Arlington, VA

(Updated at 5 p.m.) For some, dating across the river is apparently a bridge too far.

It’s a familiar refrain for some Arlingtonians: boy meets D.C. girl, girl learns he lives across the river, girl ghosts. In the words of one man, the river is less a body of water and more a “Great Potomac Divide.” But after I joked about the phenomenon last week, hundreds shared stories on social media of how they’ve been left adrift — or shamelessly drop dates themselves.

D.C. resident Tim tweeted that “everything was perfect” between him a girl after going on a dates at a D.C. bar, the Wharf, and Union Market. So far what happened to rip these love birds apart?

“She strongly encouraged our 4th date be in […] Ballston,” he wrote. “We never had a 4th date.”

When asked why he’d been ghosted about half a dozen times, Sean from Arlington (who asked us not to use his last name) said he wasn’t sure.

“To me, it’s just a couple extra stops on the Metro line,” he said. “But the Potomac seems to be a psychological barrier.”

In an age of dating apps with location filters — and Metro summer shutdowns — we reached out to professional matchmakers to ask just how common this geo-phobia was. Is there any hope for those looking for love in the retrocession of District of Columbia?

https://twitter.com/howisthatlegal/status/1150436866010898432?s=20

“Yes it happens but I don’t see it a ton,” said professional matchmaker Kate O’Connor, with D.C. office of It’s Just Lunch. “Everyone I work with is serious about relationships and are willing to go the extra mile. Literally.” 

Michelle Jacoby, who runs local firm DC Matchmatching and herself grew up in Montgomery County, agreed extreme location preferences aren’t common but do happen. Two weeks ago, one of her male clients from Virginia said he didn’t want to visit a woman in D.C. for their first date.

“He was insisting that she come to Virginia,” she said. “Just insisting.”

Jacoby said this can be off-putting for women who do not feel safe traveling to a place they’re unfamiliar with to meet a stranger on a first date, and it’s a gesture of courtesy to meet her at a place she’s more comfortable with.

“You want to get the girl?” Jacoby said. “Drive a little further.”

Both said they’ve mostly experienced strict location parameters with D.C.-based clients, however, and the problem can sometimes be caused by them not owning a car.

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The Rosslyn boathouse project is one step closer to setting sail, thrilling some local officials but also facing opposition from some local residents.

The National Park Service ushered the project along to a new phase this week, announcing that the proposed site for the boathouse in Rosslyn will have no significant environmental impact. This closes NPS’ environmental assessment of where the boathouse could be located that has dragged on for seven years, and means the design phase can begin.

“I personally am thrilled about this possibility,” Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, told ARLnow yesterday (Wednesday). “Access to the river is so important not only for the county but also for our residents and visitors throughout Rosslyn. I would say that the Potomac River is probably the greatest un-utilized recreational resource that we have.”

“I think we still have quite a bit to go in the process,” she added. “But I think this is a very important milestone.”

But not all share Burick’s optimism about the project’s progress. The Arlington County Civic Federation voted 33-1 earlier this month to request the Arlington County Board hold more discussions with the public about the site for the boathouse and the project in general, as the Sun Gazette reported.

The resolution approved by the federation accused the Board of “not acting in accordance” with its standards for public planning processes. Members were upset about the Board initially slating the vote for the boathouse on their meeting’s consent agenda instead of planning a public hearing, the Sun Gazette reported. They also asserted that the county’s Park and Recreation Commission and the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission were not consulted about the plan.

Previously, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to allow NPS to finish the environmental assessment of 2105 N. Lynn Street (formerly known as 1101 Lee Highway), the planned location for the boathouse. The County Board’s vote sided with NPS in eschewing an alternative site at Gravelly Point.

“Since the 1980s, Arlington residents have sought a community boathouse to provide access to the Potomac for recreation, education and fitness activities,” said Erik Meyers, Arlington Boathouse Foundation president. He added in a statement that he was “grateful” NPS brought the project closer to that goal.

