Press Club

High school students across Arlington staged walkouts Monday afternoon and rallied to demand measures to codify Roe v. Wade.

After a Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn the 1973 decision that protects abortion access leaked last week, youth-led student group Generation Ratify Virginia helped organize walkouts across the state. In Arlington, Washington-Liberty, Arlington Tech and Wakefield High students left their schools and rallied to discuss the implications if the ruling is overturned.

Wakefield organizer Anabelle Lombard said they will not be the “post-Roe generation” and will be vocal to fight for their future. About 300 students gathered on the school’s football field during the walkout, according to Generation Ratify Virginia.

“Today, Virginia students have made it clear that we are going to defend our access to abortion and preserve our rights to reproductive healthcare,” Lombard said in a statement. “We have made it clear that we need these rights supported by a strong legal backing of gender equality that enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment in our constitution would provide.”

“We have made it clear that Gen-Z will not stand idly by as a few conservative judges strip away our right to choose — a right that the majority of Americans agree should be upheld,” she added.

About 100 students at each Washington-Liberty High School and Arlington Tech participated in walkouts, some wearing green to show support for abortion rights.

Washington-Liberty senior Valentina Lopez-Landeo said she organized the walkout at her school to unite and inform students because abortion rights isn’t something talked about in school.

“Roe v. Wade is not something that we ever thought would be overturned so once we got the news of that, I guess most of us, specifically seniors, wanted to rally up against all that,” she said. “We do believe that we are the new generation and we wish for change and we realized that we can ask for more change if we join together.”

Lopez-Landeo was particularly proud to see the number of freshmen and sophomores who attended the walkout.

“Hearing them voice their opinions on it was so inspiring because I felt like we were leaving them in good hands and… they were going to make sure that the school and students in school kept up with trying to search for change,” she said.

Felix Hedberg, Policy Director at Generation Ratify Virginia and junior at Richmond’s Open High School, said students want to have their voices heard.

“It’s time to listen to youth,” Hedberg said in a statement. “Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the [Equal Rights Amendment], shining the spotlight on Virginia in the movement for gender equality and reproductive justice. Generation Z is ready to capitalize on that attention to ensure [Gov. Glenn] Youngkin and Virginia Republicans won’t succeed in rewriting Virginia as a commonwealth against abortion access.”

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Washington-Liberty High School students browse copies of “Beloved” and “Maus” (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) This afternoon, a group of Washington-Liberty High School students are giving their peers more than 100 copies of two politically controversial books.

The books are “Beloved,” Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel following a Black family during the Reconstruction era, and “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s award-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust and his father’s life during World War II. Both have explicit content that has some parents and politicians questioning their place in schools.

Controversy around “Beloved” is part of the origin story for a bill passed by the state Senate earlier this month, which would require teachers to label classroom materials that have sexually explicit content. “Maus,” meanwhile, rocketed into the national spotlight after a Tennessee school board voted last month to remove the book from its curriculum due to “inappropriate language” and an illustration of a nude woman.

In addition to labeling classroom materials that have sexually explicit content, the new law requires teachers to notify parents if they are going to teach the materials. It gives parents the right to opt their children out of these lessons and request alternative materials.

But some high school students in Arlington and Fairfax counties are calling the law “backdoor censorship” and organized the distribution in response. It began at 3:15 p.m. in Quincy Park, near W-L.

“Great thinkers and proud Virginians like Thomas Jefferson, Maggie Walker, James Madison, George Mason and Oliver Hill — men and women who understood the importance of education and the value of studying difficult and divisive ideas — are rolling over in their graves,” W-L freshman and giveaway organizer Aaron Zevin-Lopez said in a statement.

Zevin-Lopez tells ARLnow he teamed up with George Marshall High School student Matt Savage — who has been facilitating distributions in Northern Virginia schools this month — to host a book giveaway in Arlington.

“Kids at my school understood that the Governor was attempting to limit reading rights within schools, so we thought that handing out the books beforehand could be a great way to spread the message of resistance and making sure the youth understands our past, both good and bad,” Zevin-Lopez said.

The two students are leaders of the Virginia chapter of a Gen-Z political advocacy group called Voters of Tomorrow, which is providing financial support for the giveaway.

