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County Plans Three Forums to Discuss Possible Residential Parking Permit Changes

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) As the county hurdles past the halfway mark of a two-year review of its residential parking practices, Arlington planners want to hear from you about the issue.

County officials are convening a pair of public forums on its residential parking permit program review in November. One is set for Nov. 14 at Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd) from 7-8:30 p.m., the other for Nov. 29 at (735 18th Street S.) from 6-7:30 p.m. Another is scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.) from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

The goal of the events is for the county to collect feedback on “what works and does not work” with Arlington’s current methods for setting up residential parking zones and handing out the necessary permits, according to the county’s website.

The county created the program back in 1973 in a bid to keep commuters out of residential areas, particularly in neighborhoods business districts, employment centers and Metro stations. Residents were once able to petition the county to have their street zoned off, pending an analysis by county staff.

But the County Board voted last summer to put a moratorium on any changes to the county’s 24 parking zones, in order to commission this study of the program’s effectiveness. The review has been greeted with apprehension from some civic leaders, however, who worry the county is itching to cut back on residential parking restrictions.

So far, county planners say they’ve collected more than 1,600 online survey responses to take the community’s temperature on the program, and they envision the forums this month as a chance to gather feedback in person.

The county is hoping to wrap up the program review by sometime in “mid-2019.”

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Arlington Losing Big Office Tenant — “BAE Systems Inc. is moving its headquarters to Falls Church as part of a consolidation of its Northern Virginia office space… The move will also further ding Arlington County’s office vacancy rate, which at the end of 2017 was 20.6 percent.” [Washington Business Journal]

Hazmat Situation at Kaiser Permanente — Arlington County firefighters responded to a hazardous materials incident at Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church yesterday. Five people were evaluated by medics and, of them, two were transported to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter, Twitter]

Red Top Development Groundbreaking Nears — “The Shooshan Co. has teamed up with Trammell Crow Residential on the first phase of its planned Red Top Cab site redevelopment in Clarendon, with groundbreaking slated for early next year. The partners closed Sept. 29 on their acquisition from The Red Top Cab Co. founder Neal Nichols of several parcels along Irving and Hudson streets for a listed consideration amount of nearly $28.2 million, according to Arlington County’s Recorder of Deeds.” [Washington Business Journal]

RIP Lance Newman and Tim Wise — Two notable Arlingtonians have died: “Tim Wise, the longtime president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, died Friday in Fredericksburg after a 10-month battle with cancer and heart trouble… Lance Newman, one of four black students who in February 1959 began attending a previously all-white middle school in Arlington… had died after a short illness.” [InsideNova]

ACSO Launches Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign — “Breast cancer hits close to home for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which has launched a campaign to raise awareness about early detection and preventative care. Over the last six years, two employees at the county’s sheriff’s office have been diagnosed with breast cancer.” [WUSA 9]

Forum Planned to Discuss Accessory Dwellings — “A forum looking at current regulations related to accessory-dwelling units in Arlington will be held on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Central Library. Speakers will discuss how changes made to the county’s housing ordinances in 2017 impact the regulatory process, and will look at whether further changes are needed.” [InsideNova]

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Meeting Wednesday to Provide Update on Crystal City-DCA Pedestrian Link

The findings of a study on the feasibility of a pedestrian link between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport are set to be unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District and civil engineering firm VHB will host a public meeting from 1-2:30 p.m. and again from 6:30-8 p.m. on November 15, on the 11th floor of 2011 Crystal Drive.

There, they will present the findings of a feasibility study on the project commissioned earlier this year, as well as several renderings of possible pedestrian links.

Those unable to attend can watch the presentation on Facebook Live, while the presentation slides will be uploaded to the project website after the meeting.

Crystal City BID CEO Angela Fox has said previously that a “new pedestrian connection will bring the airport even closer, from a 15-minute walk to a four-minute walk.”

Courtesy photo

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APS to Hold Two Community Meetings on Middle School Boundary Changes

Arlington Public Schools will host two community meetings this week to present proposals for changes to middle school boundaries.

