The post office on N. George Mason Drive would be renamed in honor of a late local postal worker under a bill that just passed the House of Representatives.
The House on Monday unanimously passed Rep. Don Beyer’s bill, H.R. 7082, to honor local letter carrier Jesus Collazos by renaming the North Arlington Post Office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive in his memory. Collazos, who emigrated from Colombia in 1978 and served 25 years as a USPS postal carrier in Arlington, lost his life to COVID-19 early in the pandemic.
The Senate will now need to approve the legislation before it can be signed into law.
From our reporting on the renaming proposal last year:
On Nextdoor, residents remember Collazos for the way he went the extra mile to help elderly residents and always knew someone who could help with a home improvement project. They also were overwhelmingly supportive of the renaming.
“Jesus Collazos was a neighbor,” said one resident of the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. “We called him the ‘Mayor of 24th Street.’ Sorely missed and it would be such a great tribute to his contributions to our community to name a post office in honor of him.”
A Tara-Leeway Heights resident recalled how Collazos helped her mother later in life. He came up to the door, knocked and opened it, announcing himself and putting the mail on the TV stand.
“My mom thought so highly of him,” she said. “He just did stuff like that. He was a person who really ‘saw’ those around him.”
Another poster from Tara-Leeway Heights said Collazos was well-connected in Arlington.
“If we needed the name of someone to help with anything having to do with the house, he knew someone,” the poster said. “He made us all feel like we were his friends. We miss him terribly. He made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”
Beyer delivered the following remarks from the House floor, the Congressman’s office said, as Collazos’ family looked on from the House Gallery.
Madame Speaker, I rise today to speak in support my bill, H.R. 7082, which would designate the post office on 2200 North George Mason Drive in Arlington as the Jesus Antonio Collazos Post Office Building.
Jesus was the epitome of the American Dream.
He was born in 1953 in Colombia and grew up in a modest, hard-working family.
Even at a young age, he was passionate about education and wanted to help his community and did so by helping teach literacy while still a high school student.
After graduating high school, Jesus attended the Universidad de San Buenaventura Cali to pursue a degree in accounting.
In 1978, Jesus immigrated to Washington, D.C. to reunite with his mother and sisters in hopes of seeking a better future.
In 1980, Jesus married the love of his life, Luz Miriam, who is here today with their children, Vanessa and Michael.
After working in accounting positions at various hotels, he applied to the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier, where he would embark on a 25-year career.
He made an impression early on and was given a temporary assignment in leadership which turned into a permanent offer.
He ultimately turned it down to remain a mail carrier.
This turned out to be the right decision as Jesus preferred to spend his days outdoors, building relationships on his route, and connecting with the neighborhood.
Members of the public have a chance to help name the parks at Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City.
Arlington County is encouraging residents to choose from a list of names or submit an option through an online survey.
The first and second phases of the company’s headquarters project are known as Metropolitan Park and PenPlace, respectively. The park at Metropolitan Park, which is identified as “south park” in the survey, is located south of 12th Street S., while the PenPlace park is to the north.
There are three proposed names for each of the parks, which only include green spaces and won’t change the names of buildings, the campus or neighborhoods.
Choosing simplicity, the Department of Parks and Recreation recommended Met Park and Pen Place as the names for each since they are familiar in the “development and planning context,” according to a presentation given to the Parks and Recreation Commission in June.
The department recommended foregoing the longer “Metropolitan Park” for the abbreviated version most people already use referring to the project — Met Park. And they recommended inserting a space to emphasize the word “place” in Pen Place.
The other options for each park are below.
- Pen Place
- Fern Park
- Chickadee Park
- Met Park
- Elm Park
- Goldfinch Park
The proposed bird names are a nod to the creatures that may be seen in the spaces — and which will benefit from the use of bird-safe glass in the building designs, according to the presentation. And the tree names refer to streets adjacent to each park.
After gathering public feedback, the County Board is set to approve the final park names in November.
Metropolitan Park’s public space, which Amazon is paying $14 million to revamp, is in the shadow of the under-construction first phase of company’s HQ2 and will total about 2.5 acres. The park plans include lush meandering paths, a central green for gatherings and events, tables for outdoor dining, two 2,000-square-foot dog parks, an edible garden and public art.
