Big Changes Planned for Ballston Church — The Central United Methodist Church at 4201 Fairfax Drive in Ballston is planning a complete redevelopment of its 30,000 square foot property. Preliminary plans have been filed to build “a new church, a new preschool space, and a seven-story, 132-unit apartment building — 60 percent market-rate and 40 percent dedicated affordable.” [Washington Business Journal]
McAuliffe Signs Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed two pieces of education legislation at Wakefield High School yesterday, as pictured above. The new laws “will lead to an overhaul of the state’s high school graduation requirements, aiming to make high school more relevant to the working world” and better supporting students who start a career after high school. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Reagan Airport Bridge Closed This Weekend — Starting at 11 p.m. tonight, through early Monday morning, drivers heading to Reagan National Airport will not be able to access it via the Route 233 bridge over Jefferson Davis Highway. Ongoing construction prompted the planned closure. [Patch]
Solar House for Sale — A “one-of-a-kind luxury home” is for sale in Cherrydale. The five-bedroom house features a 10KW photovoltaic solar panel array, an energy recovery ventilation system, two-story screened porch, two-car garage, third floor loft with wet bar, a 560 square foot rooftop deck, exercise room with yoga/MMA flooring and an outdoor shower. It’s listed at just under $1.9 million. [Truplace]
Reminder: Chamber Hosts Candidate Forum Monday — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is hosting a County Board candidate forum this coming Monday. The forum, featuring a discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, is taking place from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Boulevard). Democrats Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall, and independent Audrey Clement, are set to participate in the forum, which will be moderated by ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. Tickets are $10. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Photo via Arlington County
Firings at Peter Chang After Receipt Incident — Three employees have reportedly been fired and the chef’s own daughter is also on the chopping block at Peter Chang restaurant along Lee Highway. The firings come after a server included the insults “i have a small penis” and “im a plad [sic] a**hole” on a customer receipt. Chang has promised to improve service at his restaurant. [Washington Post]
Arlington Restaurants on Cheap Eats List — More than a dozen Arlington eateries have been included in Washingtonian magazine’s list of the top 100 inexpensive restaurants in the D.C. area. Among them: Bayou Bakery, Cheesetique, Pupatella, Ray’s Hell Burger, Yona and Peter Chang. [Washingtonian]
Video of Track Issue at Court House Station — A video taken inside the Court House Metro station shows sparks and smoldering from the track area. The video comes after a number of well-publicized electrical issues at Metro. “It was kind of weird watching infrastructure fail before my very eyes,” said the man who took the video. [Washington Post]
Tech Company Saves the Day for Theft Victims — Course Hero, a Silicon Valley-based company that provides study materials, has paid for a scholarship for the Penn State student whose mom left her purse, with $10,000 in tuition money inside, in an
Arlington Falls Church Dunkin Donuts. Police still have not found the woman who stole the purse. [NBC Washington]
Most of Crystal City Could Change Hands — Vornado, the property owner that owns more than half of the square footage in Crystal City, is considering spinning off its D.C. properties from those it owns in New York. [Washington Post]
D.C. Complaining About DCA Flights — D.C.’s attorney general has sent an email to the FAA asking that flights to and from Reagan National Airport be shifted away from the District. In 2015 the FAA received 8,670 noise complaints from those in the District, 6,500 of them from the same person. [Washington Post]
From 9 a.m. to noon, emergency responders will swarm “a remote area of the airfield” as part of a a simulated aircraft accident. The exercise will include a period of fire and smoke, 120 volunteer “victims,” multiple support helicopters and a river rescue response.
Nearby residents can expect to hear and/or see the exercise in progress.
“The full-scale emergency preparedness exercise, which is the culmination of months of planning and coordination across multiple jurisdictions and disciplines, is part of Federal Aviation Administration-mandated safety training to ensure airports are prepared for real-life aircraft emergencies,” notes a press release. “Airports are required to conduct a full-scale exercise every three years in order to be certified by the FAA.”
