Press Club

There is a new sign of progress on the 30-year-old project to build a boathouse in Arlington.

In anticipation of planning and design work kicking off this year, the Arlington Boathouse Foundation — an organization that exists to ensure residents one day can launch non-motorized boats, such as kayaks, into the Potomac from the county’s shoreline — has launched a new website.

It is intended to provide frequent updates on the project’s progress as well as engagement opportunities, says foundation secretary George Kirschbaum. Those who need a refresher on the project, given how many years it has been discussed, will have easier access to important documents and answers to frequently asked questions, he added.

“We needed something new and fresh that’s more about the project,” Kirschbaum said. “Plus, we hope to provide some new interesting features, such as interviews with community members and interested parties to give their ideas and impressions of why this facility is important to the county and the residents.”

The website will also promote foundation-sponsored educational and promotional events, such as a river cleanup this June by the proposed lower portion of the site. Kirschbaum said foundation leaders hope events such as this one demonstrate the sustained community interest in the facility to project leaders.

Momentum has been building over the last year to build a boathouse at 2105 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn. The project is a joint venture between Arlington County and the National Parks Service, as the county’s Potomac shoreline is NPS property.

Most recently, Kirschbaum said boathouse foundation leaders met with county officials, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and NPS representatives in December to discuss roles and responsibilities and how to keep the project moving forward.

This year, the county will solicit designs for the facility, to be comprised of two buildings: one near the entrance to the Key Bridge with locker rooms, workout areas, offices and meeting spaces, and the other at river level with storage for boat and stand-up paddle equipment, according to the boathouse website.

The county budgeted $4.75 million for planning and initial designs in the 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan.

The project is popular with Arlington’s crew community, as it would provide them a more convenient boat launch that is away from D.C.’s crowded boathouses. Crew alumni and their friends also comprise many of the members of the Arlington Boathouse Foundation, which has pushed for the facility since 1991.

“It’s been a long process,” says Kirschbaum, who rowed for Washington-Liberty High School (then Washington-Lee) in the 1980s.

It didn’t gain momentum until 2012, when the parks service initiated an environmental impacts study — looking at how construction could affect floodplains and species living in the waterway. The study was held up several times before resuming in 2016 and wrapping up in 2018.

Meanwhile, the county purchased land south of the Key Bridge in 2014 to speed up the process and, despite some opposition, the Arlington County Board authorized an agreement with NPS in 2019.

“I think it’s important to know that the county has a very vested interest in working with the National Parks Service to see this through to fruition,” Kirschbaum said. “There are still high-level discussions about how are we going to work together to move forward, but those talks are happening… We can actually envision a boathouse where before, it was the dream.”

Kirschbaum says he hopes the boathouse will be ready if and when his currently elementary school-aged kid goes out for crew in high school.

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Morning Notes

Rain and fog looking into Georgetown from Freedom Park in Rosslyn (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

New Covid Testing Location — “Arlington County is opening an additional no-cost COVID-19 testing kiosk at Sequoia Plaza. The kiosk is in partnership with Curative, which operates four additional sites in the County. The kiosk is located at 2100 Washington Blvd, on the service road behind the Stambaugh Human Services Center building (Sequoia 1). Beginning on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, the kiosk will operate Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.” [Arlington County]

Va. Changing Covid Tracing Efforts — “Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced it is changing from attempting to investigate every case of COVID-19 and trace all contacts to focusing on follow-up of outbreaks and cases in high risk settings. This response is more effective when a virus spreads very easily and quickly and many infected people do not have symptoms.” [Virginia Dept. of Health]

Hurt Hiker Rescued Along Potomac — “First responders from three agencies worked together to come to the aid of an injured hiker along the Potomac River Wednesday morning. DC Fire and EMS deployed fireboats to work with DC Police in assisting Arlington Fire and EMS. DC Fire’s Fireboat 1 used its ice breaking capabilities while DC Police sent an airboat… The injured hiker was taken to Roosevelt Island and an Arlington EMS unit took the hiker to be treated.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Another Arlington Reference on Jeopardy! — Arlington and its first-in-the-state school integration effort on Feb. 2, 1959 was the subject of an answer on quiz show Jeopardy! last night. [Twitter]

Big Donation to Local Nonprofit from Bezos Ex — “The Arlington, Virginia-based National Council on Aging has received an $8 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, its largest single gift in the nonprofit’s 72-year history. The council [said] the donation is unrestricted, and will be used to support its work addressing inequities that make it difficult for women, minorities, LGBTQ, low-income and rural Americans to age with dignity.” [WTOP]