Meanwhile, a 2.75 acre public park is planned at PenPlace, featuring water elements, including a signature fountain, a central confluence and a stormwater meadow. The County Board approved the plans for PenPlace, the second phase of HQ2, in April this year.
A park in Clarendon is getting a new name that has in neighbor support what it lacks in creativity.
After months of feedback, Arlington is set to name the park on the corner of 11th Street N. and N. Danville Street “11th Street Park.”
The County Board is set to vote on the name change during its meeting this Saturday (July 16).
The park, which is near The Crossing Clarendon retail center, was originally called 11th Street North and North Danville Street Park. But the county decided to rename it after a renovation project approved in 2021, according to a report to the County Board.
The Department of Parks and Recreation started a public engagement period in March, asking residents to vote on and suggest new names for the park. The county and the Clarendon Courthouse Civic Association narrowed down possible names to a handful, including 11th Street Park, Danville Park, Wayside Green Park and Nguyen Ngoc Bich Park.
Out of 164 responses to the public engagement survey, 11th Street Park received the most votes, followed by Danville Park, according to the Parks and Recreation document. Community and government organizations — namely the Park and Recreation Commission, the Arlington Neighborhoods Advisory Committee and the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board — all voted for the proposed name change.
This proposed new name “reflects the degree to which this park is the bedrock within our urban community,” CCCA President David Creek said in a letter. He added that 11th Street Park “won by many votes” in the two public voting events carried out by the CCCA and the Department of Parks and Recreation, respectively.
The name Nguyen Ngoc Bich Park would have honored a local resident who died six years ago, who “advocated for… refugee and immigrant needs throughout his life and worked to share Vietnamese culture with the Arlington community in numerous ways.” He is likely to get a historical marker in his honor instead.
The park is set to get a new name because of the renovation project, which is set to begin this summer. New furnishings, park signage and path lighting are set to be added, according to previous ARLnow reporting. Additionally, the gravel walkways are set to be replaced with concrete. If the County Board approves the name change, a park entrance sign will be added, which is estimated to cost $5,300.
Photo via Google Maps
Tech Startup Moving to Ballston — “MarginEdge Co., a local tech startup with a restaurant management platform, is now reserving more headquarters space for itself. The 7-year-old company is shifting its home base from Fairfax County to larger Arlington digs at 4200 Wilson Blvd., MarginEdge co-founder and CEO Bo Davis told us. It’s building out the top floor of the office building, above Ballston Quarter mall, where he said the company will be closer to Metro and a central point to and from the District and suburbs.” [Washington Business Journal]
Update on Construction Projects — From Arlington County: “Multiple projects are in progress or have been completed around Arlington in the first half of 2022, with more on the way! Take a look at the latest edition of Projects to Watch.” [Twitter]
Goldstein Wants to Restore Trust — “Arlington’s new School Board chair for 2022-23 has tacitly acknowledged frayed relations between county leaders and the constituents they serve, and in remarks kicking off his tenure seemed to ask both sides to work toward repairing them. ‘I’ve seen community trust in our governing institutions erode,’ Reid Goldstein said during six minutes’ worth of remarks after being tapped as School Board chair July 1.” [Sun Gazette]
New Names for Ballston Beaver Pond — The Ballston Beaver Pond is being converted into a wetland and the four finalists for its new name were just revealed: Crossroads Wetland Park, Ballston Wetlands, Thaddeus Lowe Park and Wetlands Vista Park. [SurveyMonkey, Patch]
It’s Thursday — Updated at 7:45 a.m. — Cloudy throughout the day, with chances of showers. High of 81 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]
‘Conservation’ Nixed in New Name — “The Neighborhood Conservation Program has a new name: Arlington Neighborhoods Program. [Three county departments] announced the new name for the interdepartmental program after almost a yearlong renaming process… The Neighborhood Conservation Program Review (NCPR) Final Report recommended changing the program name because the word ‘conservation’ often evokes a negative connotation and suggests exclusivity.” [Arlington County]
Big Scholarship Match for WHS Grads — “A newly announced dollar-for-dollar match could net the Wakefield High School Educational Foundation’s scholarship fund as much as $2 million over the coming year. It was announced June 2 that Henry ‘Ric’ Duques, a 1961 graduate of the high school, and his wife Dawn had made an up-to-$1 million pledge to the foundation, which will match funds raised by the organization for the year ending June 30, 2023.” [Sun Gazette]