The rest of the press release is below.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will hold an emergency preparedness exercise on Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to approximately 12 p.m. A simulated aircraft accident will give the airport’s first responders an opportunity to put their emergency plans into action while providing hands-on training to airport and airline staff, hospitals, local jurisdictions and other emergency personnel. During the exercise, emergency personnel will respond as in a real emergency, including the use of sirens, firefighting equipment and helicopters.
The exercise will be held in a remote area of the airfield and will not affect normal airport operations or flights. Although the site will not be visible to most passengers, reminders about the exercise will be announced on Saturday morning via flyreagan.com, @Reagan_Airport on Twitter and public address systems in the airport.
Specifics of the exercise scenario have not been shared in advance with responding participants. The exercise will include the following elements to add realism to the simulated emergency:
- Participation by Airports Authority Fire and Rescue, Police and Airport Operations personnel
- Numerous emergency vehicles responding as mutual aid support from surrounding communities
- A brief period of fire and smoke
- Conversations between dispatchers and responders on emergency radio frequencies
- About 120 volunteer role players, moulaged to simulate injuries sustained from the incident
- Support helicopters responding to the emergency exercise
- A river rescue emergency response
PLEASE NOTE: Some of the exercise elements may be seen or heard on Saturday morning from areas surrounding the airport – especially in Arlington and Alexandria near U.S. Route 1, George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395 and along the Potomac River near the airport.
Big Tree Down on Washington Blvd — A large tree fell across power lines on Washington Blvd just south of Virginia Hospital Center during Saturday night and Sunday morning’s windstorm. Washington Blvd was closed between George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street for much of the day Sunday while Dominion crews repaired the lines. [Twitter, Twitter]
Photos: DCA Airport Strike — DCist has photos from last week’s 24 hour strike of contract service workers at Reagan National Airport. [DCist]
Arlington Signs on to Amicus Brief — Arlington was among more than 50 counties and cities that signed on to an amicus brief in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions from power plants. [Columbia Law School, Twitter]
Capital Improvement Plan Survey — Through April 22, Arlington County is conducting an online survey of residents that will help guide decision-making during the upcoming Capital Improvement Plan process. The CIP helps to plan “major investments in parks, libraries, transportation, community centers, facilities, technology, water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure — along with other areas that support the community.” [Arlington County]
‘The Burbs Are Back’ in Office Leasing — Arlington and other suburban D.C. jurisdictions are showing a bit of strength in the office leasing market. “The suburbs accounted for 69.5 percent of Washington region’s leasing activity in the first quarter, up substantially from a 52.9 percent share in 2015, according to JLL’s quarterly market reports.” [Virginia Business]
TSA Move Delayed Until 2020 — The Transportation Security Administration will be staying put at its Pentagon City headquarters until at least 2020. The TSA had planned to move to Alexandria by 2018, but legal wrangling has delayed the move and forced the TSA to redo its leasing process. [Washington Business Journal]
PSA: Don’t Do This — Spotted in Clarendon: a young woman urinating while sitting on a bench along a busy street, at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. [Twitter]
Metro Delays This Morning — Metro is experiencing big delays on the Blue and Orange lines after reports that a teenage girl intentionally jumped onto the tracks at the Eastern Market station. The Blue and Orange line is single-tracking between Eastern Market and Federal Center, while the Silver Line is only operating between Wiehle-Reston and Ballston. [Hill Now, Twitter, Twitter]
Gondola Feasibility Study Gets Eight Responses — Eight firms have responded to a Request for Proposals to conduct a feasibility study of a Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola system. The team for the study is expected to be chosen in about a month. The study is expected to be complete by the end of the year. [UrbanTurf]
Fire Danger Today — There’s an enhanced threat of brush fires today, even in Arlington. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the area as low humidity and gusty winds combine for a significant fire danger. “Any fires will have the potential to spread very rapidly,” NWS says. [National Weather Service]
Parking Lots Crowded at DCA — Spring break and the Easter weekend are combining for a busy week and crowded parking lots at Reagan National Airport. As of this morning, the airport’s 2,613-space economy lot is full and there are only a few hundred spaces left in the 5,223-space Terminal B/C garages. [Twitter, Fly Reagan]
AYD Date Auction Next Week — The Arlington Young Democrats will hold their 15th annual charity date auction this coming Tuesday. Eligible bachelors and bachelorettes — along with face time with prominent elected officials — will be auctioned off to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center. [Arlington Young Dems]
Earlier: Airline service workers at Reagan National Airport are planning what’s being described as a first-ever strike starting tonight.
