Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

School Reopening Protest Tonight — “Arlington parents frustrated by Arlington Public Schools’ unwillingness to add more in-person instructional days this school year will rally ahead of the next school board meeting to let their voices be heard… [from] 5:30-7 p.m., ahead of the next Arlington County School Board meeting.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets ‘Tree City USA’ Designation — “The Arlington County government on April 30 will receive its 24th annual ‘Tree City USA’ designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation, honoring the community’s efforts in tree planting and preservation. The award will be presented at the county’s annual Arbor Day celebration, an affair downscaled due to the pandemic but slated to be held at Carlin Springs Elementary School.” [Sun Gazette]

County Thanks Vax Volunteers — “We want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to the staff and volunteers at our vaccination sites. From supply chain management, to organizing a visitor line, to giving the shot itself, we’re grateful for this amazing crew for all they do to make it happen!” [Facebook]

Petition to Rename DCA Goes Viral — A Georgetown University freshman’s online petition to rename Reagan National Airport after teen singer, dancer and actor JoJo Siwa has received more than 3,000 votes. [Change.org, DCist]

Photo courtesy Leslie Koch

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Morning Notes

Final Departure for Gate 35X — Reagan National Airport’s notorious Gate 35X served its last unhappy passengers last night. A newly-built, fully-indoor concourse opens today. [WTOP, Twitter, Twitter, The Points Guy]

Rosslyn Resident Makes Big Donation to UNC — “The University of North Carolina at Pembroke… has received a $6 million planned gift — the second largest in the university’s history — from former trustee Mary Ann Elliott to name the McKenzie-Elliott School of Nursing.” Elliott is a Rosslyn resident and former aerospace executive. [Yahoo]

Thursday Is Earth Day — “It might be easy to overlook Earth Day this time around, even in Arlington. Vaccine progress indicates better days ahead; in-person classes are returning; the air is visibly cleaner, and winter failed to freeze growth in bike sales and trail use. But Earth Day, April 22, has always offered a good pause to note long-term progress and dig below the surface. Just ask the periodical cicadas, due to reappear any moment after 17 years of silence.” [Arlington County]

History of the Pentagon’s Waterfront — “Today it’s home to the Pentagon, but around the turn of the 20th century, the riverfront area just north of National Landing was a seedy district known as Jackson City. A haven for drinkers, gamblers and daredevils, its attractions included, among other things, a half-mile-long racetrack near the foot of the 14th Street Bridge used for horse racing, and later, drag racing. Some even referred to it as a ‘Miniature Monte Carlo.'” [Arlington Magazine]

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Covid Testing Unit Coming to Marymount — “The mobile testing unit, operated by Quest Diagnostics, will operate at the university in the parking lot by Reinsch Library, from April 19 – May 7, open Monday-Friday from 9 AM – 4 PM. It will offer no-cost, no-appointment COVID-19 testing to the general public, as well as Marymount students, staff and faculty.” [Arlington County]

School Board Candidate’s Emails FOIAed — “Arlington School Board candidate Mary Kadera said a political opposition-research effort is unlikely to turn up any dirt on her. In a note to supporters, Kadera (one of two candidates in the upcoming Democratic caucus) noted that a local resident had submitted a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act in order to gain access to all the e-mails she has sent to School Board members over the past two years.” [Sun Gazette]

Wakefield Alums Push for Accountability — “Members of the Wakefield High School community are pushing for more accountability and action in the wake of a March 5 football game where players on George C. Marshall High School’s football team allegedly used racial slurs against Wakefield players. In a letter sent Wednesday, alumni, parents and staff members at Wakefield — one of four public high schools in Arlington County — said they were ‘horrified’ by the events that occurred at the March 5 game.” [Patch]

Rosslyn Developer Dies — “Stanley Westreich, a commercial real estate developer whose projects helped define and shape Rosslyn’s skyline, died April 11 at his residence in San Diego. His cause of death was not disclosed. He was 83. Westreich and Westfield Realty… helped establish the Arlington neighborhood with 10 projects, most notably the Gannett and USA Today towers, now known as the Towers at 1000 and 1100 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