Remembering Local Desegregation Efforts — “Our racial history commemorators have thoroughly marked the 1959 integration of Stratford Junior High School, a first for long-segregated Virginia. But those four African American student pioneers stood on the shoulders of a select group of older peers, whose legal efforts have gone relatively unsung.” [Falls Church News-Press]
New Monument at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “A monument now stands in memory of the first astronauts to die in their spacecraft, 55 years after a fire on the launchpad claimed their lives. Family members of the fallen Apollo 1 crew came together with NASA officials, space industry leaders and members of the space community to dedicate the new monument during a ceremony(opens in new tab) held Thursday (June 2) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The memorial is located… in Section 3 of the cemetery.” [Space.com]
ARLnow Cartoonist’s Work Highlighted — “But the father of two has long been a fan of the art form and in the past year, he has become a community cartoonist. [Mike Mount] creates weekly cartoons for an online news outlet in his Northern Virginia county, capturing within those scribbled squares the weird, comical and relatable parts of living in one of Washington’s suburbs.” [Washington Post]
Nature Center Advocate Keeps Advocating — “Look up ‘indefatigable’ in an online dictionary, and a photo of Duke Banks might pop up. Recently given the brushoff – politely but for the second time – by the County Board, Banks is not stopping in his efforts to restore hours that were cut at Arlington’s two local nature centers during the pandemic. Banks pressed his case at the May 24 meeting of the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 80 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:32 pm. [Weather.gov]
Va. Hospital Center Changing Name — “Arlington’s Virginia Hospital Center is charging forward with its regional expansion under new leadership — and a new moniker to match. The nearly 80-year-old independent hospital, which had the same CEO for nearly half of that time, is now going forward as VHC Health. The change aims to better reflect its role in the region, said Christopher Lane, the hospital’s new leader since March 28.” [Washington Business Journal]
Auditor Eyes Site Plans — “Auditor Chris Horton has proposed spending about 300 of his 2,000 work hours during fiscal 2023 evaluating past site plans to determine if the benefits that were promised to the public actually materialized. His work plan, which will have to be ratified by the County Board, won a receptive audience at the April 7 meeting of the government’s Audit Committee. ‘I really love this idea,’ said John Vihstadt, a former County Board member.” [Sun Gazette]
Holiday Weekend Changes — “Whether you celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter, the Jewish holiday of Passover, the two holidays will overlap during the weekend of April 16-17. As the Easter holiday falls on a Sunday, closures may be limited.
Arlington County government does not typically close for Good Friday before Easter. However, there are a few service changes for services that do operate on Sundays.” [Patch]
W-L Student Competing in History Bee — “Aaron Lopez, a ninth-grade student at Washington-Liberty High School, will compete in the History Bee national championships after scoring success at the state level.” [Sun Gazette]
Disobedient Dog Infuriates Pentagon City Resident — From Reddit, as highlighted by Monkeyrotica: “I hear you every damn day, twice a day from my apartment window. Your dog acts up around other dogs every [expletive] day. You keep shouting ‘ROBERT’ at your dog every time he acts up. Your dog keeps [expletive] misbehaving. See how your tactic just doesn’t work?” [Reddit]
Newspaper Opposes Ukraine Donation — “Everybody should feel bad for what the Ukrainian people are going through and appalled by the actions of the Russian government. And if people want to donate funds or humanitarian supplies, amen to that. But ballistic-vest donations? That may be a one step too far over the line.” [Sun Gazette]
Good Luck, Jo! — ARLnow’s Jo DeVoe is now on maternity leave. We expect her to return in the fall.
It’s Good Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 49. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 7:46 pm. [Weather.gov]
County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]
New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]
FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]
Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]
Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]
Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
If you didn’t know better, you’d think that an unusual walk signal in Virginia Square was trying to signal that the South would rise again.
