Press Club

(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Firefighters are on scene of a large gas line rupture near Rocky Run Park, in Courthouse.

Initial reports suggest that a 3-inch natural gas line was accidentally struck by construction workers near the intersection of N. Barton Street and 11th Street N.

Those and other nearby streets are being blocked by police. A large fire department response and Washington Gas crews are now on scene.

It may take an hour or two to fully shut off the gas due to the size of the ruptured line requiring more personnel to secure it, according to scanner traffic.

Firefighters are in the process of evaluating whether any nearby buildings will need to be evacuated.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A local park with a popular playground keeps getting vandalized, this time with obscene language and drawings.

As of this article’s publication Rocky Run Park, along N. Barton Street in the Courthouse area, has graffiti featuring anti-police slogans and crude drawings of male genitalia. It’s been there, near the soccer field, since at least Friday.

(A not-safe-for-work video gives an uncensored look at the graffiti.)

The graffiti follows other reports of vandalism over the past few months, and an incident on Tuesday in which a dispute between two teenagers led one to draw a gun and make threats. It turned out to be a BB gun, police determined after taking the teen into custody.

“At approximately 5:32 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The investigation revealed that the juvenile victim and the juvenile subject had been involved in an ongoing dispute when the subject allegedly brandished a BB gun from his bag and made threats to the victim. The subject was located in the area and released to his guardian. The investigation is ongoing.”

Between the BB gun incident and the graffiti, neighbors are unnerved.

“There has been an increase in graffiti and vandalism at Rocky Run Park over the past several months,” the Clarendon Courthouse Civic Association said in a statement to ARLnow this morning. “The field was vandalized over the summer, and this past week, someone added a lot of crude graffiti throughout the park.”

“This is a family park and parents should let their kids know this is not the place for graffiti or vandalism,” the statement continued. “There was also a fight between two teenagers on Sept. 23 and one brandished a BB gun, which looked like a firearm. It will be helpful if the County/ACPD act with an awareness campaign to prevent these issues from happening in the future.”

An ACPD cruiser was parked outside the park this afternoon.

An Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman said the park has been vandalized multiple times over the past couple of weeks. The most recent graffiti could not be removed using standard methods, meaning the concrete seating area that was vandalized will need to be repainted.

“About a week and a half ago we were notified of the presence of graffiti by a member of the public and removed it,” said DPR spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “That same day the park was vandalized with graffiti two more times. Unfortunately, a few days later there was even more graffiti only this time the paint used is particularly difficult to remove and required that three staff using a powerwasher, graffiti remover and hand brushes remove it. However, it was to no avail and so today we scheduled a team to repaint it.”

“Every time our goal is to first notify the police and then remove [the graffiti] within 24-48 hours as best as we are able,” Kalish said. “There are times when we realize that our regular removal methods are not going to be sufficient and have to schedule a time to perform additional work including repainting the area, which is what happened in this particular case.”

Kalish said police and Arlington park rangers typically increase patrols around a park — “targeted around when the activity may occur” — in response to vandalism incidents.

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(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) A man filmed children wearing masks at a local playground while accusing their parents of “child abuse.”

The encounter happened on Tuesday at the Rocky Run Park playground near Courthouse. It was caught on video by one of the parents.

“Look at these kids — child abuse, child abuse, suffocation, suffocation,” the man says while filming the playground with his smartphone, after claiming that he runs “a very popular YouTube channel.”

“You understand that most people are vaccinated right now?” the man says to the woman filming him. “Why are these kids in masks outside? You understand how harmful that is to their mental welfare?”

“Leave me alone, you’re stressing my baby,” the woman responds.

The idea that having kids wear masks during the pandemic is a form of abuse was popularized by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

“Your response when you see children wearing masks when they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid at Walmart,” the host told viewers in April.

So far, only children ages 12 and up are eligible for vaccinations. While children can be infected and get sick from COVID-19, deaths have been relatively uncommon — 300 reported Covid-related fatalities among those under the age of 18 during the course of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The husband of one of the moms at the park who was harassed says police were called but the man had already left when they arrived.