No Founding Farmers at DCA Yet — “It turns out that Founding Farmers won’t open a restaurant inside Reagan National Airport’s new 14-gate concourse, though it is still weighing one elsewhere within the complex. The Kensington-based company has scrapped plans… [it] was expected to join other restaurant and retail tenants there including Elevation Burger, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill and Timber Pizza Co.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Murder Outside Skyline Target — “A man was found dead this morning inside a parking garage in Bailey’s Crossroads. Officers responded around 3:30 a.m. to the 5100 block of Leesburg Pike after 58-year-old Hernan Leiva, of Falls Church, was found suffering from apparent stab wounds and blunt force trauma to his upper body… [a 22-year-old Alexandria man later] returned to a parking lot near the scene and turned himself into police.” [Fairfax County Police, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by C Buoscio

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Morning Notes

APS to Offer Coronavirus Testing — “Beginning the week of April 19, APS will begin providing free medical testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Walk-up testing will be conducted after school hours with parent/guardian consent. Walk-up testing sites at Glebe Elementary, Kenmore Middle and Wakefield High Schools provide trained staff to assist in mid-nasal swab testing using the RT-PCR test after school hours.” [Arlington Public Schools]

New DCA Concourse Opening Next Week — “The shuttle buses will soon be relocated to Philadelphia. And the air stairs, no more. After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X. American Airlines will begin service Tuesday out of the new concourse.” [Washington Post, NBC 4, DCist]

New Concessions Coming to DCA — Timber Pizza Co. and Peet’s Coffee are among the new food and drink options coming to National Airport and its new concourse. [Twitter, Twitter]

Group Rallies for Affordable Housing –“I’m at a rally hosted by the ACE Collaborative, community organizers who work with Asian American residents in Arlington. They’re in [Pentagon City] this evening, asking the county to take steps to end displacement as rents rise. In the immediate term, the group is calling for the county to add $8 million to its housing grant program in the next budget.” [Twitter]

Car Fire on GW Parkway — “ACFD is on scene of a vehicle fire on the GW Parkway near Spout Run. The vehicle is fully engulfed in flames, per the first arriving firefighters.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Animal Control Saves Turtle — “We need to thank Officer Davis for helping this snapping turtle, who was trying to cross I-395 during rush hour. Thankfully, she was able to safely remove him, bring him to the shelter for a check-up, and then release him back into the wild where he belongs!” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Sentencing in Arlington Cold Case — “A Virginia cold case closed Thursday as Jose Rodriguez-Cruz was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Stafford County for the killing of his wife. Marta Rodriguez went missing from Arlington in 1989, when her son, Hansel Rodriguez, was just four years old… ‘It almost felt like I was able to breathe for the first time in many years,’ said Hansel, now 36.” [NBC 4]

Wheel Theft Spree Along Columbia Pike — “On April 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. The investigations determined that between 6:30 p.m. on April 6 and 7:35 a.m. April 7, the suspect(s) removed all four tires and rims from the four victim vehicles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

DCA Traveler Traffic Recovering — “The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that passenger originations at Reagan National were down 68.9 percent in March compared to the pre-pandemic March 2019. In a way, that’s positive news – Reagan National typically has been down 80 percent even as airports in other parts of the country have started to see rebounds.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD Salutes Fallen Officer — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “[On Wednesday] we detailed crews along the I-66 overpasses to salute fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Billy Evans as his procession passed through @ArlingtonVA. Doing this twice within a few months hurts. We’re keeping Officer Evan’s family and the USCP in our thoughts & prayers.” [Twitter]

Firefighters Push for Higher Pay Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Brian Lynch, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (APFPA), called on the Arlington County Board Tuesday to implement a pay increase for county firefighters when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. ‘Being firefighters has always meant risking our lives for others,’ Lynch said, during a Tuesday night public hearing.” [Patch]

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Vihstadt Helps ‘Our Revolution’ Join CivFed — “One of the strongest voices supporting ORA’s membership was that of John Vihstadt, former County Board member and life-long Republican. Many Republicans today consider organizations such as Our Revolution to be, at the very least, card-carrying members of ‘Antifa’… Vihstadt pointed out that, ‘although he was one of the ‘non-Democrats’ that One Revolution did not support’ in his last political outing, ORA should be admitted to CivFed because it clearly ‘contributes to the civic dialogue.'” [Blue Virginia]