An audio walk signal at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Nelson Street, one block from the Metro station, keeps chanting the name of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It attracted the attention of County Board candidate Adam Theo, who posted about it on social media yesterday afternoon.
“I’m sorry… but WTF??!?” he tweeted. “I thought we were getting rid of streets named after Confederates.”
Um… I'm sorry, @ArlingtonDES but WTF??!? I thought we were getting rid of streets named after #Confederates, not adding more!
(check it out at N Fairfax Dr & N Nelson St in Virginia Square) C'mon Twitter fans, you know what to do…
@ARLnowDOTcom @sungazettenews #ArlingtonVA pic.twitter.com/Q1x5ClkD3s
— Theo for Arlington (@TheoForARL) March 3, 2022
ARLnow checked it out shortly after Theo’s tweet, and the rebel walk signal was indeed hauntingly repeating “Jefferson Davis” over and over again.
Asked about it, Peter Golkin, spokesman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, suggested that the signal was likely transplanted from along Route 1, formerly known as Jefferson Davis Highway before being renamed Richmond Highway in 2019.
“Likely repurposed technology that unfortunately was not reprogrammed,” Golkin said. “As Mr. Lincoln would say, ‘With malice toward none.'”
It appears that much like the Confederacy, the walk signal’s old programming will not be long for this world. This morning DES tweeted that a repair order had been placed.
Thanks for reporting. We've shared with our signals team for repair. Any other issues with traffic signs and signals can be reported using the online Report a Problem Tool or app: https://t.co/SeAsUvsWwS
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) March 4, 2022
As a fifth generation Arlingtonian and longtime Halls Hill resident, Nadia A. Conyers was thrilled when Lee Highway was renamed Langston Blvd last summer.
Sharing that joy with her daughter Arrington, the 6-year-old was understandably curious. Together, they went looking on Amazon for a kid-friendly book that could help explain why this was a big deal and the accomplishments of the road’s namesake, John M. Langston.
But there was no such book.
“There was a void,” Nadia tells ARLnow. “So, we decided to fill it.”
Arrington’s voice pipes in, explaining what needs to be done when something you need isn’t available.
“You just gotta make it,” she cheerily says.
That’s the genesis of “From Lee Highway to Langston Boulevard,” the new book authored by the mother-daughter team.
The 26-page picture book aimed at young elementary school kids tells the story of John M. Langston, why the road is now named after him, and why that matters.
“It’s a very local book. For kids who live in Arlington, [the dialogue] will resonate with them because they’ll understand the places that are talked about in the book,” Nadia says. “It gives them a good context of how they are part of Black history and how Black history is right here in your neighborhood.”
Halls Hill, where Nadia (and, now, Arrington) grew up, is a historically Black neighborhood in the northern section of the county. For a long time, it was one of the only places in Arlington where African Americans could buy homes, along with Green Valley in South Arlington. In the 1930s, a “segregation wall” was built to separate the Black neighborhood from the surrounding white neighborhoods. A portion of that wall still stands today.
And, for years, a road named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee cut through it.
“As you were walking or driving down Lee Highway, you would start thinking about who Robert E. Lee was and became perplexed about why the road here is named after him,” Nadia says, pausing for a moment. “Angry, even. There are a lot of emotions.”
With the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that were held across the country in the summer of 2020, it became clear to many that it was time for the road’s name to change.
The renaming effort was led by many Halls Hill residents, including by Nadia’s mother and Arrington’s grandmother Saundra Green. In December 2020, a working group proposed “Loving Avenue” as the new name with the state Senate passing a bill two months later to allow for the change. But the Lovings’ descendants nixed the idea and the group went with one of its alternatives: Langston Blvd.
John M. Langston was an attorney, abolitionist, and one of the most prominent African Americans during the Civil War period. Described once as “Obama before Obama,” Langston was the first Black man to represent Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“He was an activist. He was a teacher. He was a good person. He was Black,” Arrington says about Langston.
In Cherrydale, there’s a little stretch of road called “Old Lee Highway” where a few signs bearing the Lee name have yet to fall.
But that’s about to change.
Last week, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved Arlington County’s request to change the name of “Old Lee Highway,” or State Route 309, to Cherry Hill Road. The motion put an end to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s proverbial last stand here.
