The Arlington County Board is expected to approve $555,000 in interior upgrades to the Aurora Hills Community Center and Library at its meeting this weekend.
The low-slung building, located at 735 18th Street S., near Pentagon City, houses both a library and a senior center. In explaining the need for upgrades, county staff said the center is “an aging facility.”
“The proposed renovation includes demolition of existing and construction of new office, storage rooms, kitchen, new ADA bathrooms, receptionist desk, circulation desk, new floor finishes, additional electrical and mechanical system upgrade,” county staff wrote. “The work will also include the restoration or repair of ceilings and walls in areas that are impacted by this interior renovation.”
Some programs at Aurora Hills will be moved to the Gunston Community Center during construction. The renovations were originally set to take place a bit later than currently scheduled, but were “accelerated” by the County Board, staff say.
The county staff report hints that the Aurora Hills center may eventually be torn down to make way for a new elementary school.
“The site was also identified during the Arlington Public Schools’ South Arlington Working Group process as a possible site for redevelopment in conjunction with Schools;” says the report. “The proposed improvements will provide operational and program value for a number of years until such time that the County and Schools choose to pursue a redevelopment.”
A new working group appointed by the County Manager will be conducting a “comprehensive review” of that program.
The program is currently offered to homeowners age 65 or older, with an annual income of up to $99,472 and household assets (excluding the home itself) up to $340,000. Depending on the income level and assets, the homeowners may qualify for a full or partial exemption. A deferral of taxes until the home changes ownership is available for any portion that’s not exempt.
The County Board included funds in the latest county budget for a review of the program.
“In conducting research for the [Affordable Housing Master Plan], the County found that many low-income senior households on fixed incomes face financial stress related to increasing condominium fee and real estate tax burdens,” said the new Real Estate Tax Relief Working Group charge. “The AHMP’s accompanying Implementation Framework included a recommendation to review the goals and guidelines of the RETR Program, and to consider redefinition of income levels, asset levels, and criteria for exemptions and deferrals.”
In the recent Arlington County Board primary, Board Chair Libby Garvey was criticized by Democratic challenger Erik Gutshall for supposedly “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington.”
Garvey explained that she wants to lower the eligibility barriers for the tax deferral program. She hinted, however, that the full tax exemption might be under additional scrutiny, as it can “provide quite a windfall” to a homeowner’s heirs once the home is sold.
The working group is tasked with presenting its final recommendations this winter, ahead of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process.
The full county press release, after the jump.
The report used eight categories to rank 196 cities, including cost of living, crime rate, walkability, wellbeing, taxes, health care, weather and culture.
Arlington was ranked highly in most of the categories, with low crime and tax rates complementing “great” ratings in walkability, culture, healthcare and well-being.
Arlington’s main drawback was the high cost of living. Another negative: the weather only receiving an “average” rating.
“We found that smaller cities and suburbs fared the best,” said Bankrate.com analyst Jill Cornfield. “Most seniors prefer to live in these types of communities because they offer access to big-city amenities without as much hustle, bustle and crime.”
Four of the top 10 cities on the list are located in the D.C. area with Alexandria, Silver Spring and Rockville all receiving high marks as well.
The top 10 cities in Bankrate.com’s rankings are:
- Arlington, VA
- Alexandria, VA
- Franklin, TN
- Silver Spring, MD
- West Des Moines, IA
- Nashville, TN
- Sarasota, FL
- Rockville, MD
- Des Moines, IA
- Murfreesboro, TN
Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian
Famed octogenarian sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer is slated to speak at an event in Ballston next month.
Dr. Ruth has been added to the agenda of the Beacon 50+ Expo, to be held on the third level of Ballston Common Mall from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26. The 86-year-old will be talking about and autographing her latest book.
The free event will also feature “expert speakers, health screenings, informative resources, technology education and entertainment for older adults and their families,” according to a press release.
More than 100 exhibitors are expected to be on hand, and “giveaways and doors prizes will be plentiful.” The keynote speaker at the event is Dr. Robert Fischell, inventor of the rechargeable pacemaker, the implantable insulin pump, and dozens of other “life-changing medical devices.”
Another 50+ Expo will be held in Maryland — at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Sunday, Oct. 19.
