Press Club
Jennie Dean Park is expected to open to the public in May following renovations (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Arlington County’s park system has leveled up.

The county just ranked No. 3 in the U.S. on the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore index, after several years of being stuck at No. 4. D.C., meanwhile, ranked No. 1 in the nation this year.

In announcing the higher ranking, the county touted that 99% of Arlington residents live within a 10-minute walk to the park.

“Our parks and recreation opportunities are a key contributor to quality of life in Arlington County,” Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “From livability, bikeability, fitness, health and more, our community benefits from our parks.”

In a press release, the county also noted that the ParkScore index just started factoring equity — a key county priority — into its rankings. The county received top marks for accessibility to park space among people of color, but received some demerits for people of color and lower income residents having less total nearby park space compared to white residents.

More from the county press release, below.

Arlington County’s Park system is ranked third in the nation by the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index.

With 99% of Arlington residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park, the importance of the County’s parks was acutely felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arlington’s more than 150 parks served as places to connect and exercise, and they were integral in strengthening our community’s mental and physical well-being. The past several years, Arlington has ranked fourth in the country.

“Our parks and recreation opportunities are a key contributor to quality of life in Arlington County. From livabilitybikeabilityfitnesshealth and more, our community benefits from our parks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “And during the challenging recent pandemic years, our Department of Parks and Recreation proved that recreation is a core service by delivering food to those in need, providing and coordinating facilities to administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and offering all of us respite and connection to community.”

Arlington scored 79.1 points out of 100 in the ParkScore® index. The calculation is based on an average of five categories reflective of an excellent city park system: access, investment, amenities, acreage and equity. Arlington scores near the top in the community’s investment (both dollars and volunteerism) and access. The County scored about average on the percentage of the city’s overall area that is dedicated to parkland and below average on park size.

“Our community’s commitment to its parks makes a difference,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph. “They have supported us by voting for park bonds. They steward our parks as volunteers. They provide great input as we develop new programs and facilities.”

Arlington’s park amenities score indicates the relative abundance of six park activities popular among a diverse selection of user groups (kids, teenagers, adults and seniors). Overall for this category, Arlington scores among the highest in the nation for its availability of basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, permanent restrooms and spraygrounds.

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Morning Notes

A cherry blossom with a few raindrops (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two Local Spots on Best Bagel List — Arlington’s homegrown Brooklyn Bagel has ranked No. 4 on a list of the D.C. area’s best bagels, while Bethesda Bagel, which has an outpost in Rosslyn, ranked No. 1. [Washingtonian]

Dems Set School Board Caucus Rules — “The 2022 Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus will be an in-person-only affair with the controversial party-loyalty oath retained, based on rules adopted by the party’s rank-and-file on April 6. Democrats will select their School Board endorsee during four days of voting in June, using the instant-runoff format that has been a familiar feature of Democratic caucuses in recent years.” [Sun Gazette]

Ukrainian Ambassador Lauds Local Donation — From County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “It was profoundly moving to have Ambassador Markarova join us as we send off pallets of emergency protective equipment and kit to Ukraine. With these supplies, we also send our solidarity and commitment to help our sister city and the Ukrainian people however we can.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Preservationists Push Pols for Protection — “The trigger for the discussion was the possibility that the circa-1949 Joyce Motors building in Clarendon could be torn down to make way for new development, even though it was one of just 10 commercial buildings, and just 23 properties overall, that were designated ‘Essential’ (the top tier) in the 2011 HRI. That 2011 document was the culmination of a study of 394 properties – garden apartments, shopping centers and commercial buildings – completed in 2009.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. Senators on Supreme Court Confirmation — From Sen. Mark Warner: “Justice is served! I voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as our next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court because she’s qualified, brilliant, and honest. And for the first time in two centuries, the court will contain the voice of a Black woman.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington 9/11 5K Returns — “The Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K is currently planning on having an in-person 20th Anniversary race on September 10, 2022. However, there is a possibility that some restrictions on runner capacity, social distancing measures and mask use may be in place in September due to COVID-19.” [Arlington 9/11 5K]