Entitled, “What We Learned,” APS staff will present a second round of boundary proposals, developed after receiving community feedback on initial plans. The meetings are set for the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday, October 25, 7-9 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd)
  • Thursday October 26, 7-9 p.m. at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)

The forums will follow up on meetings earlier this month, entitled “Getting Started,” where staff presented initial ideas to provide a “starting point” for further discussion. APS is redrawing its middle school boundaries as a sixth is set to open at the Stratford school site in 2019.

Staff wrote that this second round of proposals will “shape the Superintendent’s recommendation to the School Board that will create boundaries for the new middle school at Stratford, relieve crowding at some schools, and balance enrollment among all six middle schools.”

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will make a recommendation on the redrawn boundaries on November 14. The Arlington School Board will hold a public hearing on November 30, then vote on the plan on December 14. The new boundaries would take effect in 2019.

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Ride-Hailing Startup Founder to Share Insights in Chamber’s Next Live Podcast

The founder of a local ride-hailing startup will discuss how he got his business off the ground in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s latest live podcast episode.

Alex Villanueva launched Sprynt in June, offering free rides in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Within five days, the new app had been downloaded more than 700 times, and today Sprynt vehicles are a familiar sight in the corridor, going up and down Wilson and Clarendon Blvds all day long.

The event will take place on Tuesday, October 24 in front of an audience at 1776 in Crystal City. Villanueva will discuss his personal story and how he turned his business idea into a reality. Registration is $25.

ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Villanueva. Audience members will be able to ask questions during a Q&A segment that will not be recorded.

The event also features networking opportunities and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And for those unable to attend, the interview will later be published online via ARLnow’s podcast, 26 Square Miles.

The evening’s agenda is as follows:

  • 5-5:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
  • 5:30-6:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
  • 6:15-6:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Networking reception
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Morning Notes

Record High Low Temperature — The area has set another record for a warm low temperature. Yesterday, the low temperature at Reagan National Airport was 74 degrees, besting the previous Oct. 9 record of 72 degrees. [Twitter]

Record APS Enrollment — Enrollment at Arlington Public Schools for the 2017-2018 school year has been recorded at 26,927, surpassing the previous record set in 1963 in the midst of the Baby Boom generation. “The official count was up 789 students – 3 percent – from a year before, and has now risen 27 percent since the 2010-11 school year,” the Sun Gazette reported, though the final figure was well below the more than 27,000 projected. [InsideNova]

Record School Library Circulation — Print is apparently not dead yet, as 1.044 million books and other printed materials were checked out at Arlington Public Schools libraries last school year, a new record. It is the first time that count has exceeded 1 million. [InsideNova]

ACFD Getting New Ambulances — The Arlington County Fire Department is getting two brand-new ambulances for its fleet. [Twitter]

Courthouse Meeting Bowls in KidsPost — “Near Arlington’s courthouse, three unusual round wooden objects are attracting attention and exploration by people of all ages. Some think they look like amusement park rides. To Hadley Christiansen, 3, of Arlington, ‘they look like salad bowls.'” [Washington Post]

Meeting Set on High-Speed Rail Line — A public hearing is being held in Alexandria next Tuesday to gather public input on proposed high-speed rail service from D.C. to Richmond. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by James L.

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Beyer to Push for GW Parkway Safety Study, More Memorial Bridge Funding

Rep. Don Beyer (D) announced Wednesday he will use the coming weeks in Congress to push for safety at two roadways that run through Arlington County.

Beyer said he will introduce appropriations amendments related to repairs for Memorial Bridge and safety on the George Washington Memorial Parkway as Congress debates legislation to fund the federal government’s operations past the deadline of September 30. Beyer’s district includes Arlington and a portion of Fairfax County as well as Alexandria and Falls Church Cities.

Memorial Bridge received $90 million last year from the federal government for repairs after years of deterioration and neglect led to worries it could close by 2021.

But Beyer said he wants to require President Donald Trump’s administration to submit a report to Congress outlining a plan to fully fund repairs, as the project could cost up to a quarter-billion dollars.

And for the GW Parkway, Beyer submitted an amendment requiring the Secretaries of Interior and Transportation to carry out a study on how to improve safety in its sections south of Alexandria in Fairfax County. The parkway, which like the Memorial Bridge is controlled by the National Park Service, has been the site of several serious crashes in recent times, sending motorists to the hospital and snarling traffic.