Betty White Posthumously Helps AWLA Fundraise — “She died three weeks earlier, but the centennial of the birth of Betty White still allowed animal-welfare agencies across the nation to raise funds. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington received more than $37,000 from 740 donors during the “Betty White Challenge” event on Jan. 17, which would have been White’s 100th birthday.” [Sun Gazette]

W-L Gymnasts in Regional Tourney — “Winning a fourth straight district title would have been the ultimate [prize] for the Washington-Liberty Generals. But since the girls high-school gymnastics team was far from being at full strength, a more realistic goal was to at worst earn a region-tourney berth by finishing among the top three. Mission accomplished.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Rain today, mainly before 1 p.m. High near 54. South wind 7 to 9 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Sunrise at 7:11 a.m. and sunset at 5:32 p.m. Rain tomorrow before 4 p.m., then a mix of rain and snow likely, possibly mixed with sleet. High near 47. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Structure Fire Near Ballston — “Units located a detached structure on fire behind a house with minor extension to the house. The fire was quickly extinguished with no reports of injuries to firefighters or civilians. The fire remains under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Plane Runs Off DCA Runway — “A Frontier Airlines plane slid off the end of the runway at Reagan National Airport Friday night. Flight 538 from Denver was arriving at the airport at about 10:30 p.m. when the incident happened, Micah Lillard of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.” [WTOP]

Apparent Drowning in Potomac — “Several agencies said they called off a search for a swimmer in the Potomac River near Fletcher’s Boathouse Sunday. D.C. Fire and EMS called the situation an apparent drowning… Shortly after 3 p.m., a witness reported seeing a person try to swim the river from the Virginia side and not resurface, the fire department said. D.C. Police fire boats and units from the Harbor station, Arlington Fire Department boats and a Maryland State Police helicopter were assisting in the search.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Arlington Ridge Water Work — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Monday night – Tuesday morning: Water main maintenance work near S Arlington Ridge Road/Long Branch Creek could cause temporary low water pressure or service outages for nearby customers, 8pm to 8am.” [Twitter]

Sheriff Supports New Police Chief — From Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur: “Today, more than ever, police chiefs must commit to the principles of trust, accountability and transparency. I believe Andy [Penn] has demonstrated leadership in each of these areas and I look forward serving the Arlington community alongside him in his new role.” [Arlington County]

Mixed-Use Tower in Ballston for Sale — “The owners of Ballston’s tallest building are exploring its sale. Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) and the Shooshan Co., the developers behind 4040 Wilson Blvd., the final phase of the larger Liberty Center project, have put the $217 million tower on the market. The 23-story, 250-foot-tall building, completed last year, includes 225,000 square feet of office on the lower 10 floors topped by 250 apartments.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Supports Fusion Power Research — “”If we do not pursue fusion energy, others will, and U.S. economic interests and influence will diminish as a result,” writes @RepDonBeyer in @sciam, arguing this energy tech can help the climate emergency and create #trillions of $$$ in economic growth.” [Twitter, Scientific American]

Newspaper Editor Attacked by Cicadas — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “The cicadas largely have left me alone, although two did get on my pants over the weekend and surreptitiously made it into Casa de Scotty… I gently removed those buggies and deposited them back outside so they could continue their search for love in what little time they have left on this earth. But yesterday, taking a midday walk around Falls Church, a more aggressive cicada flew right into the back of my shirt and started wriggling his (or her) way deeper in.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Photographer Taking Silly Cicada Snaps —  “Oxana Ware is a talented photographer based out of North Arlington, but along with her business side, she likes to have fun and be a little silly at times. That’s why it just seemed right to her when she decided to have a full photoshoot with cicadas, complete with handmade props.” [WJLA]

County Marking Sit-In Anniversary With Art — “It was delayed a year due to the pandemic, but a commemoration marking the 1960 civil-rights sit-ins in Arlington is now beginning. The Arlington County government had planned to mark the 60th anniversary of sit-ins at Arlington lunch counters with special programming on the Arlington Art Truck, using prints by artist Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. to immerse the public in the experience, in 2020. But the effort was a victim of the pandemic – until now.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington-Based Axios Making Moves — Digital news outlet Axios, based in Clarendon, is launching local news publications in a number of cities this year, including Washington. It is also reportedly in discussions to be acquired by a German news conglomerate. [Washington Post, Marketwatch]

Masks Coming Off For APS Athletes — “It looks like Arlington school officials have abandoned their masks-on policy for most athletes while engaged in competition.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD Assists with Potomac Search — “Person seen going into Potomac River & not resurfacing… [After a search involving D.C., Arlington and other water rescue teams, medics] transported an adult female in critical life threatening condition. Law enforcement will investigate the circumstances.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Secretary Pete at DCA This Afternoon — “U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Mary Kay Henry, International President of the two million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will host an immigration roundtable discussion with 32BJ SEIU’s airport workers at National Airport (DCA).” [Press Release]

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(Updated at 11 p.m.) Two vehicles careened off the GW Parkway and into the Potomac River near I-395 earlier tonight.