“When the government establishes laws to label literature in terms of a single factor like ‘sexually explicit’, regardless of that factor’s significance to the larger world of literary merit or meaning, it edges closer to censorship,” said Savage, president of Voters of Tomorrow Virginia. “It means we are labeling content for the sole purpose of suppressing it.”

The students say requiring teachers to define their lessons in terms of how much “sexually explicit” content it contains will dissuade them from using anything that may be considered “objectionable.” They add that the law will force teachers to draft two entire lesson plans for one class on the objection of just one parent.

The bill is similar to one passed in 2016, which became known as the “Beloved” bill because it was inspired by a mother’s attempt to have the novel removed from her son’s English class. It was vetoed, however, by Gov. Terry McAuliffe — and his veto narrowly avoided being overturned by the House of Delegates.

The question of parental involvement in education became a central theme of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign after McAuliffe said during a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Passing the law was a campaign promise of and priority for Youngkin when he assumed office. The Republican governor unsuccessfully tried to pass other laws, including one rooting out curriculum based on critical race theory, and created a tip line for people to report teaching strategies they object to.

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People stand in line at the recently opened COVID-19 testing kiosk at Central Library (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

A free Covid testing kiosk opened Monday at Central Library near Quincy Park.

Arlington County sponsors the new kiosk that Curative operates daily between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 3809 10th Street N., the southwest corner of the park near the tennis courts.

No symptoms or doctor referral is required but the county says you must make an appointment through the Curative website as the company works through lab backlogs. Staff at the site on Monday said they were allowing walk-ups, however.

Patients administer their own COVID-19 nasal swab test under the supervision of a Curative worker and receive results in 48 to 72 hours.

Parking is available at the library and park’s surface lots or the Central Library parking garage after 10 a.m.

In addition to a testing site at Marymount University that opened this week, Curative already operates three Arlington County-sponsored sites at:

  • Arlington Mill Community Center parking lot (909 S. Dinwiddie St.), which is closed due to an electric issue that requires the delivery of a new kiosk
  • Courthouse Plaza parking lot (2088 15th St. N.; corner of 15th St. N. & N. Courthouse Rd.)
  • Virginia Highlands Park parking lot (1600 S. Hayes St.)

The Curative kiosks are administering an average of 8,500 PCR tests a week, up from an average of about 2,900 tests per week at the end of November/start of December, said Arlington County Community Engagement and Resilience Manager Tania Bougebrayel Cohn. Each kiosk can administer about 400 PCR tests a day.

There have been numerous closures of the Curative sites over the past couple of weeks — due to test and staffing shortages — but the county is working quickly to open additional testing sites to meet community demand as staff and supply chain-related shortages continue to affect the kiosks, she said.

“Demand for COVID-19 testing is at an all-time high. By adding an additional testing site, located in a densely populated Metro corridor, we hope to help meet that demand and remove barriers to testing access for all Arlingtonians,” said Dr. Aaron Miller, Director of the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management.

The full announcement from Arlington County is below.

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Fairgoers get food, drinks and treats from vendors at the county fair (staff photo)

The board of the Arlington County Fair has its sights set on moving the annual event to Long Bridge Park.

But many residents who’ve weighed in say they’d rather see it stay at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds.

This potential relocation has been under consideration since at last year, when the fair board first notified the county of its interest in the park, home to the recently finished aquatics center. Last fall, the county convened a committee to study whether Long Bridge Park or six other locations could meet the fair’s needs.

In all, committee members considered Thomas Jefferson, Long Bridge Park, Quincy Park, Virginia Highlands Park, the county’s large surface parking lot in Courthouse, Drew Elementary School and Gunston and Kenmore middle schools. The fair board, meanwhile, has only expressed interest in Long Bridge Park.

“The work of the site review committee was just exploratory,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. “While the Fair asked to move to Long Bridge, we wanted to see what all the options were on public land.”

Arlington County Fair leaders did not respond to requests for comment about the decision to move, the location it has chosen and whether it considered other locations.

Earlier this year, Kalish said the fair’s current location or Long Bridge Park — but not inside the aquatics facility — were the most feasible options in terms of location size, parking and community impact.