Fairlington 5K Returns — “After a 2 year pandemic hiatus, the 7th annual Fairlington 5K will take place on Saturday, May 7th. There is a new canine competitor entry this year! Here is the map route. The race will start at 8:30 AM.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — A sunny morning, followed by a cloudy afternoon and possible rain later. High of 59 and low of 45. Sunrise at 6:43 am and sunset at 7:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Layers of buildings and fog in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Ranks in New ‘Best’ Lists — “Niche, a platform for community and school ratings, released its 2022 Best Places to Live rankings this week, and Arlington and its neighborhoods ranked high on the lists. This year, Arlington County ranked No. 3 in Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, No. 4 in Best Cities to Live in America, and No. 5 for Best Cities for Young Professionals in America.” [Patch]

NAACP Asks for Civil Rights Investigation — “The Arlington County, Virginia, jail is the subject of a civil rights complaint by the Arlington Branch of the NAACP. The civil rights agency wrote a letter Monday to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asking for an investigation into the patterns and practices at the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [WTOP]

Ebbin Bill Heads to Governor — “A proposal to repeal a Virginia law that requires adult children to be financially responsible for their parents is headed to the governor’s desk. Senator Adam Ebbin, who is behind the bill, says while it is rarely enforced it can be misused and abused.” [Fox 5]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 71 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:16 am and sunset at 7:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

An aircraft taking off from Reagan National is distorted by raindrops on a windshield (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

W-L Wins District Hoops Tourney — “Sometimes the hardest way to win a championship is being the favorite, as the Washington-Liberty Generals were in the Liberty District boys basketball tournament, with opponents motivated to knock off the top seed. Knowing that, the Generals were ready for the challenge. They played well and hungry, eliminating any chance for upsets with strong starts in winning their two games.” [Sun Gazette, Twitter, Twitter]

NAACP Blasts VLP Pause — From the Arlington branch of the NAACP: “It is a travesty that the educational future of 558 students – the equivalent of an entire school – has been decided based on an unclear budget process and fueled by a myriad of obscure decisions, outright incompetence at times, and mismanagement. Moreover, the VLP experiment was conducted at the expense of the most vulnerable students, which is unconscionable.” [Press Release]

Per Sq. Ft. Price Declines — “The District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria all saw declines in average per-square-foot sales prices in January, while other localities posted increases, according to figures reported by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing data from Bright MLS.” [Sun Gazette]

Local FICO Scores Good, Not Great — “The median FICO credit score of Arlington residents is 754, according to new figures from Wallet Hub, which looked at credit scoring in nearly 2,600 U.S. communities. That puts Arlington in the 87th percentile nationally and 334th out of the 2,572 communities surveyed. Pretty good, but not as good as Arlington (Mass.) at 772, which ranked 49th nationally, and Arlington Heights (Ill.) at 763, which ranked 170th.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Tuesday, 2/22/22 — Rain later today. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. High of 66 and low of 49. Sunrise at 6:52 am and sunset at 5:55 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, the Memorial Bridge, and the 14th St. Bridge over the Potomac River in fog (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Free Outdoor Wi-Fi at Libraries — “During the month of January, 2022, two new free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots were installed at the Cherrydale and Glencarlyn Libraries. Library patrons and Arlington residents have now 24×7 access to the free Arlington County Wi-Fi network ‘ArlingtonWireless’ at all library branches, both outdoor and indoor, and at various locations around the County. No ID or password is required for the free service.” [Arlington Public Library]

Four Arlington Joints on Best BBQ List — Post food critic Tim Carman’s new “best barbecue” list includes a number of Arlington favorites: Texas Jack’s (9), Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (6), Smoking Kow (5), and Sloppy Mama’s (3). [Washington Post]

W&OD Bridge Work Complete — “The re-decking of the bridge east of Wilson Blvd in Arlington is completed!” [Twitter]