The incident happened shortly before 8:30 p.m. First responders on the ground and in boats rushed to the scene and rescued at least of the victims. Two men were brought to local hospitals in stable condition, according to the Arlington and D.C. fire departments.

U.S. Park Police is investigating the incident; so far there’s no word as to how it happened.

Both vehicles — one of which is fully submerged  while the other is partially submerged on the riverbank — are expected to be pulled out of the water overnight.

Photo via Arlington County Fire Department

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Arlington County firefighters and other authorities are investigating a possible hazmat situation on the water at Theodore Roosevelt Island.

A kayaker spotted an oil sheen on the shoreline and called the fire department, we’re told. Arriving firefighters confirmed the sheen, though it initially appears limited in scale.

“We have units on scene (landside) at Roosevelt Island investigating a sheen of a petroleum product around the island,” Arlington County Fire Department spokesperson Taylor Blunt tells ARLnow. “US Park Police Harbor Patrol and Eagle 1 (helo) are also there checking the extent of the spread.”

“It appears to be isolated in nature, possibly due to a passing boat that had a leak in their bilge,” Blunt added. “They’re still investigating and don’t believe there is any threat of harm to wildlife or visitors at this point.”

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Morning Notes

Water Rescue Over Weekend — “Rescue units from Arlington County and D.C. had to save a person late Saturday afternoon that was in need of help on the Potomac River near the area of GW Parkway and Windy Run after being stuck on rocks. Arlington officials said in a Tweet that the person rescued was evaluated and transported to a trauma center with non life-threatening injuries.” [WUSA 9]

Election Specials at Bayou Bakery — “Chef David Guas will make a pair of election-themed sandwiches at his Arlington bakery on on November 2 and 3. A McDonald’s-esque ‘Filet-O-Catfish’ represents President Trump, with cheese and pickled jalapeño tartar sauce. For Joe Biden, Guas riffed on a sandwich from Delaware sub shop Capriotti’s, offering up the ‘Bobby 2.0’ with sliced roasted turkey, cajun cornbread stuffing, and cranberry vinaigrette.” [Eater]

Beyer Bill to Make Pandemic Preps — “Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act of 2020, legislation to require the development of a national aviation preparedness plan for future public health emergencies.” [Press Release]

Wizard’s House Still for Sale — “Longtime Washington Wizards player Martin Gortat has put his Arlington house on the market. Gortat was the team’s starting center from 2013 until 2018, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. He retired from the NBA in February. Since leaving Washington, he’s been using the Arlington house as a luxury rental property.” [Washingtonian, HomeSnap]

Eden Center is an Election Battleground — “At a Biden rally at the Eden Center in Falls Church, Va., it took minutes before Trump supporters showed up to heckle. Banh mi seller Quang Le says it’s ‘like the Jets and the Sharks.'” [DCist, Twitter]

Photo courtesy James Mahony

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Morning Notes

Boat Catches Fire Near Gravelly Point — “Update boat fire Gravelly Point. Vessel is well involved. #DCsBravest Fireboats in active attack on burning vessel. The 11 occupants are being transported to Fire/Police pier for evaluation.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Flags at Half Staff in Va., U.S. — “Per an order from @GovernorVA, the Virginia flag is to be lowered to half staff at all federal, state and local government facilities across Virginia in memory of U.S Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. Flags are to remain lowered until burial.” [Twitter, White House]

AMC Shirlington Temporarily Closed — The AMC Shirlington 7 theater appears to have suddenly, temporarily closed over the weekend. AMC’s website shows no planned showtimes at the theater. The reason for the closure was not given. The theater reopened on Aug. 27 at a reduced capacity after closing at the beginning of the pandemic. [Twitter]

Beyer Still Pushing for Rosslyn Boathouse — “The seemingly interminable planning process for a new boathouse facility in Rosslyn already has outlasted one of its champions in Congress, and while U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) is not planning on departing any time soon, one wonders if it might outlast him, too. Not if Beyer has anything to say about it. ‘It’s moving very slowly, but it will be done,’ Beyer vowed.” [InsideNova]