Here’s how a few options stack up to the preferred alternatives, per an internal planning document shared with ARLnow.

At 20 acres, Virginia Highlands Park could accommodate all the rides, games, vendors and competitive exhibits outdoors, and it would have auxiliary parking at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and space for storage and performers at the Aurora Hills Community Center. In addition to Long Bridge Park and Thomas Jefferson, this park was the only additional location that came recommended by DPR.

Centrally located in Virginia Square, Quincy Park has four acres of park space, is well-served by transit and backs up to — and could make use of — Washington-Liberty High School and Central Library facilities for competitive exhibits, performer changing areas and storage. Like Virginia Highlands Park, Quincy Park is easily Metro-accessible and adjacent to a major commercial corricor.

Committee members also noted that Kenmore — near the county’s western border, along Route 50 — would be a “good alternative to TJ” because of its similar size and layout.

But after walking through each site’s amenities, the committee noted the following reasons the other locations may not work.

Quincy Park “will get pushback from W-L [High School] — it will be hard to access the facilities the last couple weeks of August,” before school starts, the planning document notes.

Additionally, the fair would have to “work with Libraries to use their indoor space and parking” for the weekend, it says.

Meanwhile, members said Virginia Highlands is “difficult for emergency resource[s] to get access,” despite being adjacent to a fire station, and noted that the park itself only has 60 parking spaces, though the expansive mall parking garage is across the street.

Located near the Fairfax County border, Kenmore is less accessible, the committee noted. It would cause traffic issues on S. Carlin Springs Road and comes with security concerns, as there’s woods nearby, members said.

Having narrowed down the options to Thomas Jefferson and Long Bridge as the preferred options, Arlington County and the fair board are still reviewing feedback from the community engagement earlier this year, Kalish said.

An online feedback form generated more than 1,500 responses “that yielded a lot of interest in the [current] Thomas Jefferson Park and Community Center location,” she added.

“This information will help inform the location decision, with the final decision also considering the needs of the Arlington County Fair Board, public safety and the Fair’s impact to the community at large,” she said.

DPR should have more information after mid-November, she said.

“Once the Fair gets back to us we can dig deeper into the options for more data to support a thoughtful determination,” she said.

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This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

On this week’s edition of the Neighborhood Spotlight, join Keri Shull as she gives you a tour of 5 of our favorite family-friendly playgrounds in Arlington.

Between amazing food, drinks and entertainment, there are plenty of great things to do in Arlington — and as the region begins to re-open after the COVID-19 restrictions, some people are getting ready to get out of the home and enjoy the warm weather.

Luckily, when it comes to finding fun for the whole family, we are here to help! So take a look below to learn more about 5 of our favorite parks in Arlington.

Quincy Park

Sitting just a few steps away from the Virginia Square Metro stop, Quincy Park is one of our favorite recreational parks in all of Arlington. The beautiful park has a completely fenced-in playground and fun activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

The climbing ropes and swings are a great way for kids to let out some excess energy while having a great time. In addition to the play structure, there are also spots for organized sports in this 4-acre park, with a basketball court, 6 tennis courts, diamonds for baseball and softball, and even a sand court for volleyball!

Once you and yours have worn yourselves out from hours of fun, take some time to enjoy a picnic at one of several open-air tables or in the reservable, covered picnic pavilion.

Bluemont Park

If you’re looking for a family-friendly park that will bring you closer to nature, then look no further than Bluemont Park! This 70-acre space is as much of a nature reserve as it is a standard park, with tons of amazing options for fun activities. In addition to areas for sporting events and fitness activities, Bluemont features a fenced-in playground space that is designed for school-aged children.

Unlike many other recreational spaces, Bluemont Park has an enormous parking area and public bathroom facilities, which is a big plus when trying to decide where to take friends and family for a day of fun.

Thanks to the gorgeous, nature reserve-esque atmosphere and wide open spaces, Bluemont Park is a great place for people of all ages to get some exercise and fresh air.

Chestnut Hills Park

Who ever said that kids can’t learn and play at the same time? At Chestnut Hills, a 4.5-acre park in North Arlington, education and recreation are blended into a single, fun experience!