Contract wheelchair attendants, skycaps, baggage handlers, checkpoint agents and cabin cleaners are planning to join fellow airport workers in eight different cities in a 24-hour strike for better working conditions and a $15 per hour minimum wage.
“DCA’s contracted airport service workers are excluded from the airport’s living wage law and earn as little as $3.77 plus tips with few meaningful benefits,” the 32BJ SEIU labor union said, in a press release.
Workers will be striking in the B and C terminals of the airport, 32BJ SEIU said. On Wednesday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., workers will hold a rally at Gravelly Point Park, near the airport.
Among those planning to address striking airport workers at the rally are Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Rev. Graylan Hagle.
The action follows a protest by DCA airport workers in January that blocked traffic near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in MLK Day.
After the jump, the full press release from 32BJ SEIU.
Photo via Facebook
Police Seek Witness in Pentagon City Investigation — Arlington County Police are trying to find a witness who rendered aid to an injured man found face down in the street in Pentagon City. The incident happened around 9:30 p.m. on February 25, on the 1200 block of S. Eads Street. The 65-year-old man remains in critical but stable condition. [Arlington County]
Group Forms to Oppose Gun Store — Updated at 11:05 a.m. — A group called Act4LyonPark has formed to oppose NOVA Armory, the gun store that’s planning to open on March 26 at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. So far, Act4LyonPark has raised $6,300 to support its activities. The group says that in a recent vote, 88 percent of residents who responded voted for the Lyon Park Citizens Association to take an official stance against the gun shop.
Board to Consider Relaxed Historic Rules for Schools — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote Saturday on a proposal to make it easier for Arlington Public Schools to make changes to schools within local historic districts. The proposal would remove schools from the oversight of the county’s rigid Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board. Facing a school capacity crunch, APS says going through HALRB adds unnecessary delays and costs to projects. [InsideNova]
One Person Filed 6,500 Noise Complaints Against DCA — A single individual is responsible for 6,500 of the 8,670 noise complaints filed against Reagan National Airport last year, according to the airports authority. [WTOP]
Chamber Savors Hotel Tax Victory — With Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge reinstated, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is celebrating a long-awaited legislative victory. “Reinstating Arlington’s [Transient Occupancy Tax] was the Chamber’s top priority for the 2016 legislative session, with the funds generated by the additional TOT providing much needed support to ensure that Arlington remains competitive in attracting leisure and business travel,” said Chamber president and CEO Kate Roche. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
The feds join Arlington County government and public schools in closing Monday due to poor road conditions. Many neighborhood streets remain treacherous, covered with snow and ice that plows have yet to remove.
Arlington County trash and recycling collection service has been cancelled Monday and Tuesday.
ART bus service will be running sporadically Monday. The transit service says ART 41, 51, and 55 routes will run every 30 minutes from noon to 5 p.m. Monday. Other routes will remain suspended.
Reagan National and Dulles International airports, meanwhile, are reopening Monday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said Sunday night.
The National Park Service announced Sunday that the northbound GW Parkway would remain closed between Spout Run and the Beltway until at least noon on Monday.
The full Monday closure message, from OPM:
*FEDERAL OFFICES* in the Washington, DC area are *CLOSED*. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency’s policies, including written telework agreements.
/*Non-emergency employees*/ will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:
* required to telework,
* on official travel outside of the Washington, DC area,
* on pre-approved leave (including leave without pay), or
* on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.
/*Telework-Ready Employees*/ who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements (as consistent with law).
/*Emergency Employees*/ are expected to report to their worksite unless otherwise directed by their agencies.
The press release from MWAA:
Reagan National and Dulles International will each have at least one runway open for flight operations beginning Monday morning, January 25.
We expect airlines to operate limited flight schedules at both airports throughout the day on Monday. Passengers should check with their airlines for information about their specific flights.
