Press Club

Morning Notes

Sunset behind homes along 14th St. N. in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Road Improvement Project Discussion — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Tomorrow night: Virtual gabfest on the latest design for THE Ohio Street Safety Project at 12th Road North and 14th Street North.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Indecent Exposure in Shirlington — “4000 block of Campbell Avenue. At approximately 7:29 p.m. on March 17, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. The investigation determined that approximately 20 minutes prior, the male suspect entered into the establishment and allegedly exposed himself to the female victims.” [ACPD]

Nearby: New Signs in F.C. — “Forty-two vehicular wayfinding signs have been installed to identify City boundaries for visitors driving into the City, and guide visitors driving to visitor-oriented destinations (City Hall, Downtown, Eden Center, State Theatre, etc.) and public parking. The City also plans to remove older signs that would conflict with the new signs within the next two weeks.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 46. Sunrise at 7:10 am and sunset at 7:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Sign Replacement Complete — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Update: Crews have now completed street sign replacement across the Arlington segments of the former (Old) Lee Highway.” [Twitter]

Crystal City Road Project Underway — “18th St S project ([protected bike lanes], realigning a bad intersection, shortening crossings) has broken ground. No eastbound bike lane during work I guess.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — Rain and windy in the morning. High of 66 in the early morning hours and low of 33 tonight. Sunny this afternoon. Sunrise at 6:57 am and sunset at 5:51 pm. [Weather.gov]

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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 stretch of ‘Old Lee Highway’ being renamed (via Langston Blvd Alliance)

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:

  1. Cardinal/Cardinal View
  2. Cherrydale
  3. District View
  4. Dogwood
  5. Monument View
  6. Union
  7. 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.

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Morning Notes

Thanksgiving week in Shirlington (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

ACPD Thanksgiving Anti-DUI Event — “On Thanksgiving-eve, traditionally a time of celebrations with heavy alcohol consumption, ACPD, in partnership with WRAP, is hosting a Thanksgiving anti-drunk driving event to highlight the impact alcohol has on motor skills. This free event is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, November 24, at N. Hudson Street and Wilson Boulevard, from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [ACPD, Twitter]

Shirlington Apartment Employee Slashed — “An employee of the residential building discovered that the laundry room had been locked and upon opening it, discovered the unknown male suspect inside. The suspect produced a knife and struck the victim’s hand, causing a laceration. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The victim was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.” [ACPD]

Bus Driver Protest in Ballston — “Arlington Public Schools bus drivers are protesting again, this time in Ballston. They’re chanting and getting passing drivers to honk in favor of better pay and fair treatment.” [Twitter, WJLA]

County Seeks Budget Feedback — “Each winter, the County Manager presents a proposed operating budget to the County Board in order to plan spending for the next fiscal year. We’d like to know your thoughts on how Arlington should prioritize necessary spending in FY 2023. Help us get better insight on questions such as: How would you rate the importance of County programs and services?” [Arlington County]

Clement: Fewer Signs Stolen This Year — “In her annual election wrapup at the first Arlington County Board meeting after the votes were in, perennial protest candidate Audrey Clement told board members that she’d been able to gather up a good portion of her campaign signage from medians. ‘I recovered about 450 signs, or two-thirds of the total,’ she told board members. ‘This is a significant improvement over 2020, when two-thirds of my signs were trashed.’ Clement ran second in the four-candidate County Board race.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — A chance of showers today, mainly before 10 a.m. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Northwest wind 7 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Sunrise at 6:59 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. Northwest wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A woman standing in a ray of sunlight near Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Vacuum Leaf Collection Starts Today — “The county’s first pass is scheduled to kick off on Monday, Nov. 8 and will likely run through late November. The second pass will likely run through Friday, Dec. 17, according to a new fall leaf collection brochure.” [ARLnow]