This is one of our favorite spots to play in Arlington, because it has areas for both younger and older kids and is completely fenced-in for maximum peace-of-mind. Keep in mind, however, that there is no off-street parking at this spot, and there are no public restrooms available.

As the days get hotter, there’s no better way to spend a sunny day than in the shade of Chestnut Hills Park — make sure to check it out!

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A small patch of trees and shrubs have been cut down on a traffic island near Washington-Lee High School but replacement plantings are planned.

The spot alongside the intersection at Washington Boulevard and N. Quincy Street previously had several trees, including an older tree and several shrubs.

Susan Kalish, an Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson, told ARLnow that the greenery there was primarily non-native species, and “about 75 percent were diseased or dying.”

“Slowly but surely, as projects arise we look to enhance areas with native plants that will support our native species,” Kalish wrote.

County landscapers “looked at the space and decided to turn it into a forested grassy knoll,” and are in the process of replanting 15 flowering native trees and grass.

The tree removal and reinstatement at the plot directly across from Quincy Park comes weeks after Arlington officials cited stats that Arlington’s level of tree canopy coverage had slightly increased, although at least one local environmental activist has disputed that finding.

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Following a nearly $1.3 million improvement project, the new Quincy Park is ready for its big day.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s playground and volleyball court, located at 1021 N. Quincy Street near Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School, is scheduled to take place Saturday from 1-2 p.m.

The revamped park features a “universal design” playground — Arlington’s first — with a play environment that’s accessible for users of all ages and physical abilities. Among the amenities are swings, picnic tables, a slide, a “climbing tree” and other play equipment.

The sand volleyball court, located adjacent to the playground, was created with adult after-work sports leagues in mind.

Though the ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for this weekend, the playground and the volleyball court are currently open to the public. Despite some earlier rain, at least a dozen kids and caretakers were taking advantage of the playground and its picnic shelter when ARLnow.com visited Wednesday afternoon.

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Apparent dust devil during youth baseball game at Quincy Field (photo courtesy Harold Andersen)An apparent dust devil disrupted a youth baseball game in Arlington Saturday afternoon.

The tornado-like weather phenomenon happened around 4 p.m. at Quincy Field, near Arlington Central Library, during an Arlington Babe Ruth baseball game, we’re told.

A witness said the whirlwind sent spectators and players scurrying for cover.

“Three twisters made their way down the third baseball line during a 13-year old Senior Babe Ruth baseball game,” said Harold Andersen. “At first it appeared to be a strong gust of wind but as lawn chairs and full bat bags were carried up into the sky… players, coaches and umpires went running to the dugouts.”

The dust devils eventually dissipated over the library, said Andersen. But seriously, we asked — did one really lift bat bags into the air?

“I actually had a lawn chair lifted out of my hands as I was protecting my face from the flying sand,” Andersen said. “I would swear at least two bat bags loaded with catcher’s gear flew into and over the backstop.”

He added: “One parent yelled out ‘we are not in Kansas any more.'”

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Arlington police carA reported attempted stabbing in Quincy Park, near Arlington Central Library, didn’t actually happen, according to Arlington County Police.

The 19-year-old man who reported the crime has admitted that he made it up and has been charged with filing a false police report, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Police conducted a “significant investigation” into the crime because the purported victim claimed the suspect who tried to stab him said it was part of a gang initiation.

“Because it had gang affiliation, it was turned over to the Gang Unit,” Savage said. While re-interviewing the man and canvassing the area, detectives noted inconsistencies in the story.

“Things just started to not line up, they weren’t consistent with the original story,” said Savage. “He eventually admitted that the story was not true and he was looking for attention from his dad.”

According to Savage, the false police report charge was noted in today’s daily crime report to let the public know that the gang attack did not happen.

“We don’t encourage people to walk through parks at night, but we also want people to feel safe in their community,” she said.

FILING A FALSE POLICE REPORT, 160211049, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 8:40 p.m. on February 11, officers responded to an attempted malicious wounding in the 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. After significant investigation by patrol officers and members of the Gang Unit, it was determined that the incident did not occur. Julian Leiter, 19, of Arlington VA was charged with filing a false police report.

