As seven-year-old Jaxon Vega positions his skateboard at the top of the concrete bowl at Powhatan Springs Skate Park, he takes a deep breath. Vega steadies the back of the board on the bowl’s lip, places his left foot on it and jumps. Boy and board drop 12 feet below, a distance that’s about three times his height.
Vega smoothly completes the trick. Taking a quick break after a run, he’s asked how he feels when skating.
“I feel cool,” he says, flashing a toothy grin. “I’m having fun.”
Vega is Arlington’s kid skateboarding phenom. He’s out there nearly every day at the skate park along Wilson Blvd near the Dominion Hills neighborhood, riding concrete. He can be seen doing kickflips, jumps, drops, and even riding two boards at once. He’s also almost always the youngest one at the skate park.
While barely out of first grade, Vega has garnered the attention of the skateboarding community. This includes the legend himself, Tony Hawk, who’s liked one of Vega’s skating videos on Instagram. (Vega’s account is run by his parents, Walter Vega and Karla Almanza.)
All of this has come from hours of practice, with Jaxson asking his parents to go to the skatepark in the summer heat and freezing cold.
“It’s like church,” Jaxon’s dad Walter laughs, watching his son skate on a hot July day. “We are here faithfully.”
Jaxon started skating about two years ago, picking up a pandemic hobby like a lot of other people. He was only five when he first came to the park and saw the bigger kids skating. He begged his parents for a board. So, they got him a $15 skateboard from Walmart. They have since graduated to a $300 board, more befitting of the kid’s skills, his parents say.
They mostly come to this Arlington skatepark, renovated in 2019, where Jaxon skates three or four hours a day, just a 10 minute drive away from the family home. He doesn’t want lessons. He just wants to skate.
“We thought maybe he’d want lessons, but he just kinda freestyles his own way of learning,” his mom Karla Almanza says. “It’s crazy and kind of insane to see your kid pick up all of this on his own.”
Walter said he used to skate a little when he was younger, but not seriously. Both parents are not totally sure how or where Jaxon’s love of skating comes from, but they are thrilled to support this burgeoning hobby.
The falls, though, still make them nervous.
“This isn’t like any other sport. When you fall, you hit concrete, not dirt,” Walter says. “[I worry] all the time. But I don’t let him hear that.”
Sitting down with Jaxon, it’s clear that like any other great athlete, he’s not content. When asked what his favorite trick to do is, he says a “laser flip” — a trick where both the skater and board flip. It’s considered one of the hardest tricks ever invented. The kicker, of course, is that Vega hasn’t quite nailed it yet himself.
“I can’t do it, but it’s my favorite trick,” Jaxon says.
It was last June when Jaxon, then barely six years old, completed an eight foot drop that garnered a Tony Hawk like on Instagram. The video features Jaxon completing the drop while everyone at the skate park cheers him on.
The funny thing is that before winning the skating icon’s social media approval, Jaxon — like most six-year-olds — didn’t know who Hawk was. But his parents sure did. Now, they often catch Jaxon on his tablet watching old Tony Hawk videos.
There’s another reason why Jaxon has taken a particular liking to Hawk, which almost seems preordained by the skating gods.
“We have the same birthdays,” Jaxon says, again flashing a toothy grin.
Walter, Karla, and Jaxon are still figuring out what’s next. Jaxon has expressed some desire to be in tournaments and maybe even go to a skating camp in Pennsylvania, so they are considering both. But for right now, Jaxon’s just happy to skate, learn on his own, and be a kid.
After a hard fall while skating, Jaxon wandered back over to the shade. Asked about it, he shrugged.
“It hurts,” he says. “But I got back up and did it again.”