In July, the Arlington County Board voted to change the name for Route 29 from Lee Highway to Langston Blvd. While all the local road signs along Route 29 have been changed, it took some extra time — and a separate, smaller community engagement process — to find a suitable name for “Old Lee Highway” and send it to the state transportation board for approval.
Old Lee Highway begins where Old Dominion Drive intersects with Langston Blvd. It ends with a fork in the road, where drivers can turn onto N. Quincy Street or continue east on Langston Blvd.
The County Board tasked the Langston Blvd Alliance — which suggested Langston Blvd as the new monicker for Route 29 — with conducting an abbreviated process for Old Lee Highway. It came up with three suggestions: front-runner Cherry Hill Road, and two alternatives, Waverly Way and Cherry Hill Lane.
The LBA says Cherry Hill Road fits for a number of reasons.
“Cherry Hill Road is the historic name of the area just up the hill from Cherrydale,” said the LBA working group in a letter to the county. “Cherry Hill can also be seen as a blending of the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills neighborhoods. Dorsey Donaldson originally named this area Cherrydale because of the many cherry trees in the area, some of which are still here today.”
Meanwhile, “road” is a happy medium between “drive” and “lane” that “indicates a smaller, more walkable street but one that supports an important North Arlington bus route,” the group said.
All this came about because the alliance raised concerns with the County Board about staff’s initial suggestion to rename Old Lee Highway as “Old Dominion Drive.”
“LBA and those living on Old Lee Highway expressed concerns that the name ‘Old Dominion Drive’ would cause further confusion for drivers and emergency vehicles,” according to the organization’s webpage.
The Board unanimously approved Cherry Hill Road during its Oct. 19, 2021 meeting, when then-Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol said the name was “the winner by a fair mile.”
The other names in the top 10, pared down from 92 recommendations, were:
- Cardinal/Cardinal View
- District View
- Monument View
- Waverly Heights
As of this week, the county says operational changes to Cherry Hill Road “are yet to be scheduled” and a schedule for switching the signs is pending.
Meanwhile, the county issued internal guidance to all departments to wrap up all associated renaming by March 14.
And for the curious, the county says residents can’t ask for an old sign. The county has, however, added some to the Center for Local History surplus and given several to the Arlington County Historical Society.
The recently-renamed Langston Blvd is getting a larger-than-life mural of its namesake, Black abolitionist John M. Langston.
The public artwork commemorates the struggle for racial equality in Arlington and the renaming of Route 29, previously named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Work on the outdoor public art is set to finish within the next week and a half, Langston Boulevard Alliance executive director Ginger Brown said. The mural adorns a wall on the side of swimming store Sport Fair (5010 Langston Blvd), which was chosen for its location in the historically Black neighborhood of Hall’s Hill, as well as its visibility from the road.
The new name and mural pay tribute to Langston, who was Virginia’s first Black congressional representative and served as the first dean of Howard University’s law school and the first president of Virginia State University.
It will also incorporate the places and moments in Arlington’s history of racism and racial progress. The Langston Boulevard Alliance says it worked with the artist, D.C. native Kaliq Crosby, to include depictions of Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, established after the Civil War, the segregation of the Hall’s Hill neighborhood and the integration of public schools.
“There is a significant piece of the mural that… came [about] during the design process,” Brown said. “The historic John M. Langston School will be included in the mural. It is the school where all of the Hall’s Hill children went before the Stratford School was integrated.”
About a block from the mural, the elementary school for Black children operated until Arlington County closed it in 1966 as part of its desegregation plan. Today it is the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street), which also houses alternative high school programming.
A ribbon cutting for the mural, which was co-sponsored by Arlington Arts and Arlington Economic Development, is slated for later this week. Crosby has completed other racial justice and civil rights-themed murals in the D.C. area, including a recent mural of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman in Dupont Circle.
The Langston Boulevard Alliance will celebrate the renaming of the corridor next month with a pair of public events on Saturday, Oct. 2: a walking tour of Langston Blvd’s racial history and a fall festival at Woodstock Park featuring food, music and family-friendly activities.
There will also be an art gallery featuring the works of local Black artists at Dominion Lighting (5053 Langston Blvd) from Oct. 2-31.