“The person who took the video is our friend,” he tells ARLnow. “All our children have been playing together since the pandemic and all wear masks, even though we the adults are fully vaccinated. This guy approached my wife and her friends when the kids got back to sip water.”

“He start yelling at them, that they were doing ‘child abuse’ for ‘forcing’ our kids to wear masks, and saying all that conspiracy theory speech,” the husband continued. “He start filming our kids, and yelling… and as you can see in the video all children start running away from him. My wife call me and also called the police. Police arrived but he was already gone.”

“He was riding one of those electric skateboards and took off,” the husband added. “Cops were not too concerned said filming kids is not illegal, but advice not to confront him. Another friend said same guy harassed her with his two children by Courthouse Plaza, and someone in Nextdoor said she was approached by the same guy near Whole Foods Clarendon.”

The incident outside the Clarendon Whole Foods took place last week, according to a post on Twitter. The man reportedly called a woman a “child abuser” in front of her mask-wearing child.

Reached for comment about the park incident, the Arlington County Police Department said the man’s actions did not amount to a crime.

“At approximately 5:17 p.m. on May 25, police were dispatched to the 1100 block of N. Barton Street for the report of disorderly conduct,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, the reporting party advised that a male subject had been yelling and filming children playing inside a park. The subject had left the scene prior to the arrival of police and a search of the area concluded with negative results. The investigation determined no crime had occurred.”

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

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

Between amazing food, drinks and entertainment, there are plenty of great things to do in Arlington — but not all of it is family friendly. Luckily, when it comes to finding fun for the whole family, we are here to help! So take a look below to learn about 5 more of our favorite recreational parks!

Lyon Village Park 

Sitting just south of Lee Highway, Lyon Village Park is a cute, 2-acre space that offers tons of fun activities. Families can enjoy their snacks at the picnic pavilion — and with so much fun to be had, you and yours are sure to work up an appetite!

This gorgeous park is great for toddlers and big kids alike, with enjoyable activities for all ages. In addition to spaces to place tennis and basketball, the park’s sprayground is a perfect way to escape the summer heat.

Rocky Run Park

Rocky Run Park is a great option for school-aged children and toddlers alike, with plenty of fun to be had across its 2 acres. Although there are distinct spaces for each age group, they are close enough together that parents or guardians can keep an eye on all their kids at once.

Little athletes are sure to fall in love with Rocky Run Park — in addition to a full-sized basketball court, the recreational area also features a turf field that is perfect for playing soccer or football. Rocky Run Park also has some convenient luxuries, such as public bathrooms and off-street parking options, that are much appreciated.

At the time of publication, Rocky Run Park is closed for ongoing repairs — so make sure you check the Arlington Parks and Recreation website regularly to see when you can come enjoy this great space!

Hayes Park

Located off of I-66 near the Virginia Square neighborhood is Hayes Park, another one of the best parks in Arlington. Hayes Park is the perfect place to enjoy a steamy summer day, with a great sprayground, fun play structures and courts for playing tennis or basketball.

Hayes Park is also fenced in for ultimate peace of mind, and the spot has an off-street parking lot and public bathrooms. This makes Hayes a great place to spend an afternoon — and you can pack a lunch or snack to enjoy at one of the picnic tables!

Read More

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Rocky Run Park, apparently.

A chicken was found in the park, on N. Barton Street in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, by an animal control officer Thursday. No one seems to know how the chicken got there.

An Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman said stray chickens are actually more common in Arlington than one might think.

“We periodically pick up chickens ‘running at large,'” said Susan Sherman.

She said the chicken will be housed at the animal shelter for a couple of days before being shipped off to live out its days on a farm.

“It is being cared for at the shelter as a stray until November 6,” said Sherman. “If it is not claimed by an owner by that date, then we can adopt it to a person with a farm or transfer it to a farm sanctuary.”

“We do not send the chicken to any place where it would be eaten,” Sherman noted. “In our experience stray chickens are almost never reclaimed by owners since very few Arlington residents have the property to keep chickens legally.”

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Peter OwenProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Meeting the diverse interests of Arlington residents about how best to make use of available open space is not an easy challenge. The recent renovations at Rocky Run Park meet that challenge and are a tremendous success. Walk by any summer afternoon or evening and you will see Arlington’s residents out enjoying this newly updated park.