“Arlington Memorial Bridge and the George Washington Parkway are essential hubs for my constituents in Northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, like much of the country’s infrastructure, these historic roadways have not been maintained sufficiently. We need prompt action by the federal government to guarantee the continued safety and reliability of these key transportation arteries.”

Meanwhile, after Congress’ return from its summer recess, Beyer will host two town hall-style events in Arlington in the next two months, one on the future of social security and another focusing on women’s issues.

On Sunday September 10 from 3-5 p.m. at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.), Beyer hosts “A Forum on Social Security in the 21st Century,” alongside Connecticut Rep. John Larson (D). A flyer for the event said the pair will discuss what they are doing to protect Social Security today and protect it in the future.

And on Saturday, October 14 from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Beyer will host his third annual Women’s Conference and Forum at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive), entitled, “Moving Forward, Together – Impact & Influence.”

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County’s Bike Plan Getting a Refresh

Arlington County is updating the section on bicycling in its Master Transportation Plan, and is asking residents to help shape how it should now look.

The Bicycle Element of the plan last received an update in 2008, and now staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the time is right for a revamp given the new “technologies, facilities and best practices” around bicycling. Staff said they will get feedback from a wide range of people, including those in civic associations and business organizations.

Currently, the plan looks to increase bicycle usage, make bicycling safer in the county, add to the network of bike trails and paths and integrate biking with other methods of transit.

“The wealth of expertise in our community, and among our County staff, will help us improve mobility, safety, comfort and convenience for bicyclists and make it even more attractive to ride a bicycle as a way of getting around for people of all ages and interests,” staff wrote.

Anyone can have their say at the monthly meetings of the Master Transportation Plan Bicycle Element Working Group, as well as via an online survey through September 22. Included in the survey is a question about what the county can do to encourage more bicycle riding, with the following answers offered as options.

  • Offer community bike rides.
  • Educate drivers.
  • Add more Bikeshare stations.
  • Add more bike parking.
  • Add more separated bike lanes.
  • Improve the condition/maintenance of the existing bike lanes and trails.
  • Educate bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Improve the connected bike network.
  • Add more wayfinding signs to help people find destinations.
  • Add more bicycle or multi-use trails.

County staff and working group members will also hold a series of meet and greet events at various locations, including today (Wednesday) at the Clarendon Metro station farmers market from 3-7 p.m.

There, residents can discuss the plan updates, take the survey and give feedback in person. Other meet and greets beyond tonight’s event are as follows:

The County Board is likely to carry out an initial review of the update at a work session in late fall. Afterward, county staff will begin community outreach on how to implement the new plan, and finding projects for new or improved bike facilities in the county. An updated plan is expected to be adopted in summer 2018.

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Chamber of Commerce Launches Live Podcast Series

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce will launch its first ever live podcast series next Monday (July 17), recorded in front of an audience at 1776 in Crystal City.

The series is titled “Secrets to Success” and will host a different Arlington business titan, who will share their stories about the Arlington business world.

The first show will feature Pinkie Dent Mayfield, vice president for corporate affairs and special assistant to the chairman at education and media company Graham Holdings. ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will be the program’s moderator and will lead the discussion with Mayfield, who will share her business philosophy at the offices of startup incubator 1776 (2231 Crystal Drive #1000).

Those on hand for the event will be able to ask Mayfield questions during a Q&A segment. The event also features a networking portion and food served from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

For those unable to attend, the podcast will later be published online.

The evening’s agenda is as follows:

  • 4-4:30 p.m.: Registration and open networking
  • 4:30-5:15 p.m.: Live recorded podcast
  • 5:15-5:30 p.m.: Q&A (not recorded)
  • 5:30-6 p.m.: Networking reception
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Rep. Don Beyer to Hold Public Forum on Net Neutrality

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) will host a forum on the future of net neutrality in two weeks.

The event is happening on Monday, June 26 from 7:30-9 p.m. Beyer will be joined by former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler and former FCC general counsel Jonathan Sallet.

The forum will take place in George Mason University’s Founders Hall (3351 N. Fairfax Drive) and is free to attend, though registration is strongly advised.

Net neutrality is a principle that prohibits internet service providers from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content. For example, without net neutrality rules a cable company could intentionally slow down the Netflix video streaming service as a way to force people to use its own streaming service instead.