County Conducting Satisfaction Survey — “Arlington County is conducting its sixth County-wide, statistically valid community survey to measure satisfaction with major County services and gather input about issues facing the community. The results enable County officials to assess performance across many County agencies and services.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Selling Pentagon Chicken Shirts — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “No-one asked for this but we did it anyways – get your official #PentagonChicken shirt now! With the Henny Penny stamp of approval, proceeds will go to help keep other wayward poultry out of government buildings.” [Twitter]

Beyer Delivers Boxes of Protective Equipment — “A constituent reached out notifying U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) that Restart Partners, a West Coast-based charity involved in planning for and procuring PPE, learned of a significant amount of it available in a local warehouse. Partnering with the owner (who wishes to remain anonymous), Beyer identified two charities (Doorways and PathForward) that needed the items for those they serve and for their staffs.” [Sun Gazette]

De Ferranti Makes It Official — “County Board member Matt de Ferranti kicked off his bid for a second term on Feb. 2 with a call for Arlington leaders to accelerate efforts to enact Democratic priorities and serve as a bulwark against the new Republican majority in Richmond.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Friday — Rain before today 5 p.m., then a chance of rain and snow. Patchy fog before 1 p.m. Temperature falling to around 37 mid-afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 5:35 p.m. This weekend will be sunny with highs in the 30s. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington Public Schools has been named the second-best district in Virginia for the second year in a row.

The education research firm Niche ranked APS behind Falls Church City Public Schools in its new 2022 rankings of Virginia public schools. Prior to the 2021 rankings, APS enjoyed two years as the top public school system in the Commonwealth.

Niche, which specializes in K-12 school data and rankings, also ranked APS the best place to teach and the second safest school district in Virginia for 2022.

“I am proud of our staff, students and community for making APS one of Virginia’s best school systems, according to Niche’s ranking,” Superintendent Francisco Durán said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have excellent teachers and staff who are devoted to serving the diverse needs of our students. Every accolade that we earn is the result of their talent and dedication to student success.”

Among individual high schools, Fairfax County Public Schools dominated the list, with seven of the top 10 in the state. In Arlington, Yorktown High School has climbed up the ranks while Wakefield High School lost ground and Washington-Liberty High School fell a few spots.

Between the 2019 Best Schools list and this year’s, Yorktown High School climbed from 21st to 13th, while Wakefield High School dropped from 44th to 55th, and Washington-Liberty High School slid from 13th to 17th.

Niche uses ratings from students, alumni and parents and data from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources to award overall grades and category-specific grades.

APS earned an “A+” in college preparation and an “A” in academics, teachers, clubs and activities, health and safety, sports and resources and facilities, according to APS’s Niche report card. It earned a “B” in administration and food.

Some users, described by Niche as seniors, gave APS high marks and constructive criticism. An H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program student, for instance, praised the school and the arts programming but said APS has to work on diversity at W-L and Yorktown.

This year, Wakefield ranked the second-most diverse public school in Virginia.

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Morning Notes

Kadera Concerned By Test Score Drop — “Give Democratic School Board endorsee Mary Kadera credit for recognizing the elephant in the room. At the Sept. 8 Arlington Committee of 100 campaign forum, Kadera acknowledged the massive drops in scores on state Standards of Learning exams (SOLs) as Arlington students were locked at home over the past school year. And, she said, steps need to be taken to get back on track.” [Sun Gazette]

Ruthie’s Makes National ‘Gem’ List — Arlington Heights restaurant Ruthie’s All Day has made “OpenTable’s 100 Best Neighborhood Gems in America for 2021” list. The southern-inspired restaurant will soon be celebrating its one-year anniversary. [OpenTable, Restaurant News]

Metal Grid Near Airport Explained — “Fencing in part of Roaches Run near Reagan National Airport is designed to protect native plants put in by the National Park Service. The enclosures keep carp and turtles from nibbling on cattails, willows and alders.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Michael McCullough

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated 2:55 p.m.) Thirty Arlington companies made Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing private companies, including one advertising firm made the top 15.

The featured companies had a median 3-year growth of 181%. There were 31 companies on the list last year.