Local Startup’s Return to Office Normalcy — “Phone2Action’s first step toward that elusive new normalcy appears to be going as planned. That’s the latest word from Jeb Ory, CEO and founder of the advocacy platform, who said those employee volunteers the company selected to be the first workers back into Phone2Action’s headquarters at 1500 Wilson Blvd. seem to adapting well to the workplace changes.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Approves New Bonds — From last week: “The Board [voted] to authorize the sale of up to $172.32 million in General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds for new projects and the refunding of existing bonds to lower interest rates and save taxpayer money.” [Arlington County]

Arrest Made in Eden Center Nightclub Homicide — “City of Falls Church Police identified Geovanny Alexander Mejia Castro as the homicide victim in the September 11, 2020 shooting at the Diva Lounge (6763 Wilson Blvd.). Mr. Castro, a security guard at the nightclub, died from multiple gunshot wounds.” [City of Falls Church]

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Morning Notes

Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]

Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]

Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]

MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]

Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]

Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]

Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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Morning Notes

Local Man Killed in Crash Near Shirlington — “At approximately 7:44 p.m. on July 3, 2020, police were dispatched to the area of Walter Reed Drive and S. Wakefield Street for multiple reports of a crash with injury. The preliminary investigation indicates that the motorcyclist was traveling southbound on Walter Reed Drive at a high rate of speed when he lost control, struck a pole and was thrown from the vehicle.” [Arlington County]

Yorktown Grad Entering Third NFL Season — “The upcoming NFL season, if it is played, will be M.J. Stewart’s third, and the Yorktown High School graduate is more than eager for this month’s training camp then the 2020-21 season to start. ‘I just want to get to training camp,’ said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” [InsideNova]

Ethiopian Community Facing Dual Challenges — “The Supreme Court on June 25 okayed the Trump administration’s policy of limiting the number of asylum seekers in the country… Most likely to feel the impact locally is the Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council Inc., the refugee-support and State Department-authorized transition agency with offices just off Columbia Pike… this sub-sector of Arlington’s diverse population is among those hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdown.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Why Galaxy Hut is Not Opening Indoors — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “We just decided ultimately that the questions are too many. Too many questions about how safe it is to be out and dine. And we didn’t feel like with our small size in particular that we would be a good candidate for trying this out. We didn’t want to take the risk.” [WJLA]

River Rescue Blocks Chain Bridge — From Sunday afternoon: “River incident the Potomac River vicinity Fletchers boathouse. Injured 18 year old who fell approximately 20 feet from rocks. Will require patient to be lowered to shoreline and transported by boat.” [Twitter]

Wardian Completes Delaware Run — “Ultrarunner Mike Wardian ran the length of the state of Delaware, starting the 130-mile (209-kilometre) route on July 2 and finishing 26 hours later. He began the run in the afternoon, just north of Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, near the state border with Pennsylvania. He ran in [93 degree] weather straight through the night and next morning, and 26 hours, 19 minutes and 43 seconds later, he crossed the state’s southern border and ran into Maryland.” [Canadian Trail Running]

Photo courtesy Eliana Carreño

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The National Park Service has a 3,000 pound problem: a car that ran so far off the GW Parkway that it wound up near the banks of the Potomac River.

The crash happened the afternoon of Sunday, June 7, just north of Windy Run in Arlington County.

Arlington firefighters, along with the D.C. police Harbor Patrol Unit, the D.C. fire boat and the U.S. Park Police helicopter responded to the crash scene after a report of a vehicle travelling in the northbound lanes that went over an embankment.

“Upon our arrival our incident commanders established a unified command with all agencies and our personnel located the vehicle near the water’s edge, approximately 60 feet down the embankment,” ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli told ARLnow earlier this month.

“The driver had already extricated himself from the vehicle and we confirmed that he was the only occupant of the vehicle,” Tirelli continued. “ACFD medical personnel treated the patient and transferred care from the Virginia shoreline to the DCFD fire boat, where he was transported with non-life threatening injuries to a waiting ambulance on the D.C. shoreline.”

Hikers on the rocky Potomac Heritage Trail have since been encountering the startling sight of the crashed car, not knowing for sure whether anyone is inside.

“I was hiking the Potomac Heritage Trail this weekend and there is a car down there that was not there a few weeks ago,” local resident Melissa Mathews said in an email to ARLnow earlier this week. “It must have been driven off of the GW Parkway that runs (far, far) above the trail. The car has been tagged by either insurance or police so I assume there is no body inside.”

The crashed vehicle is located on national parkland, within the confines of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado tells ARLnow that the car will be removed, but authorities are still trying to figure out how to do that, exactly.

“The National Park Service is still trying to determine the best course of action for the vehicle’s removal,” Delgado said.

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