70°Rain

by Chris Teale October 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

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

by ARLnow.com October 10, 2017 at 8:50 am 0

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.

by Chris Teale September 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

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.”

by Chris Teale August 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

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.

by Kalina Newman July 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm 0

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

by Kalina Newman June 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

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.

by Brooke Giles June 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

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.

by Chris Teale May 23, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

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.

by Chris Teale March 24, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

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.

by Tim Regan January 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm 0

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.

by ARLnow.com January 2, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

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.

by ARLnow.com November 28, 2016 at 11:55 am 0

Big changes are on the horizon for Arlington’s Lee Highway corridor, but not before an extensive public planning process.

After at least two years of public outreach and planning, which led to a final “visioning study” report earlier this year, Arlington County is planning to kick off another year of discussion with a pair of open houses tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 29).

The daytime open house is scheduled from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Lyon Village Community House (1920 N. Highland Street) while the evening open house is set from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Community and Senior Center (5722 Lee Highway).

“The County is preparing to kick-off a community planning process for Lee Highway in 2017,” says a county-produced flyer. “Drop in at one of the upcoming Open House events to learn more about the project scope and share your thoughts on expectations, participation opportunities, boundaries and more. The same information will be shared at both events.”

The 2017 planning process will be “building on recent visioning work by the Lee Highway community” and will take “a closer look at the long-term goals for this important corridor and its surrounding areas.”

From the county’s Lee Highway Planning website:

The vision, a culmination of a seven-month study, illustrates the best of the community’s ideas and proposes key ingredients for the future of this important east-west corridor. This vision calls for Lee Highway to become a walkable, urban main street with a string of neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, along with new transportation options, better public spaces and more.

The visioning document is not an adopted plan, but rather a compilation of ideas that provide a framework for the formal County planning process that will kick off in 2017.

As reported by ARLnow earlier this year:

[The visioning document] outlines a sweeping vision for the corridor, which currently is a primarily car-oriented mish-mash of strip malls, aging apartment buildings and other assorted low-density businesses and infrastructure.

The plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”

New apartment buildings, townhouses and retail hubs would be encouraged to spring up. New parks and bus service would be added. Building heights up to 12 stories are discussed, though 3-6 stories would be more common; the taller buildings would be along Lee Highway itself and “sensitive transitions to single family neighborhoods” would be emphasized.

In an online poll, 57 percent of nearly 1,200 respondents said they “like the plan” and would like to see “more businesses, parks, housing and amenities” along Lee Highway.

by Samantha Moore November 16, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

The Williamsburg Field Site Evaluation Workgroup, the citizen body charged with weighing in on the thorny issue of whether an athletic field near Williamsburg Middle School should have lights, is set to have its 21st meeting tonight (Wednesday).

The workgroup is preparing to write its draft report, which will be presented to county commissions next month and reviewed with the Arlington County Board in January before a final set of recommendations is presented to the Board in February.

Earlier this month the workgroup held an open house at which those on both sides — for and against lighting the artificial turf field — presented their case. ARLnow.com spoke to a number of people at the meeting.

“I’m for the fields,” said Chris Smith, a nearby resident. “I think it’s fantastic that we have the resources that we do in Arlington, and the utility of the turf fields is only expanded by having them lit at different times during the day. It gives us more time on the fields, particularly give the children more time on the fields, as the days get shorter, through the winter and I think that’s only a good thing.”

“I’m probably one of the four or five houses that are closest… whatever the effects could be I would probably feel them as much as anybody else,” Smith added. “But as a member of the local youth sports community and as a father of three children, two of whom are at Discovery [Elementary], I think it’s a better investment with the lights there.”

A number of supporters said their kids play soccer and having a lighted field closer to home — currently they must travel to Gunston Middle School or Long Bridge Part to play at night — would benefit far more residents than the lights would, potentially, negatively affect.

Opponents, however, said in their presentation that the area around the field is a “historically dark and quiet neighborhood” and lighting the field would be a slippery slope leading, perhaps, to turning “all of Arlington County into a big city with big-city traffic, noise and lights.”

“I live close to the field, my kids went to this school and we already lived through building Discovery school, the elementary school, which has been fine, actually,” said a lighting opponent who did not give her name. “But this will have games going at night, I don’t know how many nights a week, late at night. They already have games it seems, a lot, all day, all weekend. It seems like it’s just too much for the neighborhood and the lights will disturb everybody’s sleep and rest and just the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.”

“I just don’t think you have to play soccer 24/7,” the lighting opponent continued. “You know, enough is enough.”

County Board member Christian Dorsey attended the open house and said the lengthy community process — which started in September 2013 — is intended to give all residents plenty of opportunity to shape the county’s ultimate decision.

“We put together a workgroup because this is not an easy issue to decide or deliberate about,” Dorsey said. “The Board wanted to make sure we gave individuals from communities, affected communities who are also part of interest groups to really go deep into the issues so that they could give us all the perspectives that we needed to make a decision. So, this is kind of a — not the culmination — but it’s nearing the end of their work and this is really a useful way to take what they’ve learned and share it with the wider public.”

“We need to make an informed decision,” Dorsey concluded, “which is what I look forward to.”

by ARLnow.com November 9, 2016 at 10:50 am 0

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington at 4444 Arlington Blvd (Photo courtesy UUCA)(Updated at 11 a.m.) It’s been planned for at least a week but the results of the election may bring renewed interest to a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington tonight.

The church, at 4444 Arlington Blvd, is holding a discussion entitled “Islamophobia: Replacing Fears with Facts.” The event is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

From a press release:

The Committee for Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine (CPJIP) of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington is hosting a talk entitled: Islamophobia: Replacing Fears with Facts, presented by Ms. Meira Neggaz, Executive Director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), in Washington, D.C.

Neggaz will present ISPU’s groundbreaking research on Islamophobia and will lead a discussion of what each of us can do to combat discrimination against historically marginalized groups, including American Muslims.

The talk is open to the public. Congregants from the Moroccan American Muslim community and neighboring Christian and Jewish congregations are expected to attend.

by ARLnow.com October 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Google Earth view of Williamsburg Middle School and Discover ElementaryThree years, 18 working group meetings and 886 pages of posted documents later, the county is nearing the final stretch of a public process to decide whether to add lights to the athletic fields at Williamsburg Middle School.

The Williamsburg Field Evaluation Work Group will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to discuss the process and gather more community input before drafting a report for the County Board.

“Come see what was learned, ask questions and share your input,” said a description of the meeting, which will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the middle school (3600 N. Harrison Street).

The process started in September 2013, with the County Board’s approval of a new elementary school — later named Discovery Elementary — on the Williamsburg site.

Controversy over whether new synthetic turf fields should be lighted — which pitted soccer parents against a group of residents who live near the school — prompted the Board to call for the creation of a working group. The group’s charge was finally approved, after a bit of additional intrigue, in 2015.

The 15-member group was tasked “to lead a robust community process to evaluate whether or
not to light the Williamsburg synthetic fields.” At issue: whether resident concerns about excessive light, noise and traffic at night outweigh the county’s usual policy of lighting synthetic fields to maximize use (primarily for youth sports) and return on investment.

Earlier this year the timeline for the working group was pushed back: it’s now expected to prepare a draft report in November and finalize its recommendations in January. The County Board is then expected to consider the group’s recommendations at its February meeting.

Image via Google Maps

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