“We are pleased to see this long-planned project pass such an important milestone,” said Jane Rudolph, director of Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation, in a statement.

Rudolph said the county looks “forward to continuing to work with our community partners to establish this resource to benefit all Arlingtonians.”

The current plans propose a 14,000-square-foot boathouse, a 300-foot-long dock, a facilities building with lockers and bathrooms, an access road, and a small parking lot.

Burick said the BID is committed to acting as “a community convener” to bring civic associations and other groups to table during the upcoming design phase of the project. She believed Rosslyn residents will be excited about the project, considering residents’ love for outdoor recreation and the site’s Metro accessibility.

Burick added that she is a Potomac paddle boarder and hopes that a boathouse on the Potomac’s Virginia shores will teach people to love the river as much as she does.

“I think it will bode really well for the health of the river because the more people who start using it fall in love with it,” she said.

When asked if she thought the boathouse project moving forward put wind in the sails of Arlington’s long-debated gondola project, Burick said it could be a useful transit option for the region to explore.

“A lot of people say gondolas sound fanciful,” she said. “But you know what? I think we should be looking at water taxis, we should be looking at gondolas.”

Image via Arlington County

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A new report says some levels of pollution are down in the Potomac River, but cautioned that the once-troubled waterway isn’t out the woods yet.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments analyzed data collected between 1985 and 2016 and found that “water quality improvements have reduced pollution significantly.”

MWCOG’s 27-page report said two substances in particular have noticeably decreased: nitrogen and phosphorus.

Both are common nutrients for soil and water, but runoff from farms and waste treatment facilities can lead to excess amounts flowing into waterways. When too much nitrogen enters a river it can cause plants to overgrow and choke the oxygen from the water, killing fish and in some cases making the water toxic to young children.

Too much phosphorus causes algae blooms that are deadly to fish. Blooms have been spotted north of Chain Bridge, according to the report.

MWCOG’s report released on Wednesday said its pollution analysis found that:

The amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus — which, in excess, contribute to water quality problems — contained in the discharge from wastewater plants in metropolitan Washington has declined dramatically since the 1980s and is on track for further reductions. The number and extent of harmful algal blooms in the upper Potomac estuary has declined significantly. Populations of aquatic plants and animals that live in this portion of the river, such as submerged aquatic vegetation, some fish, and some waterfowl have grown closer to their historical abundances.

“Scientists are still interpreting how much time elapses between various nutrient reduction efforts and when their impact shows up in the Potomac estuary and the [Chesapeake] Bay,” the report notes. “What is certain is that additional efforts to reduce nutrients and sediment from agriculture and urban runoff will be needed to achieve the river’s long-term water quality goals.”

The report says local governments are working to reduce other contaminants like mercury, prescription drugs, and chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Last year, Potomac Conservancy, an advocacy nonprofit, gave the river a “B” rating. That’s a big improvement from the “D” rating the group gave it 10 years ago.

Potomac Conservancy noted that with less pollution people are increasingly using the river “as a place to hangout, recreate and live.”

In the future, citizen scientists are likely to be a part of making these reports happen. Last month, people volunteered to start collecting weekly water samples of the Potomac and the Anacostia so scientists can track E. coli levels in both rivers.

Local governments have spent billions over the last three decades to clean up the rivers, mainly by redirecting sewage flows, and managing stormwater runoff better.

In Arlington, volunteers have cleaned up trash along streams and riverbanks for three decades.

Image (top) via Flickr pool user Wolfkann, chart (middle) via MWCOG

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The Potomac Paddle Pub is a pedal-powered vessel, but come next week, its occupants will be three sheets to the wind.

The pub is the latest in a trend of mobile drinking platforms, like The Pedal Saloon in Clarendon, but this adventure in drinking takes the journey to the water.

A 15-customer crew will power the vessel from Georgetown’s waterfront to Columbia Island Marina in Arlington, taking turns working at 10 pedaling stations. In total, the ride is expected to be about 90 minutes long.