Tickets Could Become More Costly — Tickets for traffic offenses and minor criminal cases could be getting more expensive in Arlington. The County Board is expected to vote on a new $5 surcharge that would be tacked on to tickets to help pay for an electronic summons system for the Arlington County Police Department. [InsideNova]
Long Wait for Arlington Burials — Arlington National Cemetery has a “burial backlog.” The average wait time to bury a service member at the cemetery is nearly 6 months, according to an analysis by a Florida newspaper. [News-Press]
N. Va. Senior Olympics Kick Off — The annual Northern Virginia Senior Olympics kicked off at Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington on Saturday. “Olympic” events like Scrabble, Wii bowling and badminton are scheduled at the community center and other venues around Northern Virginia through Sept. 24. [Northern Virginia Senior Olympics]
Photo courtesy Erinn Shirley
Arlington Neighborhood Village Initiative Launches — The nonprofit Arlington Neighborhood Villages initiative, which seeks to provide services to seniors who wish to remain in their homes, officially launches today after more than a year of planning. [InsideNoVa]
Dogs Rescued from Fire Doing Well — The two dogs rescued from a house fire across from Yorktown High School were taken off oxygen Thursday and were expected to return home this weekend. The dogs suffered smoke inhalation from the fire. [Twitter]
Rosslyn Pros and Cons — Sophie Pyle, an on-again, off-again Rosslyn resident, has compiled a list of what she sees at the pros and cons of living in Rosslyn. Pros: the views and easy transportation. Cons: airplane noise and a lack of nightlife. [InTheCapital]
DJO Senior Named All-Met Player of the Year — Bishop O’Connell High School senior Melo Trimble has been named the boys’ basketball All-Met Player of the Year. He will play at Maryland next year. Wakefield High School’s Dominique Tham was named to the third-team All Met. No other Arlington athletes were named to winter All-Met teams. [Washington Post]
The Jefferson (900 N. Taylor Street) senior independent living community is looking for people to help its residents feel beautiful. It’s seeking volunteers to help give manicures.
The Jefferson will provide all the necessary manicure supplies, volunteers just need to show up and help to do the residents’ nails. Volunteers of nearly any age are welcome, but those under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Anyone interested should contact Jocelyn Hunt at 703-741-7585 or via email.
There are numerous other volunteer opportunities available on Volunteer Arlington’s website, including those listed below:
- Turkey Trot Volunteers — Helpers are needed for Arlington’s 8th annual Turkey Trot race on Thursday, November 28. In addition to those who can assist with tasks like setup and water station attendants on the day of the race, volunteers are needed on Tuesday, November 26, and Wednesday, November 27, to register participants. No special training is necessary, but volunteers must be able to stand during the event, which will take place rain or shine. Any helpers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers can register online or contact Mark Riley at 703-927-0328 for more information.
- Shelving at Westover Branch Library — Westover Branch Library needs people to help put returned materials in numerical order and prep the materials for re-shelving. Volunteers must be dependable and should enjoy working on detail oriented projects. Two-hour shifts are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Helpers who are 18 and older must consent to a background check. Anyone interested should contact Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 or via email.
- Mentor Latino Youths — Helpers are needed for Edu-Futuro’s Emerging Leaders Program. The program assists youths who are contemplating attending college with applying for scholarships, submitting college applications and improving speaking/writing skills. Mentors will meet with their assigned students on six Saturday mornings this fall. Applications can be found online and are due on Wednesday, October 23. Applicants must undergo a background check and attend an orientation. For more information, call 703-228-2560 or email [email protected]
Arlington No. 1 in Va. for Tourism — For the fourth year in a row, tourists spent more money in Arlington than any other place in Virginia. Tourism generated about $2.8 billion in visitors spending in 2012, a 3.9 percent increase over 2011. The increase in spending happened despite the partial defunding of the county’s Convention and Visitors Services in 2012. County officials and local hotel managers are lobbying the state legislature to restore Arlington’s former 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge in order to better promote tourism and visitor spending. [Arlington County]
New Additions to N. Va. Senior Olympics — About 730 people are participating in the 31st annual Northern Virginia Senior Olympics at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). The 13-day event features two new sports: rowing and handball. [Sun Gazette]
Online Library Card Sign-Up — Just in time for September’s national Library Card Sign-up Month, Arlington Public Library now allows Arlington residents to sign up for a library card completely online. It allows instant access to the library’s eBooks, magazines, streaming movies and premium research websites. [Arlington Public Library]
Photo courtesy Jonathan Nateghi-Asli
Va. Sq. Giant Celebrates Changes — The Virginia Square Giant grocery store (3450 Washington Blvd) is celebrating its “grand reopening” following recent renovations. A representative for Giant says new features include a redesigned produce department with a better fruit and vegetable assortment, a new gourmet cheese case, a new bakery and an expanded natural foods section. Customers at that location will have the opportunity to take part in tastings, raffles and prize giveaways over the next four weekends.
Event Examines Seniors’ Transportation Needs — A Mobility Lab regional symposium held at George Mason University yesterday focused on the transportation needs of residents aged 65 and older. Speakers voiced the need for better coordination of senior transportation programs that would keep seniors mobile in their communities. Suggestions for improvement included better marketing and promotion, using volunteers and issuing performance surveys. [Mobility Lab]
Streetcar Debate Focuses on Types of Riders — At the Arlington Committee of 100 streetcar forum on Wednesday, speakers addressed which riders prefer different modes of transit. Speakers debated whether the Columbia Pike streetcar or a bus rapid transit system would better draw in “choice riders” — those who have access to a car but could be persuaded to take transit under the right circumstances. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
Senior Citizens Tour Sewage Plant — A group of three dozen senior citizens toured Arlington’s recently-renovated Water Pollution Control Plant on Friday. The sold-out tour educated the seniors about the sewage treatment process and about the people who work at the plant, whose “informal motto” is “We’re No. 1 with your No. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Technology and the Homeless — Contrary to a common image of the homeless, most homeless individuals in Arlington have a cell phone and some even have laptops. Such technology is described as a “lifeline” to family, job opportunities and education. [Patch]
Map of the ‘Arlington Loop’ — Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published an easy-to-use map of the “Arlington Loop” — the 50 miles of off-street bike trails in the county. The map includes approximate ride times for bicyclists. [Bike Arlington, Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy Chris Armstrong
The disability-accessible, 41 seat bus was purchased by the county for use with DPR’s 55+ travel program, which conducts more than a dozen day trips per month for senior citizens who reside in Arlington. (October and November destinations include a tour of Philadelphia, a trip to the Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival in Syria, Va., and an outing to Hokkaido Seafood Buffet in Falls Church.)