Snow crews at both Reagan National and Dulles International continue to work around the clock to clear runways, taxiways, roadways and parking lots in anticipation of the resumption of flights on Monday. Our priority is the safety of passengers and employees traveling to and from the airports. Travelers are encouraged to use caution when driving to the airports and plan extra time, as larger than normal crowds are possible.
It’s the calm before the storm.
TSA security lines were short, and passengers moved through in unusually quick fashion.
But the tranquility was temporary, according a friendly TSA officer on break who declined to be identified. “We’re about to get slammed,” he said. “Come back around [3 p.m.] and see the difference.”
In the first community meeting dedicated to discussing helicopter operations and noise in Arlington, residents found their concerns stuck between federal air traffic regulations and required military practices throughout the metro area.
Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey hosted the meeting last Wednesday night as part of an ongoing effort to hear and address resident concerns about noise pollution, specifically near Reagan National Airport.
The meeting’s panel included representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the military, including the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
“It’s definitely our intent to fly friendly and to support the local community as much as possible,” Colonel Timothy Brown said at the meeting. Brown is a Commander in the U.S. Army Air Operations Group.
“This is a great feedback opportunity for us to take lessons and really work on training and communicating with our pilots so that everyone is able to support this goal as much as we can within the restraints of the airspace that we’re operating in,” he added.
However, as residents and representatives from neighborhoods closest to the airport shared their concerns, a disconnect between FAA regulations and military operations became clear, making it difficult for the selected panel to properly address questions.
“We monitor and grant approval in and out of the airspace, but we take care of civil aircraft in that area,” said Rebecca Cointin of the FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy. “I want to make it clear that we do not have a lot of regulation over noise produced by military aircraft. The FAA does not control, certify or regulate them.”
According to the panelists, 75 percent of the air traffic in the area is military, and the remaining 25 percent is law enforcement, medical evacuations and the civil aircraft Cointin referred to.
What the FAA does regulate is safe areas in which military aircraft can operate so as to not come into conflict with the civilian aircraft. The military has determined routes in the approved airspace for helicopters flying in and out of Reagan National, including along Route 7 and Route 1.
“We fly the route structure we do because it’s the safest way to fly in that airspace,” the Marine Corps Commander said, using a road analogy to explain why military aircraft tend to fly on either side of corridors like I-395 rather than directly above it. “When we’re flying those routes, they’re like highways in the sky. Unfortunately, we don’t dictate them. We operate via the FAA. We’re just the operators trying to fly in the safest, most efficient manner.”
As the discussion continued, fingers pointed to the U.S. Department of Defense, which regulates military missions, training and how its aircraft operate. It also became apparent that while neither aircraft operators nor the FAA alone could change the flight routes, residents also didn’t have an outlet to share their concerns.
“What I’m looking for is a way for people to let you know when it’s really a problem,” Garvey said. “I’m guessing this might not exist right now, but it might be something we can work on.”
With that in mind, residents shared their ongoing frustrations with noise and accounts of excessive helicopter traffic.