Rosslyn-based advertising agency Olympic Media led the way, placing 13th. The company was founded in 2018 and has grown by 20,330% over the last three years. Olympic’s explosion in growth makes it the fastest-growing company in Virginia and the D.C. area, as well as the No. 1 advertising and marketing company on the list.

“We are honored to be included in such an esteemed list which serves a ‘who’s-who’ of American business,” said founder and CEO Ryan Coyne in a press release. “We started as a one-man operation in an office the size of a closet. Now we have over thirty employees making up four departments, all dedicated to our diverse clientele and to each other.”

Olympic Media CEO Ryan Coyne (courtesy of Olympic Media)

Olympic chalks its success up to its team and its business model. The company’s clientele consists of businesses, advocacy groups and conservative political campaigns.

“There is no getting away from the talent and dedication of the team we have been able to build — as cliche as that may sound,” Coyne said in a statement to ARLnow. “We really do emotionally invest in the success of our clients. Second to that, I think it’s a combination of our unique business model that better aligns incentives between ourselves and our clients — as well as word spreading about the success our clients have had.”

The team deserves being recognized as 13th on the list, given their success and dedication, he said.

“We had gotten some indication that we would be fairly high on the list (including some fairly invasive financial disclosures) but being the No. 1 Advertising & Marketing company in the nation was certainly higher than I had expected,” Coyne said. “It’s both a validation of our business model and work quality as well as a challenge for the team to keep pushing boundaries, taking risks and raising the bar.”

Olympic Media made local headlines in Maryland politics earlier this year for a viral ad campaign it promoted for Kimberly Klacik, a Republican Congressional candidate from Baltimore.

Klacik raised $8.3 million in donations. Citing campaign finance filings and her campaign manager, the Washington Post said Olympic charged $3.7 million for its services. Klacik later said the fees were for advertising on YouTube and Facebook, the Daily Caller reported. Olympic told the Daily Caller that anyone arguing the company itself pocketed that much money from the race is “a competitor, a moron, or a writer for the Washington Post.”

Of the other 29 companies, some have been featured in ARLnow, such as HUNGRY, Ostendio, C3 Integrated Solutions, SweatWorks and ThreatConnect, most of which made the list previously. It was the debut, however, for Ballston-based Hungry, which managed to grow despite the pandemic being a major headwind for its office and events catering business.

“Not only is it an incredible honor to receive a spot on the Inc. 5000 list, it’s a true testament to the hustle, grit, and smarts our team has displayed over the last year and half,” said HUNGRY Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Grass said in a press release. “Despite all the challenges we faced due to the pandemic, we’ve defied the odds — relying on great teamwork, superhuman accomplishments by many people across the team, and by staying true to our Core Value #4: Positivity.”

Other repeat honorees include 540.co, Enterprise Knowledge, Sehlke Consulting and IDS International Group.

The full list of Arlington companies is as follows:

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Morning Notes

Peak Heat, Statistically Speaking — “Based on history, we are now at the hottest point of the summer. While it can still be brutally hot in the weeks ahead (and probably will be at times), we are about to begin our gradual descent into winter, using average temps.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

Arlington Home Prices Keep Rising — “A total of 369 properties went to closing last month, up 62 percent from 228 in June 2020… The average price of single-family homes in the county was $1,217,376 last month, up 9.8 percent from $1,109,179.” [Sun Gazette]

Protected Bikes Lanes for HQ2? — “Amazon.com Inc.’s newest PenPlace design would add protected bike lanes along a key roadway adjacent to the 11.6-acre campus and a new bike share station near the planned ‘Helix’ tower. During Arlington’s Long Range Planning Committee’s virtual meeting Tuesday, Amazon’s HQ2 landscape architect Scape presented its revised vision for the site’s 2.1 acres of open space and transportation networks.” [Washington Business Journal]

Woman Finds Bullet Hole in Window — “3900 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 6:09 a.m. on July 13, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was awoken at approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 12 to a loud pop sound. The following morning, she discovered a bullet hole in her window.” [ACPD]