More Issues With Vaccination Effort — “Hoagland’s struggle to register for a vaccination started when he did not get a confirmation email back from Arlington County’s Health Department after adding his name to a virtual waitlist. After he got in touch with a representative who was able to confirm his spot in line, Hoagland learned that the county’s system is not able to push confirmation emails to anyone with a Verizon or AOL email account.” [WTOP]
Limited Vaccine Doses Available — “In a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon, the Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said after the current stockpile of over 900,000 first-round doses is exhausted, further doses may be slow coming. Avula said the commonwealth has been told by federal administrators that at least until sometime in March, there will be no more than 110,000 new first-round doses available per week for Virginians.” [WTOP, WRIC]
Teacher Vaccination Kicks Off — From County Board member Katie Cristol: “A great image from @Matt4Arlington, as 900 @APSVirginia educators get their first dose today – with 900 more to follow Monday. We are ready to replicate this scale daily for frontline workers and our community members & will keep fighting for as many doses as the state can send.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Car Crashes into Condo Complex — “A car crashed through a brick wall and into the side of the Barkley Condominiums along Columbia Pike today. No word on injuries.” [Twitter]
Injury at Powhatan Skate Park — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Earlier today we safely removed a patient during a minor technical rescue incident at Powhatan Skate Park. The patient had minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.” [Twitter]
Fundraising Effort Collects $120K — “More than $120,000 was raised in December to fulfill all of the year-end wishes of 24 Arlington-serving nonprofit organizations, part of an effort sponsored by the Arlington Community Foundation.” [InsideNova]
TAPS Tapped for Inaugural Events — “The Biden Inaugural Committee has announced participants in the virtual ‘Parade Across America’ for Inauguration Day. Two D.C.-area groups have been picked to take part in the parade, including the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, or TAPS, in Arlington, Virginia.” [WTOP]
Reminders: COVID Event, Wednesday Closures — Today at 5:30 p.m., as part of a national event “honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19,” Arlington is encouraging churches to ring their bells, businesses to light their buildings, and residents to put a lighted candle in a window. Tomorrow, due to Inauguration Day, county government offices and services are closed, and parking enforcement will not be enforced. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
Demolition work is now fully underway at the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, as part of an effort to fully overhaul the 14-year-old facility.
The park, located at 6020 Wilson Boulevard in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, is the county’s only park designed specifically for skateboarders. The County Board gave the green light for construction to get started back in May, as the facility had started to deteriorate and needed a facelift, and workers started tearing down the park earlier this month.
In all, crews will “remove some 500 cubic yards of poured concrete weighing nearly 2 million pounds,” according to a news release, and then transport that concrete to a county facility in Shirlington to crush it up. The county plans to use the rubble that remains “as the base layer of crushed rock beneath rebuilt county roads, providing drainage and stability for the asphalt that sits on top.”
“While recycling the concrete rubble of the old park won’t save the county a lot of money, it will reduce waste, consistent with Arlington’s commitment to environmental consciousness and stewardship,” the county wrote in the release.
Workers hope to finish removing all the concrete from the site by the time the month is up, then plan to start work on some stormwater management upgrades and electrical work. By mid-September, the county hopes to have a contractor starting work on the new park features, which include a completely new set of bowls and half pipes for skaters.
The county hopes to have the new park open by early next year.