Ballston Business Slated to Go Public — “Privia Health Group, Inc., a technology-driven, national physician enablement company that collaborates with medical groups, health plans and health systems, announced today that it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a proposed initial public offering of shares of its common stock… Privia Health intends to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol ‘PRVA.'” [BusinessWire]

ACPD Raising Child Abuse Awareness — “April is recognized as both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. ACPD is sharing information on available resources and programs in our community to help raise public awareness about child abuse and sexual violence. In support of efforts to reduce the incidences and severity of child abuse and neglect, many members of ACPD are wearing blue ribbons, pins and bracelets during the month of April.” [ACPD, Twitter]

Animal Control Helps Lost Baby Fox — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “A local homeowner heard a tiny cry coming from their garden and discovered this baby fox, alone and crying for his mother…  Knowing that his mom was very likely somewhere nearby, [animal control officers] placed him into a basket and placed him in a safe spot in the garden. The homeowner kept an eye on him the rest of the day, and we are happy to report that by the next morning, the mother had safely retrieved her baby!” [Facebook]

Goodbye, DCA Gate 35X — “Let’s get right to it: It was a bus station. A bus station in an airport. It was two places you’d rather not be, melded into one place… It was a funnel, a choke point, a cattle call. One gate, as many as 6,000 travelers per day. The ceilings were lower. The seats were all taken, as were the electrical outlets. There was no bathroom down there, no vending machine, no water fountain. Dante’s circles were over-invoked.” [Washington Post]

‘Arlington Superwoman’ Hailed — “She’s helped tons of local families get food on the table but her calling to give back goes way beyond food insecurity for those who are struggling during the pandemic. To some, this Arlington immigrant from El Salvador is a local hero. The struggle Mariflor Ventura has seen first hand brings her to tears.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Manager: Say No to Rouse Historic Designation — “With much of the physical infrastructure on the site now a pile of rubble, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz wants County Board members to throw in the towel on designating parts of the Rouse estate parcel as a local historic district… While recommending that the County Board reject the historic designation, Schwartz also proposes that staff be directed to come back by October with a report on potential ways the site could be incorporated into Arlington’s historic-preservation and/or affordable-housing efforts.” [Sun Gazette]

Police Looking for Missing ManUpdated at 8:45 a.m. —  The Fairfax County Police helicopter assisted with the search for a missing Arlington man Sunday afternoon. Early his morning, ACPD announced: “[The missing man] has been safely located. Thank you to everyone who assisted by sharing this information.” [Twitter, NBC 4]

DCA Noise Meeting Tonight — “An online public meeting on April 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. will discuss aircraft noise north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The Aircraft Noise Mitigation Study meeting, to be hosted by Montgomery County (Md.) Council member Andrew Friedson and Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, is a follow-up of a meeting held last year by those localities.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Cites Va. As Example for Voting Rights — “UPDATE: @Amazon says it opposes state efforts to limit voting rights, urges states to follow Virginia’s lead and make it easier to vote.” [Twitter]

Wakefield Makes Football Playoffs — “For the second straight season and third time in four campaigns, the Wakefield Warriors have qualified for the football region playoffs. Wakefield (4-1, 3-1) clinched a 6D North Region Tournament berth with a 13-0 home victory over the Falls Church Jaguars on April 1 in National District action. It was the team’s final regular-season contest in this condensed high-school schedule.” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: Water Switch in Effect Today — “It’s… that time of year again: the time when your tap water starts to smell a bit like a swimming pool… On Monday, April 5 the disinfectant used in Arlington County’s drinking water will be temporarily switched from chloramine to chlorine.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: New Store Coming to Bailey’s Xroads — “Five Below is moving into the former Pier One space at the Bailey’s Crossroads Shopping Center. Pier One closed in early 2020. Five Below specializes in items for teens and tweens mostly priced at $5 or less. The stores feature toys, snacks, cosmetics, room décor, sports items, accessories, party supplies, and $5 t-shirts.” [Annandale Blog]

Photo courtesy Christina Schnoor

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A fleet of drones will take to the skies above Arlington next month in an effort to figure out how many deer call the county home.