The park reopened in early April and the joy felt by park users is nearly palpable. Improvements to the 2.4 acre site include:

  • Playgrounds for both tots and school-age children
  • A new picnic shelter for birthday parties and social events
  • Two lighted hard-surface courts; one can be used for both basketball and volleyball
  • A lighted multi-use synthetic turf field for pick-up games
  • Exercise stations, benches and chess tables
  • Substantially improved ADA accessibility
  • Extensive landscaping, including additional planting near the adjacent substation

In addition, the county relocated the labyrinth previously located at Arlington’s Whitman Walker Clinic to provide a quiet and contemplative green space within the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.

How did these renovations occur? I credit the successful collaboration between the community and county government.

The Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association’s Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC) Plan adopted in 2007 pointed to the park and its oversubscribed and outdated equipment as an opportunity for improvement. Kristine Wood, our hardworking NCAC representative, brought neighbors together to request action. Responding to her leadership, county staff initiated a conversation with the CCCA to scope the redevelopment of Rocky Run as an NCAC project.

Following months of dialogue, NCAC citizen volunteers recommended the project to the County Board for funding, which was accomplished through a combination of pay as you go and park bond funding.

With the funding plan in place, Department of Parks and Recreation staff met with a CCCA work group comprised of active and interested members of varying ages. Neighborhood children were directly consulted on playground and other aspects of the park. Feedback was sought from elderly neighbors about making the park attractive and accessible.

By the spring of 2011, a collaborative, conceptual design for the park was in place. After our Civic Association unanimously approved the concepts, county staff worked with project engineers to refine and finalize a construction design that earned support from the county’s Park and Recreation Commission and Environment and Energy Conservation Commission.

When the plans were widely publicized on ARLnow.com, most residents were pleased, but some neighbors expressed concerns about certain parts of the plans and their understandable expectation for more direct notice than that provided mainly by civic association volunteers. (Since then, I have seen the county make improvements in how it provides similar notices.)

Even at this stage in the community planning process, County Board members and staff met with nearby neighbors in the summer of 2012, heard their concerns, and ultimately made additional refinements to the park design. In November 2012, the County Board unanimously approved a $2.95 million contract to fund the first stage of park improvements.

What do we have to show for this investment of time and resources? Living a block away from the park and walking by it daily, I see how popular the park is with Arlington’s parents, children, amateur ballplayers and other residents. Read More

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Rocky Run Park in Clarendon-Courthouse gets revnoationsNew restrooms will be built at the newly-renovated Rocky Run Park (1109 N. Barton Street) near Courthouse.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a contract for construction of a new restroom facility with two unisex bathrooms, along with pavement around the building and a new stairway to N. Barton Street. The contract for the project is in the amount of $373,200 ($410,520 with the built-in contingency.)

The restroom project is part of the second phase of improvements to the park, approved as part of the Neighborhood Conservation process in the fall of 2012. Phase 2 of the project will also include the construction of a small storage facility to be used for Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation camps, plus new benches and trashcans.

File photo

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(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) The $3 million renovation to Rocky Run Park in the Courthouse area are complete and the park is now open to the public.

The renovations, which were approved by the County Board in November 2012, include two lighted basketball courts, a lighted synthetic turf for drop-in play, a new playground area with equipment for 5-12 year-olds, a picnic shelter and bathrooms. The park, at 1109 N. Barton Street, had its mature trees preserved while the equipment and facilities were reorganized around them.

The renovations were funded through 2010 and 2012 Neighborhood Conservation funds, parks capital maintenance bonds and pay-as-you-go funds. The park came in under budget, according to parks officials. The plans to renovate the park have been in the works since 2009, according to Arlington County.

According to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, the park opened on Friday and there is an official ribbon-cutting planned for April 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Korzen said an earlier plan to build “stakeable art” in the park was scrapped.

“The ‘skateable’ art feature previously designed in Phase I design development and planned for installation with the Phase II construction activities was removed from the project,” she said via email. “During the final drawing development of the art feature, it was determined that the artistic expression and functionality of the sculpture could not be effectively realized. That area will instead feature a sculpted lawn and shade trees.”

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