Affordable Apartments Set for Renovation — “Arlington County is backing away from plans to buy part of the Park Shirlington apartment complex in South Arlington as the developers are instead pitching a full renovation of the affordable community. The county is set to deliver a $22.7 million loan to power the rehabilitation of all 293 units on the 15.7-acre parcel.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Is a ‘Top Digital County’ — “Arlington County is once again ranked among the top digital counties in the nation. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties has named Arlington to the No. 2 spot for their 2021 awards in the 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]

New Record for W-L IB Program — “W-L students surpassed their worldwide peers in diploma pass rate, average score pass rate, and the average points earned by diploma candidates. In addition, the overall pass rate for all W-L students participating in [International Baccalaureate] classes, including Diploma Candidates and Course Candidates, is the highest in the 25-year history of IB at W-L at 92.6%.” [Arlington Public Schools]

‘Arlington Tech’ Students Earn Degree — “Seven Arlington Tech Class of 2021 graduates are the first APS students to earn Associates Degrees by taking courses offered through both Arlington Tech and the Career Center.” [Arlington Public Schools]

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Arlington is once again “America’s Fittest City,” according to the annual American Fitness Index rankings.

The new 2021 rankings were released this morning by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation. It’s at least the third year in a row that Arlington ranked No. 1 on the list.

“Arlington, Virginia, earned its #1 designation by ranking first in eight indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 18 of the 34 categories,” the organizations said in a press release. “Residents reported the most physical activity with 85.7% exercising in the previous month. In the lowest-ranked city, Lubbock, Texas, only 64.2% of residents exercised in the previous month.”

Being a healthier place has benefits beyond just wellness, experts say.

“Beyond the health and wellness benefits of being a fit city, we know there are many economic advantages as well,” Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., the chief health officer for Anthem, said in a statement. “Cities designed to encourage physical activity have enjoyed higher home values, business and job growth, and more robust retail activity — leading to overall improved social drivers of health for our communities.

Separately, Virginia was again named America’s Top State for Business this morning by CNBC.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti is scheduled to be presented with an award by ACSM members at county government headquarters in Courthouse later this morning.

Rounding out the top 25 on the latest “fit” list were:

  1. Arlington, VA
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Denver, CO
  5. Madison, WI
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Paul, MN
  8. Irvine, CA
  9. Portland, OR
  10. Atlanta, GA
  11. Oakland, CA
  12. Boston, MA
  13. San Francisco, CA
  14. Chicago, IL
  15. San Diego, CA
  16. Buffalo, NY
  17. Boise, ID
  18. Sacramento, CA
  19. Austin, TX
  20. San Jose, CA
  21. New York, NY
  22. Lincoln, NE
  23. Honolulu, HI
  24. Pittsburgh, PA
  25. Miami, FL
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Morning Notes

Preservation Battle Brewing — “The historic-preservation advocate who launched a community-driven, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, effort to save the Rouse estate on Wilson Boulevard, is on a new quest. Tom Dickinson has filed paperwork with county officials seeking historic-district status for an East Falls Church home, despite the likelihood that the current property owner aims to raze the home and redevelop the 0.29-acre parcel.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Ranks No. 39 Healthiest in U.S.Updated at 9:20 a.m. — “U.S. News and World Report, in its annual assessment of the ‘healthiest communities in the U.S.,’ has given a staggering third place finish to the City of Falls Church in its latest edition. That’s ahead of all other entities in the entire nation, except for Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Douglas County, Colorado. The magazine listed the top 500 entities in the U.S., and others in this area to finish near the top were Loudoun County at No. 4, Fairfax County at No. 14 and Arlington County at No. 39, the City of Alexandria at No. 124 and Fauquier County at No. 195.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tattoo Shop Opening New Clarendon Location — “Regency’s The Crossing Clarendon is excited to welcome Lady Octopus Tattoos to its second local storefront in the Arlington, VA area later this year. Run by artist Gilda Acosta and co-owner Jonathan Reed, the custom tattoo shop offers high-quality tattoo artistry in addition to selling brand merchandise including t-shirts, enamel pins and more.” [Regency Centers]

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