few years.

The Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority, which is responsible for the trail, purchased a tanker trailer to do the pre-treating, which will likely involve putting salt down hours before snow or ice is due to hit. NOVA Parks will continue to use its snow blowers to clear the paths.

“The pre-treatment working in tandem with our snow blowers should help reduce trail down time so to speak with snow & ice on the trail,” the trail’s Twitter account tweeted.

The new regime may be needed later this week. The Capital Weather Gang reports that there will be a “decisive flip to cold,” which may bring snow flurries.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale November 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board voted 4-1 at its Tuesday meeting to build the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, the first of its kind in the county.

The Board approved a construction contract worth $60 million with Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc., which was one of four finalists to propose a design for the center.

The new facility will have a 50-meter pool, diving towers and a family pool, as well as spaces for health and fitness and public events among others. The contractor can then add extra features from a “menu” of potential options, so long as it stays within budget.

“This is the culmination of 10-plus years of planning,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “As our transformation of a brownfield into a vibrant park is fulfilled, we should all be very proud that a long and sometimes challenging community process has yielded such a great outcome. The centerpiece of this project will be an attractive, energy-efficient aquatics and fitness facility that will serve our community for generations.”

Board member John Vihstadt voted against the project on the grounds that the county cannot afford the $60 million price tag and projected operating costs of more than $1.1 million a year.

He added that when voters approved funding in two bond referenda — 2004 and 2012 — the funding landscape was different, and the phrase “aquatics and fitness center” was not mentioned in one referendum.

“With an uncertain economic outlook and in the face of so many competing priorities, from schools to Metro, and more, I cannot in good conscience support moving forward with this $60 million project as proposed,” Vihstadt said. “[It] is simply not fiscally prudent to ask Arlington’s taxpayers to take on this new and costly capital project (at $60 million, over $10 million more than the budget for the new Reed Elementary School, by comparison).  In short, the County has more important needs and priorities.”

Construction on the new aquatics center could begin as early as July 2018 and is expected to wrap up by early 2021.

The project, as approved, will also include “development of 10.5 acres of the park, including environmental remediation, continuation of the Esplanade, public gathering areas and casual use space, one or more rain gardens, parking and other associated infrastructure.”

Vihstadt’s full statement about his “no” vote, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale November 27, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending a “simple and efficient” design for the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center.

Schwartz recommended late last week that the county hire Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc. for the project, one of four contenders for the design and construction of the revamped center at 475 Long Bridge Drive.

The new facility will have a 50-meter pool, diving towers and a family pool as well as spaces for health and fitness and public events among others. The construction contract is worth $54.7 million, with $5.3 million in contingency funding in case of overruns.

“I think the community will be very pleased, possibly amazed, with the recommended design for the facility and park expansion,” Schwartz said in a statement. “We had four very good options from extremely talented firms, but the Coakley proposal excelled in meeting the county’s design criteria that impacted operations, long-term maintenance and durability.”

County staff said Coakley’s design “is simple and efficient with quality architecture and a strong connection to the Esplanade. It provides all of the elements required by the county without sacrificing core mechanical equipment, material choices and energy efficiency. It also includes an additional community room (at no additional expense).”

The design received the backing of the Friends of Long Bridge Park, a local group that looks to support and improve the park.

In an email, group president Eric Cassel said the County Board should approve the plan for the following reasons:

  1. It is needed. The Long Bridge Advisory Design Committee and County staff completed several studies that showed the needs of Arlington County are not being met. For example, currently all elementary and middle school students must learn swimming at one of the high school pools. The amount of teaching time is limited.
  2. If you have limited means and wish to swim, you have limited options, as all outdoor bodies of water like the Potomac River are unsafe to swim.
  3. The Esplanade needs to be extended to provide a longer place for walking/running and general passive activities. Over 20,000 people live within walking distance to the park and with the office and hotel populations, the demand for simple recreation is high.
  4. The cost of the project is capped. The design/build method specifically provides a budget and any overages are the responsibility of the contractor.
  5. While the design of Phase 2 has focused on meeting the needs of Arlington County residents, there is a benefit to office buildings, hotels and tourists. All of these produce taxes that pay for schools and other amenities. For example, one hotel has already created ads to come to Arlington because of the Fitness and Aquatics center. In addition, more than one office tenant has signed a lease because of Long Bridge Park.  A facility like this is required to attract top talent. Arlington cannot afford to ignore the infrastructure that is necessary to attract office tenants.