The drones will be piloted by a firm contracted by the county and overseen by Arlington County police. Normally, drone flights this close to D.C. are strictly prohibited, but Arlington is being granted special permission by the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies. The county is also coordinating with Reagan National Airport.

The drones will look for heat signatures in the woods in order to develop a count of Arlington’s white-tailed deer. This will be “the first accurate measure of Arlington’s deer population,” the county says, noting that “only anecdotal data… currently exists.”

The dones will be launched just before sunrise on Monday, April 5 and the count will continue until just after sunset, for up to two weeks.

The county is careful to note that the drones will only be looking for deer and will “not identify people.”

More from a county press release, below.

Arlington County has hired a contractor to perform a drone survey of heat signatures of the County’s white-tailed deer population. The survey information will assist with the development of the County’s Forestry and Natural Resources Plan. The survey will only collect heat signatures of deer and does not identify people.

“We’ve all seen deer in the County at one time or another,” said Alonso Abugattas, the County’s Natural Resource Manager. “We’d like more than just anecdotal evidence. We want to clearly see how many and where they are so we can mindfully steward our natural resources.”

Thermal and infrared imagery has helped improve counting by relating animals’ unique heat and visibility signatures to precisely count only deer. In one study, it was shown that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, can be about 43-96% more accurate than ground or human-made observations in counting wildlife. Montgomery County, MD, has conducted UAV deer surveys in locations throughout Montgomery to determine carrying capacity.

The drones will be flying over Arlington beginning a half hour before sunrise April 5 (weather permitting) each day until 30 minutes after sunset, until the survey is completed. They will not be flying at night. The survey could take up to two weeks but is weather dependent. Drones are not permitted to fly over Arlington except for very limited instances. Arlington has coordinated the project with US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Association (FAA), Transportation Security Administration, Ronald Reagan National Airport, and Arlington County Police Department (ACPD). In accordance with FAA guidelines, ACPD will be onsite monitoring the drone flights.

This will be the first accurate measure of Arlington’s deer population. Only anecdotal data on Arlington currently exists. By 1900, white-tailed deer population had been destroyed in most of Virginia. Through the 1940’s to 1980’s with restocking efforts, laws protecting deer and favorable habitat, deer have rebounded at an exponential rate in Virginia.

Accurate data will determine Arlington’s deer carrying capacity. Deer are important and a necessary aspect of wildlife with important wildlife functions when in balance with the surrounding habitat. Per the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, the carrying capacity for deer can vary widely between and within communities. Data from the surveys will help determine Arlington’s carrying capacity.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Statements of Support for AAPI Community — “Arlington Public Schools condemns racism and all expressions of hate, bias and discrimination. The horrific shootings in Atlanta earlier this week are a tragic reminder of the increase in violent attacks, hate speech and discrimination targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We grieve with the families of the victims of the shootings in Atlanta on March 16 and share the sorrow of all who stand against hate and discrimination.” [Arlington Public Schools, Press Release]

Opposition to Zoning Proposal — “The proposal has nevertheless attracted some pushback from Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, a community group that has begun organizing opposition to the county’s housing efforts on the grounds that Arlington hasn’t properly prepared for additional growth… Other affected neighborhoods, including Green Valley in South Arlington, also offered opposition.” [Washington Business Journal]

Citizen Group Wants Tree Update — “‘Don’t call us, but we promise we’ll call you’ appears to sum up the Arlington County government’s reaction to an Arlington County Civic Federation call for an expeditious effort to update an analysis of the county’s tree canopy… The Arlington government last conducted a tree inventory in 2016, reporting the findings in 2017. The roughly 750,000 trees in the county’s 26 square miles cover about 41 percent of the county’s ground area.” [Sun Gazette]

Chainsaw Art Coming to Lyon Park — “This summer, Mallon is scheduled to do chainsaw sculptures on three stumps trees near the community center in Arlington’s Lyon Park, a community-owned park in the county. Mallon, who grew up in Arlington, said he usually brings about five chainsaws to a project, depending on the level of detail of the work.” [Patch]

GOP Gov. Candidate in Arlington — Glenn Youngkin, a Republican candidate for governor, made a campaign appearance at the Crystal City Sports Pub over the weekend. The event was criticized by Democrats for its crowd of maskless supporters. [Twitter, Twitter]