Arlington Doctor Sentenced in Poisoning Case — Arlington doctor Sikander Imran was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, with 17 years suspended, for slipping pills into his pregnant girlfriend’s tea, causing her to lose the unborn baby. The now ex-girlfriend pleaded for leniency during the sentencing. [WJLA, New York Daily News]
Miniature Horses Could Be Allowed at Schools — “A new policy defining the rights and responsibility of those – students, staff or visitors – wishing to bring service animals into schools would allow for dogs and miniature horses… schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told the Sun Gazette there are no miniature horses used as service animals in the school system at the moment.” [InsideNova]
Powhatan Skate Park Renovations Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a $1.87 million contract to overhaul the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, the only such park in Arlington. “This well-loved skate park is in need of a makeover to address crumbling concrete conditions,” said Chair Katie Cristol. “The result will be a safer park that both kids and adults in Arlington who are passionate about skateboarding, inline skating and BMX cycling can enjoy for years to come.” [Arlington County]
Residents Protest Amazon at County Board Meeting — Several public speakers at Saturday’s County Board meeting spoke out against the prospect of Amazon’s second headquarters coming to Arlington. They held signs saying “No Amazon” and decried the company’s “brutal working conditions” and “culture of toxic masculinity,” among other things. [Blue Virginia]
Walter Reed Drive Project Green Lit — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $1.8 million contract to A & M Concrete Corporation to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections on a short but critical segment of South Walter Reed Drive, between South Four Mile Run Drive and South Arlington Mill Drive. The project will provide safer connections between two of Arlington’s busiest trails: Washington & Old Dominion and Four Mile Run.” [Arlington County]
Trees Fall During Heavy Rain — A number of trees around the area fell late last week after a record-breaking stretch of heavy rain. Among the trees to topple was a large one that fell on a home on the 2100 block of N. Vernon Street and injured one person. [Twitter, Washington Post]
Lubber Run Farmers Market OKed — “Field to Table, Inc., an Arlington-based non-profit organization, won the County Board’s approval today to open the Lubber Run Farmer’s Market in the parking lot at Barrett Elementary School, 4401 Henderson Road. The market is expected to open in late May.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Train Derailment in Alexandria — A large contingent of emergency personnel responded to the CSX tracks near Port City Brewing in Alexandria Saturday morning for a freight train that had derailed. About 30 cars came off the tracks but no injuries or hazardous spills were reported. [City of Alexandria, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Powhatan Springs Skate Park could soon be in line for a $2.2 million overhaul.
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve a full renovation of the 14-year-old park, located at 6020 Wilson Boulevard in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, at its meeting this weekend.
The park is the county’s only facility designed specifically for skaterboarders, and its condition has deteriorated in recent years, according to a staff report prepared for the Board.
“Significant portions of the concrete in the skate park are failing, causing potentially hazardous conditions for users,” county staff wrote. “At the same time, the evolution of the sport of skateboarding has advanced, as have skate parks themselves to serve the sport.”
Staff are recommending that the Board give a green light to plans submitted by the D.C.-based Bennett Group to replace the existing, 15,000-square-foot park with a completely new set of bowls and half pipes for skaters.
The plans are also backed by a group of people who frequent the park, dubbed “Skaters for Arlington Skatepark.” They wrote a letter to the county hailing the design as “the best possible use of the space” and arguing that the new park “will be highly attractive to skateboarders and other users, many of whom will travel from across the nation to visit it.”
If the Board signs off on these plans, construction is set to start later this year, and the new park could open before the end of 2018 or in early 2019.
(Updated on Sept. 22 at 11 a.m.)Arlington County is seeking the public’s opinion for the new design of Powhatan Springs Skatepark (6020 Wilson Blvd).
Residents had the chance to vote for their favorite preliminary design of the skatepark during a showcase last Thursday, Sept. 17 at the Arlington Mill Community Center. Those who could not attend the presentation can vote on the designs on the skate park website.
“In the case of the skate park, we are reaching out to the community of skaters and non-skaters for their feedback on preliminary concepts intended to meet the active and passive needs of a diverse audience. The skating community clearly understands the value of providing input for the skate park’s schematic designs,” said Wilfredo Calderon, a spokesman with the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
The county currently has three different concepts for a renovated skatepark, which were created using community feedback, Calderon said.
The county is looking to renovate the 11-year-old skatepark due to aging equipment, he said, adding that some of the existing structures had a seven to 10 year lifespan.
“Any consideration of replacing elements should take into consideration that needs tend to change over time and an active skate park is no different,” he said.
The skatepark project is in the beginning stages. Once a design is picked, the Department of Parks and Recreation will submit the project to the County Board as part of the Capital Improvement Plan, Calderon said. The skatepark is being designed by Team Pain, a skatepark design firm, and Gordon Construction, according to the park’s website.