The senior travel program has seen an uptick in demand over the past few years, the Sun Gazette reported this summer.
The bus has been in operation since August, but the parks department has planned a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 25, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). The new bus replaced a retrofitted school bus that had been plagued with problems, according a county press release.
Department of Parks and Recreation has upgraded their transportation fleet with the addition of a Glaval coach bus. While the bus has been in operation since August, the County will celebrate its arrival with a short ceremony on October 25 at 9:30am at Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 2nd Street South, Arlington. This new opportunity allows the County to enhance the quality of its programs, attract new clientele and produce a high level of satisfaction for participants.
The ADA-equipped bus features seating for 41 passengers plus one secured wheelchair seat or 37 passenger seats with two wheelchair secured seats. Other amenities include a wheelchair lift, aisle track lighting, DVD/CD with 6 viewing screens, comfortable seating with lap seatbelts, air conditioning with individual overhead controls, PA system, individual reading lights and under carriage luggage compartment.
“We are pleased to provide our program participants with this new transportation option,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Acting Director, Shannon Flanagan-Watson. “The ability to provide reliable and accessible transportation in support of our programs is key; this vehicle will help us greatly with this effort.”
After experiencing numerous problems and complaints related to the previous retro-fitted school bus it was decided to upgrade to a coach style bus. The new bus allows for more comfort, reliability, and accessibility for those with disabilities, as well as an expansion of trip destinations. The Glaval Coach bus, which will be managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, was purchased by Arlington County and supplemented by the Arlington Senior Recreation and Community Engagement Fund, a part of the Arlington Community Foundation.
Clarendon Crash Suspect Has Long Record — The suspected DUI driver in a critical pedestrian accident in Clarendon over the weekend has a long history of driving violations, including speeding, unsafe lane changes and reckless driving. [Washington Post]
N. Va. Senior Olympics Wrap Up — The Northern Virginia Senior Olympics has wrapped up after distributing 94 Gold medals, 68 Silver medals and 41 Bronze medals over the course of two weeks. Some of the Senior Olympics events were held at Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington. [Arlington Mercury]
Arlington Wages Rising Slower than Average — Wage growth in Arlington for the first quarter of 2012 was 4.3 percent year-over-year. That’s below the national average of 5.4 percent wage growth. The average gross yearly salary for those who work in Arlington, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $84,084. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
Northern Va. Senior Olympics Come to Arlington — The Northern Virginia Senior Olympics will kick off tomorrow (Saturday) with a day-long track-and-field competition at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). The Senior Olympics, which utilize several venues from around Northern Virginia, run from Sept. 15-26. Other events planned at the community center include basketball next Saturday, Sept. 22.
District Taco Not Launching a Food Truck — District Taco owner Osiris Hoil says he plans to continue using food carts, as opposed to larger food trucks, since Arlington is now enforcing a stringent one hour street parking rule for mobile food vendors. In addition to a food cart, District Taco also operates two successful brick and mortar restaurants. [Washington Examiner]
Apology for Network Issues — ARLnow.com has experienced network problems that made our site unreachable for many readers on two separate days this week. We would like to apologize to all readers affected by the problems. Also, we would like to thank our advertisers, who make this site possible, for sticking with us during that time. New infrastructure is now in place to make sure these problems (hopefully) never happen again.
County Fair Ends — The Arlington County Fair ended Sunday night. The weekend’s highlights included free concerts, cloggers, choruses, the racing piglets, the Harlem Wizards basketball show, a lacrosse speed and skills contest, and a really big pumpkin.
Arlington Senior Wins Spelling Bee — Arlington resident Michael Petrina, 67, has won the annual AARP spelling bee. The bee, which is open to adults 50+, was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming this year. [Washington Post]
Office Vacancies Could Mean Higher Taxes — Office vacancies are on the rise in Arlington, and that’s raising questions about the county’s tax revenues. If the trend continues, taxes may need to be raised in Arlington County and the tax burden may increasingly fall on homeowners. [Sun Gazette]
Photo courtesy John Annand
A large group of senior citizens, organized by the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation’s Office of Senior Adult Programs, participated in a “flash mob” at the Arlington County Fair this afternoon.
The seniors — who were later joined by fair-goers during a reprise — performed a choreographed dance to the Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling.”
A video of the performance, and an interview with dance leader, choreographer and Ms. Senior Virginia 2012 Kathy Fanelli, is below.