Advocates worry that if the FCC rolls back net neutrality protections, companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast could have control over internet content. Currently the FCC is soliciting comments to its email inbox at [email protected], to better understand the potential impact net neutrality abolition could have on internet users.

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Parents, Teachers Divided on APS Technology Initiative Ahead of Possible Plan Tweaks

Arlington Public Schools parents and teachers remain divided over the county’s one-to-one technology initiative ahead of possible revisions to the school system’s strategic plan later this year.

The rollout of the program began during the 2014-2015 school year and provides iPads for elementary and middle school students, Macbook Air laptops for high school students. The hope was that every student attending an Arlington school would have a device by 2017.

Prior to the program teachers had to check out laptops for assignments that were based online, or reserve computer lab space. In some cases, students had to pair up to complete assignments.

One middle school parent said that although her children have access to technology at home, the program is the county’s “best option” for those who don’t — helping to level the playing field for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Attended by parents and teachers, the conversation was focused on how the technology is impacting the classroom. The main concerns for many parents were how teachers could balance the use of the technology with traditional learning and how parents could monitor how their child is using their device.

Jennifer Burgin, a second grade teacher at Oakridge Elementary School, shared how her students used their iPads to identify real deer teeth samples. When the assignment was over, the devices were replaced with pencil and paper. 

“iPads are not meant to replace me, instead they help unleash me,” said Burgin. “As I learn more about deeper learning practices and ensuring equity for all my learners, I use iPads to my advantage when they benefit all learners.”

Several middle school teachers said that the technology makes their students more interested in learning, allowing them to research additional information or record and re-watch their teacher explaining challenging concepts.

Some parents, however, wanted to know what is being done to protect children from the dangers of the internet, with some saying there needs to be a county-wide policy on the use of the devices.

While there are schools that have blocked apps and have teachers conducting spot checks on student devices, parents said that there are still students who get in trouble for breaking the classroom guidelines. One anonymous parent alleged there is a culture of students using their iPads for inappropriate content. 

“I can tell you that if a child is reported to have inappropriate content, their iPad is checked and if the content is there, the iPad is taken away from the child,” she said. “But that is a Band-Aid on instance on a much wider systemic problem.”

The one group that was absent from the meeting were parents of high schoolers. The older students got laptops instead of tablets because of their heavier course load and lengthier assignments.

“[Now] that students have laptops — which they have by and large learned to bring to class, charged, every day — [it] has facilitated a sea-change in how I deliver instruction,” said Doug Burns, an English teacher at Wakefield High School. He said that an effective lesson plan helps keep students from misusing their devices.

Some suggestions for a more cohesive program included a training program for both teachers and parents, and placing more restrictions on the devices.

“If they would have thought about curriculum, investigated helpful apps, locked down the iPads to only those apps, not provide Safari, and train the teachers prior to rollout, the iPad initiative could have been much more successful,” said one parent.

APS is set to revisit its strategic plan for the devices later this year.

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Public Invited To Forum on Future of Buck, VHC Sites

Space for police, fire and emergency management, swing space for government offices or Arlington Public Schools, bus storage or parkland might be coming to two sites the county is considering acquiring.

The Buck property off N. Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School and the Virginia Hospital Center site at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road could both be acquired by the county, which has options to buy or swap for the land and has been going through a review process to determine best future uses for it.

Through that process, there are now five possible scenarios for each on how the county might make use of these sites. Staff outlined those scenarios in a presentation to the commission last week, and the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) will host an interactive public forum on the plans tomorrow (Wednesday).

Both sites are being tapped to potentially include space for the county’s Office of Emergency Management and police and fire departments. Some scenarios would include parking for ART or Arlington Public Schools buses on the site, with varying levels of open space for recreation and community gardens.

One scenario for VHC (Scenario C) would reserve a 130,000 square foot site as temporary swing space for either APS or the county during construction elsewhere. No plan would place permanent school space at the Buck property, something that had been called for by neighbors in the past.

Other neighbors, meanwhile, previously raised opposition to the county buying the Buck site, and accused the county of “barreling ahead” with the acquisition without listening to community feedback.

“JFAC, working with county and schools staff and with the community, has developed five scenarios for how the county might use each of these possible land acquisitions to meet some of our many pressing facility needs,” said JFAC chair Ginger Brown in a statement. “This forum is meant to put those scenarios before all Arlingtonians, to gather their feedback before JFAC makes recommendations to the County Board.”