Price Dip for Orange Line Homes in 2016? — Houses and condos along the Orange Line in Arlington’s 22201 Zip code appreciated in value by double digits this year. But a dip in prices around the Clarendon and Ballston areas may be ahead in 2016, according to an analytics firm. [Washington Post]
Marymount Farmers Market Proposed — A farmers market has been proposed for Marymount University. This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to defer consideration of a use permit for the market until February due to “zoning-related issues.” [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Foggy Morning in Arlington — Updated at 10:50 a.m. — D.C. and much of Northern Virginia, including Arlington, are under a dense fog advisory through 1 p.m. Earlier this morning, the FAA was reporting departure delays between 31 and 45 minutes at Reagan National Airport due to low clouds. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Doug Duvall
County Creates Veterans Committee — Arlington County is creating a Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, to “identify, prioritize and implement programs and initiatives to recognize and support our active duty military population, our veterans, and their families.” The committee will also serve as the county’s liaison to the Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration. [Arlington County]
Pot Legalization Advocates Meeting in Arlington — The 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference is being held in Crystal City today through Saturday. The group holding the conference is planning to lobby Congress for laws that would make it easier for states to legalize marijuana and decrease penalties for non-violent drug offenders. [Associated Press, Drugpolicy.org]
Arlington Startup Gets $2 Million Investment — Arlington-based cybersecurity startup TruStar Technology has raised $2 million in seed round funding, led by Silicon Valley-based investors. [Washington Business Journal]
Weather Gang, Topper Predict Less Snow — Contrary to NBC4’s Doug Kammerer, who predicted a snowier-than-average winter, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang and WUSA9’s Topper Shutt both are predicting less snow than usual and warmer than usual temperatures. [Washington Post]
Group Offers Cheap Drinks to Encourage Voting — A nonprofit group will outside a half dozen Arlington polling stations on Tuesday, handing out wristbands good for cheap drinks at Clarendon bars, to “encourage young voters to celebrate democracy” and “draw more apathetic young voters out on Election Day.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Asking for Aquatics Center Feedback — Should Arlington County build the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center? If so, what kind of features should it include? That’s what the county is asking in a new online survey. Arlington originally launched a public input process for the planned aquatics facility in March. [InsideNova]
Airport to Cease Being a Homeless Haven — Starting today, Reagan National Airport will be kicking out the homeless who have used it as a makeshift shelter. Because it was clean, safe and open 24/7, dozens of local homeless individuals would pretend to be waylaid travelers and sleep in the airport’s terminals overnight. Increased use as a homeless sanctuary prompted airport officials to decide to no longer tolerate what will now be treated as trespassing. [Washington Post]
Fuel Spill at DCA — On Friday hazmat crews and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a reported spill of 7,500-9,000 gallons of jet fuel on the south side of Reagan National Airport. The spill has been largely contained and is not a threat to drinking water, officials say. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
Sun Gazette Endorses McMenamin — The Arlington Sun Gazette has endorsed independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin. The newspaper says McMenamin is “by far the most seasoned and well-rounded candidate in the race.” [InsideNova]
Airport Workers Protest for Living Wage — Airport workers who make as little as $6.75 per hour held a protest at Reagan National Airport with the local 32BJ SEIU union on Wednesday. Among those attending the rally were wheelchair attendants, janitors, cabin cleaners and baggage handlers. The protest was part of a nationwide campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage for airport workers. [Washington Post]
Candidate Night at Aurora Hills — The Aurora Highlands, Arlington Ridge and Crystal City civic associations are jointly sponsoring a candidates night for Arlington County Board hopefuls tonight. The forum will start at 7 p.m. at the Aurora Hills Community Center. Development, including the proposed redevelopment of the RiverHouse property in Pentagon City, is expected to be a hot topic. [ARCA]
Judy Blume Speaking in Arlington Tonight –Best-selling children’s and young adult novel author Judy Blume is speaking about her latest book at a free library-sponsored event in Arlington tonight. [ARLnow]
A Quick Note on Pageview Counts — As you might have noticed, we have eliminated pageview counts on most ARLnow articles. While this has been a feature for few years, recently it’s been buggy, slow to update and has frequently severely under-counted the actual number of views on an article. We’ll continue to show pageview counts to denote articles that are particularly “hot,” but take the numbers with a grain of salt.
Starting tomorrow, drivers should prepare for possible delays when traveling to Reagan National Airport from Crystal City or the southbound GW Parkway.
The National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration are planning to begin maintenance on the Route 233 bridge, which connects Jefferson Davis Highway in the Crystal City area to the airport. An off-ramp from the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway also connects to the bridge.
Single lane closures on the bridge are planned from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in both directions, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. At least one lane will be open on the bridge and on the GW Parkway ramp will remain open during the nine month project, which will replace the bridge’s median, among other improvements.
“In addition to directional signage, Airports Authority Police and Park Service Police will be present to assist in directing drivers through the area and to minimize the traffic impact in the construction zone,” the Airports Authority said in a statement.
Drivers should expect delays and detours when using the bridge to access the airport.
“The Park Service and Federal Highway Administration bridge construction project will allow for better access to and from the airport and add safety improvements to sidewalks and trails for pedestrians,” the Airports Authority said.