The pub owners told ARLnow the boat is currently only ferrying family and friends to work out the kinks, but cruises will be open for customers starting on Monday (Oct. 4).

Unlike the land-based drinking platforms in Arlington bound by state intoxication laws, occupants of the Potomac Paddle Pub will be able to drink while operating the vehicle. The passengers are required to bring and consume their own beers or wine — no liquor is allowed onboard, and no alcohol will be sold at the bar on the deck.

Individual seats are only available during weekday trips, and a minimum of two must be purchased per transaction. Tickets are $45 for adults during a weekday, or $25 for a child under twelve. Renting the whole board during a weekday is $500, or $625 to rent a boat on the weekend.

Tickets can be purchased at the Potomac Paddle Pub website.

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A decades-long effort to build a boathouse along the banks of the Potomac River is lurching forward once more.

Officials with the National Park Service have wrapped up an environmental analysis of the project and settled on a preferred alternative near Rosslyn for its construction, in the latest bit of forward momentum for an initiative that has long bedeviled county leaders.

Local high schoolers have been particularly keen on seeing a new boathouse come to the fruition, as the closest access points for rowing teams have long been in Georgetown or Alexandria, but the project’s complexity has repeatedly stalled it.

NPS took control of Arlington’s portion of the Potomac shoreline after the construction of the GW Parkway, and the federal agency has spent years working off-and-on with the county to find a way to give local rowers easier access to the river. Arlington officials helped jump-start the process in 2014 by buying a parcel of land along Lee Highway just south of the Key Bridge, giving the NPS some added flexibility as it evaluated several options where the boathouse could be built.

Now, the agency is recommending a design that would involve building a 300-foot-long floating dock and 14,000 square feet of boat storage along the Potomac’s shoreline near Rosslyn, just across from Theodore Roosevelt Island. The plan also calls for building a support facility on the county-owned Lee Highway site with office space, locker rooms and handicapped parking.

NPS also evaluated plans to build the boathouse on the same site near the island without the support building, as well as an option that would involve building the boathouse on Gravelly Point near Reagan National Airport instead.

Yet the agency settled on its preferred alternative because the additional space off Lee Highway “allows for development of a smaller boat storage structure while providing additional support facilities outside the floodplain, off NPS property, and close to transit,” officials wrote in the environmental analysis.

They also noted that the Potomac is a bit calmer near the Rosslyn location, earning it higher marks than Gravelly Point. The close proximity of the Rosslyn Metro station and several local bus stops, in addition to the Custis bike trail, also won the option some praise.

While the agency found that any construction would have some limited impacts on the area’s wetlands and soil, it broadly didn’t foresee many stumbling blocks for the project to move forward. Nevertheless, any construction will require both federal and state permits to advance, and the county will need to work with federal officials to find funding for the effort.

In the meantime, however, NPS is accepting comments on the environmental analysis through July 30 on its website. The agency also plans to hold a July 12 open house at Washington-Lee High School on the project, starting at 6 p.m.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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Morning Notes

Simple Greek Now Open — Fast-casual restaurant chain The Simple Greek has opened its new Rosslyn location in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. A ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday was followed by long lines at lunchtime. [Twitter, Twitter]

WiFi Available in Underground Metro Stations — As of today, free wireless internet service should be available in every underground Metro station. Per yesterday’s announcement from Metro: “Customers can log-in by selecting the ‘Metro-Public’ network in their device’s Wi-Fi settings.” [WMATA]

Signs Up for Sfoglina — “Coming soon” signs are up for the new Rosslyn outpost of the acclaimed Fabio and Maria Trabocchi restaurant Sfoglina Pasta House. The restaurant is located on the street level of the office building at 11oo Wilson Boulevard. [Twitter]

Water Rescue Near Chain Bridge — D.C. police and firefighters rescued two people whose kayak overturned in the Potomac River near Chain Bridge last night. Both were evaluated by medics but “neither have physical injuries,” per DCFEMS. [Twitter, Twitter]

Fox News Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — On Sunday, Fox News Channel will broadcast a portion of its America’s News Headquarters program (noon-2 p.m.) from the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. Elizabeth Prann will co-anchor “ANHQ” from the Memorial, “where the nation will be preparing for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration,” according to a Fox press release.