“In short, a new design, if effective, will enhance the skate park by replacing elements that have reached their end of life cycle and introduce components and elements that current skaters want to see in the park,” Calderon said.
Five Rideshare Drivers Nabbed in Arlington — Arlington police have issued citations to five drivers of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft since June 5, the department says. The drivers were all pulled over for separate traffic infractions and admitted to driving for the services, which are currently operating illicitly in Virginia. [Washington Post]
Teens Arrested for Skate Park Vandalism — Four teenagers have been arrested and charged with causing $35,000 in damage to the Powhatan Springs Skate Park earlier this month. The teens are accused of painting “graffiti containing vulgar language” at the park, which was closed until county crews could clean it up. [NBC Washington]
Arlingtonian Wins, Then Loses at Wimbledon — For the second year in a row, Arlington resident and tennis pro Denis Kudla advanced to the second round of Wimbledon. Kudla, 21, defeated Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan in the first round of the tournament before falling to No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan in straight sets. [Wimbledon]
Wine Bar Coming to Rosslyn — Bistro 360, a wine bar and gourmet market from Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe owner Art Hauptman, is coming to the former Cafe Assorti space at 1800 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The wine bar will have as many as 140 seats indoors and outdoors. Bistro 360 hopes to open its doors by the end of the summer. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Graffiti Closes Powhatan Skatepark — Powhatan Springs Skatepark is temporarily closed after “graffiti containing vulgar language” was found. The park will be temporarily closed until park staff can remove the graffiti. No word yet on a reopening date.
Tejada: Three Dems on County Board — At the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner over the weekend, Walter Tejada said pointedly that he is “one of three Democratic county board members,” presumably excluding Libby Garvey. Garvey was also not listed as an “Arlington Democratic Elected Official” in the program. [Blue Virginia]
Dominion Planning New Underground Power Line — Dominion Virginia Power is planning on building an underground power transmission line from Arlington to Alexandria. The $160 million project is intended to address “a local reliability load issue… that could potentially impact neighbors by 2018.” Alexandria officials are expressing objections to the project. [Washington Post]
AYDs Eye South Arlington — Arlington Young Democrats are trying to increase their outreach to women, minorities and to residents of south Arlington. The organization has appointed a new “outreach chair and communications director” who will be in charge of recruiting individuals in targeted groups and “mak[ing] them feel welcome.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool by Brian Allen
County’s Debt Upgraded to ‘Stable’ — Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook on Arlington County’s debt from “negative” to “stable.” The county’s otherwise triple-A bond rating was downgraded in 2011 due to Arlington’s “lose economic, financial and capital markets linkages to the federal government.” The upgrade reflects the federal government’s improved debt outlook. [Arlington County]
Vandalism at Powhatan Springs Park — The skate park at Powhatan Springs Park was closed Friday and Saturday due to graffiti. The graffiti was “nothing serious,” said Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but the park was closed while county crews removed it.
Dangerous Heat Prompts AWLA Rescues — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has shared photos of four dogs it rescued in the recent heatwave. Among them are dogs left in hot cars, tied up in a parking lot and in cages in a backyard without adequate water. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Wakefield Loses Full Accreditation — Wakefield High School was the only Arlington County public school that failed to receive full state accreditation this year. The school was accredited “within warning” because only 77 percent of the class of 2011 graduated. Wakefield will need to show a rising graduation rate for the next two years or it will lose all state accreditation. [Washington Examiner]
Arlington Skate Park Remarkably Graffiti Free — The Powhatan Springs skate park in Dominion Hills has nary a graffiti scribble, in contrast to nearly every other public skate park in the country. Plus, it also has a rain garden. [Greater Greater Washington]
Colony House Closing — Colony House Furniture (1700 Lee Highway) is closing after 75 years in business. Originally, owner JR Diffee had hoped to move the business elsewhere in Arlington, after he sold the original store to a hotel developer. Now a trade publication reports that Colony House is closing after being hurt by the economy. A going out of business sale currently in progress is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. [Furniture Today, Colony House Furniture]