Metro Woes Continue — “Metro’s limited train service will continue for the rest of November, officials said Friday, as the transit agency begins tests that it hopes will allow for the reinstatement of more than half of its fleet… Metro is pulling all of its available cars out of storage to help shorten waits, including 32 recently pulled from its Shady Grove yard. Waits between trains are about 15 minutes on the Red Line, 20 minutes on the Green Line and 30 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines, Metro said.” [Washington Post]

YHS Field Hockey Triumphs — “What already was an outstanding season for the Yorktown Patriots became the best in program history when the girls field hockey team won a region championship for the first time. Yorktown (19-1) captured the 6D North Region tournament with a 3-0 record, blanking the host and defending champion Madison Warhawks, 1-0, in the Nov. 3 title match of the high-school competition.” [Sun Gazette]

Speedy Campaign Sign Removals — “Good news on the campaign-sign-clearing front — it looks like most campaigns and political organizations have decided to remove their signage from medians far sooner than the rules allow. Arlington Democrats estimate they removed 80% of signage from medians on Wednesday, the day after voting took place. And a spot check across the community shows Republicans and independents were getting large chunks of their signs down, too, even though under law they have a week to do so.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — It will be sunny and warmer today, with a high near 66. Sunrise at 6:43 a.m. and sunset at 5 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 69. [Weather.gov]

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Lee Highway is in full retreat and near surrender as it falls back to the Courthouse area.

The Arlington County Board voted in July to change the name of Lee Highway to Langston Blvd, honoring the first U.S. representative of color from Virginia rather than the Confederate general. Recently, county crews have been replacing the Lee Highway signs along the Route 29 corridor, working from west to east, to reflect the new name.

As of Tuesday the work reached the intersection of Langston Blvd and N. Veitch Street, just north of Courthouse.

“Crews have replaced signs from Williamsburg to North Veitch and will continue to Rosslyn,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter tells ARLnow. “This will take a couple of weeks as it is dependent on weather and scheduling with other ongoing maintenance work.”

Baxter noted that the sign replacement project will cost several hundred thousand dollars.

“The cumulative cost estimate, including the replacement I-66 signage, is up to $300,000 and will be paid for out of the County Manager’s Contingent in the FY 2022 operating budget,” she said.

Fairfax County last week launched a community engagement process to determine whether its stretch of Route 29 should drop the Lee Highway name.

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Morning Notes

County Removing Illegal Campaign Signs — “Rules for placing campaign signage on the medians of roads owned by the Arlington County government are pretty straightforward – there is a limit of two signs per median strip per candidate (or party ticket). Anything more than that is a violation. This campaign season, it appears the campaigns of gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin either don’t know the rules, or are disregarding them.” [Sun Gazette]

New Restaurants Open at DCA — From Reagan National Airport: “Big news! Mezeh and Wolfgang Bar + Bites are now open in the new concourse!” [Twitter]

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month — “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD), in partnership with Arlington’s Project PEACE and Doorways for Women and Families, our community advocate, is sharing information about resources available in our community and raising public awareness.” [ACPD]

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New signage is coming to National Landing and Ballston.

The business improvements districts that serve as boosters for the areas are planning to put hundreds of new banners on light poles. The County Board approved the use of such non-commercial signs in the public right-of-way at its meeting last weekend.

The National Landing signs will differentiate the BID’s three distinct neighborhoods — Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — while highlighting the National Landing branding.

The Ballston BID banners, in the neighborhood’s orange, white and black colors, will include slogans like “Skill Full,” Taste Full,” “Power Full” and “Event Full.”

Photos via Arlington County

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Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.

Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.

Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.

“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.

The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”

A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”

The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.

“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.

“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.

The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.

In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.

“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”

One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”

“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.

The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.

“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.

The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.

“I don’t envy them,” he said.

On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.

“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.

Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.

“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.

This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.

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Morning Notes

‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]

County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]

W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]

Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]

AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]

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Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.

Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.

“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”

“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”

Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.

“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”

“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”

On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.

Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.

“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party —  get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.

“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”

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