The forum will be held in the Wakefield High School cafeteria (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 7-10 p.m.

RSVPs are required for those planning to attend the forum. JFAC will also host an open house on Tuesday, May 30 to discuss the potential uses.

An online form will be available on the JFAC website for public feedback on specific use scenarios for the properties, starting on Thursday, May 25, according to a county press release.

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Second Design Meeting Set For Lubber Run Community Center

Arlington County will host a public meeting Saturday for residents to help the design of the new Lubber Run Community Center evolve.

Saturday’s gathering will be at Barrett Elementary School at 4401 N. Henderson Street from 1 to 3:30 p.m. It comes on the heels of a similar meeting Wednesday.

After a kick-off meeting last month, the next session will present “Big Idea” design schemes, developed from community feedback.

At that kick-off meeting, almost 200 people shared their ideas for the building and park design. Architectural firm VMDO, Inc. has led the process alongside county staff.

The Lubber Run Community Center is the oldest county facility specifically designed as a community center. But a revamp is necessary, said staff, as it is not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act due to a lack of elevators.

“We need everyone’s participation from start to end of the work sessions to hone in on the best possible options,” reads a previous announcement. “Together, we’ll share what we like and don’t like about various schemes, and chart a path forward for the new Lubber Run Community Center.”

Ultimately, the new community center will have “a full complement of recreational, social and learning activities for all ages,” according to the county.

In addition to the meetings, other work is being done in the area of Lubber Run.

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. has been hired to do an inventory of all trees, to help guide the design process and reduce its impact on healthy trees. Meanwhile, Toole Design Group is conducting a traffic volume study to determine the number, movements, and classifications of roadway vehicles along the George Mason Drive and Park Drive intersection.

According to a project timeline, the design is expected to be finalized this winter, with construction expected to begin next year.

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Arlington to Hold Design Meeting for New Lubber Run Community Center

Lubber Run Community Center (photo via Arlington County)

Arlington County will hold a “community kick-off meeting” next week where members of the public can help design the new Lubber Run Community Center.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Barrett Elementary School (4401 N Henderson Road) next Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m.

In December, the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center at 300 N. Park Drive. As planned, the new center would include a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking.

More on the upcoming design meeting from Arlington County:

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the Community Kick-Off Meeting to design the new Lubber Run Community Center.

While youth 10 and older, teens, adults and seniors are invited to attend the kick-off, there will be free supervised recreation activities for preschool and elementary age kids at Lubber Run Community Center starting at 6 pm. –  so caregivers can come to the kickoff meeting.  If you will be dropping off a child, please RSVP so we know who to expect.

In the event Arlington County Government is closed on February 8 for inclement weather, the kick-off will be rescheduled for February 15 at the same time and place.

In December 2016, the County Board approved a contract to plan and design the new Lubber Run Community Center.  The community engagement process, led by the architectural firm VMDO, Inc., will include public meetings starting on February 8, community feedback options and other outreach for the building and park design.  All community members are invited to participate!

Over this past summer, the County Board confirmed the scope for the Lubber Run Community Center project and provided guidance as follows:

  • The Lubber Run Community Center is to be built up to four stories along with underground parking to enable more green space.
  • The new center should include a gym and accommodate relocation of the senior program from Culpepper Garden as well as continue the DPR preschool program.
  • Sports and Recreation Division staff currently located at Lubber Run and 3700 S. Four Mile Run Drive will be consolidated at the new community center.
  • Office use should remain subservient to the community center use in the form and function of the overall facility.

Please share this information and sign up on the Lubber Run Community Center Project webpage to receive project updates. For more information about the approved contract see the press release here.

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Malcolm Gladwell to Speak at GMU in Arlington

Malcolm GladwellBest-selling author Malcolm Gladwell will be coming to Arlington for a talk with George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen next month.

The event is happening on Monday, Feb. 27, from 5-6:30 p.m. at GMU’s Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive).

Glaldwell, the author of Outliers, The Tipping Point, and Blink, among others, will “join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging dialogue,” according to the event’s website.

Held as part of the Mercatus Center’s “Conversations with Tyler” series, the event is open to the public and free to attend, with registration.

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