Arlington Has Millions in Prepaid Taxes — “The Arlington treasurer’s office still has about $8 million sitting untouched in its coffers, waiting to be applied to future tax payments. But that’s less than half the $17.2 million in total prepayments submitted by Arlington taxpayers in the waning days of 2017, hoping to beat changes to federal tax law that made some mortgage-interest payments non-deductible in 2018.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]

‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]

ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]

Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]

Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]

ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

‘Coffee With a Cop’ Comes to Clarendon, Pentagon City — The Arlington County Police Department is hosting a pair of “Coffee with a Cop” events later this month, at a Starbucks in Pentagon City and Northside Social in Clarendon. In a press release, ACPD said it “is committed to developing and maintaining strong relationships with those we serve, a vital component to ensuring the public’s trust.” [Arlington County]

Potomac Roaring Over Great Falls — Those within earshot of the Potomac River are being treated to an especially loud roar this week as the rain-swollen river “churned and even exploded into the air at Great Falls.” It also flooded parts of Alexandria and the Georgetown riverfront. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Artisphere Closing Anniversary — It has been three years since Artisphere closed its doors in Rosslyn. The former county-funded arts venue is now a co-working and events space.

Photo courtesy @jimcollierjr

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Update at 2:10 p.m. — The incident ” has transitioned from a rescue to a recovery operation,” according to D.C. Fire, indicating that officials believe the missing worker did not survive. The barge that overturned has been secured, the fire department said.

Earlier: Rescuers are searching for a worker who remains unaccounted for after a small barge overturned in the Potomac River near the Key Bridge Monday morning.

At least people were rescued after what was described as a “workboat” reportedly flipped over amid a strong current in the rain-swelled Potomac. A total of six people were in the water and five made it out uninjured, according to Twitter posts from D.C. Fire and EMS.

An “extensive search” remains underway, D.C. Fire said.

The Key Bridge is in the midst of a $14.5 million rehabilitation project.

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The U.S. Coast Guard vessels will be on the Potomac River near Arlington this afternoon for a tactics training session.

The exercise will take place from approximately 3:30-7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday) between Memorial Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge. During the exercise, crews will simulate a secure zone around a valuable asset.

No live fire or blanks will be used, though anyone on the water at that time should be extra vigilant.

More from the U.S. Coast Guard:

On Wednesday, 06 DEC 2017, Coast Guard Station Washington will be conducting boat tactics training from approximately 1530 to 1930. Location for this training will be the Upper Potomac River between Arlington Memorial Bridge and 14th St. Bridge. We will be using orange Coast Guard boats, with flashing blue lights, simulating a security zone around a high value asset. There will be no live fire or blanks used during this training; this is only a tactics and maneuvering drill. There will be a broadcast to notify mariners to exercise caution in the area for the duration of the exercise.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Workers from the county’s Department of Environmental Services stopped a sewage leak into the Donaldson Run stream overnight.

According to a tweet from DES, crews installed a bypass overnight into a sewage pipe, which broke due to its age, damage from tree roots and the recent cold temperatures.

Repairs to the pipe, which is in a remote location next to Zachary Taylor Park (2900 Military Road), are ongoing.

A DES spokesman said that the remote location made the leak hard to find, but that staff had been aware since last weekend.

“[S]taff did log the leak report over the weekend and the search began soon thereafter,” the spokesman said. “It just took a while for crews to find the leak because of the remote location — which you can see on the tweet photo.”

The spokesman reiterated that the “discharge that entered Donaldson Run will be diminished by natural flushing of the stream over time.”

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