Airport Passenger Volume Going Up — “TSA screened 1,543,115 people yesterday, Sunday, March 21. The last time checkpoint throughput topped 1.5 million was March 15, 2020.” [Twitter]

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Tornado Drill Today — “Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.” [Va. Dept. of Emergency Management]

Pentagon Row Harris Teeter’s Future in Flux — “Despite concerns from nearby residents, Arlington County Board members on March 20 could give the owner of Pentagon Row the ability to, potentially, significantly downsize grocery-store operations… Located on a 15-acre parcel in Pentagon City, the site has long included a Harris-Teeter supermarket. But that initial lease term is expiring, and there is no guarantee the supermarket chain will want to stay in the existing space.” [Sun Gazette]

Coronavirus Tests Available at DCA — “Coronavirus testing launched Monday at Reagan National and Washington Dulles International airports, which became the latest airports across the country to offer the tests. The centers are outside the security checkpoints at both airports and are operated by XpresCheck, which runs centers at a number of U.S. airports.” [Washington Post]

New Building to Have Temporary Hotel Rooms — “Arlington County Board members next month are expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of the 809-unit property at 1555 Wilson Blvd. is asking permission to use 100 of the residential units as hotel space starting in late summer. Eventually, the units would revert to their originally intended purpose.” [Sun Gazette]

Cherry Blossom Sculptures Arrive in Arlington — From the National Landing BID: “Two official @CherryBlossFest sculptures have landed! One at the Esplanade at Long Bridge Park and one at the Crystal City Water Park. They will be up through May 31.” [Twitter]

Bill Would Allow 15 MPH Speed Limits in Va. — “Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General Assembly session, however, would change that, permitting posted speed limits to drop as low as 15 mph. A ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge, but for pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of traffic collisions, the change could mean the difference between life and death.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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It’s an idea that’s still years away, but a new pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to National Airport is getting a bit closer to reality.

At its upcoming Saturday meeting, the County Board is set to take a significant step in the creation of the proposed “High Line”-like pedestrian path over the GW Parkway.

“The Board will consider approving a $4.23 million contract, awarded through a competitive bidding process, for the conceptual design and environmental review for a Crystal City-National Airport Multimodal Connector,” according to Arlington County, in a preview of the meeting’s agenda. “The connector would link Crystal City’s core and the airport, meeting the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and micro-mobility users of all ages and abilities.”

“Currently, pedestrians and bicyclists must navigate a circuitous network of trails and crossings to traverse the 2,000 feet from Crystal Drive to the airport terminals,” the County notes.

The cost of the design and review process will come out of $9.5 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds already allocated by the Board. The process is expected to take several years.

From a staff report to the County Board:

This project is included in the adopted Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) under Transportation, Crystal City Streets. Funding for the project’s Conceptual Design and Environmental Planning/NEPA Documentation services will be provided entirely through $9.5 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia for this purpose. There is no local matching fund requirement for this federal funding. The duration of work performed under this contract will last approximately three to four years. The scope of work includes an optional task for the Consultant to advance the project’s conceptual design completed during the EIS to the Preliminary Engineering level and prepare the bidding documents to advertise the project using a Design-Build construction delivery methodology. The costs associated with the optional task are not included and will be negotiated later, if this task is needed.

The winning bidder for the project was Boston-based civil engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin. Staff noted that the company’s bid was largely in line with independent cost estimates.

The National Landing Business Improvement District, which has championed the “CC2DCA” project, even funding its own feasibility study, said in a statement today that it will help make the already transit-accessible neighborhood more connected.

“The National Landing BID’s CC2DCA feasibility study championed a bold concept and created a captivating vision for iconic infrastructure and next generation mobility, and we are thrilled that Arlington County is now considering this important next step towards making it a reality,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, President and Executive Director of the National Landing BID.

“When completed, the CC2DCA Intermodal Connector will link a multitude of transportation assets with a safe and enjoyable 5-minute walk to the airport,” Gabriel added. “This pivotal addition to our existing network will position National Landing to continue to attract investment, spur economic growth and enhance the vitality of our growing urban center.”

The total project cost for the connector, including design and construction, was previously estimated at just over $36 million. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority committed $18 million in regional transportation funding to the project last year.

Illustrative rendering via National Landing BID

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