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Arlington police carUpdate on 2/17/16 — Police say the attack did not happen and was made up by the purported victim. The man, 19, has been charged with filing a false police report.

Police are investigating a possible gang-related attempted stabbing in Quincy Park last night.

Police say a male victim in his late teens was cutting through the park — near Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School — just after 8:30 p.m., when he was approached by an unknown male suspect, also in his teens.

The suspect had a knife and told the victim that he was about to stab him as part of a gang initiation, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. The victim, however, used self defense to foil the suspect’s apparent gang rite of passage.

The victim grabbed the suspect’s wrist as he tried to stab the victim, Savage said. The victim then struck the suspect in the side of the face, possibly injuring him. At that point, three men in hoodies started running toward the victim, who ran across the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street, at which point the suspects fled, according to Savage.

Police are encouraging anyone with information about the crime, or any potential gang-related activity in Arlington, to call ACPD’s gang unit at 703-228-GANG (4264). Gang activity may be reported anonymously.

The crime report item on the attempted stabbing, including the suspect descriptions, is below.

ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 160211049, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At approximately 8:40 p.m. on February 11, an unknown male subject approached a male victim and attempted to stab him. The victim was able to use self-defense in fighting off the suspect and then fled. The suspect was accompanied by three additional male subjects. The first suspect that brandished a knife is described as a white male in his teens, approximately 5’10” tall with a slim build. The three accompanying suspects are described as males wearing grey-hoodie style jackets.

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The Arlington County Board on Thursday approved major renovations to a playground and volleyball court at Quincy Park.

The new playground will incorporate “universal design” to make it fun and accessible for users of all ages and physical abilities. Features include swings, picnic tables, a slide and a “climbing tree.”

The revamped sand volleyball court will be located adjacent to the playground and is being created with adult after-work sports leagues in mind.

The total cost expected design and construction of the project is $1.275 million. Construction is expected to start this spring and wrap up this fall.

Quincy Park is located between Arlington Central Library and Washington-Lee High School, near the Virginia Square Metros station.

From an Arlington County press release:

The Arlington County Board today approved a contract for $1,085,727 to overhaul the heavily used playground and sand volleyball court at Quincy Park.

The playground will be the first in Arlington to incorporate state-of-the-art Universal Design elements to make it accessible for people of all ages and physical abilities. All Arlington County parks are accessible and meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards, but this playground was specially designed to accommodate and engage the entire community.

“This is a truly innovative project that will make Quincy Park a very special place, accessible, welcoming and fun for people of all ages and abilities,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

Universal Design seeks to appeal aesthetically and functionally to everyone, regardless of age or physical ability.

The new playground will have a wheelchair ramp to reach the top of the slide area, instead of stairs. Its swings will hold heavier bodies, so that parents and caregivers can swing alongside children.

The Universal Design elements mean people of varying ages and abilities can climb, swing, play and enjoy this space together. Softer surfaces will make the play space safer. The design includes quieter areas for those with sensory sensitivities. Fencing and gates are all integrated into the landscaping to provide green space and a calming environment. A pavilion area will shade picnic tables, and there will be other benches and tables for seating throughout. There are also water fountains with bottle fillers. The park’s features will be explained in signs throughout the park.

Beginning in July 2014, County staff conducted extensive public outreach for this project, including four public meetings and two on-line surveys. County residents participating in the public meetings included neighbors of the park, parents of children and adults with disabilities and members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association. Staff solicited feedback from organizations such as the Special Education PTA, the Community Services Board for Developmental Disabilities and the Arc of Northern Virginia. County staff also consulted with a designer who specializes in universal playground design. To facilitate the design for the sand volleyball court, County staff consulted with local players, teams and groups such as Orange Line Sports and United Social Sports.

A final concept was presented at a May 2015 public hearing that had the consensus approval of all involved groups.

The Board voted unanimously as part of the consent agenda to award the contract to Bennett Group, the lowest responsive and responsible bidder in the competitive bidding process. The overall project funding for this Parks Maintenance Capital project of $1,275,000.00 includes design, soft costs and construction. Funding is provided by FY 2012 closeout funds ($100,000) and FY 2013 park bond funds ($1,175,000).

Construction is set to begin early spring of 2016 and be completed by the fall.

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