The Board will vote on the project at its recessed meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

by ARLnow.com November 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Police and firefighters are on scene of a rollover crash on Wilson Blvd involving an Arlington County Park Ranger.

A car reportedly struck the back of the park ranger’s SUV, causing it to flip on its roof. Wilson Blvd is currently blocked at Patrick Henry, near Upton Hill Regional Park, while police investigate and the wreckage is cleared.

No serious injuries were reported.

Update at 1:20 p.m. — The westbound lanes of Wilson Blvd have reopened.

by Chris Teale October 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The four possible designs for the next phase of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center have been released.

The revamped center at 475 Long Bridge Drive will have a 50-meter pool; diving platforms from one, three and five meters up; a family pool; and health and fitness spaces. The contractor can then add extra features from a “menu” of potential options, so long as it stays within budget.

That “menu” could include advanced energy efficiency, a therapy pool, a 10-meter dive tower and more spectator seats, among other enhancements.

The project, plagued by a years-long delay caused by anticipated cost overruns has a scaled-down aquatics and fitness center from previous plans. The county will be using a design-build approach, which keeps costs down by establishing a budget at the start that the contractor must not exceed.

“We are incredibly excited about these designs,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We’ve got four nationally recognized design and construction firms who are putting together their best ideas, based on their creativity and knowledge, for project options for Arlington. By using the Design-Build method, we can focus on the community’s needs while completing the project within budget.”

Links to videos showcasing the designs of the four bidders are below.

Members of the public can give feedback on the four design concepts in several ways between now and October 29:

  • Attend a public event on Thursday, October 19 from 7-10 p.m. at 2011 Crystal Drive, 11th Floor. Watch the presentations, ask the firms questions and share feedback.
  • Visit the Courthouse Plaza lobby (2100 Clarendon Blvd.) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays (from October 19 to 29) to watch the videos of the designs, view schematic drawings and share feedback.
  • Starting today, go online to watch the videos of the designs and share feedback.

Following community feedback, the park’s Selection Advisory Committee will recommend the contract award based on written proposals, interviews, review of concepts, public feedback and negotiations.

The firm that is awarded the contract will complete its design and construction documents next year, with construction set to start as early as next July.

by Chris Teale October 17, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

(Updated October 18, 8:55 a.m.) Runners of all ages can expect to have a “spooky good time” at this year’s Zombie Fun Run.

The race is scheduled for Saturday, October 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bon Air Park (850 N. Lexington Street).

This race includes obstacles as well as optional zombie zones in a family-friendly one-mile course. Runners will be let onto the course every 15 minutes in race heats, beginning at 11 a.m. The final heat is set for 1:30 p.m. Costumes are encouraged.

A post-race “Survival Party” will include food trucks, family-friendly games and activities, free moon bounce, zombie craft projects and face painting, so-called “creepy sensory activities” and a costume contest and parade from 1-1:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in running can register in advance online or by phone at 703-228-4747 using activity code 720018. On-site registration will be available on the day of the event on a first-come, first-served basis for a limited number of spots. Registration costs $3 per person online, $5 per person on the day (cash only). Racers aged 4 and under do not require pre-registration.

by Chris Teale October 11, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

The second phase of renovations at High View Park are complete, ahead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday (October 14).

The park at 1945 N. Dinwiddie Street in the Langston-Brown neighborhood received new restrooms and storage, a new picnic area, a new entrance from N. Dinwiddie Street, new paving, steps and bleachers for the basketball courts, a regraded field and new lights, trees and plantings.

The ribbon-cutting on the improvements is scheduled for noon on Saturday.

The Arlington County Board approved the second round of improvements in June 2016. In 2014, the John M. Langston Citizens Association and neighbors of the park collaborated to create a design concept for the second stage of the improvements based on the feedback from online surveys.

The first stage of improvements — which included a new play equipment, picnic areas and a path to the park’s amphitheater — were completed in May 2013.

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